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Beat your inner critic with self compassion

When we accept who we are, all of who we are, and know that we are good enough in every way, something magical happens.

For many of us our self critic is an ever present voice in our head or feeling in the pit of our stomaches.  It starts as a child when you learn all kinds of things from authority figures; running around naked is bad (my body is bad, I’m not good enough), “stop being fussy about your food” (you have a food problem, I’m not good enough); don’t say this or that (I should keep quiet, I’m not good enough); “come on slow coach” (I can’t keep up, I’m not good enough); “You’ll won’t amount to much” (I’m not good enough), and on it goes.  Often these things are said without any malicious intent, but the effect is the same.

Throughout our childhood and into our teens we continue to collect more and more ‘I’m not good enough’ stamps in our invisible sacks that we drag behind us like a ball and chain.  By the time we are well into our adult years, our sacks are full of shame, guilt, repression and fear, and boy does that bag weigh heavy.  It plays out in a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional ways; have you ever set out to do something then just given up, felt you failed, or just decided you’re not quite up to it?  This is your inner critic opening up that sack and showing you why you can’t or why you shouldn’t.

Beating your inner critic is about changing negative thinking patterns, and behaviours, and replacing them with self compassion and kindness.

Re train your brain: Our brains become very good at deleting and distorting information.  If we are focused on the negative, that’s what we’ll see and hear.  Tonight as you’re going home decide to focus on something in particular, say blue cars, and notice just how many you see as opposed to how many you saw yesterday. This was one of my earliest memories when I was studying Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Try this for at least a month: Every day pay attention to all the great things about you; what you’ve done that day, the compliments people have paid you, how well you did something, why you are a loving partner or parent.  Keep a daily note.  If you start to feel you’re not good enough, have a look through what you’ve written.
If you hear your inner critic start up, ask yourself; ‘why am I thinking this?’, ‘is this fact?’, ‘how often does this actually happen?’, ‘what strengths/qualities do I have that can change this?’, ‘how would I prefer to think?’.
Accept your show side: Everyone has things about themselves that they are proud of and love, and are willing to shine a light on; and things we’re not so proud of or don’t like about ourselves that we hide in the shadows.  This concept of the shadow self shows up in nearly every culture in one form or another.  Charlie Morley* describes our shadow self as everything we’ve rejected, disowned or repressed about ourselves.  The shadow isn’t our ‘bad’ side, rather it’s just something we’re keeping hidden, consciously or subconsciously.  Sometimes this comes out in projection, for example we don’t see our own anger yet judge someone else on losing their temper.  Sometimes it’s something we suppress or hold on to; when we try to hide parts of ourselves or repress something, however, we are not showing kindness and compassion to ourselves.

Try this exercise: Draw a big sun and inside write down everything you’re proud of, love about yourself, qualities and attributes you’d want to share.  When you’re done, take another sheet of paper and draw a cloud, inside write down everything you don’t like about yourself, things you wouldn’t necessarily share with others, and negative emotions you’re holding onto (fear, guilt, shame, anger).  This next stage is about you healing, freeing yourself and choosing to squash your inner critic.  To do this may take some courage, and it may take some time, so be patient with yourself.

Draw a love heart around both the sun and the cloud.  Look at all of the things in the sun and take a few minutes to let that resonate with you.  When you’re ready, look at all of the things in the cloud.  Choose to let go of negative emotions attached to people or situations, choose to forgive.  Grudges and resentment will only damage one person, you.  Look at those items and say “I’m choosing to let go, I forgive you”.  Look at the things in the cloud that are attributes of you, and say “I see you, and I accept that you are part of who I am”.  This isn’t suggesting that we shouldn’t strive to continue to grow, to be more patient, kinder, more thoughtful or whatever it might be for you, rather it means that you are accepting that this is part of who you are, right now.

*Charlie Morley, Dreaming through Darkness, 2017 – ISBN: 978-1-78180-735-4

Reframe negative self talk:  Every time we affirm something that someone might once have said to us, we reinforce it as the “truth”, for example you spill something and say to yourself “I’m so clumsy”.  This exercise is about becoming conscious of your negative talk and reframing, with compassion. For this example you might say to yourself “spills happen, it’s not a big deal, I’m a good person”.  Another example might be that you’ve lost your temper, and you immediately think “I’ve got no patience, I’m such a mean person”.  Now think about it properly, what were your triggers?  Were you tired or hungry, what buttons did that person push, and how can you prevent it from happening the next time?  Next, reframe it: “I lost my temper, it happened because_____, I’m still a good person”.

