You can learn to be more confident in yourself and your abilities, to help you in all areas of your life.
have a look at my YouTube video clip – Andrea
There are many areas of our Health and Well-being that we can focus on; exercising to gain strength; working on a good posture; eating a well balanced diet, for health generally and to maintain a healthy weight.
If we have a physical problem causing pain, or embarrassment, we will seek help. At Holcombe Health Clinic, where I hire a room, there is such a wonderful variety of expertise available.
All of the above also have an affect on your Mental Well-being- we know how amazing exercise is for making you feel better in yourself, or how much better you feel when irradiating physical pain, or seeing and feeling the benefits eating more healthily.
I work on the area of Mental Well-being, your Mental Health, in many different ways, helping you to understand how your mind works, how to manage Stress and Anxiety and develop and grow your Confidence and Self-esteem.
Our Mental Well-being is so important to how we function on a day to day basis, how productive we are, and it affects whether we try new things, reach our potential, go for a new job / promotion, how we perform in exams and it affects our relationships – whether with family, friends, work colleagues, and our personal relationships, and most importantly the relationship we have with ourselves.
Stress and Anxiety
Many of us will have had times we have felt stressed, and will understand how it affects our ability to make decisions, increasing the risk of making mistakes, it affects our sleep and causes muscle tension and headaches etc… generally stress is temporary, and when the cause of the stress is resolved- we take a sigh of relief. If stress is prolonged it can cause many other health concerns, so learning to manage stress is important.
Anxiety is something different, but stress can cause anxiety and vice-versa.
Anxiety is generally fear of what may happen in the future – anxiety and fear causes our body to release adrenaline so we are ready to Fight Fright (freeze) Flight (run – or avoid altogether) This is a natural process and is especially useful to us when we are under genuine threat, by keeping us safe or to help us survive. When someone is a ‘sufferer of Anxiety’- then you are in an almost permanent state of Fight Fright Flight to a threat that is mostly not real, our imagination is a powerful thing, however, this usually happens for very good reason. This prolonged state can understandably cause exhaustion and like stress, affect sleep too.
The good news is, that once you understand Stress and Anxiety you can manage it and feel human and normal, for you, again.
Mindfulness is a great way to start- as bringing yourself into the present moment and being present with yourself has a calming effect- just focusing on your breath or taking 3 slow meaningful breaths can help. Just taking time out in nature – even 10 minutes is very beneficial, there are studies around how amazing being outside is for us and our mental well-being, especially being around trees or in lovely open expanses. Another great tool is music, as it has a powerful affect on our mood, and can change our mood in an instant, so having calming or uplifting upbeat music can really help you feel better. Animals also can have a very calming effect, get you out, or make you laugh. Laughter is also incredibly at shifting mood.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Stress and Anxiety can also have an impact on your Confidence levels. Many things can dent your confidence, and we are all the same in that respect, and may feel more confident in one situation and not another. Confidence therefore can fluctuate depending on circumstances and experiences. Confidence is an ‘intangible’ thing – a feeling, and different for us all, and is also linked to our skills and knowledge and how confident we feel in our ability to deliver what is needed, or to speak out and / or help ourselves or help others.
Where there are deeper confidence issues and low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) can greatly impact many life decisions, maybe not going for what you want and ‘putting up’ with situations and people. Essentially, it is about your self-worth and feeling confident enough to stick up for You, or to go to an exercise class, or address weight issues, or to go on a date and crucially to say No to what you don’t want.
I find that for many people I see, it has taken enormous courage to take the first step. Once you do, it is important to go at the pace that suits you. Most people fear change, because it is a ‘threat’ to us, an unknown! So small sustainable steps are best.
One thing that can help- is to write down your achievements – start with little things like when you learnt to read and write, maybe you learnt to ride a bike, swim 100 meters… and then keep going! You’ll be amazed.
Also Gratitude is so powerful and positive, think of all the things you are grateful for, small things and big things; like having running water, a lovely close friend, a park nearby, for pets, or things and people who make you smile – this is a great exercise to do daily – get a note book and write down 3 things that made you smile – and do it at the end of every day, this switches your mind to think of the positives – even if the day wasn’t the best day.
I really hope that this helps
Please do contact me if you would like to know more about what I do.
