How to Reduce Anxiety in Just Five Minutes

Yes it’s a trick – but it’s a good one. It’s a trick that fools our body into thinking that the danger has passed and so it can stop producing adrenaline and reacting as if life-threatening danger is present.

Not as advanced as we think we are

The problem is not the anxiety; it’s that we’re under-evolved. Our bodies were designed for life around 100,000 years ago when our only mode of transport was our legs and we could only communicate with others by speaking directly to them. There were no employers. There was no money. No bills to pay. And if someone threatened us it was perfectly acceptable to club them over the head.

Danger was always immediate and dealt with when it arose. You didn’t have to go away and worry about the whether the lion was going to eat you in three weeks time. You worried about the lion when it was in front of you and you stopped worrying as soon as the danger had passed. If you were hungry you went out and found some food – you didn’t sit in your mud hut for three days wondering what you were going to do because you were starving.

The adrenaline boost, otherwise known as the fight or flight response, was designed to give you more energy in emergency situations. It was always followed by physical action – running away, climbing a tree, or sticking your spear into something. That physical action cleared it out of your system and after a rest you were good to go.

That was fine and perfect for the life humans once lived.

But then they started thinking.

Too much thinking

One of the things about the body-mind is that it has a tough time telling the difference between imagination and reality. Your body responds to your imagination as if what you were imagining was real. If you don’t believe this just spend a few moments thinking about a lemon. Imagine holding it in your hand, feeling the texture, squeezing it just a little. Then hold it under your nose and inhale that deliciously fresh lemon scent. Then place the lemon on your kitchen counter, pick up a knife and cut it in two. Notice the juice oozing out onto your counter. Can you smell it? Pick up one of the pieces, stick out your tongue and squeeze a few drops of juice onto your tongue.

Now notice the increased salivary activity in your mouth.

There was no lemon.

Imagination is more powerful than reality

Your imagination is so powerful that when you think fearful thoughts – thoughts about something you don’t like or don’t want in your life – your body responds as if you were in real danger. It releases adrenaline, pushes the heart rate up, increases blood pressure, increases respiration rate and a whole bunch of other stuff that you won’t like.

When your life is such that you are worried most of the time, then this situation becomes chronic and your body never gets the break it needs.

So start to notice those times when something happens that causes you to worry. Then notice that your thoughts are focusing on an imagined future. You are predicting all the things that could go wrong, all the worst case scenarios. This is true even if something bad has already happened. You will be imagining life now in the presence of the bad thing having happened – imagining how difficult life will be now, for instance.

Very, very rarely is anything bad happening right now. If something bad is happening right now then do what you can to protect yourself or escape from the situation. If nothing bad is happening right now then that means it either has happened or you imagine it will happen. So recognise this and then notice your breathing.

I mentioned earlier that part of the fight/flight response is increased respiration rate. So notice your breathing and start to slow it down. Slow it down by slowly, a little at a time, deepening your breath.

Slow it down

Most of us, most of the time, breathe quite shallowly into the middle part of our lungs. So place your hand on your abdomen, about the area of your navel, and take the breath into the lower part of your lungs so that you push your hand out. When you breathe out, really pull in your abdominal muscles so that you expel all of the breath – this will pull your hand in towards your spine. It may take a few breaths to get used to this, but once you’ve got it then start to slow down the rate at which you breathe in and out. Really slow down the breath. Breathe as slowly as you can. If you feel any sense of discomfort or breathlessness then just take a few normal breaths before returning to abdominal breathing. Do this for around five minutes.

Good trick

This is the trick I mentioned at the beginning. Slow, relaxed breathing is associated with peace and tranquillity, not danger. So as you establish this easy, relaxed breathing pattern, your body-mind gets the message that everything is ok and we don’t need to do the fight/flight thing any more. This breathing technique breaks the cycle that maintains the anxiety state. It also distracts you from whatever your worry thoughts were because rather than breathing automatically, as we do most of the time, you have taken breathing under conscious control and that takes mind effort and re-directs your thoughts.

