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Shake it Off!

Posted 30/10/2017

I have a favourite phrase that I like to use when I am speaking to someone who is being dragged down by something that they just can’t do anything about.  I borrowed it from the song of the same name by the lovely Taylor Swift.  Shake it off.

Now before I go on, please understand that I would NEVER tell a client to “shake it off”! If someone has come to me in search of my professional support, they will get a far more robust approach than being told to shake it off I promise you.  But if I see a friend in distress about something and it feels right to say it, I’m saying it!

This isn’t a phrase that you should use if there is any way to materially improve a situation that you are worried about – maybe a row with your partner, a leaking tap, a car that has failed its MOT etc.  But if you are worried about the political situation in your country to the point where you are losing sleep, or you are concerned that the hurricane that is bearing down on your next holiday destination might damage your hotel, I’m going to tell you to shake it off.

And here’s why.  What can you do to change the political situation in your country beyond casting a vote.  Not a busting lot.  What will worrying about an impending hurricane do to the power or destruction caused by that hurricane.  Nothing.

On the flip side however, your worrying could be costing you sleep, which in turn could be making you less effective in the day time.  You might be snappish with your partner or late for an appointment.  You could burn the dinner through being distracted or make bad food choices because you feel so worried….and for what?  Nothing.  Because nothing you do, nothing you think, no amount of lost sleep or pizza eaten is going to change anything.

So….shake it off!

In a nutshell – change the things you can change and don’t waste emotional energy on the stuff that you cannot do anything about.

It’s a skill to be learned but once you have it under your belt, you, like me, will be channeling Taylor whenever you feel that mis-placed and pointless worry start to creep up on you or anyone you care about.

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Stress – Self Help

Posted 28/10/2017

As a coach, one of the most common reasons why people get in touch with me for help is to manage their stress levels.  In today’s fast moving and demanding world, stress and is an all time high.

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But why?  I will always be baffled by the fact that in a world where technology is supposedly making things quicker, easier, more efficient etc we all seem to be suffering a shortage of time on a far greater scale than we ever have before.

It seems though that the drive for greater efficiency in all things is also applicable to us.  We are required to be quicker, more efficient, more productive, just more…than we naturally are.  And this causes stress and anxiety.

And I’m not just talking about in a professional context – I mean, okay, it is easy enough to imagine how this applies to someone in a high pressure job, going through a restructure and facing being replaced by a computer programme.

But can you see how this also applies to the stay at home Mum or the Kid studying for their exams?

We are all expected to be the best, the fastest, the cleverest – and don’t get me wrong, I am a full advocate of striving for greatness.  I would never encourage anyone to aim low.  But I am also a firm believer in paying attention to thresholds, watching for the point where motivation and determination turn to pressure and stress.

One thing that I believe is crucial to protecting ourselves from this pressure is learning to accept who we are rather than focussing on what we should be.  For example, if you are the mother of two young children and you feel that you are not as good a mother to your kids as the other mums in your social circle, stop and breathe.  Understand that you know your children better than anyone else and you know what being their Mum should mean.  It might not look the same as another Mum, but then, are your kids exactly identical to hers?  Be comfortable with you.  Have faith in you.

When we learn to stop benchmarking ourselves against others or expectation, and we instead focus on the fact that we are each unique and approaching life in our own unique way, we allow for the possibility that we are doing okay.

On a practical level, there is a tremendous benefit to something called “breaking state”.  Its a simple concept – if you are in the middle of a period of stress, a deep sense of unrest, a growing feeling of frustration or anger, do something else.  Go for a short walk.  go make a cup of coffee, do something different.  It won’t always be possible on a grand scale but even the smallest act to distract yourself from the cause of the pressure you are feeling will help to dissipate that pressure.

Relaxation techniques are also very beneficial when trying to manage stress.  Think about downloading an App or buying a CD that will walk you through a relaxation exercise.  They are easy, mostly involve simply sitting or lying somewhere quiet and allowing the music and words to lull you into a state of relaxation.  This gives your mind a break, allows you to feel peace and tranquility and will be extremely beneficial to your overall stress levels if you practice this on a regular basis.