Could 80 / 20 work for you? and help you take the pressure off yourself, in order to perform better and be more productive, and ultimately feel happier.
Around this time of year, some people can feel they have let themselves or others down, by not achieving the goal of a New Year’s resolution.
This isn’t Pareto’s 80 / 20 rule – which is 80% of effects come from 20% of the cause – used in many ways like; ‘80% of sales come from 20% of customers’
The 80 / 20 rule in this instance, that I personally use, is a different way of looking at things, to help you achieve what you want in a kinder way for You, and that’s personal to you too.
There is so much information out there about what we should be doing, need to do, how and when, how to set goals to achieve and be successful – succeed.
My 80 / 20 rule is simple:
80% of the time, do what you know you should, for You (we are all different) and 20% of the time – give yourself a break, and do what you enjoy, like and Love.
There are a few reasons this could work for you.
By being kinder to yourself in this way, you relive pressure and stress and are more likely to achieve goals you may have set, empowering you to succeed and achieve – feeling much more motivated and happier, and not beating yourself up along the way, and feeling like a failure.
Setting goals can be positive and great way of helping you to focus and plan. To reach deadlines, and get things done.
If the goals just seem like a never ending ‘to do’ list then the pressure can really ramp up, leading to overwhelm, and feeling like you can’t prioritise, because you have lost sight in the mountain of things to be achieved, and the expectations set by yourself and others, which can lead to making mistakes, and also stifling your ability to be solution focused, and like you are not moving forward at all.
In order for goal setting to work, the goal needs to be realistic and achievable – for you. That you have planned how you are going to get there and have the correct resources and support crucial to your success. It is also important that the goal set is for YOU, and is what You want, that there is something in it for You, because if you haven’t really bought into it, and WHY you are doing it, then with the best will in the world, you will find it a hard thing to do.
Other considerations for goal setting is not to set HIGH achieving goals that feels too out of reach, and unobtainable, without first breaking them down into smaller achievable chunks. If you don’t it can lead to either feeling like you’ve ‘failed’ before barely starting, or leads to Procrastination and complete avoidance, to avoid the inevitable ‘fail’. It’s not saying don’t have big dreams of what you want to achieve but do think around the planning – climbing Everest is not done in one go, there is a lot of preparation, and the peak is reached step by step by step, as is the descent.
Having a plan beyond the ‘goal’ is also something that can be crucial too, to either help you maintain what you have achieved, or some reward to allow yourself to revel in and enjoy your achievement, before possibly moving on to the next thing, and the next thing.
Where the 80 / 20 rule really comes into its own is about alleviating the stress around eliminating and denying yourself things, which can create resistance to the very thing you are trying to achieve. ‘Thou shalt not have’ ‘you will not’ ‘NO’ and the ‘loss of’ creates an interesting state in most humans! It causes craving of the very thing you’re trying to cut out, stress and pressure, and also a state of panic sometimes. We can then move into defiance and / or ‘survival mode’ because we don’t like to feel we are losing something – even if it is good for us! and it can make us feel unhappy too.
Why? because of the ‘fear of change’ the unknown, the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘who will I be if I’m not this?’ ‘what will I do if I don’t do this’ and also not having really bought into the ‘WHY am I doing this?’ – at a deep level, that really means something to you.
So, using 80 / 20 can really help, because if you are ‘doing what you know you should’ for 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you can have ‘time-out’ this instantly helps you reduce the pressure and stress on yourself, and so long as you have planned HOW you are going to achieve your goal, then you’re on to a winner, because there is no denying anything, no need to panic and a much more enjoyable experience, and then as you achieve the results you want – guess what?! Motivation and momentum build, and you no longer feel like you’re fighting an up-hill battle to achieve your goals.
Make sure you are scheduling in your 20% R n R or time out and be truly present when you do, otherwise what are you working for! Real rest has enormous benefits and allowing yourself the time to come up with solutions, and even do a bit of daydreaming – Einstein knew the benefits of this.
You can do a rough 80 / 20 split and for example, when it comes to cutting out certain foods, that a lot of people can struggle with, ‘not on a school night’ could work for you.
For instance; no crisps and chocolate on a ‘school day’ Sunday through to Thursday (this does rely on having healthier, more sustaining choices available in your planning, which also improve your cognitive ability) and then Friday & Saturday you can have what you want.