Try it and see what happens.

If you want to find out more about how to reduce anxiety check out my video The ABC of Anxiety Relief which goes into a little more detail. It’s only a little over ten minutes long.

If you prefer to read than watch then have a look at my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis which is bursting with simple solutions to anxiety and other problems that cause life to be less than we would wish it to be. But it’s a little more than that. It is a training course in discovering how to be Master of your Mind, rather than allowing your mind to be the master of you.



How to Cope When You Can’t

Bills – but no money to pay them?

Worried sick because your Mum is seriously ill?

Bullied at work?

Too much to do, not enough time?


Overwhelming problems come in all shapes and sizes. It’s almost as if we were born worrying. We’ve had help; been to the doctor; we even recognise that worrying doesn’t help – but we can’t seem to stop doing it. It’s as if it’s a part of who we are – a very unfair part – but nevertheless an integral part of our personality. So if it’s me, surely it’s impossible to change? If it’s me, surely I’m just stuck with it, even though it’s so unfair?

Why does it seem to be the good, kind, gentle people, who suffer so? Those who don’t care about the feelings of others seem to live a blessed existence as they sail through life, not caring who they hurt, as long as they come out on top.

Most of the time we just muddle through doing the best we can, surviving one storm and hoping for a brief spell of good weather before the next one turns up.

The trouble is that the next one can sometimes be a hurricane. Not just one problem, but everything going wrong all at once. This is when your world overwhelms you and you just want someone to wave their wand and make it all go away.

All you want to do is curl up and cry. Or maybe have someone give you a magic hug. Or perhaps you just want to go to sleep and never wake up. Life is too hard and you have done nothing to deserve this. You are a good person, but appeals to your God seem to fall on deaf ears.

And when you’re all cried out – the problems remain and you still have no solutions.

Life is Unfair

Life is unfair. Bad people win, and good people lose. You can recognise that and then you can dismiss it as irrelevant to you right now. By right now I actually mean right in this very moment. Not two minutes in the future, or ten minutes in the past.  Not yesterday, and not tomorrow. Right now is an instant in time and it’s the instant you are reading this word, and now this word… Right now is a fleeting thing and trying to catch it is as easy as trying to hold water in a net.

So be aware, reading these words, that as you seek help, as you seek a way out, that the solution will involve you. There is no way out that does not involve you. But your involvement is not coming up with solutions – you will either find those or you won’t. Your involvement is to learn how to use your mind differently from the way you have been trained to use it.

You have been trained to worry.

The Solution

You need to discover a different approach to your problems. I don’t mean ignore them, or pretend they aren’t there. The different approach is to reduce the worry and then open yourself up to solutions. Worry blocks your intuitive sense. Worry blocks your access to the knowingness that holds all the answers you ever need.

So how does that pay the bills?

Paying the bills isn’t the immediate problem. The immediate right now problem is your sense of overwhelm that prevents you from accessing any solutions. Free yourself from that and you may begin to see a way out that you couldn’t see because your anxiety was in the way.

How does that heal my Mum?

Magic? Not Exactly.

I’m not talking about magic, though I can’t deny that when you adopt this approach that magic happens. What you do is to free yourself from the worry so that when you spend time with your Mum you can be fully present with her, and allow yourself to trust that she is being cared for when you aren’t there.

I’m not talking here about solving the problems or pretending they don’t exist or that they don’t need dealing with. I’m talking about freeing up your mind from the anxiety that holds you in its fierce grip and immobilises you.

Become present whenever you notice that your mind has drifted away onto your problems. Do this frequently and your life will change.

