TSHP410: Coming Out Of Hibernation

What’s Coming This Episode?

Lockdown is ending the UK and we’re all coming out of our shells. Some are doing it quickly and some are being far more cautious. What should we be thinking about as we emerge back onto our high streets and into the gardens (and homes, eventually) of friends and family?

Enjoy the show, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Coming Out Of Hibernation

Watching those crowds of queuing for shops, pubs and food outlets and then listening to the interviews its was as though we are coming out of a long dark winter into a new spring. That made me think about the normal winter blues and how happy we all are to see the sun again. So the question is, is hibernation normal for Hunan’s? Well, the answer is yes, but not sleeping like a bear. More like slowing down and losing some energy that we would normally get from the sun light. But, this years has been winter with knobs on as Covid has forced us to change our normal behaviours. WE have discovered that a Covid winter is is much worse than a normal winter.

So, the Covid winter is over. It seems to have been a long time coming as the warm weather stretches out before us. The clocks have gone forward and we need to enjoy this summer as never before. We have until the clocks go back in October to enjoy it. What wil you do with it? 

Getting your mood up

The effect of the lack of light has led to the inevitable drop in our level of Vitamin D, and a subsequent drop in our level of serotonin. This in a normal winter leads to feelings of down-ness often described as SAD syndrome. Sometimes I wonder why we bothered to move away from the equator where the levels of vitamin D are naturally high and SAD syndrome has never been heard of. This year Covid had added an extra layer and had an extra effect. Many people are more down they they would normally be at this time of year.

Cutting the carbs

In the cold, damp and dark of winter we seek comfort that through evolution has been given to us by eating carbohydrates. In winter most diets become more stodgy as our level of carbs increases. The common access carbs is in cake, bread, pastas, puddings, biscuits, and so on. The magic is that carbs kick your brain into producing endorphins and serotonin that make you feel good which is why they are called comfort food.

Carbs = comfort

Now, lots of us have been doing then Covid 5k. That is not a run it is the amount of weight that we have put on during covid lockdown. Now we need to get moving, adjust the diet and get rid of it. The magic is that if you exercise out of door not only will you be burning off those calories but you will be building you vitamin D stores as well.

Just twenty minutes of raised heart rate will make your brain secrete happy hormone and endorphins that will make you feel happier. The drive from the health authorities is to get everyone walking for at least half an hour a day. If we all did this we reduce our levels of illness, improve our mental health, loose some weight and get happier. Of course it goes without saying that it would also save the NHS time and money.

Take a holiday

That is easy to say but harder to do. Our summer holiday give most of us the opportunity to reset our system and replenish our emotions. We could go away to the sun and get our endorphin hit that way though this year it may be all in the UK. For some it may even be a staycation at home. It might work better for us if this year we take our main holiday in the winter. Would it not make more sense to enjoy the British summer at home, even if it is a bit wet it still has long days of sunlight. Then next when it is dark and cold and the world has opened up again we could jump onto a plane and go somewhere hot and sunny. If we did that we would boost our Vitamin D in the winter, increase our serotonin production and keep our mood raised.

Time to get social

Many of us, either individually or as families, have been living like hermits. Now is the time to get out and meet people or invite people in. It would be garden first and then indoor meals and parties. We need to. Socialise, have parties, cook meals and enjoy the company of others. Being with others, sharing the feeling of belonging and sharing fun and laughter all increase our levels of happiness which also affects our brain chemistry and mood. They call it Hyyge in Sweden.

Make love

Did you know that normally when we have particularly dark and cold winter that birth rates can rise by up to 18%. We do know that good positive love making does raise the endorphins and increases happiness. It also helps us to keep warm on a cold night. However, the enforced lockdown of covid has led, in the USA, to the lowest conception rate for over one hundred years. Perhaps, after lockdown, with rising rates of serotonin people’s mood will rise and we may even see a post covid baby boom.