Initially you might only recognise negative self talk after the event, it might be hours later, that’s okay.  As soon as you recognise that you’ve put yourself down, reframe it and affirm that you are a ‘good person’ or that you are ‘good enough’, no matter how long ago it was.   After a relatively short time you’ll start to catch yourself as soon as you say something, then before you say it, and eventually you’ll reduce it right down and even stop altogether.

When we start to retrain our brains, accept ourselves, and be more compassionate to ourself, we gain a greater sense of control.  This is where you’ll find peace, contentment, balance and happiness in your life.

Supporting you to be your best and happiest self

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To access FREE resources, click on the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518


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Healing with Reiki

Reiki is a form of natural healing that was developed in 18th century Japan by a Buddhist monk named Usui Sensei.

It is said that Usui Sensei travelled across the world to understand and learn from many other cultures and healing processes.  He developed reiki as a way of self healing and spiritual growth.  The Japanese pronunciation is RYE-KEY but has been westernised to be pronounced ‘RAY-KEY’.  Usui carefully passed on the teachings of reiki to Chujiro Hayashi who later, in 1935, trained a very determined Mrs Takata in first degree reiki.  It is said that Mrs Takata fell ill after the death of her husband, suffering from several illnesses, and rather than continue with hospital treatment, she turned to reiki healing through Hayashi.  Mrs Takata made a full health recovery and continued with her studies of reiki until she mastered the art of healing and was accredited as a reiki master. 

Over the past 40 years it has become increasingly popular in the Western world as a non invasive and non medicated therapy.  Reiki works holistically across mind, body and spirit by channelling energy through your therapist and stimulating your own natural healing abilities.

Rei means universal spirit and Ki (or chi) means life force; the vitality that gives life to all living things (energy).  When ones energy is low as a result of, for example, stress or poor living choices, this is when you are more likely to become tired or ill, and that can manifest in one or more areas of physical, mental or emotional dis-ease. 

What’s is it helpful for?
Reiki is used for a whole host of physical, mental and emotional issues and dis-ease, some of the areas you may use it for include:

  • To relax and rebalance after a busy or stressful day or week
  • To relieve or heal pain
  • To reenergise if your energy levels are low 
  • To ease or remove anxiety
  • To overcome insomnia
  • To ease or remove the occurrence of panic attacks
  • To improve self esteem
  • To remove nervous tension
  • To heal digestive problems
  • To heal migraines/severe headaches
  • To overcome depression

It’s important to remember that the practitioner is there to channel energy, guide and support you, however, it is you, the client, who chooses to heal and promotes the healing process, even if that is at a very subconscious level.  

How does it work?
To practice Reiki you must have first been trained by a Reiki master.  A practitioner of Reiki heals through conducting positive energy (either hands-on or hands-off and at second degree reiki, distance healing can be performed) through your energy field.  I tend to use predominantly hands off within my treatments, unless someone is combining it with a touch of aromatherapy massage.  The reiki treatment raises the vibration of energy in your body and disperses negative energy.  Some believe Reiki power is one of the most powerful forms of healing.  

During the session you may feel sensations of hot or tingling from the practitioners hands and may see colours or white light.  After a session you may feel slightly light headed and clients can feel anything from calm and sleepy, emotional or completed rejuvenated, all of which is normal.  

Celeb fans of Reiki
Here are just a few celebs who swear by Reiki:

Angelina Jolie
Mel B
Gwyneth Paltrow
Halle Berry
Kate Bosworth
Kate Hudson
Helen Hunt
Nicole Kidman
Joely Richardson
Naomi Watts

Reiki Practitioner Lineage
All Reiki practitioners can trace their lineage back to Mikao Usui. Below is my lineage: Mikao Usui Chuijiro Hayashi > Hawayo Takata > Phyllis LeiFurumoto > Florence O’Neal > Jerry Farley > June Woods > Simon Treselyan > Marcus Haywood > Diane Whittle > Taggart King > Tina Shaw > Marion McGeough > Alison Braithwaite

As a reiki second degree practitioner I make sure I give myself boosts of energy and healing reiki, along with practices of meditation, yoga and tia chi on a regular basis to maintain equilibrium.

To access FREE resources, click on the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

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Healing with Acupressure

The ancient art of acupressure can relieve aches and pains, remove energy blockages and restore the body’s balance

Acupressure brings quick relief in many situations where stress and tension start to show in our bodies.  This technique is based on the theory that good health depends on the free movement of energy around the body*.

Acupressure points have a high electrical conductivity on the surface of the skin, that works effectively at conducting and channelling healing energy.  The channelling of healing energy is called Reiki.  The meridians in our bodies connect the acupressure points to each other, as well as to our internal organs. The meridians each have a specific channel that circulates electrical energy throughout the body.  The manner in which these are connected means that stimulation of one acupressure point can initiate healing messages to other parts of the body which, benefiting a whole range of complaints and symptoms.

