Keeping balance in your life

Balance in your life

Life is busy isn’t it? It’s not always easy to keep a good balance in your life.

My summer ihas been full of wonderful opportunities, as well as everyday life, increasing family needs and an unexpected difficult issue that needed my time and focus for a while.

Does any of that resonate with you?!

So it’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper.

I’ve now completed 9 of 11 planned trips away. A mixture of holidays, developmental courses (with Dr Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna and Steve Wells), visiting friends, voluntary work and long dance weekends. I feel blessed.

But I’ve noticed feeling a little underlying tiredness lately.

Good things can be stressful

If you’ve heard my talk ‘Recognising Stress Early’, you will know that even good things can be stressful. In it I advise taking the time to notice how you feel physically and emotionally, and then do something about how you feel if needed.

Seems like it’s time to follow my own advice.

But I’ve noticed when we decide we know the reason for something it can close our minds to other possibilities.

Take time out

And the busier we are, the more likely this to happen. So I didn’t want to just blame it on my busy life, or the heatwave we were experiencing (remember that?), without checking in with myself properly.
So I decided to focus on this tiredness during swap sessions. This is when I get together with a fellow practitioner and we work on our own stuff. I also had a chat with a dietitian

These sessions brought a number of things to the forefront of my attentionMy life has changed a bit in the last 2 years. I’m dancing more – great, I love it!

But, I have hardly any time in the evenings for cooking foods that I would keep in the fridge to snack on. So my diet has suffered a little. And I learned that it is now thought important to eat protein at every meal – at my age!

The summer evenings were also a time when I would garden and do all sorts of jobs. Now these things were getting pushed into the day.

The knock on
effect is that the bigger jobs that need doing, de-cluttering and decorating, have been getting left.

During a swap session, I identified that clutter was impacting me much more than I’d realised. It wasn’t so much being busy that was leaving me feeling tired, as my overwhelm at what I hadn’t been getting done.

Overwhelm can be exhausting

Overwhelm saps your energy and is demotivating. No wonder I was feeling tired.<What can I do about all of this?
Well I love my paper diary, so I plan to use it even more:

1/ To block out time in my diary to make healthy snacks. I also intend to eat before I get ravenous, as feeling extremely hungry often results in poor food choices leading to tiredness. If you like the look of my Raw Brownies why not try them yourself?

2/ To block out 2 days at a time in my diary for those bigger jobs. Even if I can’t get to de-clutter until the Autumn and Winter when we’re not so busy with outside jobs.

I know I can’t do it all overnight.

But if it’s planned, I can relax at the times when I can’t get to it instead of being overwhelmed.

Baring in mind, of course, that life is what happens when we’re making plans! I might need to be flexibly inflexible with my plans.

Life’s all about balance.

But we have to notice when we’re out of balance and take action to move back into balance.

We can’t do everything

We can only make the best choices for us that we can. When something good comes into life that requires time and attention, it can be useful to also focus on what needs to change to accommodate it.

Tapping for Pain

When I first started working with EFT it felt natural for me to focus on stress, anxiety, trauma and phobias. This still remains my main focus.

However there have been times when I’ve been asked to focus on physical pain. As a former Paramedic, who always had prescription drugs on hand to administer for pain, using EFT, or tapping for pain, was an interesting departure. I’m pleased to say I’ve been happy, and sometimes surprised, by the results achieved.

Using EFT or tapping for pain

It just so happens that I’ve had two opportunities recently to use EFT with pain. The first was last month when I was the speaker at a local ladies networking meeting in South Birmingham.

The group had expressed and interest in learning more about EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) – so I had agreed to do a very brief introduction on the topic as well as giving attendees the opportunity to experience it for themselves.

Towards the end of the session I invited those wishing to take part to choose an issue to work on. Nothing major. It could be something emotional or physical in origin. Perhaps something that had irritated them driving to the meeting, an ache or discomfort, or anything that they felt negative about.

As it turned out, everyone came up with a physical pain or discomfort.

Give it a score out of 10

I explained that they didn’t have to tell me exactly what they had chosen to work on. That they should just focus on it for a moment and give it a score out of 10. 10 – the worst it could possibly be. 0 – not an issue at all.

Then I instructed them to forget about and just tap along as I worked specifically with just one member of the group who had volunteered.This person had discomfort in their ankle that was a 5 out of 10.

I asked a couple of questions:
“If this discomfort had a colour, what colour would it be?”
“If there was an emotion behind this discomfort, what emotion would it be?”

Now sometimes they may not have an answer to these questions, but on this occasion I found out that it was an annoying, blue discomfort. That probably all sounds very odd if you’ve not done EFT! But, it’s actually very helpful.

We commenced tapping.

First using a set up phrase where we acknowledged the issue repeating this 3 times. Then we tapped round the points using a reminder phrase (this annoying blue discomfort) to keep us focused. I had only intended to tap round the points twice, but all of a sudden it became ‘very annoying,’ blue discomfort.