Speed up

Most of nature takes a break in the winter.  The one species that does not slow down, that carries on in a mad dash, is us human beings. Well not this year. I have watched so many people almost grind to a halt, doing less and less as the months have gone by. This has often been the symptoms of depression. Now we need to get going again. We need to do all those things that we have been putting off. Get out in the garden, cut the grass, paint those window frames. Strangely though many people now need to go and see relatives and friends some are scared and have developed a social phobia. We may still need to take precautions and be Covid safe b it we need to get a move on and re-establish our communities and society.

A normal winter could be our chance to rest and relax looking forward to the hoy of Christmas and the New Year. A time to gather around log fires and get Hyyge. A time enjoy the joy of story telling, socialisation, and developing family relationships and friendships. A time to play games and chat about life and sharing our experiences. The time to enjoy winter foods, puddings custard and cake. For many Covid a nonsense of all that.

It is time to step out of those winter clothes and as the last frosts of winter come to an end get outside, socialise, build vitamin D and have some fun.

Be happy and do what you need to ensure you enjoy your summer so that next winter you can enjoy the winter wonderland.

Take care

Sean x

A Path Travelled

This week in the podcast we had another guest, Alison Blackler a Transformational Mind Coach and founder of 2-minds who has just published her first book’, A Path Travelled. She has a very varied practice that spans from one to one coaching, corporate management coaching and working with offenders in prisons plus writing articles for the local press. 

Her book is written from her own experience of life and her experience of working with her many clients. A Path Travelled gives the reader an opportunity to review, question and adjust their life experience, through insights and exercises so that they can move towards their own fulfilment.

In every life, each person is on their own path. It is the path of life that goes from birth to death. The nature of the path, the route, and the terrain is, in many ways dictated and created by us the individual traveller. Most people never realise this and often remain on the path that they inherited from their the parents, class, nationality, ethnicity, orientation and so on. Much unhappiness in the world is the result of individuals trying to stay on paths that they do not really belong on. They may never realise or understand why they are unhappy. The current epidemic of anxiety and depression that swamps humanity is often the result of people attempting to live lives and stay in paths that are not good for them.

When people say things like ‘life is a bitch and then you die’ they describe exactly people being on the wrong path. The positive alternative might be ‘life is a joy and eventually and naturally you come to the joyful end of your path’. This can only happen when you are on the right path for you.

Throughout time there have been guides that we meet on our path that attempt to show us, the travellers, which way to go.  To suggests ways in which we might improve or develop our path. When we get it right we can follow a path, live a life, that is self fulfilling that makes us happy. Informally these guides have been the wise ones, who had insight and empathy, knowledge and wisdom. They were the shaman, guru, religious leader, scientists, philosophers, psychotherapists, coaches and so on. 

A guide is anyone who can see a bit further up the path than we can. Someone who can explain the likely consequence of our actions as individuals, as a society or as a race. Good guides and teacher encourage us to face up to problems and dilemmas. They ask us questions such as…

What has your path been like? Have you enjoyed it? Where did it begin? Why has it followed the course that it has? If you started out again on a path would you follow the same route? If ‘yes’, then, good luck enjoy it and do more of it? If ‘no’ then, how can you change it and ensure that the remainder of your journey is on a path that you might actually like and enjoy? 

The current iteration of the guide is the coach’. It is a growing trend in therapy. Good coaches enable us to reflect, question, enquire, resolve and move towards getting our lives right for us.

As long as we enjoy our path it is the right one to be on. When we wake in the morning with apprehension of the day ahead our path is probably not the right one. Perhaps time to go and see a coach.

Take care, be happy and follow your path.

Sean x

TSHP409: A Path Travelled continued, with special guest Alison Blackler

What’s Coming This Episode?

We were delighted to welcome back Alison Blackler to the show. Alison is a transformational mind coach, facilitator and author. Her unique approach helps individuals and teams to explore, recognise and understand why we think like we do. She describes herself as having a powerful toolkit to help to uncover the root of challenges.

