Five Steps To Combat Stress

Of course the easiest way to reduce stress in your life is to change your life in a way that removes the stressful elements. However, the practicalities of earning a living, feeding a family, and keeping warm might mean that walking out on a stressful job and chilling out on a tropical beach for the rest of your life, seems a little unrealistic.

A lot of stress comes from social demands. The expectations of others cause a great deal internal turmoil – after all, you want to do what you want to do with your time, not what someone else wants you to do. You might want to sit and read, or watch TV, when your other half may prefer you to be doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or painting the fence.

Wider than the immediate home are the expectations of society – you need a job, you need to pay taxes, you need to pay bills on time, you need to attend this wedding or that party, and most of all, you need to not spend your life living it the way you want to.

Now I would suggest that, long-term, you decide what you truly want to do with your life and how you want to live it, but short-term there are things you can do to reduce the burden that stress places on your BodyMind.

Following are the five steps. They will have a significant impact on your stress levels and help you to deal with your difficulties from a much more resilient position. They are not alternatives. You need to take all five steps in order to gain the maximum benefit and you need to engage with them in the order I’ve placed them. Each one prepares you for the next and cumulatively they will have a powerful impact on your stress levels.


Yoga is interesting. At a superficial level it is exercise, at a much deeper level it is life-changing, it is a way of living. Yoga requires nothing more than a mat to exercise on, some comfortable unrestrictive clothing, and a class to attend.

In a yoga class you will be guided through a series of body postures which stretch, and compress, various parts of your body. You don’t have to put your feet behind your neck – though you can if you want to. Yoga is non-competitive. Every class will have people who are not at all bendy and people who are extremely bendy. But yoga is an internal process. It is not about watching others and competing with them. It is about you feeling your way into your body, getting to know your body, and being comfortable with what it can do.

As you continue with yoga, you will notice that you can stretch a little more than you used to be able to. After a year or so you will notice a huge improvement in the flexibility of your body. But the real benefit is for the mind. A good teacher will direct you to pay attention to your body, while you are exercising. The idea is not to stand in, say, the Warrior Pose, while thinking about what you need to buy for tea tonight. It is about standing in that pose and focusing all your attention on the feedback that your body is giving you. This gives your mind a break. With regular practice you will notice stress levels reducing.

Find a class and get into the habit of attending it once a week.


Once the yoga is up and running you need to move on to the next step and that is meditation. The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anywhere you can safely close your eyes for ten minutes. Yoga is a good introduction to the practice of meditation. It gets you used to stillness.

There are many methods you can use to meditate and if you want to attend a class then do so, but I want you to think in terms of meditation for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes every evening. The usual excuse is I don’t have time. Well just get up ten minutes earlier and go to bed ten minutes later and you have just found the time. The meditation is far more restful than sleep so you actually gain rather than lose.

If you want to explore different techniques then get some books on the subject, but I’ll share with you a simple technique that I use.

Sit comfortably, where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes. Focus all of your attention on the sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils. Then just breathe. You will find your attention wanders. You will not notice it drifting off, but at some point you will realise that you have wandered away from the focus on your breathing to think about more important things. At this moment of realisation, allow whatever thoughts are present to drift away and return your focus to your breath.

The drifting away and coming back will happen many times in a session. It is not a problem. Meditation, at least in the early stages, is all about learning that you can control where you place your attention and that you can always choose to place it on the breath. When you place it here, your BodyMind relaxes.

You will not notice huge benefits immediately. Meditation needs to become a part of the daily routine. Over time it will induce in you a greater sense of calm and tranquillity – but, like any skill, it needs dedication and practice.

Aerobic Exercise

Exercise is good for you. If you don’t get any, then get some. If you do get some then get more. Aerobic exercise generates endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good. Stress makes you feel bad. Exercise counters the effects of stress.

Aerobic exercise is exercise that gets your heart rate up a bit. If you have heart problems, or are unfit then be sensible and have a word with your doctor to find out what is ok for you. Otherwise a light sweat is a good indicator that you are pushing yourself just enough without overdoing it. A heart rate monitor that you wear on your wrist is a handy device to help keep your heart rate in the aerobic zone. The more sophisticated ones bleep at you if you are not putting enough effort in and also when you are overdoing it.