Interestingly, stress levels and the associated pressure drops quite significantly. There is only so much you can binge on and feel good about, both in a physical and mental sense, and then as you start to achieve your goals, and relax into ‘I can have crisps on Friday, if I want’ you don’t crave them, because you’re not denying yourself, and as you start to see the results you want – it becomes a better feeling than a packet of crisps could ever give you! and your goal becomes even more achievable, you can see it, feel it, touch it. It puts you in the driving seat, you are now in control, the change then becomes about a sustainable lifestyle choice, a new positive habit, a way to be, rather than a Goal to reach…and ‘then what, where now?’
Do remember you are human though, and there are days where you just don’t feel the full ticket, so do be kind to yourself on those days, and then adjust, so maybe Friday is now out, because you defaulted on Tuesday, and it’s OK.
As Humans, how we FEEL, drives everything that we do, or don’t do, so if the 80 / 20 rule helps you feel better about yourself, you are much more likely to go forward with what you want, and enjoy the experience. Feeling more able to take on other challenges, and set your sights towards your dreams and aspirations for the You want to be and the life you want to live, by expanding your comfort zone, building resilience, developing confidence and self-esteem, trying new things and saying ‘I CAN’
Have you ever felt incredibly nervous, with a racing heart and butterflies in your stomach?
Have you ever felt ridged and sick with fear?
How about terrified and excited all at the same time?
Ever wondered why?
Our mission in life is to Survive and to Thrive.
Survival for us means many things, not just surviving threat to life, but surviving well, so we can also thrive, grow and develop, and procreate (keep our species alive). Some ways we survive are by staying hydrated, having food and shelter. To literally stay alive from threat, we need to know what a threat is to our safety, and to know Fear. So, Fear crucially keeps us safe, by alerting us to Danger.
In situations where our safety or life is under real threat, and those closest to us, then Fear is definitely our friend, because if we did not have any fear or the ability to detect a threat or know what a threat is…then we could count on the odds of our demise being pretty high!
The reason why Fear can make us FEEL ‘sick’ or have butterflies, have a racing heart, and breathlessness, is because a hormone called adrenaline, is released into the blood stream from the Adrenal Medulla, at the sign of danger or threat to our safety or those we love, and sometimes also towards others, or animals, in danger and under threat.
This hormone is responsible for getting us ready to take action quickly, in order to survive the imminent threat. It is called the Fight Fright Flight response. There is then a sugar surge to produce energy, increase blood flow to the larger muscles, diverting attention away from the stomach and any digestion needs not essential right now, to get you ready to run or fight, dilation of your pupils – to see better, and an increased heart rate and breathing to increase the oxygen flow to help you flee, or fight. This is called a ‘physiological’ response in the body, where there are physical changes in or to the body. It is all part of the Sympathetic Nervous System, that is finely tuned to help us survive threat, and relies on all of our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing and our intuition – our intuition being a combination of many senses and experiences) for the information to be sent, to alert us to a threat or potential threat to our safety.
When the threat is a real one, we will respond very quickly by; running to safety and avoiding the potential threat, which is Flight, hiding or climbing out of the way, maybe it is a case of Fighting your way out of a situation, like a burning house, or having superhuman strength, you hear of people lifting cars, or maybe it’s Fright or Freeze, where your survival depends on staying very still, or stopping dead just before disaster – like the edge of a cliff, and you need every muscle in your body to respond. In this type of situation, our adrenaline and the physiological responses are utilised, and once the threat is over, the Parasympathetic Nervous System takes over, lowering the now not needed adrenaline and returning the body back to ‘normal’. We can sometimes go into shock and shake and feel very sick and light headed when it has been a heightened situation, but generally, it does not last – however the memory of the event does, and we bank every detail, to ensure our survival in the future.
Mostly though, our survival is less dramatic.
We are wonderfully complex and amazing, and when you think how little we generally actively consciously think about how we get through the day, cruising through it uneventfully from morning to evening, and all that actually goes on within our subconscious mind and body’s to allow this to happen, without us giving it a second though, like; Breathing, digesting food, regulating our sugar levels and body temperature, pumping blood and nutrients around our bodies – to every single cell, constant renewal of cells and use of energy where it is needed and processing safely what we don’t need, even when we are sleeping, and calculating and avoiding risks as we go about our daily tasks.
