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These days I often introduce the idea of a Gratitude Journal by telling the story of Gabi MacEwan. An inspirational lady who decided to start practising gratitude after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As she says:
“I don’t live in a constant state of bliss. Sometimes I’m frustrated, disillusioned and sad, but I heartily recommend the cumulative effect of noticing and noting the moments of delight, relief or humour each day.”
So with that recommendation I want to give you some strategies for keeping the gratitude alive when life sucks, because being told to keep a Gratitude Journal when you feel your life is going down the pan, things look bleak and your feeling low can be a big ‘ask’. It’s times like this that doing a gratitude journal can be really tough. I’ve had clients say there was just nothing in their day that they felt grateful for, some have said they were writing the same old things and grew tired of the ‘chore’. Ironically of course when life is unfairly hard is exactly when you benefit from the practice the most.
What is this About?
I recently posted on the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, but as with many good habits you may find yourself too busy to do it when you are feeling good, and too tough when your not. So if you are like some of my original clients, you will keep a journal for a few days and then the practice of being grateful will begin to slide.
The answer is to make it habit and for that happen you need to commit to doing the practice until it becomes a subconscious reaction to think of things you are grateful for. Some people say it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, others 66, whoever is right, you will probably benefit from a strategy and support to really embed this new behaviour and way of thinking.
So having some strategies and support will help you make this positive activity a habit and today I want to focus on one of those strategies that makes keeping a gratefulness journal easy.
Why is this Important?
Because lets face it, there are times when life sucks! Whatever the reason for the ‘suckyness’, the simple act of writing down (or saying out-loud) the things for which we’re grateful gives benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike. Brilliant medicine when life feels like it is going down the pan and things looks bleak.
How do I Use This?
Personally I find that buying a nice journal helped me to keep me committed to the task and you may want to do the same thing. Make a conscious choice now and commit to experiencing more gratitude in your life. Then try these strategies:
- Set aside some time so you can allow yourself the opportunity to really notice the depth of your gratitude. Take time to relish and savour the feelings.
- Pick one person you know and just take time to allow all of the good reasons for having them in your life surface into your consciousness. Whenever possible focus on people and dogs in your life. Apparently whether we think of our pet dogs or children the same area of our brains are activated. So being grateful for your dog is ok!
- Go into depth – Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
If you can think of these things in terms of gifts so much the better, according to Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude. His advice is:
“Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.”
I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?
The power of gratitude
Gabi MacEwan Blog: Losing the Will To Die
Is your mind busy when it’s time to rest and sleep? Do you have problems switching off at bedtime? Mind active and won’t slow down? Do you toss and turn because your thoughts won’t let you rest?
If that image of being too restless to sleep looks like you, you have a lot in common with many of the people I help and there is a good chance your flight or fight response is active.
So lets talk about one way to switch off the fight or flight response and quieten the mind down at bedtime. There are many ways to achieve this, and one I really like is to keep a gratitude journal.
Spending a few minutes each night to think about things you are really grateful for is a great way to calm the mind and body and trigger the relaxation response. Focusing on the things you have been grateful for during the day will help you to let go of the things that were worrying you and help you get a good nights sleep.
But you do need to do it properly; robotically going through things you think you should be grateful for is not the same! If you are aware of the work of Candace Pert, you will know that your thoughts trigger the release of chemicals that flood the body, but that does not really happen if you think the thoughts in a detached fashion. You need to think the thoughts with your heart too.
Why is this Important?
It is really important that the fight or flight response is turned off and the relaxation response is triggered for sleep. Normally during sleep our bodies and minds should go through cycles of healing and repair, but these cycles are associated with being in a relaxed state. When we are stressed they are put on hold and your body does not heal and repair as it should.
So if you want to be healthy and happy triggering the relaxation response just before sleep will help.
It seems odd to think we can be stressed while sleeping, but studies have shown that some people, like those with CFS/ME, do actually stay stressed during their sleep. So spending a few minutes contemplating what you are grateful for or what has gone well during the day is one way to switch off the fight or flight response.