There are many different techniques that can be used to manage stress and I will discuss them on this blog over the coming weeks.  If you have a specific concern or question, feel free to contact me confidentially through this site.

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Stop Beating Yourself Up

Posted 27/10/2017

We all do it to a certain extent.  We wrestle with a decision, maybe seeking advice from others we trust, we make the decision and then we spend the next few hours, days or even weeks giving ourselves a hard time because of that decision.

A common scenario in my life at least is around exercise.  We have a cross trainer and I go through phases of using it.  I always go on it first thing in the morning, logic being that I then only require one shower rather than two.

But there are always days when I cannot be bothered.  When it’s too cold (the cross trainer lives in our garage), or I’m too tired, or I’m too busy or the wind is blowing in the wrong direction…you get the idea.

So Occasionally I don’t get on the cross trainer.  But what follows?  I’ll tell you….a day of feeling like I should have gone on the cross trainer.  A day of feeling slightly guilty that I broke my own rule and didn’t do what I should have done.  It can then lead to bad food choices because…guess what…I didn’t exercise, so I’m a bad person, bad people eat rubbish so I can eat rubbish…..it can get very out of hand!

But bare with me here because there is a point I’m trying to draw you to (which isn’t that I am a deeply unfit and unhealthy guilt-ridden 40-something no matter how true it may be).

I speak to people all week – I am a coach after all – about situations like this.  Rarely is there a cross trainer involved but there is always a choice, a decision and then guilt.  And almost always, the choice, the decision and the guilt are all based on a very minor situation which would not rate in the top 1 million issues that the world is facing today.

So what is the answer?  Two words.

OWN IT!

Yup…own your decision.  Make it.  Own it.

Why waste hours of your life feeling guilty about something that you decided to do?  And this is particularly relevant if the decision only affected you.  Why waste the energy arguing with yourself?  Why manufacture stress within your own mind that does not need to be there when the average human faces a barrage of stress that they cannot avoid or control anyway.

Take me and my cross trainer.  I wake up tomorrow and I decide I’m not going to do it.  What benefit is there to me of worrying all day that I should have pounded 5-10 km’s in my garage listening to Eminem (I work out best to angry music!).  If I were being brutal with myself – and maybe it’s time – who the hell cares if I don’t go on the cross trainer?

So what should I do?  Stay in bed, don’t get cold, miss my exercise and OWN IT!

This approach doesn’t apply in any scenario where a third party is involved because there is then another person who may be impacted by your decision and perhaps it needs a more subtle approach – but when it is just you, yourself and, well, you…OWN IT!

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Brave Enough to be You

Posted 26/10/2017

I love making images with quotes for the Life Redesign UK Instagram account.  It is one of the more creative perks of my rather brilliant job.  And every now and then, I make one that I love a bit more than the others simply because it resonates with me.  Like this one.

There is the obvious cuteness that it is a quote by a Disney character but that aside, it is one of those phrases that make you stop and think for a moment.

For the most part, I am comfortable with who I am but it hasn’t always been the case, and certainly when I was much younger, it was hard to tell who I was on any given day as I busily worked my way through various identities trying to find the one that fit me best.

That’s pretty common teen behaviour right?  We watch as young people sample the benefits of being a goth or a cheerleader, or form relationships (platonic and romantic) that might best be described as ill-advised.  It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life and we know that eventually they will settle on who they are and a path will unfurl for them.

But what if we get to adulthood and we still aren’t confident in who we really are?  What if as adults, we are still acting, dressing or regarding ourselves in ways that are meant to please others?  Sadly, it happens far more often that we can possibly know.

And for these people, this little quote by Cinderella is scary.  The risk feels too great.

If you are one of the people who feels the risk of being yourself is too big or even that you don’t know who your real self is – don’t lose heart.

The fact that you recognise the fear, you acknowledge the fact that you are not being yourself – that is the first step.  With the right love and support you can find yourself….if you want to and when the time is right.

LifeRedesign is committed to helping people to feel comfortable in their own skin.  Its our focus and it is what we do.  To support this agenda we have a Facebook Group which  offers a community of women who have come together to support, inspire and motivate each other.  Members are a mixture of stay at home mums, professionals, entrepreneurs and simply women who want to get the most out of their lives.