Aerobic doesn’t mean hard work. It means pushing yourself a little. Walking at as fast a pace as you can manage is aerobic exercise. In fact my aerobic exercise involves walking two miles or so three or four days a week with a longer walk at weekends. I also get on my bicycle now and then for a little variety.

Don’t make it so tough you give up. Make it easy and enjoyable so you want to do it on a daily basis.

Spend Time In Nature

If you can, do this at least once a week. Go for a walk where there are trees, or grass, or a clean river or lake. Go where you can see wild birds, and occasionally disturb small mammals. Find a spot, sit down, maybe take a picnic if the weather is suitable, and just rest in the tranquillity. Don’t use the time to plan, or fill your mind with busy-ness. Just sit and be, or walk and be. As you look around notice how nature handles everything. Notice how it changes from season to season.

Allow the peace to reach you.

Take Up a Creative Hobby

In all the years that I’ve been helping people to reduce the stress and anxiety in their lives, I’ve noticed one common factor in the people who struggle most with life. They have no creative outlet. They have no passion for anything. They get up, go to work, come home, go to bed and repeat.

It can be difficult to find time for yourself with the demands of family and smartphones that make bosses, and friends, believe you are available for 24 hours a day to do their bidding.

Nevertheless, find something that interests you and do it. If you don’t know what interests you then pick something at random and try it. If you like it, do more. If you don’t, take another random stab in the dark.

Around 12 years ago I went to a week long series of evening talks at my local library. The subject was the paranormal. It was purely out of curiosity. I ended up joining the group that was running the event and have spent many happy hours on paranormal investigations in some fascinating places.

Two years ago I was staying at a holiday park and had a go at archery – again just out of interest. Subsequently I joined a club and have spent the last 18 months shooting arrows anything from once to three times a week. It’s a great stress reducer because you have to focus on you and your body in order to hit the target.

Follow the clues that your mind provides. If you are curious about something then explore it further and see what happens. It doesn’t matter what it is – gardening, writing, photography, a sport, crochet, cookery…

Just try something out and get your mind onto something other than those that are making your life hell.

Life doesn’t have to be hell. However bad it is, you can do something to make it just a little bit better.


If you’d like to explore in more detail how to reduce the stress in your life then check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis for a detailed, step by step training course on how to use your mind to help you to live a better life.


How to Feel Good When You Want to Feel Bad

It’s funny isn’t it? I mean how we can drift off into our memories and relive events as if they were real. A scent, a sight, a question – can all send us off on an unintentional journey into a place of pleasure or pain. We can be bumbling along in our own little world, quite ok with everything, and then Bam! Our thoughts take us to a place of heaven or hell and we begin to relive a memory.

That memory brings with it either pleasurable or painful emotions – sensations that we experience in our bodies. Sensations that tell us we are happy or sad.


Do it now. Go back into the past and find a sad memory – perhaps the breakup of what you once dreamed was the perfect relationship; the death of someone close; even a moment of total embarrassment as you made a complete idiot of yourself in the eyes of people who were important in your life. Pull back the pictures in your mind, relive it, and remember the scents, the sounds, the feelings. Spend a few moments reliving it before continuing to read.

How do you feel?

Has your mood changed?

Do a quick body scan and notice any areas of discomfort.

Allow all thoughts of that memory to drift away back into the past where they belong.


Now repeat the exercise, but this time with the best memory you can find. Perhaps it was that first kiss; getting your dream job; a wonderful holiday; holding your son or daughter in your arms for the first time and looking into their beautiful scrunched up face; maybe even a moment when you were overflowing with love for something or someone. Pull back the pictures in your mind, relive it, remember the scents, the sounds, the feelings. Spend a few moments reliving it before continuing to read.

How do you feel?

Has your mood changed?

Do a quick body scan and notice any areas of discomfort.

Allow all thoughts of that memory to drift away back into the past where they belong.

Which exercise did you like the best?