More Help

If you’d like to explore in greater detail how to do this then check out my book The Ten Commitments: For When the World Overwhelms You The book is deliberately brief because in a state of overwhelm concentration is difficult, so these are ten very easy steps that you will be able to engage with and which will ease your burden and allow you to get through today. Getting through today can seem a tough prospect when you awaken to face another interminable day. This short book is designed to help you through and to give you the peace that invites in solutions. So check it out now


How to Find Out if You Are Likely to be Susceptible to Stress

I’ve just been reading an interesting article about some research that was looking to see if heart rate variability might be an indicator of susceptibility to stress. Participants (undergraduate students) had their heart rate measured during a low-stress period of the academic year. Then, still attached to the monitor, they were led to imagine worrying scenarios in their future lives. As well as this they were given some questionnaires.

The participating students returned a few months later just before their final exams, and went through the whole thing again.

It seems there was a correlation between heart rate variability and the level of psychological distress being experienced about the finals.

The suggestion is that doctors could measure the interval between heartbeats (apparently easy to measure) to screen people for susceptibility to stress. It also suggests that breathing techniques might be useful in reducing stress levels because breathing practises can be used to lower heart rate.

All this is very interesting – and I mean that most sincerely, folks – but I know when I’m anxious, or stressed. I don’t need someone to measure my heart-rate variability in order to tell me what I already know. I’ve known it since I was old enough to realise that I found some things more difficult to cope with than most other people. Most of the people I treat for anxiety don’t need to be wired up to a machine in order to be told what they already know.

This, for me at least, highlights a serious problem with the medical profession. They seem to be moving further and further away from talking to, and listening to, patients. They seem to be totally dependent on a machine to tell them what’s wrong with someone when that person already knows what the problem is and just wants some help.

I guess my heart-rate variability is well in the band of easily stressed – but so what? All I ever wanted from the medics was help. All I ever got was pills.

And it seems to me that this bit of research will, most likely, lead to the development of an expensive stress-evaluating bit of fancy electronics that will sit in a clinic somewhere and generate income for the manufacturer and the tranquilliser peddlers .

I know I’m easily stressed but I got more value from Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person, than I ever did from all the pills I swallowed over the years.

Some people are more sensitive than others. Some people find it difficult to cope with the problems and challenges of life. Some people find it difficult to function in a world full of rules that don’t make any sense to them. But they don’t need to be connected to a machine in order to discover that – they already know.


Stress in Bed

I remember, back in the days when life was a constant struggle, how going to bed was a blessed release from the worries and concerns of the day; and also how it brought with it the promise of a few hours of oblivion and peace. Then, without the least concern about how I was feeling, or how much I wanted to stay just where I was, morning would turn up and bring with it that burden of fear, anxiety, worry, and stress and another day that I would somehow have to get through.

Thankfully, for me, those days are long gone.

But it seems that, for many, this nightmare is still present.

A report commissioned by IKEA suggests that 1 in 4 people are experiencing anxiety before 8:00am, with many in the grip of stress even before 6:00 in the morning.

One of the many reasons for this is mobile technology.

In the good old days the bedroom was a haven. Nothing bad happened there. For many sufferers from anxiety it was a safe place to sleep and feel safe curled up, warm and cosy. A place to rekindle those good feelings from childhood where other people sorted out all the problems for you – maybe even a place to have a gentle read and enjoy escape into a fictional world for a while.

Now, with Smartphones, tablets and wi-fi the outside world is with us 24 hours a day. We can be called and messaged at any time of the day or night. Respect for our personal downtime has gone. Many employers expect their employees to be contactable at any time of day or night. Many of our friends also have the same expectation. I see facebook posts from friends in the same time zone as me at two or three or even five o’clock in the morning.

Because of this constant buzz of information there is also a drive to keep checking on all this stuff – to find out if there is something else that needs to be worried about.

All of this just adds to the stress and the worry.

We need a quiet time each day that is just for us.

A quiet time for a little true relaxation is rejuvenating. It gives the mind a break and allows it to access the resources that you actually have, but never get to realise because of the overwhelm that you constantly experience.

So if each day dawns with a pile of worries and a sense of being overwhelmed because there is just too much to do or scary stuff you just don’t know how to handle then make a decision now to do something about it.