A positive sign.

So I continued tapping for two more rounds. This was probably no more that 5 minutes tapping in all, but the discomfort reduced from 5 out of 10 to 2 out of 10.

A great result.

I then asked everyone else to connect back to their own issue and once again score it out of 10.

Others had a similar reduction. Two people said their pain had moved – also a good sign. Another volunteered that they felt more relaxed and others agreed.

Such inspiring results for just 5 minutes tapping!

EFT and stress

The second time I was giving a talk to an NHS Fellowship Group. My talk was Recognising Stress Early & Some Self Help Techniques.

During this talk I mention EFT and give a brief demonstration of how I have used it for myself. But, remembering the results of the week before, and in the knowledge that EFT is often better experienced rather than watched, I asked if they would like to try it for themselves.

This time I didn’t focus on an individual, and didn’t ask anyone what they had decided to tap on. But as before, I told them to give their issue a score out of 10. We then used a general, all encompassing set up phrase that we repeated 3 times.

This was followed by just 3 tapping rounds, where they remained focused on their own issue.

Then I invited them to share their experience if they wished. One person said their pain had reduced from 9 at the start down to 5!

So that’s two more really positive experiences of using EFT for pain. I will certainly be exploring this more in the future.

We don’t always fit the box

“We don’t always fit the box” I heard myself say that recently. There’s many a true word said in a cliché.

It started me thinking. We’re either “thinking inside the box” or “outside the box”. We either “fit the box” or “don’t fit the box”. We may even fit the box because we’re able to think outside the box..!

Do you fit the box?

Working as a Paramedic I would sometimes have patients that we said “fell into a grey area”.  This was just another way of saying they didn’t fit the box. We would know they needed help. But they weren’t ill enough to fit the criteria for treatment. They would have to either get better on their own, or get worse and then get help.

The reality was we just didn’t have a suitable box.

This could be especially difficult for those with mental health problems where the police had also been involved. Some may just have needed to see their own doctor. But it was outside of surgery hours, or there were no available appointments for a few days.

There were also times when people absolutely fitted the criteria for help or treatment. But when it was offered (and strongly professionally advised) they refused.

It is their right to refuse.

People aren’t box-shaped

I’ve come to the conclusion that we have lots of boxes. These are made out of our personal beliefs, opinions, what we have been taught or learned, societies’ rules, our social groups’ rules, our needs and desires.

It’s like another way of looking at our map of the world’.  All of which can change.

Wonderful things can come in boxes. But I don’t think people are box-shaped. Parts of us might fit the box for a time. Sometimes we might try hard to make ourselves fit and get uncomfortably stuck.

I prefer to think of fitting into numerous overlapping moveable boxes. Or, better still, perhaps we could be a completely undetermined, malleable shape, strong, but bending, growing, flexing, shrinking, curving, ever changing…

Look outside the box

I believe it’s totally normal to feel you don’t fit into a box, at least some of the time.

For many years I believed I would be a Paramedic until my retirement age. I fitted the box even though it was sometimes an uncomfortable fit!  But I became traumatised as a result of an emergency I’d attended.

Suddenly I was barely able to face working at all. Nevertheless, I found myself refusing the medication my Doctor offered me. I didn’t believe medication was the answer.

I had no idea what was. My distress was obvious I think, and my manager offered help through the Service’.


There’s always another option

In desperation, I finally approached the person they said worked with emergency services personnel. I had no knowledge, or faith, in the strange techniques she was using and was incredulous that she insisted I took time off work.

But the impact on me, of some of the work she did during our 4 sessions, stunned me.  I had to learn more and do more.

When I did return to work, I found I no longer fitted the box.

It seemed to me that many of my patients, who didn’t need my paramedic skills, could really benefit from the new techniques I had learned. Especially some of those patients that fell into the grey areas.

Parts of what I’d learned did transfer to my paramedic role, but much did not.

So after 31 years it was quite a surprise to find myself deciding that it was time to move on. Now, as The Stress Medic’, I work differently with people but it is just as rewarding as my work as a Paramedic.

Two boxes that overlap..

If you are experiencing a difficult situation, and it seems you aren’t getting the type of help you need, my advice is to look outside of the box.

Be open to different ways you could find support.

My experience of this has been life changing, and is included in some of the group talks I regularly deliver to WI and friendship groups. You can view the full list here.

I wish you luck on your journey.

There are some things you don’t want to lose!

I’m sure we all have a story like this one…. But what can it tell us about listening to our subconscious?

Arriving home Monday lunchtime, and feeling quite tired after a long Dance weekend (I’m a keen ceroc dancer), I decided to check my diary to see what clients and appointments I had booked in for the week.


I did my unpacking
. Checked every nook and cranny for the diary that should have been in my handbag.

Still, no diary.