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

Stay in Touch

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Leave us an Honest Review on iTunes

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TSHP408: Breaking out – What have we learned from Covid-19 & lockdown?

What’s Coming This Episode?

Is it over?! Can we go out? Apparently so… lockdown is gradually coming to an end in the UK. It’s been a heck of a year and quite a cold, lonely winter for most of us. As we reintroduce ourselves to our friends, family and colleagues it’s time to have a think about what we’ve learned over the past 12 months. What will stick and what can go?

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

Resource of the Week

Stay in Touch

We’re all over the web, so feel free to stay in touch:

Leave us an Honest Review on iTunes

We’d be amazingly grateful if you could leave us a review on iTunes. It will really help us to build our audience. So, if your like what you hear (and would like to hear more great free content) then visit our iTunes page and leave us an honest review (all feedback gratefully received!).

Breaking out – What have we learned from Covid-19 and lockdown?

Are we out of jail? 

People tell me that being in lockdown has been like being in jail. Well, having worked in the prison service it has not really been like being an inmate more that some of out basic freedoms have been lessened. For about the last eighteen months we have been locked down, that is isolated, restricted and confined due to and because of the infective nature of the Covid-19 virus. This process of feeling trapped and having little control and then finding the sensation of freedom as lockdown is lifted is very much like the process we have been going through over the last ten podcasts. The Ten Steps of the Live In The Present book and course are all about letting go of negative past, establishing positive experience in the present and then creating what it is that we really truly do want in the future. 

Positive: The one thing that lockdown has given us has been the time to reflect an review where we are up to and what it is that we might like to do next. For so many people this has been a ,I’ve changing experience.

Why did this happen in the first place?

People have differing ideas as to what this virus has been about. Some people tell me that the lockdown has been a genuine effort by the authorities to limit the spread of a deadly disease and save as many lives as possible. Reducing the pressure on the NHS and other support services to ensure that those in the most serious need are attended to.

Others tell me that we have all been duped by an attempt to control ‘us’ by ‘them’. Who the ‘them’ is seems to vary depending on who I talk to. It is either a bid for global domination by forces that are sinister but hidden. A plan by the Chinese, the Russian or whoever to dominate the world.  A plot by big pharma to control us and them make even more money. A bid to take control of the planet and enslave us all. There are those that believe that the vaccines are seeded with micro chips that will lead to our brains being controlled by whoever, that varies as well. It goes on…

I have my own ideas as to how the virus started and also why we have responded in the way that we have. But, however and whatever we think about Covid-19 it is here. It is a pandemic that is mutating, it does kill people and it is very infectious. The world is full of viruses there have been the many millions that have gone before and millions that will come in the future. In my own lifetime I have seen the devastation of small pox and polio. As children we queued on the council estate to get inoculated. 

Positive: We have an amazing medical system. We have amazing scientists and unless this is all one big plot they are here to help us all at this time of crisis. 

At the moment we are looking at the freedom of leaving the jail of lockdown and moving back into a world of normal behaviour. I guess the world that we are coming out to is quite different to the one that we left behind when we went in. Businesses and jobs have gone, shops have closed and the way that we shop, interact and live will probably never be the same again. At the moment we don’t know how it will go, when it will be really safe to go on foreign holidays, cuddle people and party with friends. We have yet to learn about this new world and how we will interact with it. Some people will rush to social venues and party like crazy while some will sit back observing with fear and trepidation and may not socialise gain for years if ever.

Positive: The pandemic has made us review our relationships and the importance of community. Families have reconnected and communities come together. The incidence of people showing that they care bay raising money and sim pole acts of kindness and caring have been everywhere – amazing!

I am not sure that anything that happens in life is accidental and suspect that the universe works with intelligence. I would suggest that the things that happen in life are, to the awake mind, learning opportunities that we can benefit from. To the asleep mind they are just problems. When we encounter problems or obstacles in our path the awake mind finds solutions, learns, grows and moves on. The asleep mind seeks to find something or someone to blame, holds grudges, protests and embeds their minds in bitterness and seeks retribution.