We don’t question things, until maybe the smooth operations falters in some way. Even then, we are miraculous in our ability to recover situations, and recover physically, learning what works and what doesn’t and then applying it in the future, to lessen further risk.
As human beings, from the moment we are born – we are wired to Survive, to survive from threats to our life and well-being, in the best way we can. Some of this survival is instinctual, like a baby being able to cry at a staggering 130 decibels, to ensure they are not ignored, that they are fed, watered and nurtured and kept safe. Other survival strategies we learn as we grow, through different experiences and being taught techniques, and what to do to help us survive well, and reduce risk of threat, by learning to risk assess situations, so we can for the most part live life without incident. For example: crossing the road safely, assessing the road whilst driving, not exiting a moving vehicle, not walking into a Lion’s den, or walking off a cliff, putting your finger in a live electric socket, and relying on your assessment of many situations from past experience and those that just don’t feel right.
Beyond our survival is then the need to Thrive, to feel safe and comfortable, and as humans we also all seek pleasure. Feeling good about ourselves and situations is important, and doing the things we like, eating what we like, wearing what we like, watching what we like, being with people we like vs what we don’t like. Most of the time though we have a calm equilibrium to life, which we appreciate more when it has been disrupted or absent.
All humans have smiling and laughter in common and being / feeling happy is generally our preferred state. Being happy is very much dependent on how we are surviving and thriving and not a means for survival, (though arguably could be deployed as a tactic) because if our basic need to survive well is not being met, then we are in a different mind ‘state’ to happy, like feeling unhappy, sad, stressed, anxious or fearful, angry or frustrated, or maybe just tired, hungry and thirsty. (What constitutes ‘happiness’ is individual to each of us.)
We are mostly able to deal with and resolve most situations in a practical way, without the drama of Fight Fright Flight; like drink some water and eat food and we can consciously use ‘mind over matter’ to move on swiftly in our minds, by way of our thoughts, from one mind ‘state’ and situation to another and get back to feeling happy and comfortable, or getting on with tasks. Our thoughts, and what we think about all situations, affects how we feel.
Building resilience, the ability to ‘bounce back’ or not let one situation affect another, is an important part of surviving and thriving well in a less stressful way, and it is something we can learn to do. We can also learn to switch to happy thoughts quickly or see a situation as just a situation to learn from, in a positive light and not as a threat, maybe even as an opportunity to learn something new. This of course relies on many factors, and experiences, how confident we feel and how skilled we are at not only managing our own survival, by managing and lowering risk, but how we ‘thrive’ and what that actually means to us personally? Whereas we all tend to know what it means to Survive, to stay alive and intact.
So, we know about Fear being our friend, and helping us to survive.
Can Fear also be Foe?
Technically, no it can’t, because it helps us to Survive. However, at the beginning of the fifth full paragraph I wrote ‘When the threat is a real one…’
Fear can be Foe, when the threat is not real to our survival, but in many ways hinders our ability to thrive effectively and happily, because of the response to it, and the anxiety experienced associated with having the Fear.
As humans, our thoughts relate closely to how we feel. If we feel fear, it feels very real to us, and due to the power of our thoughts, the threat does not have to actually be real, we just need to believe it is real in our mind, to create a response in our body, and our body will respond to the perceived threat. So, what happens?
Yes, adrenaline is released to get the body ready to Fight Fright Flight, even if our logical mind knows the threat is not a real one to our survival, how we feel, our emotion, takes over, and we experience real changes in our body, like a racing heart and quickened breathing.
Why? because feeling under threat regardless of it being ‘real’ is a threat to us, and our preferred happy state and the desire to not have an experience we don’t like, that makes us feel bad, so the potential of harm is real enough to us to cause a response. This can be due to a number of reasons, like an actual bad past experience, which experience has taught us to ‘fear’ and see as a threat, our perception of the potential threat can be skewed though, and it may take us some time, as an adult, to process the situation for what it is, and risk assess it as a low threat, or not a real threat to our survival. Or the emotion and fear or anxiety is so heightened, that our reasoning and judgement are squashed into an unheard whisper.