Doing something means making changes and unfortunately change is one of the scariest and most anxiety producing activities we can engage in. But know this.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you have always got.

To create different outcomes you need to do something different. The easiest way to do this is to make a small change, get used to it, then make another small change and so on.

The changes I would like you to consider are about re-instating the sacred space of your bedroom. Make it a place for sleep, and if you have a partner, for intimacy. Leave your phone, or your tablet downstairs when you go to bed. Have a nice relaxing bath or shower before you turn in and then go to sleep. The world will not end if you fail to notice a facebook photograph of what your best friend had for supper. Don’t carry your phone with you wherever you go. Don’t sit in front of the computer all evening.

Nothing bad will happen if you are off the grid for eight hours. In fact you might even make turning the phone on the last thing you do before heading off to work. Try it for a week, and see how you feel. If nothing bad happens then carry on with the experiment for a little longer.

It doesn’t really matter what you do, but if you want to be free of worry, stress, or anxiety, then you need to reclaim you and establish some boundaries. You need to create for you a sacred space where you can feel safe and enjoy some peace.

And if switching off the world is just too scary for you then have a read of my book The Ten Commitments: For When the World Overwhelms You. This tells you how you can give yourself a one day holiday from anxiety and stress while still functioning in the world and doing what you need to do. It’s just for one day, but if you follow my suggestions it will open the door to a whole new way of living and being.











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Worry – What Is It Good For?

Absolutely nothing.

I know, I used to be a first class worrier. All it ever achieved for me was to make my life miserable when everyone else seemed to be having fun. Then there would be that sage advice – don’t worry everything’s gonna be ok. I always used to think, in response to that particularly useless bit of wisdom, how do you know everything is gonna be ok. Are you psychic or something. That was in the days before I started reading tarot cards and didn’t know any psychics though. My overriding thought was if I knew how to not worry, don’t you think I’d be doing that? Does this look like I’m enjoying it or something? I never had the courage to say those things back in those days, but those thoughts were prominent in response to unasked for advice from well-meaning friends.

I still worry from time to time. The world, thoughtless people and greed occasionally break through my barriers to worry, but most of the time now my mind is peaceful and when something crops up that needs me to do a little worrying – the worrying lasts a couple of hours rather than a couple of weeks. In fact sometimes I worry that I don’t do enough worrying nowadays and just totally ignore stuff that used to get me into a panic state. So I find myself pretty much doing what I want to do and ignoring the world as best I can.

So how did I shift from this place of anxiety-ridden existence to a place of peace and wisdom?

I worked really hard at it.

I looked at my world and my thoughts about that world and I changed the thoughts because they weren’t helping.

Whenever I experienced an emotional reaction I would treat it as though the cause was my believing something about the world that simply wasn’t true. I would seek out the truth.

I observed just how much of my worry was sourced not in real life events but in what I thought others were thinking about me. So I stopped mind-reading.

I became aware of how much worry was being caused by the events going on in the world. That led to a realisation that news reporting was totally focused on negative events. I stopped watching the news. I’ve never read newspapers, but if I had done I would have stopped reading those too.

I learned to meditate because that gave my mind a rest.

Then one, day the breakthrough came. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced – but it was over in a moment.

I was sitting in my favourite worry chair, worrying about something or other that wasn’t going right in my life. I was really working hard at it. This wasn’t an idle worry, it was a full-blown, explore every nuance of every possible aspect of the situation kind of worry. Then, in a moment of clarity, I thought ‘I’m fed up with this, I don’t want to do it any more’ and then I got up and went over to my computer and did something much more interesting instead. The worry was gone.

In that moment I realised a most amazing thing. Worry is a choice.

Worry is also a habit.

Habits are not easy to break but all the work I’d been doing had been interfering with the habit aspect of worrying. I’d loosened the habit enough to be able to choose not to do it.