Why not join us and see what benefit you can find…watch quietly if you prefer, but know that there is a community of support there should you ever require it.

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A Dieting Mindset

Posted 23/10/2017

There are very few of us who haven’t tried to lose weight at some stage in our lives.  It is something that a huge number of us can claim to have in common.  But is is also a fact that some of us are better and more successful at it than others.

But why is this?  There are many different variables that we can consider – the choice of diet, the length of the diet, the starting weight (the theory that the more you have to lose, the easier it is to lose at first), the amount of exercise that is done with the diet…there is a big list.

These are all very valid reasons why one person may be more successful in their dieting mission than another person.

But there is one reason that very few people acknowledge even though it is without doubt the biggest single influence on the success or failure of plan to lose weight…..mindset.

Yep – Mindset.

How you feel about losing weight before you start is a massive part of how successful you will be.

If I give you two scenarios, consider which you think will lead to the greatest weight loss success….

Sarah is a couple of pounds over her ideal weight but her partner feels she is too big and pressures her to go on a diet to lose 7lb.  Sarah reluctantly agrees and starts a strict diet that her partner has chosen for her.

John knows he is overweight and has had a meeting with his GP who has explained the health risks that John is facing.  John has decided that he wants to lose weight, has chosen his preferred plan and has set himself a target.

Well…?  In these two scenarios, John is the most likely to succeed because his mindset is exactly right.  He is motivated and driven and has a clear view of how he will look and feel once the weight is gone.  Sarah on the other hand, is struggling to see the point, and only doing it to please someone else, with no clear view of what benefits are at the end of her effort.

These are two pretty stark and obvious examples but the importance of mindset when it comes to any diet cannot be understated.

If you can take some time before you start the diet to understand your attitude to food, the reasons why you are seeking to lose weight, the areas of your life that will provide the biggest challenges while you diet (think lunchtimes at work or the weekly takeaway that you have with your friends) then you will be in a much stronger position to succeed with your diet than someone who does not have this level of understanding and awareness.

I am a firm believer that in order to be successful in anything, it is important to prepare.  As my Father loves to tell me – failure to prepare is to prepare for failure!

Preparing to go on a diet is not just about picking which plan you are going to follow or buying yourself an item of clothing that is the size you aspire to be.  Preparation should begin with getting yourself in the correct mindset for success.  By investing some time in understanding your thoughts and behaviours around food before you embark on a life-changing diet plan, you undoubtedly increase your chances of sticking to it.

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Online Coaching – Really?

Posted 22/10/2017

When you imagine a meeting with a counsellor or life coach, you would call to mind an image of two people, sat in a very smart office, with two chairs, maybe a desk, a box of tissues and maybe a bunch of flowers or a bowl of sweets.  That is the traditional image.

But in an age where technology is advancing and time is ever more stretched for most people (which baffles me by the way…surely if technology is making life easier, we should be getting less busy…anyway…sorry….) the need to find a convenient way in which to deliver therapy and coaching becomes more pressing.

To meet that need, many counsellors and coaches (including me) have decided that the best way to deliver our service is to do it online.  Using phone calls and video calling software like Skype or FaceTime it is possible to meet our clients at a time and place that is convenient for them.

I love the idea that I can work with people all over the world, and in the place that suits them the best.

Think about it…if you are receiving coaching and you have to travel 10 miles to my office (I don’t have one but just pretend), find somewhere to park, maybe its raining and you forgot to bring an umbrella, etc…how much of your appointment is required for you to feel relaxed and able to benefit?  5 minutes?  10 minutes?

And then at the end of the appointment, armed with your actions for the coming week(s), a clear idea of what you need to do and the best possible mindset to get started….you have to go outside, get wet again, find your car, get caught in traffic etc etc….not a great start for your post-coaching intentions.

Now imagine you have a coaching appointment by Skype.  You drive home or head to a private meeting room at work.  Maybe you’ve made yourself a hot drink and changed into something comfortable to help you relax (at home!).

The call starts and you’ve got your notepad there.  Your coach is talking to you, listening to you, you are making notes, you are active and focussed on the appointment from the first moment to the last.