Did either of them bring tears to your eyes?

Is it Really Real?

Now I want you to think carefully about this next sentence.

None of it was real.

They were memories.

Memories aren’t real. They are just sensations that we interpret as pictures, sensations, sounds, and thoughts in our minds. We behave as if they are real. We behave as if they make us who we are. We behave as if they are important.

But they are just illusions.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have them. I like my memories – especially the happy ones. But that doesn’t make them real. That doesn’t mean we should base what we do right now on something that is nothing more than an illusion.

Here’s a little thought experiment for you to do right now. Just imagine, for a moment or two, what would be different if you, and the planet, and everything on it, were created one second ago, and all  those memories that you think are real were already programmed into your brain cells?

They Control You – If You Let Them

Yet you let them control your life.

As I mentioned at the beginning – something happens, a sight, sounds, sensation, scent – and it triggers a memory. That memory shifts your mood. Your mood affects your decision making process and consequently how you experience your life. Let’s say, when you were a baby, a doctor with a big beard stuck a needle in you and handled you roughly. Let’s say, because you were a baby, he didn’t treat you as a person, more as a thing.

So back to today, and you find yourself always a little suspicious and wary of men with beards. You call it intuition and you know that wariness is keeping you safe – you’ve just never realised it’s about beards and never noticed that your intuition never flags up clean-shaven men.

Subliminal Programmes

What happens at a subliminal level is that your natural, programmed, survival instincts – operating outside of your awareness – get triggered whenever a beard is in sight. Those same emotional chemicals, the ones that were released when you did the unpleasant memory exercise earlier, are set free. You notice emotional discomfort and feel a little uncomfortable. It’s just the echo of a memory, but because you can feel it, because you can feel the uncomfortable changes in your mood state, you think it is real.

It Must Be True

If it’s real, it must be true and so you act out a fantasy created by an ancient survival system that works on the basis of if it hurt once, avoid it forever because it might kill you next time.

What you feel, that slide into a negative mood state, is nothing more than chemicals floating around in your blood stream. Chemicals triggered by your primitive survival instincts that were not designed for 21st Century living on a planet with billions of people that you can never avoid.

The exercise you did earlier shifted you first into a negative mood and then into a positive mood in a matter of moments. You can always do this. You can consciously choose what to think about. So next time you feel low, find as good a memory as you can get hold of and use it to lift your mood a little – unless, of course, you enjoy the misery. Use your ability to make conscious choices to focus on thoughts that make you feel good, rather than thoughts that make you feel bad.

And whenever you feel bad, remind yourself, it’s just sensations.

More Help

If you’d like more help on how to shift your thoughts into the positive. My book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis is a training course that helps you to take control of your mind, your thoughts, and how you feel so that you can consciously shift into a permanently more positive mind set where setbacks are nothing more than temporary glitches in the smooth running of your life.


Are You Overweight and Addicted to Food?

Is food more powerful than your desire to lose weight?

Does food control your life?

Is it almost impossible for you to stop eating once you are full?

Being addicted to food is a strange idea. After all we can’t do without it, can we? So food addiction must be something different from just eating, or just eating a bit too much because that’s, well, that’s just normal.


If you:

  • Eat faster than normal
  • Eat well past the point of fullness
  • Eat frequently when not physically hungry
  • Eat alone or in secret
  • Feel bad or guilty after overeating
  • Feel that you must be different somehow

Then you may have a problem with food that is beyond what most people experience.

If this is you then recognise that losing weight is going to be much tougher for you than it is for others. However, you may like to know that you are not alone in this. There are 12 million people in the UK that suffer from a compulsive eating problem to some extent. Some scientists would like to point to the problem being a genetic disorder, but to my mind if one fifth of the population have the same thing then it’s not really a disorder – it’s normal.

So if it’s not genetic, what else could be causing it?

Genetic? Well sort of

Well it sort of is genetic, but not in a bad way. When you think about it these bodies we appear to inhabit were designed for a very different world from the one they live in now. They were designed as survival machines for life around 100,000 years ago when, if you wanted to eat, you had to go catch an antelope or dig up some roots, or spend all day picking tiny berries. Just finding something to eat used up a huge amount of calories and sometimes food was scarce.