Perception is key here, because in situations that have caused us to feel heightened fear in the past, heightens our perception of the situation being a threat, so we may ‘see’ threat, where there is none or little. Of course, these thoughts and feelings are for good reason, and understandable.
The adrenaline has still been released in readiness and has still put the body under stress of readiness, sometimes this adrenaline is used to run, or hide or avoid the potential situation, but not in the way really intended for our survival from threat to our life.
Anxiety is fear of what may or could happen in the future; the ‘what if…it’s bad, I fail, they laugh at me, I die or get injured, I get it all wrong, they don’t like me?’ even though logically, a past event is not ‘evidence’ for what will happen, our fear of what may happen, changes our perception of how to measure the situation as a potential risk, we raise the odds of things going badly in our assessment, and unwittingly raise the odds of the situation going not happening in the best way.
The Fear or Anxiety then becomes our greatest Foe, because in our attempts to stay safe, and lessen threat, and to stay comfortable, and preserve equilibrium, we start to miss out on life, on opportunity, and opportunities to experience some risk and learn to manage all risk better by building resilience, and consequently we don’t Thrive, and may barely really be surviving and we then feel unhappy, and quite often trapped by our own fear, staying within our Comfort Zone, which is very safe and has it is place to help us heal, recuperate and reflect, but it is also a static place of no new experiences and growth.
Generally, we would all agree that there are definite threats to all humans, regardless of your perception of the situation, for example; entering a Lion’s den, or crossing a busy road without stopping and looking first.
Due to our emotions and how we Feel, and how we would prefer to feel; ‘comfortable’ ‘safe’ happy’ any experiences we have to the contrary stays in our memory bank, as a perfectly formed memory, based on our experience – or more crucially – our personal perception and memory of the experience, which may or may not be fact, and how things actually happened. The more we felt unhappy, under threat, an unease, or fearful, the more intense our memory is of the threat to our survival or equilibrium and happiness.
The good news is, we can learn to control the Anxiety and Fear we do not require so intensely, using various techniques like breathing, hypnotherapy, ‘tapping’ and having a good understanding of anxiety and what triggers it, and using various solution focused therapy, and by talking about it. Anxiety is much more common than you may think, and can all have times of suffering with anxiety, where it takes over in certain situation and we feel like we can’t control it.
We do need Fear, to keep us safe, and some level of anxiety is not altogether bad, as the adrenaline produced can kick us into action, and help move us along. Remember having no Fear has its own dangers, and no adrenaline may make us sloths, with nothing getting done and no urgency to reach deadline, or complete tasks!
A thought to leave with you relating to a question at the beginning
‘How about – terrified and excited all at the same time?’ most of us have had that type of experience
Maybe you’re about to go on a roller-coaster, do a parachute jump, run a race, see a scary film, as your choice, because it’s thrilling! Some people enjoy this type of experience more than others, because it is way outside of the Comfort Zone.
When we are excited, what happens? How do we feel? Our heart rate increases, as does our breathing, we can have butterflies in our stomach…Yes! Adrenaline has been released, it is the very same adrenaline, used in when we are under threat or in danger.
Therefore; ANXIETY / FEAR = EXCITEMENT
If the adrenaline is the same, the body’s response is the same, where is it different then? Remember the power of our thoughts?! What we believe – is real to us! And the next amazing thing is: we can choose what we think, our thoughts, and choose how we feel as a result, because thoughts and emotions are related. So next time you feel anxious or fearful – when the threat isn’t absolutely a threat to your survival, ask yourself these crucial questions;
‘Is the threat or fear Real?’ ‘Where is my evidence?’ (a psst experience is not concrete evidence for a future situation) ‘Does feeling anxious help me or the situation?’ ‘Am I Anxious or excited?’ Do I want to feel anxious or excited?!’
I really hope you found this article useful, and I must add that this is my interpretation and way of explaining things, to help people understand the fascinating subject of being Us.
This article belongs to Andrea Barker Confidence Coach.
How do you survive Christmas while managing an SME?
Christmas can be a wonderful and a stressful time for many reasons; the pressure for it to be just right, for everyone to get on! fitting in extra activities, buying presents and if you have a business – trying to manage that too.
For some business owners I know, the festive period is a time to wind-down, and an opportunity to plan for the coming year, for others it can be relentless, and also managing staff holidays, whilst keeping clients happy.