At the very deepest level what drives worrying is a distorted view of life and your world. The distorted view is not your fault, it’s simply your reaction to your world as you were growing up. Your view is highly coloured by the distorted views of the significant adults who were around you in your young life. Everyone’s view is distorted –this is not a condemnation or a blaming of anyone. We are all always doing the best we can given what we believe to be true.

The more distorted your world view, the greater your levels of anxiety are likely to be.

Change that view and you change your world.


10 Quick Tips To De-Stress At The Office

Life is stressful. Sometimes work can be even more stressful. You can not only encounter difficult colleagues, but also have to work with supervisors or managers who shouldn’t be left in charge of a tea trolley. Your problems nag, and interfere with productivity, which then causes more problems. So here are 10 tips for things that you can do at your desk to ease the strain and free you up a little from all those troubling thoughts.

They won’t make your problems go away, but they will give your mind a break from thinking about them. If you practice them regularly you will find that life gets better and the problems will be dealt with, without you needing to do quite so much worrying. The trick is to spend just a minute or two, maybe once or twice an hour in order to gain the maximum benefit from these tips.

Close your eyes, and if that isn’t possible because the boss will think you’re sleeping on the job then just de-focus. Place your attention on the inside of your nostrils just below the bridge of your nose. Now take a slow breath with all of your attention on the sensation of the air moving inside your nose. When you breathe in breathe in fully and ensure that the air fills both your abdomen and your chest. Then breathe out a little more slowly than you breathed in. Do this three times.

  1. Focus all of your attention on your left big toe for as long as you can keep it there.
  2. Say to yourself “What am I most aware of now?” and answer that question. Give preference to physical sensations and sensory input rather than the worrying thoughts that are plaguing you. So you might respond:  the noise in the office; the pressure of the chair on my thighs; the noise of the fan; the ache in my back… As soon as you have responded, then ask yourself the same question again, and answer it. It does not matter whether you are most aware of the same thing or something different. Keep asking and answering until you feel some small relief from the stress build up.
  3. If possible, get up and just walk to the end of the room, if you need an excuse use the photocopier, get some water, find a paperclip.
  4. If you have a height adjustable chair, move it to the top of its range or the bottom. This will give you a slight change in perspective that is frequently all you need to see the world differently. You only need to leave it there for a few minutes before returning to normal.
  5. Eat an orange. The smell is pleasurable and the vitamin C will help to de-stress you. It also gives you a good excuse to stretch your legs because you’ll need to wash your hands afterwards. The peel in your waste bin will make your desk smell nice.
  6. Grab a pencil and piece of paper. Write down the numbers 1 to 10 in a column and next to each number write down one word to represent whatever it is that is stressing you right now. You don’t have to do 10, but don’t do more. Then go down the list, one item at a time, and cross out the word you have written and replace it with a word that represents your most desired outcome to the problem. When you have finished, tear it up and drop it in the waste bin.
  7. Spend just a minute or two drifting back in time to a happy or pleasurable memory. Allow yourself to feel all the good feelings you felt back then as you relive that moment in time. Then come back to the present but do your best to keep hold of the good feelings.
  8. Imagine yourself floating out of your body and up to the ceiling looking down at yourself. Then imagine floating up ever higher, always with an awareness of you at work, up through the building (you’ll have to pretend you can see through walls for this) and into the sky, ever higher. Drift up out of the atmosphere and be aware of how tiny you are as the curve of the planet becomes apparent to you. Drift up into space and see the Earth getting smaller and smaller, while still retaining that awareness of you at work. Drift up until you finally arrive at the moon. Sit on the moon for a moment or two, looking towards Earth and you at work, then reverse the process and drift slowly back.
  9. Pretend that you have just won £100,000 or maybe $100,000 or whatever your local currency is. Then think about what you would treat yourself to. Not the whole amount, just something very special that you wouldn’t normally be able to justify. Spend a few moments imagining going out to buy it, or ordering it on-line and getting home with the package awaiting you. Think about opening it up and enjoying that pleasure of having something new and special just for you. Again this should take only a few minutes.