That occasional scarcity of food was what allowed us to develop the ability to carry a surplus around with us in the form of fat deposits. Apart from anything else these helped to keep our bodies warm, and as I mentioned in my book How to Lose Weight Easily, fat burns less energy than muscle so the metabolic cost of carrying it is minimal.

The Sweet Stuff

Survival, back then, was all about the balance between calorie output and calorie input. Sugar is just dense calories; calories are energy; and energy is survival. So we developed a taste for sweet stuff. So much so that we would risk stings and death by climbing trees to raid hives for their honey.

Sweet also came in the form of fully ripened fruit.

There wasn’t a lot of sweet around in the world back then, so what there was, was highly prized and savoured when it was available. Because it was not readily available and life was very physical, a taste for sweet was never detrimental to our health and well-being.

Nowadays everything is sweet. Go to your kitchen cupboard and pick out half a dozen packaged foods. Check the nutrition label, or the ingredients list and I bet most of them will have sugar in some form. If it ends in ose it’s probably sugar e.g. Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Glucose solids. There’s a whole load of other stuff that’s also sugar but you probably got bored reading that list, so I’m not going to inflict an even longer one on you.

Fat too

Fats are another problem. Fats are compact calories just like sugar. When you mix fat and sugar together it’s heaven to a body that is, basically, an energy seeking device. The problem is the body has only one way of really letting you know that your calorie intake is less than your calorie expenditure and that’s hunger.

When you pay attention to your body’s messages and eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full, then everything stays nicely balanced. But the body was never designed to work with sugar or fat in everything. The craving for sweet comes from sweet being in short supply – not available in your kitchen cupboard 24 hours a day. Consequently sweet bypasses the hunger control. Usually the warning for eating too much sugar is nausea or vomiting.

They deliberately trigger an addictive response

This sugar-fat thing is taken advantage of by food manufacturers and they carefully balance sugars, fats and chemical flavours to trigger the same brain receptors that are activated by substances like heroin or cocaine. And they do it quite deliberately to get you hooked and to trigger binge eating.

They do it so successfully that 12 million in the UK now have a serious problem and once they get a taste of sweetness, often mixed with fat, it bypasses conscious control and they just keep on eating.

What can you do?

There’s been a lot of research done around this problem, looking at ways to help people, so here are a few tips.

The first thing you need to do, assuming you’d really like things to change, is to stop beating yourself up when you fail to stick to limits you set yourself. 12 million others, in this country alone, are having the same problem. Manufacturers are working hard to ensure that you fail. So if you do fail, just acknowledge that you did your best, and that there is always next time. Failure is not the end of the world. It’s just a temporary setback on the road to being slimmer.

The next is the easiest, and this works with smokers too. Just don’t buy the unhealthy stuff. I know supermarkets are open 24 hours a day but quite often the effort of going out to buy something sweet and fatty is enough to let you off the hook. You may feel uncomfortable for a while but if you have a glass of water or cup of tea or coffee without sugar, then the urge will pass. Pretend that you have a bad habit that you want to get rid of. The way to remove habits is to engage in alternative behaviours and make it difficult to engage in the habit. Eat an apple, or a banana. I know it’s not what the craving is for, but part of the habit is wanting something sweet in your mouth. But fruit, although containing sugars, does not have them as freely available as in, say, a chocolate bar or biscuit. The body has to work harder to extract them and so fruit satisfies you for longer. Once you start to do that regularly you will find that the sweet things you used to enjoy are starting to taste a little too sweet and you don’t enjoy them as much.

One last tip for you. One of the triggers for compulsive eating is the taste in your mouth. You will find it is actually much easier not to start eating than to stop. This is a case where you can’t get away with just one. If you eat one you’ll eat the packet. It’s much easier to say no to the first than to the second, so don’t eat the first.