My advice would be: do have a cut off point so you can have time over the festive period, to be festive, or to relax and re-charge. We are much more effective and efficient as a result – because as much as you may love, live and breathe your business, there is more to You and your life. If we look after our well-being and literally sometimes do ‘nothing’ – yes nothing, or watch a film, play games with family and friends, or get some fresh air, the benefit is immeasurable.
To truly-wind down, this means managing the expectations of any staff you may have, your clients and family too, most people do understand. Be clear when things can be done by, switch the email to ‘out of office’ – you have worked hard – but no-one can run on empty. Think of yourself as your favourite car, or an amazing race horse, how would you look after them?
So, your present to yourself is: TIME – to rest, recuperate, recharge and be You, and so that you can free up your mind to come up with great solutions, and ideas. When we are stressed or running at max constantly – the solution focused centre of our mind closes down, because we are just ‘surviving’.
Look to the greats; Einstein knew the power of doing ‘nothing’ to gain his best ideas, and many top business people know about the power of true rest, and meditation (there are many forms including; nature; music, exercise and Yoga) this also puts you very much in tune with yourself – your intuition or ‘gut instinct’ which is never wrong, and will serve you well, not just in business but in life too, and if there has been a problem or issue to deal with, you are certain to come up with the answer by allowing your mind the time to process a solution.
Christmas isn’t the best time for a lot of people, so if you have people around you, and food on the table – being grateful is an amazing boost for you too – and those closest to you
Have a Happy peaceful Christmas and New Year
I am signing off now and returning to Confidence Coaching on the 3rd January 2019
I delivered a talk to a lovely group of people on Wednesday 5th December
titled: ‘Presenting Yourself Confidently in Business’
here is the slide showing what we covered
Presenting covers so many things – from how you present yourself, whether in person or over the phone, in emails and on social media, across your Branding, literally delivering a speech, talk or presentation – to ‘Being Present’
A present is also a gift
Presenting is a way of giving information- so people are informed about an event, a promotion or new product, idea or concept and to raise awareness, generate interest and to educate, so people can make informed choices, or it could be to raise money for a good cause.
Many people have a Fear of presenting and there are many reasons why – the fear of being judged, and feeling exposed, getting it wrong, embarrassing oneself or forgetting what to say, or worrying that you have nothing good to say that people will want to listen to. During the talk, we discussed whether people really do judge you in the way that you think, in this situation – and generally they don’t – do You?
Here is why – we are generally thinking about ourselves! it’s true – and whether what is being said or shown, is of benefit to us – we may switch of and be thinking about what’s for tea, or the email you should have sent, or not be interested. As the presenter – it’s your job to try and know your audience and there are many ways to do this – depending on the type of event it is – and it is good to remember that not everybody will be interested, but that’s OK.
When it comes to the fear or Anxiety – the best way to get around this is to get out there and do it! To feel Confident – you need to Practice Practice Practice and know your subject – do it in front of the mirror, others or video yourself – so that the first time you do it – isn’t the actual presentation or talk itself!! and you can get the timings right.
You need a little bit of Adrenaline – and you can learn how to control anxiety – one good thing to remember is it’s the same adrenaline if you’re Excited therefore; ANXIETY = EXCITEMENT our mind believes what we tell it – so Choose!
Also, check out your venue beforehand – arrive early – introduce yourself and your subject – have a clear key message and maybe 3 – 7 key points and objectives, to help your audience know what to expect, but it also helps your when planning your presentation / talk /video -to start with the end in mind.
Don’t tightly script what you want to say – bullet point your key points – put notes on PowerPoint – to print off as an aid (PowerPoint) also has presentation mode – so you know whats coming next – don’t overcrowd the slides, they are there as a visual aid only! Invest in a ‘clicker’ – have handouts and extra information for those who want it. Have a checklist of what to take with you – put everything on it – including ‘Take Presentation’ or ‘take handouts’ Computer – cables – plan B! – which could be your presentation on a memory stick, or emailed to yourself or the organiser.
BREATHE and SMILE and most of all be YOU – there is so much more – so get in touch if you want more information 🙂
Confidence and Well Being, being able to cope with anxiety and stress – is essential – a priority for you and for staff