This all leads me to ask a few questions. These questions have been the subject of much of my therapy work undertaken over these last 18 months. This has been a process of people needing face themselves and their relationships including their relationship with themselves and how they will deal with their future. Some people have, in response to the pandemic, contracted and drawn into themselves or into groups of nationalism  or even smaller groups of identities of colour, race, creed, belief and so on. This attitude only serves to create mindsets of ‘us’ and ‘them’ leading to further antagonism, unhappiness and the continued fracturing of humanity. On the other hand others have chosen to expand their attitudes and horizons and move outwards. They have found ways to support and help others, ensuring that people’s needs have been met. People have been fed and looked after.  Ultimately these people are ensuring that those who need and desire the vaccine have access to it wherever they are in the world rich or poor.

If we all look after each other we will all be okay

Q 1) What was your Jail?

The jail of lockdown never really existed it was and is in our heads. Thoughts become things. I get it that some people have had, what I call, Covid burn out but over all kit has been an easy ride for most people. We have been housed, fed, been warm and flooded with entertainment. Unlike previous generations who during pandemic and wars were totally confined with no resources and no ability to communicate or to know what is going on we have been able to keep in touch with loved ones friends and family and the world at large through our amazing technology.

Positive: Our technology is amazing. I am writing this on an iPad. I don’t know how it works and in many ways I am in awe of it and it’s abilities. On this eleven inch screen I can watch films and TV, listen to the radios, music, audio books and podcasts, I can play games, talk to friends anywhere in the world. I can work, see clients anywhere in the world. I can find new recipes and even plan what I will do when this is all over. 

I know that many people will now say. ‘Well what if we didn’t have technology or were too old to understand it and use it?’. I get that. I was so happy to see people repurposing their unused tech for families that did not have devices allowing kids to attend school online and the families to get connected. Perhaps our learning in this might be that we should ensure, where possible, that older people do have the opportunity to become tech savvy. One interesting idea that this realises is should the internet be treated as an essential service just as we do with electricity and water?

Q2) What does it mean to you to be out of jail?

What will you do now? Will you return to your work place? Will you rich to the restaurants and pubs, head for a holiday, meet with family and friends?

Just as animals come out of winter hibernation into the new days of spring we are coming out of the darkness of lockdown into the light of freedom, albeit in increments. What does this mean to you? What will you do next?

Many of us have being doing the Covid 10K. That is not the run it is the 10K that we have put on in weight by being inactive, eating/drinking too much and not moving enough. 

Positive: you do not have to recreate Groundhog Day, you have choice. Some choices you may not have realised before lockdown. Now is the time to start again and decide what you do next. If you go back to the Ten Steps Course the issues is what do you really, really, really want? That takes me to my last question…

3) What have you learned?

Learning is an ongoing process. So, even if you feel unsure of what lockdown has taught you now maybe the time to sit and review it. What has been good? What has been bad? What could you have done better?

Life is about learning. 

When we stop learning we die either actually or metaphorically. 

I have worked with many people who have used this time of lockdown to review and audit their lives. This has led to decisions to change their lives from finding a new job, selling a house, ending a relationship, starting a relationship, deciding to retrain or go back into education, taking on new interests and hobbies, exercise regimes, weight loss programmes and so on.

Positive: This is the most important part of human consciousness, we are learning machines, it is just that we don’t realise it. Through consistent and persistent behaviour we can become whoever and whatever we want to be. As you read this you are the sum total of all that you have learned since the moment of your birth. What you decide to learn now will create what you will become in the future. The only limit is your imagination.

The world is what you make it

So the world has changed and we can now choose to work together, support each other and create a better world to be in. Or, we can slip into recrimination and bitterness that has, too many times, driven the human race to wars, suffering and destruction. 

As you come out of lockdown we have choice. You can adhere to rules and limit infection or forget the rules and see how it goes. The choice is yours to make.

Whatever your choice be happy and smile and enjoy your freedom

Take care

Sean x