This is a complex problem and I’m not suggesting this article will solve it for you. But it will help you to make a start and enjoy a little success. If you would like some more help then check out my book How to Lose Weight Easily which has hints and tips on how to go about losing weight without dieting. Or for a more in depth look at how to take control of your mind-body check out Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis which includes a chapter on using self hypnosis to help you lose weight.


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 Smokers Support Slavery

75% of commercially grown tobacco is now sourced in the third world. A canny move by the Tobacco Barons since it provides incredibly cheap labour and a distinct lack of the annoying bureaucracy that tends to look after things like Health & Safety. One third of tobacco is grown in China. Zimbabwe, Turkey, India & Brazil are also major producers though some tobacco is still grown in the US and Europe.

With tobacco cultivation there’s all the normal stuff that you get with any crop, ploughing, sowing, weeding… but growing tobacco from this point on takes on a slightly sinister appearance compared with most other crops.

Just as tobacco is a health hazard to those who smoke it, it is also a health hazard to those who grow the stuff. The most common problem experienced by tobacco farmers and their children is acute nicotine poisoning – otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS). Doesn’t Green Tobacco Sickness sound so much nicer than acute nicotine poisoning? GTS is an occupational hazard for tobacco growers and its symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness, and dizziness. This is because of the nicotine absorbed through the skin from the contact that field workers have with tobacco leaves – in much the same way as it is absorbed from the nicotine patches smokers use when they are trying to quit. And these field workers don’t have much choice about contact because tobacco plants need a lot of physical intervention – like the removal of side shoots and flowers – in order to force the leaves to reach the required sizes. The nicotine transfer from leaf to bloodstream is much more rapid when the leaves are wet.

Statistics on the prevalence of GTS are unreliable simply because most doctors – even in tobacco farming areas – do not recognise the symptoms for what they are. The only other area of agriculture where the crop itself is a serious biohazard is in the cultivation of illicit substances like coca and opium.

One researcher wrung the sweat from the shirts of tobacco field workers and found it contained almost 0.1mg of nicotine per millilitre. Rain or dew on the leaves of tobacco plants has been measured with a concentration of up to 9mg nicotine per 100mL of dew. The average field worker is exposed, through contact with moisture on the leaves, to 72mg of nicotine – about the same as a 40 a day smoker. So if you want the nicotine without the tar and additives go and get a job as a tobacco worker and get paid for giving up smoking. For the production of flue cured tobacco, leaves are harvested individually by hand – thus maximising contact with the toxin in the leaves.

Nicotine tolerance builds over long periods of exposure. Children don’t have this and tobacco farming makes use of large quantities of child labour so children are at much higher risk of developing GTS.

Be aware also that tobacco is one of the agricultural products most commonly farmed with child labour (Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) or forced labour (Malawi & Kazakhstan). On the cigarette manufacturing side of the process, forced and child labour is used in India where (according to WHO) 325,000 children work rolling tobacco and about half of those are bonded labourers (effectively slavery).

As an example 50,000 bonded labourers are engaged in cigarette production in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. Only 5,000 of these are registered (and, therefore, protected by labour laws) the rest receive the equivalent of 50cents (US) per 1000 cigarettes they make. Employers make deductions from this at their own discretion. Among these employees a 9 year old boy and a 10 year old girl were found bound by iron chains because of their repeated escape attempts.

In Malawi children as young as three are being employed to produce tobacco. Here the going rate is $1.28 (US) for a day’s work for a family of four sorting tobacco leaves. One day, by the way, is dawn to dusk. A family of seven (in bonded labour) earn $29 a year as tobacco farmers. Here tobacco farms send recruiters to villagers for child labourers. The children report having food withheld and being beaten. Pay is promised to the parents at the end of the season.

Malawi obtains 65% of its foreign income from tobacco (probably the only country in the world economically dependent on tobacco – I have heard it said that the tobacco companies would like you to believe they are the saviours of the Third World, and without tobacco many countries would become bankrupt). Malawi’s produce is purchased by British American Tobacco  (Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall) Imperial Tobacco (Lambert & Butler, John Player Special, Sonoma, USA Gold and Gauloise), and Philip Morris (Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges, Chesterfield & Merit). Interestingly British American Tobacco founded the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation.