Have fun with them, but don’t forget to remember to come back to work after a couple of minutes.


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Are You One Of The 1 In 5?

A recent report from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that 1 in 5 of us feels anxious a lot or all of the time. The majority of this group (60%) are experiencing anxiety on a daily basis. Understandably, young people (exams and school work pressure perhaps) and the unemployed (bills, lack of prospects, and a bleak future, maybe) feature in the most anxious groups of people.

Today there also seems to be much more pressure from employers to get more and more work from their employees without commensurate compensation. I’ve not investigated so I don’t know how true it is but I see regular comments on the internet about Wal-Mart staff in the US working full time and having to claim welfare in order to feed themselves adequately. In the UK the minimum wage is £6.31 per hour, so working 7 hours, five days a week gets you around £200 a week in your pocket. A half decent terraced house runs to £150 week in rent so that leaves £50/week for food, clothes, utility bills etc… It seems ridiculous to me that you can have a full time job and not be able to afford a decent home that you can also afford to heat – as well as feed yourself a reasonably healthy diet.

Hardly surprising that anxiety is endemic is it?

…and that’s just the financial side.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests that until we have our body’s physical needs satisfied we can think of nothing else – so our primary need as human beings is for things like food, water and warmth. Once this requirement is met then safety – in the form of security and a roof over our heads – is our next requirement, until these two basic needs are met we have little time for socialising, doing fun stuff and actually living the life we want to live, growing within ourselves and developing our natural talents and abilities.

So while we are worried about survival, we can’t think about being happy and contented.

But money, or rather a lack of it, isn’t the only reason for anxiety.

Many of us were never taught healthy coping skills for dealing with the things that caused us to worry. This report suggests that 1 in 4 of us eat in order to comfort ourselves (I go into the reasons for this in my book How to Lose Weight Easily); and another 1 in 5 attempt to solve their problems by simply hiding away from the world. Of course social media makes this so easy to do nowadays. With Facebook you can stay physically isolated and yet still fool yourself that you are socially connected.

But there is still that mental health stigma that causes around a quarter of sufferers to believe that feeling anxious equates to not being able to cope. This sense of inadequacy prevents them from seeking help. Another third are simply too embarrassed to admit to anyone that they are experiencing anxiety.

Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that half of the people surveyed said that anxiety has prevented them from doing something they really wanted to do.

Anxiety is no fun at all. Anxiety can be crippling when you appear to be powerless to change your circumstances and you are up to your eyes in debt – not from reckless spending, but from just trying to keep going with the basics that everyone takes for granted.

Unfortunately the only solution available to most people, should they admit they actually need help, is to go to their doctor and be given some drugs. In extreme cases drugs can help, but by and large they just prolong the agony, because drugs only interfere with brain function on a chemical level. Most anxiety is about real physical circumstances, or an inability to cope with what most other people take in their stride. Drugs can’t change external circumstances. Drugs don’t change the way you handle problems and difficulties. When the drugs stop the world is still out there. What needs to change is the style of thinking about the world. Thinking about the world differently allows you to access solutions – yes even solutions to financial difficulties.

The anxiety clouds your ability to think clearly and you get bogged down. Your lack of self-belief, or maybe even seeing yourself as a failure, clouds your judgment with regard to your true talents and abilities.

There is a way out.

My book Change Your Life with Self-Hypnosis shows you several techniques that will help you to move towards freedom and happiness. It’s not the only solution, but it’s certainly a good place to start. Best of all you can do it all on your own, and if you feel in need of a little guidance from time to time you can always email me and I’ll do what I can to help.


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The report:


Some great free downloads on Coping with Anxiety and mental Health Awarenesss

Happiness health self-help

Are We Killing Our Kids?