Gratitude is great because it focuses you on what you have, not what you want or what you would like. I buy a nice little note pad for those that take part in my workshops, so they can use it as a journal and I urge you to buy something special too. Having a nice book to write in and maybe a nice pen will make the activity special and keep you motivated.
How do I Use This?
Personally I would prefer a paper based journal as modern technology like phones tend to keep us stimulated, alert and possibly stressed. Much better to create your own paper based journal which can become a treasure trove of positivity for you, as it fills with things that you have been grateful for. Something like this is ideal.
Spend a little bit of time composing your thoughts and then write down what you have been grateful for today. Feel the feelings as deeply as possible with your heart.
One lady I was talking too, said how truly grateful she felt for the home she lived in, even though it was nowhere near as nice as she would like. This was something she had moaned about and criticised until hearing of a tragedy the other side of the world where people had lost their homes and were spending night outside. Another lady spent ages trying to think of something only to realise she was grateful for the comfortable warm bed she was laying in.
Another chap said he thought of a different person he knew each night, spending time remembering how they have or had positively contributed to his life. It’s a good thing to vary what you write to keep it fresh and relevant.
Sometimes when times are tough, or we are busy and tired it is easy to answer with our head only. You know what I mean, when you say something but it does not have that emotional resonance, that physical sensation that lets you know you have felt something with your heart. Notice the difference between thinking what you are grateful for and feeling it with your heart. It can help to place your hand on your heart and allow the thoughts of gratitude to flow from there.
I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?
The power of gratitude
Do you believe other people are more interesting and loveable than you are? Do you feel your opinions do not matter? Do you lack the love and attention you need? Do you feel out of control of your life, finances and relationships? Do you believe nothing will ever change?
If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions take a breath, pause, let it go and read on, because as the airplane safety video says,
“Put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t take care of others if you’re running out of air yourself.”
What is this About?
This is about having a good relationship with yourself and your life because it takes a strong caring and nurturing relationship with yourself to do what is necessary to improve your health, well-being and happiness.
Sadly, many people are stuck believing that taking more care of themselves will mean others suffer, or they will be seen as selfish. Women in particular are often taught by example that they should always put other people’s needs first and may feel guilty about taking time for themselves. In many ways this is ironic because to care and help other people we really need to full of energy and enthusiasm and for that to happen we need to take care of ourselves first.
Why is this Important?
Improving your relationship with yourself is vital to taking the next step and seeking help or making changes to your life. Believing that you do matter, that you are loveable, important and in control will help to you to embark and sustain your healing journey.
This is important not just for you, but for those you love, because you will be able to help them so much by being healthy and happy.
How do I Improve?
Make a conscious decision to change and you may be surprised how you gently and slowly you begin to be kinder, more loving, more permissive and more responsible to yourself.
Take the first step and print this worksheet: Improving My Relationship with Myself. Working through it and creating some personal positive affirmations to help you become your own best friend is great way to start.
I have been grateful for those who have pointed out that my Crowdfunding Video does not really explain why Dr Daniel’s Health Creation Mentor and Consultant training is better than the alternatives, and a few people have admitted not really knowing who Dr Rosy Daniel is. Now I was hoping to have a nice short video answering these questions, but logistical problems have prevented me from finding a quiet, well lit location so I thought I give you the answers here first!
Who Is Dr Rosy Daniel? Three Facts You Might like to Know:
- Dr Rosy Daniel is a GP who specialised in holistic health care back in 1985.
- She was the Medical Director of the world famous Bristol Cancer (now Penny Brohn Cancer Care) for 15 years (now Penny Brohn Cancer Care) from 1985 to 1999.
- She is now the Medical Director of Health Creation, an organisation set up to help you create better health using the knowledge that she gained during those years.
So Dr Daniel is one of the pioneers of holistic health care in the uk today and is one of the UKs best known Integrated Medical Consultants specialising in the care and treatment of people with cancer and their carers. That means she helps you get the best of conventional medicine, Complementary therapies and self help.
Why is the Health Creation Mentor and Consultancy training Unique?
Completing this training will help me, to empower you, to take a truly holistic approach to health.