Forced labour in Malawi takes place under the guise of tenant farming where an agreement is made with the landlord. The tenant is promised a share in the profit when the crop is sold. The tenant has to purchase seed, and anything else that is needed, from the landlord, but has no control over the sale of the crop and usually the landlord arranges things so there is no profit. Consequently the tenant sinks deeper and deeper into debt – often forcing young children into the fields because family is the only free labour available.

A life of slavery is the only possible outcome.

Ultimately the smoker is responsible.

Purchasing tobacco is in effect condoning every aspect of tobacco production.

So if you smoke, think about children being chained; children being poisoned; and families spending their entire lives getting deeper and deeper into debt.

Think about it every time you hand over your hard-earned cash for your next pack of twenty.

…and if you need a little help giving up then check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis, or my download page.




The Ten Commitments – For When the World Overwhelms You

There were four of us, in the bar at Que Pasa, talking about how best to realise diZsa’s idea. The idea was to extend a helping hand to members of our meditation group, at a place where they could just drop in, have a chat about their problems and receive some help from experienced therapists.

We had a possible venue, but what I didn’t know was the sort of problems that people were seeking help for.

I asked, and the response surprised me.

It seemed the most common problem that caused a request for help was a feeling of being overwhelmed. In other words, life and its problems had become just too much to cope with.

I know life can get tough, and some of the problems I’ve heard that other people have to deal with make me realise that not only have I been incredibly fortunate, but I have led a relatively sheltered life free from threats of violence or homelessness. Still I’ve been through my own mill and suffered through Hells that seemed to be designed just for me.

In my exploration of those Hells and with my 15 years working as a therapist I’ve learned a few coping mechanisms, so I thought about it and decided I could create something tailored to just get you through one day when your world overwhelms you.

So I did.

I called it The Ten Commitments – How to survive when the world overwhelms you.

It’s a very short Kindle book. Deliberately brief so that the solution to the problems doesn’t itself add to the overwhelm.

The premise is simple. Commit to doing 10 simple things and you will discover that you can survive your day.

The 10 simple things have been carefully designed to bring about subtle changes in how the world is viewed and consequently that overwhelming world is changed forever.

The book isn’t designed to solve your problems. It’s designed to get you through today. Having done that, you know that you can do that any time you choose and so no future day can threaten your safety any more.

It is simply powerful.

It will change your world if you do what it suggests.

But it is only for those who are overwhelmed, have reached the end of their tether, and feel they can no longer cope.

It is for those on the point of giving up on themselves.

Keep it in mind and recommend it to anyone you know who is struggling with life right now.



hypnosis Personal Development self-help

Jennifer Saunders Uses Hypnosis To Help With Procrastination and Win £100,000


According to the New Zealand Herald Jennifer Saunders is experiencing a common problem – procrastination. You know, that thing where every trivial task is more important than the most important job you have to finish. It seems that Jennifer Saunders is working on a script for the screen version of Absolutely Fabulous and finding it difficult to complete – even though there is a £100,000 bet to win from her friend Dawn French if she completes before the end of the year.

Jennifer is getting help from her hypnotherapist.

So how exactly might hypnosis help you to do what you don’t really want to do?

Well, in my experience, the problem is never about doing the thing that is causing the procrastination. The problem is about things like fear of success, ‘what will I do when I’ve finished that?’, expecting to fail, fear of what will happen after the task is completed…

Obviously I have no idea what the problem is that Jennifer Saunders is experiencing and I have no intention of speculating. What I like is the idea that she is using hypnotherapy to help her to write a successful script that will turn into a film that I will almost certainly enjoy.

There are several routes that you can take with hypnosis to solve this particular type of problem. You can journey into the past to find out where the problem may have originated; you can move forward in time and see what problems and difficulties show up that you might be subconsciously avoiding; or you could treat it symbolically.

My first choice would be the symbolic one – because when it works it is very quick and very simple.

You can even do it yourself if you know how to use self-hypnosis.