Maybe it had fallen out of my bag in the car. I messaged my friend Chris we had travelled in his car for the weekend. Then I repeatedly phoned Pontins where we had stayed. Only to be cut off every time before even getting past the recorded message.

Frustration was starting to set in.

I decided to give up on the phone and send them an email. I thought I recalled looking at my diary once while I was there. So, it was quite possibly still there.

Chris got back to me very quickly. It wasn’t in the car.

“Right”, I thought. “Make a list of everyone you need to contact about appointments”. Then I realised I needed an awful lot of details from my diary for tax returns too! Concerned that I would miss an appointment or let someone down, I reminded myself that getting stressed about it wouldn’t help.

I am the Stress Medic after all….

I was pretty sure I must have lost it at Pontins. But tuning into my inner feelings I just couldn’t find any part of me that felt it would be returned from there. Now I don’t like that kind of negative feeling. I wanted to think positively about it being returned. But I couldn’t shake it off. Maybe I was just being realistic? I mean, they couldn’t even answer the phone!

On Tuesday morning (still nothing from Pontins), I went out to buy a new diary and started to contact people. Lunchtime came and I needed to get ready for a client. Walking through the door of my log cabin, I immediately noticed an oddly positioned piece of paper on my desk and picked it up.   

Underneath was my diary!

My memory of having it in Southport was entirely false. Poor Chris! He had twice (just to be sure) searched every inch of his car. I had wasted a whole day.

On reflection I know our minds and memories play tricks on us.

My memory of checking my diary that weekend could have been no more than a thought. Perhaps the reason I couldn’t see it being returned from Southport was because, subconsciously, I knew it wasn’t there. But then, subconsciously, I must have known I’d left it on my desk! Maybe if I’d accepted that inner feeling of ‘it won’t come back from there’, and stopped to remember how memory plays tricks (no pun intended) I might have found it sooner.

Counting my blessings

The understandings and techniques I work with now helped me get through the time when my diary was lost without going into a complete meltdown of stress and anxiety. So now I have my diary back and another interesting lesson on how our minds work…or don’t 😀

Oh, by the way, still no reply from Pontins…..

£5, Parachuting & Me

I’m not sure when I developed a fear of heights.  As a child I climbed trees but I grew to be a shy, anxious, introverted teenager.

My first jump. We didn’t have tandem jumping when I was training!

I found two things I loved.  Playing the piano – but only for myself!  And dancing.  In my mid-teens I as was introduced to Ballroom and Latin American dancing.  When I was 18, my examiners started to encourage me to compete.  At the time, there were more girls than boys dancing, this made finding a suitable partner difficult.  I also wondered whether I’d love it as much, as I’d need to spend most of my free time practising.

So, instead of dancing competitively I joined 18+.  A local social club for 18 to 30 year olds.  I got involved in lots of activities.  Often they’d finish with a take away and a group of us putting the world to rights into the early hours.

Fear of heights

On one occasion we went to the theatre.  We ended up with seats high-up in the circle. I walked happily (whilst laughing and joking with friends) through the door to the circle. I suddenly found myself violently frozen to the spot.  The height hadn’t dawned on me at all! Now, having walked into the circle, I was faced with a steep drop down into the stalls.  Every muscle in my body felt rigid.  My friends took my arms and somehow managed to drag, push and manoeuvre me to my seat.  It was a very uncomfortable experience, and the first time I’d realised the effect my fear of heights could have on me.

Here we are getting ready to jump. I’m second from the right with a big smile!

Jump out of an aeroplane? Me?

A while later the chairman of Bromsgrove 18+ asked if I’d do a sponsored parachute jump to raise money for charity.  I was horrified!  How could he ask me to do such a thing?  Since the evening at the theatre, my fear of heights wasn’t exactly a secret. I rounded on him saying, “don’t be stupid, I’m terrified of heights!” or words to that effect… I wasn’t prepared to entertain the idea – at the time anyhow.

Back at home I was very indignant as I ranted on to my Dad about the Chairman’s request.  He listened quietly and then, without any memorable comment, went off to do something else.  “That’s odd” I thought.  But, at least I’d been able to let off steam a bit. Sometime later he casually came back and said, “if you do the parachute jump I’ll sponsor you £5.00.”

Aren’t Dad’s supposed to protect their daughters?!

Well, it gave me the push to decide I could do it. And I’m glad it did. Conquering this fear is just one of many challenges I would face over the coming years.

I also continue to do my bit for charity.  Last year I supported the Midlands Air Ambulance’s 25th Anniversary celebrations and 2017 will be my second year supporting Healing Hands Network in Sarajevo.

Group talks

The lovely ladies of Swanpool WI recently gave me my first opportunity to deliver this new talk. So, in addition to my popular Hereford & Worcester’s 1st female paramedic and Recognising Stress Early talks you can now book £5, Parachuting & Me.

See the my full list of group talks.