Phone Addicts

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Hands up, I admit it – I am a phone addict! I often wonder how on earth I functioned in the days before smartphones. It was possible to exist without Google, social media and numerous messaging apps at our fingertips, wasn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, these things aren’t bad – I like social media, I like to meet new people this way (though there are some weirdos out there, don’t be weird people) and keep up with old friends. I would really feel lost without my phone. Which leads me to the question – is it healthy? Can there be too much of a good thing?

Unfortunately I think there can be. Speaking from past experience I know there’s been times when I’ve been distracted by my phone when I’m in company – it’s so rude, but there’s just something so compelling and addictive about that little flashing light that let’s me know something (potentially) exciting is waiting for my attention (though when is it ever anything that exciting or urgent?!).

On the plus side, there are many ways to make sure we can enjoy our phones and at the same time minimise the negative effects. Here are a few things to try, and if you have any more tips please share them in the comments:

  • The blue light from your phone is brighter than the sun (honestly!) and makes your body think it’s daytime. This is why looking at your phone before bed can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it difficult to sleep. Put your phone on night mode and lower the brightness.
  • Better still, turn your phone off 60-90 minutes before bed – if you live with other people, talk to them. If you live alone, read a great book, write in your journal, or write a good old-fashioned letter to your best friend. It’s especially important for children and teens to have a phone-free period before bed so that they can start to wind down for sleep.
  • Allocate certain times of the day for your personal social media and messaging friends
  • If work emails disrupt your evenings and weekends, decide on cut off point and use an Out of Office message to alert colleagues to the fact that you will reply in the morning. They’ll soon get the hint.
  • Turn your phone off or disable notifications when you’re working and need to focus.
  • Make a “no phones during dinner” rule – if you or your friends/family like to post food on social media then let them take a pic but then the phones go away. Imagine the novelty of actually talking to the people you’re sitting round the table with!
  • Don’t turn your phone on first thing in the morning – do your breathing exercise, do some stretching or journaling, take a shower, have breakfast. In short, do the things that set your morning up in a calm and relaxed way and then turn your phone on.
  • Try going for a day or even a weekend without your phone – go on, you can do it!!!

Start Small – Just Breath

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Breathing… It’s easy, right? We all do it, thousands and thousands of breaths each day to keep us alive. But wait! HOW do you breath? I can feel the eye rolls from here – “seriously, I got this far in life without knowing how to breath…?”

I get it, but bear with me.

So many of us have stress in our lives, and stress affects each of us differently – what could be just a small thing for one person can feel like the end of the world for someone else. There’s no right or wrong, you feel things how you feel them. Our daily lives throw stressors at us from all angles, seemingly from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until the moment we close them again at night.

Just imagine this scenario: Your alarm goes off but you’re not quite ready to get up yet, so you hit snooze. Only in your half-awake state you turned the alarm off and before you know it 10 more minutes has become 30 more minutes. You leap out of bed in panic, you’re going to be late! You have a quick shower and try to brush your teeth and get dressed at the same time. You run down stairs and put the kettle on, no matter what you can’t leave the house without coffee. You’re sorting out what you need for work, and where are your car keys?? You glance at your phone, you see messages from friends, your assistant has messaged to say she’s sick, and your calendar reminds me you have an important team meeting about a new project first thing. And you’re late! You pour the coffee into your mug, splash milk on the kitchen counter, leave it and run out the door. Your journey is going well, then you hit traffic 5 minutes from the office. It takes you 15 minutes to get there and another 5 to find a parking space. You run straight to the conference room and arrive hot and flustered to find the meeting already started.

How did you feel reading that? Were you nodding in recognition, we’ve all had mornings like that? Did you notice your breathing? Most likely not, after all how much attention do we give it really?

Stressors like those mentioned above are, individually, small things, but added together and prolonged over a period of an hour or so they can really set the tone for your day and cause some disruptive reactions in your body and mind. Cortisol and blood pressure can rise, your heart rate quickens, anxiety levels rise and breathing becomes shallower. These are all normal reactions when we encounter stress, our body prepares us for fight or flight. Years ago the cause of our stress would last for a short period of time while we dealt with the situation. Today, we deal with one little situation after the other; and as you likely know once this meeting is over that won’t be the end of your stress for the day. And you’re probably still beating yourself up for being disorganised, lazy, missing the start of the meeting, etc.

This is where the problems start – we are constantly in and out of flight or fight mode, running on adrenaline and cortisol, feeling anxious and on edge which in turn can lead to us having a bad mood, making snap decisions under pressure, grabbing sugary/salty snacks as we eat at our desk to make up for being late… But taking a few moments each day to breath consciously can make a huge difference to how we feel. So how do we do this?

Well, the good news is you can do this from your bed! But for now, let’s just practice so you get used to how it feels to breath deeply and exhale fully. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Breath normally and notice what hand moves first. If the hand on your chest moves first, slow your breath and breath deeper, imagining you are filling your belly with air. You should start to feel the hand on your belly move first. When you exhale, do it slowly and imagine pushing all of the air back out of your belly and lungs. Do this a couple of times until it starts to feel more natural.