I was watching the TV news last night. I think it must be at least 3 years since the last time I watched a news programme. I was interested in learning about the flooding that is taking place in the southern parts of the UK. That in itself was quite fascinating, but even more fascinating was the political response. Unsurprisingly it seemed to be let’s find someone to point the finger at. It would have been nice if the attitude had been a bit more what help do you need?

At some point I also found myself watching a reporter talking to a barista working for Pret a Manger. He was a graduate who left University with a £20,000 debt and was living at home. His sister was at the same University doing the same degree. She was anticipating finishing the course with a £40,000 debt, still living with their parents, and no job prospects.

This morning I came across an article about some research that suggests more than a quarter of US students experience extreme stress during the school year. A few weeks ago I was reading about the introduction of tests for 4 and 5 year olds before they even start school. This immediately puts pressure on parents to teach children the stuff the schools are designed to teach children. I mean how can you pass a test unless you already have some skills?

It’s like we hate our kids.

Now, I know not every child has a happy home life and some parents do have a tough time and some children have a tough time too. Do we really need to add to it?

But, given that that’s the way it is, what can we do about it?

What we can do is to teach children healthy ways to deal with stress.

Play is an amazing stress reliever. By play, I don’t mean sitting in front of a TV with a video game controller. By play, I mean physical play. Getting up, kicking a ball, running around, playing imaginatively with friends. Leaving the mobile phones at home so there are no distractions from the wonderful fantasy world that children find so easy to create and live in.

Teenagers of course don’t want to play imaginatively. They want to be grown up already. But grown up these days means living with chronic stress and anxiety. Mind you society is crumbling now as the politicians have finally lost their grip on reality, so it’s probably a good idea to teach yourself and your children about simple techniques that can reduce stress levels and allow you to enjoy your life in whatever way feels right for you, despite what’s going on around you. This is one of the reasons it’s been 3 years or more since I watched any news. News is always bad. I protect my mind from exposure to bad, consequently I live more peacefully. Am I out of touch? Yes. Does it matter? Not even a little.

If you are interested in taking back some control over your own life, your world, and the destiny of you and your children then I outline some simple techniques to achieve this – using nothing more than your imagination – in my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis. While it’s not aimed at teenagers, the techniques for stress reduction are easy to learn and youngsters will benefit greatly because their imaginative abilities have not yet been stifled. The better your imagination, the quicker you will achieve powerful results.


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Happiness Personal Development self-help

You Don’t Have To Be Shot At To Be Stressed At Work

Are you stressed at work? Is it your job or the people you work with? I came across an article recently where a job search site was looking into stress in the workplace.

Military personnel and fire fighters came out top, while audiologists and hair stylists came out as having the least stressful jobs. However, even when no one is shooting at you, they recognised that “public relations executive, newspaper reporter and event coordinator are among the most stressful because of tight deadlines and scrutiny in the public eye”.

So if somebody is shooting at you; your job has the potential to kill you; or you are expected to meet demanding deadlines then you might consider your job stressful. But, according to this study, if you are a hair stylist, jeweller, university professor, tailor, or dietician, then you have no business getting stressed at work.

A significant part of my work is helping people to cope with stress. The stress generally comes from either the workplace, or an unsupportive partner. In my distant past there were times when I could barely function because of the stress of having to go to work. No one was shooting at me, nor did I have tight deadlines. I just wasn’t emotionally able to cope with the demands imposed upon me. That seems to be true of most of my clients. It isn’t so much what’s happening outside of them, it’s the way they process those events on the inside.

The particular style of processing is down to beliefs about life, the universe, and everything. Those beliefs are largely formed by childhood experiences and the attitudes, beliefs, and insecurities of the significant adults who care for us.

If you are a sensitive soul who appears to experience stress more readily than most, then, yes, it’s a good idea to have a job that doesn’t add to your burden. But, in my experience, it can take just one over-bearing individual in a position of power to make working life hell. It can take a company that has about as much interest in the welfare of its employees as an anteater has about the ants on which it is about to lunch. It can take having so little spare cash that life is just a struggle from dawn to dusk.