All you have to do is to take yourself into trance, and when you are deeply relaxed, allow an image to form of a barrier that blocks your route to the successful completion of the task. You can imagine the barrier as anything you like: a shark-infested moat, a big stone wall; a minefield; razor wire; or maybe even a pride of lions. Use your imagination, the sillier the better.

Then you have to use your imagination to find a way to get over, through, or destroy the barrier. Because it is your imagination you can create anything you want to help you.

This imagery activates right-brain symbolic processing and, after you do this, you may find yourself effortlessly completing what you were putting off.

Obviously it can be a lot more complicated than this, but all the solution really requires is a willingness to explore your own resistance to completion and allow your subconscious mind to reveal its secrets.

If you want to try this out and need some help with the self-hypnosis part then check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis where I go into this technique, and others, in much more detail.

Inspired by:


The ABC of Anxiety Relief

Watch on Youtube at:

Not written anything here for ages, because I’ve been exploring the possibility of using video to communicate my message to a wider audience. So here is my very first attempt at video production.

I hope you enjoy it and find it of some value. I’m a one man show so performing, filming, editing, & titling are all new skills I’m having to learn, and that’s one of the things I’d like to write about here before I get on to the main topic – the subject of the video.

Learning new skills, even if they are highly complex, is a wonderful way to keep your mind young, healthy and active. There was a point where I was ready to tear my hair out trying out figure out how to get my titles out of Adobe After Effects and into my video editing software. Two weeks later I can do simple stuff relatively easily. The rolling credits at the end were the biggest challenge and I’m not totally happy with the outcome but I’m pleased that I’ve done as well as I have.

Keep your mind engaged with new, difficult and fascinating  challenges. It keeps you young. It keeps you healthy. And it expands your world.

Expanding your world is another way to reduce anxiety levels. The bigger your world, the less impact any change will have because your world is so big that even losing your job is only a small part of what you live for.

But anxiety interferes with fun, enjoyment and learning. So it is hugely important, if you are a worrier, that you learn techniques to help you reduce your anxiety load. I have designed this video to help you do just that by following three easy to remember steps and repeating them as often as you need to throughout your day. It takes just a moment and, like video editing, it might seem complicated at first but if you keep at it, it will soon be second nature and crippling anxiety will be a thing of the past.

If you enjoy the video please leave a comment below.


Self Hypnosis Book Availability

I’ve been busy over the last few months making my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis available through more outlets than just Amazon’s Kindle. It is now available for download for Nook’s from Barnes & Noble, for Sony e-Readers, for Kobo, and is also available in Apple’s iBooks for use on just about any iDevice. You can download it directly from the appropriate retailer’s website, or you can get it in any electronic format directly from Smashwords. The beauty of buying it from Smashwords is that once you have paid for one copy, you can download as many times and in as many formats as you wish. So if you ever change your electronic reading machine you can still get another copy without any additional expense.

But the best news is that the book will very shortly be available in paperback. I’ve just approved the proof copy so it will be available on Amazon in this format probably by the end of the week.

Comments from the back cover:

“If you have tried other hypnosis books that have you responding critically to the suggestions, give this book a try. It contains numerous techniques that really bypassed my inner skeptic. One simple and powerful technique that I used helped me to reduce my “white coat hypertension” allowing me to drop my systolic number by approximately 10 and diastolic by 3. This significant drop occurred in just a couple of days. I have never had such pronounced and easy success with any other hypnosis tools.”

Lawrence Bandini

  “This book is amazing! Michael not only writes a powerful book, but he walks you through everything. I was able to slowly put my past behind me, and start working on the now and the future. I have learned to relax and renew myself everyday, which is something I have needed for years but could never quite get the hang of it with previous books and cd’s I had purchased in the past. You can’t go wrong by reading this book, it is powerful work in a simple and helpful way. Very easy to comprehend.”

 Patricia Springer


I very much enjoyed your book, Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis.

Your book taught me things I had never realized before, and highlighted some things I knew. I very much enjoyed the visualizations and techniques you use.

I am using some of the different techniques, and would rate this book 5 stars.

Thanks for a wonderful new experience.”

Bob Thomason