The Health Creation Mentoring and Consultancy Training she offers in conjunction with Bath Spa University is unique because it shows understanding of the link between our mind, body, spirit and the environment in which we live and work and encourages a truly healthy lifestyle. This is something that no other course that I have come across offers.
So it focuses on improving issues such as your state of fulfillment, and purpose in life as well as the more common issues around nutrition, exercise and mental well being etc. This is obviously vitally important to healing and it is also important because as we grow older many people expect to get diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc
However, this is so sad and often unnecessary because many of the common diseases we suffer from are related to lifestyle. In particular cancer is 81% related to lifestyle, heart disease – 75%, T2 diabetes – 100%, Obesity-95%,
Most of us are aware on some level of the research that lifestyle has a relationship with our health, but there is little help out there for you to make effective changes to your lifestyle in order to reduce your risk of those conditions, or improve your health if you already have them.
I’m sure we can all make a list of things we would like to change about our lifestyles, but do we change? Well most people do not unless they have support and that is where the role of the Health Creation Mentor comes in
Being a health creation mentor is not just about setting goals about nutrition and exercise it is about connecting you with your life and soul purpose and that is why it is so important to me. Because being connected to that purpose is so important to health and happiness and that is why this training stands out above the rest
So just to sumarise:
The Health Creation Programme takes a truly holistic approach to health, by understanding the link between our mind, body, spirit and the environment in which we live and work, which is something that no other course that I have come across offers.
For me, the programme is so vital because it has the potential to help improve energy levels, peace of mind and quality of life. This in turn can decrease the symptoms of illness, improve treatment outcomes and may ultimately enable clients to become independent of medical treatment as their health improves and they achieve sustainable good health and well-being.
This is the crux of the matter – ultimately the potential for better health for my clients through my better ability to help them through training with Dr Daniel.
My CrowdFunding page
You may also like to hear Dr Daniel talk about her work and life here:
I know you are busy and I understand that 10 minutes is a long time on the internet when there are so many other things to do, so I would really appreciate your opinions and suggestions, if you have them.
If you have seen any of my other recent blogs you will know I am trying to raise funds to enable me to train as a Health Creation Mentor and thus mentor people who wish to improve their health or reduce the risk of lifestyle related disease using the Health Creation Programme.
In order to do this I have created a crowdfunding page where people can donate as little as £1 for rewards. That page is here: My Crowd Funding Page. As a part of that I created a video for Youtube which is below.
When I started this I thought getting donations of a £1 would be easy as I believe it is a good service and worthy cause. However, so far I only have two donations and one of them I did myself!
So I’m hoping that you will be able to give me ideas on what to do. What would make it more appealing? What do you think would make people spend a little longer contemplating donating?
This is a blog because I am asking everyone I know and I really do appreciate any ideas you may have.
All my thanks
Well six days into the campaign and I am mostly being ignored. Slightly better than being ignored is being accused of being a prostitute! Well ok, I chose to take that meaning from the word ‘solicit’. That hurt a bit, but I guess it is to be expected in this cynical world. However, at least it was a reply, and a reply to reply at that.
Basically I asked Phillip Day via Facebook whether he would endorse/support my efforts. Phillip is the man behind Credence Health a plain spoken alternative health company with publications and a large Facebook following. Being naive I had expected such people to have a read of what I am doing and maybe give it a mention. I expected him to have heard of the work being done by Dr Rosy Daniel. Well..
Phillip is actually too busy touring Australia at the moment to manage his FB page or read my PM, but I did get excited to get a reply from one of his Admin people. He explained that Phillip was too busy at the moment and suggested I post on their FB page, which I did. However, my posts get ignored, so I asked whether there was anything he could do. That is when I got the response “Are you trying to solicit money from people to pay for a training program? Did I get that right?” Hmmm Seemed harsh, seemed to miss the entire ethos of my efforts, but then again I bet the person replying only has a few minutes to spend time thinking about original request and at least he did reply, twice. So here was my reply:
Ouch, one of the definitions of solicit is “accost someone and offer one’s or someone else’s services as a prostitute.” That hurt and I guess if that is how it comes across, it would explain why my posts and cause are being ignored. And on that basis I’m not explaining myself well.