A stressful job is one that is stressful for you. It really doesn’t matter whereabouts it fits in someone else’s top ten. But that stress is down to your view of your world – even if that looks like an over-bearing manager. It is possible to change your view of your world. As you do so your stress levels reduce and life becomes easier. It takes a little time, but if you put in the work to retrain your thinking style then you will produce miraculous results and your world will change before your very eyes.


If you want to find out how then check out my book Change your Life with Self Hypnosis.

Happiness Personal Development self-help

Reducing Stress At Work


Thinking back to those times in my life when I had what I considered to be a proper job, those times were always filled with stress, anxiety and worry. People placed demands upon me that I was not at all comfortable with. They attempted to pressure me into doing what I was told rather than what I believed was right. They even tried to develop skills I didn’t have rather than those that I excelled at. Every one of those jobs, bar the first, I left because of the level of stress I was experiencing. It was generally bad enough that my doctor medicated me in an attempt to help.

The medication helped me function; it never removed or dealt with the source of the problem. It damped down my emotional responses so that my affect was rather zombieified.

Working for myself is much more fun. There are no fewer stresses, worries, or anxieties, but because I am in charge, I can do whatever I want to in order to deal with them.

I have become powerful, rather than powerless.

I am in control rather than out of control.

There lies the biggest part of the problem – other people with their demands and expectations. However, we are social creatures and we need to interact with others. So how can we achieve that while retaining our cool?

Mindfulness is something that is growing and being recognised as a way to remain in control in the workplace even while there are pressures upon you. You see the only problem is your thinking. You can’t help doing that. I’ve been working towards stopping doing it for years and am no closer. What I am much closer to though is a state of peacefulness, even when things are not working as I would wish. It takes decades of dedication to achieve an empty mind. Most of us have better things to do. But what you can do is rein in your wild beast and train it to do your bidding rather than its own.

Mindfulness is a way to do that.

There are books and websites devoted to this, but I like to simplify things first and then get complicated later. All mindfulness is, is being aware of whatever you are aware of right now. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, not in that meeting in an hour’s time, not those hurtful words that were spoken to you moments ago – right now.

Let’s say you’ve got a supervisor at work who is a bit of a bully, has no social skills, and lacks the ability to motivate using positive reinforcement. This is on your mind a lot of the time. You hate going in to work, maybe even throw up before you leave, you wish she would leave or die or get a sideways promotion or something… …anything.

So you find your thoughts returning, time and again, to this subject in whatever way is your mind’s way of reminding you that you are weak and powerless. What you do now is, whenever you notice that your thoughts have drifted into this territory again, take a deep breath, let it out slowly and become aware of all the sensations in your body associated with that movement of air. You might choose to focus on the sensations of the air in your nostrils, or the falling of your chest. Do that once or twice and then, if you are still present (and you may not be) move your awareness to those sensations where your body is in contact with something. Maybe your fingers on a keyboard, your hands on a desk, the pressure of your thighs against your chair, or your feet against the floor – even your clothing against your skin.

Throughout the day whenever you notice your mind is on your supervisor’s behaviour, return to this mindful activity.

Ok! You think. That’s great (sarcasm). How exactly does that destroy my supervisor?

Well it doesn’t. Yes, your supervisor may be out of order, but that isn’t the first order of business. The first order of business is for you to take control of your thinking. If you never gave what your supervisor did a moment’s thought – she would not be a problem. If you never gave your supervisor a moment’s thought, then when she made an unreasonable request, you would be able to respond spontaneously, without fear, and do or say whatever was appropriate.

Yes, some people are unsuited to the positions they hold. And, yes, sometimes they get to be in charge of more intelligent, kind and sensitive people that they really don’t know how to handle. But that’s not your problem. Your problem is your mind and where it takes you. You can leave it wild so that you live in fear – or you can start on the journey to train it so that you can live in peace.

The choice is yours.

Mindfulness is the first step.

Check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis if you would like to explore this further.

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