Now get yourself comfortable. As I mentioned, it’s good to do this in bed – first thing when you wake up, and just before you go to sleep. But, of course, you can do it at any time during the day if you feel stressed.

Take a slow, deep breath in for a count of four. Pause for a count of four. Exhale slowly and deeply expelling all the air. Pause for a count of four and repeat 6-8 times.

And that’s it. It’s relaxing, it calms and quietens your mind and helps get oxygen flowing around your body. Best of all, you don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need to join a class or pay for lessons and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Give it a try and let me know if it helps you feel less stressed.

A bum deal

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Do you suffer from back, knee, ankle or foot pain?  Have you been to see doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, orthotics specialists and, despite their best efforts, you’re still in pain?

What if I suggested some of these issues could be righted by strengthening your glutes?  I first came across this connection in Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book “The Four Pillar Plan” (called How To Make Disease Disappear in the US) and it totally changed my thinking about back pain.  I don’t suffer from chronic back pain, but I do work a desk job and sitting for long periods of time weakens the glutes and shortens the hamstrings.  And unless you’re super vigilant about your posture and the setup of your desk, it’s very likely you won’t be sitting in the best position to keep your body aligned.

So what to do?  If your job involves long periods of sitting, the best thing you can do is get up and walk around every now and again.  You might not be able to walk away from your desk but even walking around behind your desk, stretching out your hips, stretching your hamstrings and (if you can) maybe doing a few jumping jacks will ease you out of that stiff feeling and get your circulation flowing.  Maybe you can encourage your colleagues to get on board too, if you’re all doing jumping jacks or walking around the office you don’t need worry about getting strange looks.  Though to be fair, better health might be worth a few strange looks – I’ll let you decide.

If you haven’t ever given this much thought it may be worthwhile have a few sessions with an osteopath or chiropractor to make sure your body is in alignment.  Speak to your employer about having a work station assessment to make sure your desk is as comfortable as possible, and investigate the possibility of a stand up desk (one that you can change from standing to sitting works best as stationary standing for long periods of time is no better than stationary sitting), also look into the possibility of sitting on a Swiss Ball at your desk (you might need to get the okay from your Health & Safety people for this one) – the instability means your entire core is getting a workout and it will do wonders for your posture.  Plus you’ve got instant access to fitness equipment for a quick lunch time routine.

So strengthening your glues – what to do?  Some things you can do at work (once you’ve stretched out your hips and hamstrings) are bodyweight squats, walking up the stairs (taking them 2 at a time if you can – build up to this if you find it difficult), hip bridges (you can use your Swiss ball for this, or just do it on the ground), rising up on your tiptoes as high as you can, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower back down, releasing the glutes when your heels are back on the floor.  There’s also a wealth of easy glute exercises available on YouTube.  Look for short, easy to do, 5 minute exercises you don’t want to be building up too much of a sweat at work.

If you can, get outdoors for a walk at lunchtime – if you have a park or woodland near where you work you are so lucky, make the most of it!  Take a 20 minute walk if possible, though any walk is better than none if you’re not in the habit of walking regularly.  Walking gives you time to reflect on your morning, gives you some quiet time to yourself, you can do a walking meditation.  Alternatively you might want to start a lunchtime walking group and get to know your colleagues a bit more, build your connections and strengthen team spirit.

Most importantly…  engage your glutes and your abs as you walk.  It might not feel like much at the time but done regularly your glutes and abs will get stronger, resulting in better posture and less pain.  Oh, and you know that way when you sit down and you’re belly looks like it’s grown a few inches?  Turns out this could be related to poor glute strength too – so come on, get working on those poor neglected glutes.  Improved health, a toned butt, what’s not to love here?!

And if all that isn’t enough to motivate you, check out the picture (found on Pinterest) – numb bum, numb brain; your boss isn’t going to be happy with that…


Ready to Thrive?

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Thrive is what you will do if you work with me as your Transformation Coach.  Since I started coaching I’ve been asked “what does a coach do?”  Well this is kind of difficult to answer as each person is different and is looking for different outcomes so what I do will be a little different for each person, but here’s what you can expect.

Changes in your life – that area (or areas) where you’re stuck; be it your health, relationship, job we’ll work through the “stuckness” and out the other side.

Increased energy – when you start to get unstuck, make some changes in your diet, add a bit more movement to your day you’ll start to feel energized.  Getting up in the morning won’t be drag, you won’t feel that horrible slump mid-afternoon where you feel you need chocolate and coffee just to function.

Less stress – we’ll look at the stress in your life, we’ll look at ways to minimize it and you’ll learn some techniques to help you keep it in check.  And yep, the diet, movement and getting unstuck will also help you feel less stressed.

Better sleep – start to make changes, eat well, move, reduce stress and you’ll have better sleep quality.  To make sure this happens though we’ll also look at some tips and tools to help you wind down and relax.

Once you’ve started to transform your life, when people ask “how are you today?” you will honestly be able to tell them you feel great!  You’ll be passionate about your life, you’ll be full of energy, glowing and loving life.

In short, you won’t just be surviving and going through the motions – you’ll be thriving.

Right now, I’m looking for a few people who are ready to transform, ready to thrive.  Do you know anyone?