From your website you say: “We also feature our own brand of specially selected health products as well as products by other companies that fit the ethos of healthy living and are of the highest quality.”
I would hope Health Creation: http://www.healthcreation.co.uk/ fitted that bill? I would also hope that while not a company I personally fitted the bill too, because what I am trying to do is offer a service to people who are at least open minded to the possibility that they can positively influence their health and that conditions like cancer and heart disease can be significantly improved if not completely reversed with what comes down to lifestyle changes.
I’m passionate about this, because this is how my wife recovered from her ME/CFS that included autoimmune problems that her Doctors said she would need lifelong medication for. Had I have had this knowledge when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer I also believe she would have survived a lot longer than she did.
I have paid for myself to study Hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique and Neuro-linguistic programming and have put together programmed that have helped others. This has focused on creating the right state of mind to help the body heal. While this has helped a lot of people, I believe there are a significant number of people who are so out of balance with their lives that a more holistic approach is needed and that has lead me to Dr Rosy Daniel and her Health Creation Programme. To be honest I am surprised you are not aware of her and the work she is doing as I would have thought it would have been in line with your ethos?
Ultimately I can appreciate that you have no way of knowing whether I am genuine or just a money scammer as yes, I am hoping for people to donate in return for rewards. However would it be better to ask people to donate to Dr Daniel’s charity and mention my name instead? http://www.integrativehealthtrust.org/
What do you think?
I’ve seen claims like this before and laughed at them. Keeping fit and strong has been a life long interest, well at least since I was 15 and started weight training and running. I even did a Gym Instructor course a few years ago simply for interest. During all of this time the recommendation to train for strength 2 to 3 times a week, and cardiovascular health 5 or 6 times a week has never changed. Those workouts would often involve sessions around an hour long too.
My big problem has been time though, over the last few after walking dogs, being Dad, promoting the business and actually seeing clients and helping people there has not been much time to weight train. I’d start and then a couple of weeks later I’d be missing sessions.
So when I watched the Cereal Killers Movie and saw 41-year-old Donal O’Neill completing personal bests at things like pullups after reducing the frequency of his training and doing high intensity stuff I got me thinking.
A bit of research later and I found Doug McGuff’s Body of Science and so for the last few months I have been doing the shortest hardest routine I have ever done. In a nutshell the idea is that you do one super slow set of a bunch of compound exercises. Choosing a weight that results in failure after about 90 seconds and taking around 20 seconds to complete one rep. Doing it that slow is hard because there is no momentum to help. So shoulder press is followed by lat pull down, then chest press, followed by seated row and finally onto leg press and that is it for a week or two! Shortest amount of time I have ever spent training.
The thing is that it works. After a couple of months I worried that I was not working my core and went in the gym to use a cable machine and do some wood chop style moves. Much to my surprise I easily upped the weight from what I had been doing 6 months before. Equally after a couple of weeks break from swimming, with the McGuff routine as my only exercise I significantly increased the number of lengths I could swim without a break. I think I have also put on about an inch of muscle around my chest, although I have also lost a lot of body fat and never measured myself before starting the routine.
Interestingly the real proof for me has come no I no longer have gym membership. With nowhere to keep weights I have decided to try Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint for fitness, a body-weight more functional based exercise routine. This routine involves an assessment of how many pushups, pullups, and squats you can do followed by how long you can hold a plank. Depending on your results then depends on whether for example you do pushups against a wall, on your knees or inclined etc.
To my joy and amazement I managed 24 pushups, easily over twice what I have been capable of for several years. 5 pullups, 70 squats and I held a plank for over 2 minutes. Not bad for someone who is 50 years old this month.
It will be interesting to see how things workout over the next few months on the new workout. There is a lot I like about it, so I am optimistic that I will continue to gain strength and hopefully muscle mass.
Watch this space, maybe I will even be doing nude selfies lol, actually that is probably reason not to watch this space!!!!!!