The call ends and you are calm, relaxed and ready to take on the actions that you have agreed.  You can make an immediate start.  There is no transition from appointment to reality.

Receiving coaching and counselling by phone and Skype etc is a growing trend and personally, I prefer working with clients in this way – Skype most especially.  I know that I have their undivided attention but I also know that they are somewhere safe, comfortable and of their choosing, making them far more receptive to the purpose of our meeting.

So perhaps now you might consider the possibility of online coaching?  If  not, I’d love to know why and if you have any questions, be sure to comment below.

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Life Coaching - Why?

Posted 21/10/2017

Life Coaching is becoming more and more popular all over the world now and there are a huge number of coaches out there to choose from.

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But why do people work with a life coach?  What is the benefit?

Well, in a world where there is infinite distraction, extremely high expectations and a constant drive for speed and efficiency, it can sometimes be hard to keep up.  A lot of the time, people look for a coach simply to help them to sort out their priorities.

Being asked to help someone work out their direction in life is one of the most common enquiries I receive, and often it is only because there are so many conflicting priorities and options available to them, that they don’t know which way to turn.

Stress is also a big reason why people look for the support of a coach.  Having someone (a coach) help you to work through what is causing the stress and support you in identifying ways to reduce the impact of it is often all it takes to reclaim your quality of life.

Coaching can help people increase their confidence – be it the confidence to perform or self-confidence and self-esteem.  Together, Coach and Client can work together to identify goals, resources and make those goals a reality.

A good coach understands the importance of listening.  A good coach will ask the best questions to get you to a place where things start to make sense.  A coach is not there to provide the answers.  A coach won’t tell you what you should do.

Coaching is about being understanding, empathetic, patient and non-judgemental.  A good coach will ensure that you feel accepted and understood, that you have a space where you feel safe and able to be honest.

All coaches should be registered with a professional body, fully insured and happy to share their credentials with you.  It is also very common now for coaches to offer a complimentary session – often 30-45 minutes long – so that you get the chance to ask questions and meet the coach before you commit to purchasing any sessions with them.

Coaching is only effective where there is a positive relationship between the coach and their client.  So if you find a coach that offers a free consultation, I would always recommend that you take it.

If you are considering using a Life Coach, don’t feel nervous or unsure.  Take the first step and book a free consultation.  You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

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Why Use a Journal?

Posted 18/10/2017

Yesterday we talked about ten ways that you can boost your self esteem and the post closed with the suggestion that it would be beneficial to get a journal to record your journey.

pexels-photopexels-photoBut how would a journal help you?

Using a journal allows you to capture how you are feeling on a regular basis.  You can note down as much or as little information as you wish on a frequency that suits you.  You can use it to simply record your day or you can make specific notes about feelings or activities etc, depending on what you are hoping to achieve.

I would always aim for daily notes as this provides you with focus and a very clear path as you move the the process of improving your self esteem.

Suggestions for  daily content include:

  • What went well today? Can you think of three things?
  • What was challenging for you today and what did you learn about yourself from that experience?
  • What do you want to feel tomorrow?

On a less frequent basis, perhaps monthly or bi-monthly, you could include:

  • Make a list of  your best character traits.
  • Make a list of things you want to do before next year.
  • What are you really good at?
  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • Make a list of your accomplishments over a period of time…perhaps your last monthly or bi-monthly entry, the last 12 months, over your entire life…whatever feels right for you.

You can buy journals online very easy and cheaply but any notebook will suffice as you can write your own headings.

So why not set yourself a target and complete a journal for three months?  Reading back through it after a few days or weeks will give you a real sense of how far you have come in terms of growing your confidence.

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Ten Tips for Higher Self Esteem

Posted 17/10/2017

We all have our off days - the days when we look in the mirror and aren't so pleased with what we see, the days when feel slightly more apologetic for ourselves than feels right.

But when that happens every day, when you never look in the mirror and feel good, when you always feel like you are a burden or a disappointment, then low self esteem or low confidence is the reason.

It is a problem that is far more common than any one of us realises, but if you experience it for yourself, you are more likely to recognise it in other people - as I do.

My self confidence vanished over a period of three years of chronic pain, significant weight gain and total loss of purpose.  But I clawed myself back and so can you.

Here are my top ten tips for getting your mojo back...

  1. Make a list of people who love or value you.  Spend time with them.  It doesn't have to be a long list - even just a single name will work.  Spending time with people who can see us as beautiful or strong or valuable forces us to see ourselves in that way too.  And the more time you spend with them, the more their view of us starts to rub off.
  2. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself.  Listen for the inner monologue that we all have.....like the voice that tells you you are clumsy when you bang your toe.  Pay attention to what that voice is telling you and don't let it pull you down.  If you make a mistake and the voice tells you you are stupid or useless, know that you are not.  Fight back.
  3. Be assertive and don't give in.  Often people with low self esteem will try hard to please others - stop.  Work on finding your value and only do what feels right and is appreciated.
  4. Do something you love and you are good at.  Do it often.  You will be surprised how much this can boost your confidence!
  5. Make a list of your good points - and this can be mental as well as physical.  It is just as valid to have kind eyes as it is to be easy to talk to.  Don't miss anything off and don't be embarrassed to be honest - no one need se you list except you....and its you that needs to see it after all.
  6. Relax!  Seriously!  Spend some time each day being relaxed and allowing your mind to rest.  Clearing your mind for a few minutes each day will create a sense of peace, declutter your mind, allow you to think more clearly and boost your memory.
  7. Make good choices when it comes to looking after yourself - eat healthily, don't drink or use recreational drugs to boost confidence, do some exercise.  The better your body feels, the better your mind feels.
  8. Do something your have been putting off.  It will make you feel a strong sense of achievement and spur you on to do more - a very positive cycle!
  9. Give your appearance an overhaul.  Okay so this post is all about the mind and you might think that talking appearance is wrong...but hold on there....remember a time in your life when you wore something that made your feel unstopppable?  A hairstyle that felt amazing, shoes that made you walk taller?  Harness that feeling again.  Even the smallest change can make a huge difference to how good you feel about yourself.
  10. Smile.  Seriously.  It works.

And there you have it....ten ways to work on your self esteem.

My final recommendation would be to invest in a journal so that you can make a daily note of how you feel.

So go on....make a few changes and lets see how you get on.  You deserve to feel comfortable in your skin.  Everyone does.

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The Simple Things

Posted 28/9/2017

I try to do a post for the LifeRedesign Facebook page every day.  Sometimes its an image with a quote that I have a connection with or perhaps a link to an article that I feel has value.  My favourite are the ones that I make myself though.  To find a message or quote that resonates with me and then match it with an image that creates the right feel is a very creative joy in an otherwise very administrative life!

The messages are often not complicated or deep, and a recent favourite is this one...such a simple message and yet so very important.

We live in a world that is driven by celebrity and fame these days and it seems that being adored by millions of strangers is of far greater importance than being loved by those close to you or...and here's the real point...loving yourself.

How many times do you see celebrities in distress?  Depression and addiction taking over their lives?  A spiral of ever more bizarre and unusual behaviour designed only to secure those precious column inches on tomorrow's newspapers, to reinforce their worth to a faceless world of billions.

I wonder if any of these celebrities have ever considered whether they are worthy in their own eyes?  Do they ever take a moment to simply love themselves rather than look for the approval of everyone around them?

It is a sad reality that if you were to ask ten people to name the things that they love, it is unlikely that any of them will name themselves in the list....not even as a final selection, number ten of ten!  We simply do not put ourselves first, we do not understand that to love ourselves is such an important element of self esteem, of confidence and of emotional health.

To truly see your own worth you need to take the time to acknowledge it.  There might be a few bumps in the road as you do it - something so fundamental does not come easy to everyone.  But it can be achieved, you can learn to love yourself. 

Through the adoption of positive thoughts and the help of others around you, you can reach a point where you are secure in your own worth.

And then if you still feel the need to go and be famous, be adored by millions and live a life in the spotlight....go for it!  I can rest easy knowing that if I ever get in touch and pose this question again, you will be on your own list, and hopefully nice and close to the top.

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