*The flow, balance, and harmonisation of your body’s energy system can also be restored and maintained through the following methods:  tapping (EFT), chakra and aura treatments, specific exercises (like yoga), set postures and routines, and crystal therapy.

The Science
The great scientist, Albert Einstein, described his formula E= mc squared with the simple concept that ‘energy is all there is’.  Flowing energy (that within and around us), and congealed energy (solid matter).  


3 Self Help Techniques

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Relieve a Headache: working on this acupressure point in the middle of the cranium can be a really effective way to calm an overactive mind and ease the tension in your head.  The point sits at the top of your head (between your ears).  Find this point and then with your fingertip massage it gently for a few minutes

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Soothe Tired Eyes: Using your thumb and the knuckle of your forefinger, gently pinch along the boney ridge of your upper eye.  Finish by working the point in the middle of the eyebrow.

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Relieve Insomnia: Lay one hand facing palm up, starting from the outer side (thumb end) and working across to the far side (little finger), gently pinch-pull across the crease of your wrist.  Finish by applying gentle pressure to the point between your eyebrows (third eye).


To access FREE resources, click on the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Wishing you all a happy and healthy life.

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Stress: the facts & fixes

You may not be able to avoid stress altogether, but you can learn resilience against it, and lessen the negative effects of stress.

Stress, especially that relating to work, is stated as the second most frequent health problem, impacting one third of employed people in the European Union (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).  Although stress is a part of life, and a little bit won’t do you any harm, raised  levels of stress without down time will affect your health.

The Science
Cortisol is known as the ‘stress’ hormone which is secreted by the adrenal cortex in reaction to experiencing stress.  This response is intended to get the body ready for ‘fight or flight’ when threatened (Andrews, 2016). When there is a flood of cortisol into the body, however, it affects our whole body and mind.  When the stressful situation is removed the cortisol levels, and affects from it, start to settle. When cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can be damaging both physically and mentally.  Over time, high levels can cause issues with weight gain, high blood pressure, disrupted sleep, and negatively impact the mood and energy levels. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as resulting in poor lifestyle choices which are used as coping strategies, such as alcohol, poor diet and eating too much  (Thorpe, 2017; Walter, 2015; McKwen, 2008; Lundberg, 2005).


The Warning Signs

  • You feel tired and lacking energy
  • You’re losing your motivation
  • You snap at people too often
  • Your sleep is poor
  • You’re putting on weight around your midriff
  • You’re relying on alcohol or food to get you through the day

My Recommended Staples for keeping the mind & body in check

  • Eat well: check out my Pinterest board for inspiration
  • Drink relaxing herbal teas, like camomile, before a stressful event
  • Sip water slowly to bring your blood pressure down and keep you hydrated
  • Use soothing bath or shower oils: check out my specially selected range of products from Neale’s Yard Remedies
  • Relax with the energy of a crystal – check out Flourish Resources (using the password at the end of this blog), for a sheet on how to do this, or book a full crystal therapy treatment
  • Practice Meditation: proven to shift the brain patterns and promote calmness
  • Get mindful in nature: use all of your senses to enjoy the wonderful natural world
  • Focus your mind: colouring, painting, reading or knitting
  • Practice Yoga: proven to support a calmer mind, and give you a toned body – check out my Pinterest board for inspiration
  • Drop your shoulders: we often find our bodies are tense in response to stress, consciously dropping your shoulders and relaxing your body will let your brain know you’re relaxed
  • Square breathing: breathing in a deep, steady way will help your body and brain regain calmness.
    Technique: breath in deeply for the count of 2 seconds whilst you visualise drawing the first line of a square. Hold the breath in for 2 seconds whilst you visualise drawing the second line of a square, change the colour of each line if you like.  Let the breath out over the count of 2 seconds, whilst you visualise drawing the third line of the square, and hold for 2 whilst you visualise drawing the final line.  Repeat as many times as you need to.
  • Take a walk: clear your mind, remove yourself from the stressful situation and give yourself chance to come back to a calmer place.  Combine this with mindfulness for an extra calming boost

Tools & Techniques in the Moment

If you do find yourself in a stressful situation, here are some tools and techniques from MindWell that you can use in the moment:

  • 7 Step problem solving:
    If you identify a practical problem which can be tackled, use the ‘Seven step problem-solving technique’ to work through possible solutions.
  • Worry Tree:
    Use ‘The Worry tree’ sheet to decide whether some of your stresses are problems which can be tackled or if you can’t actually do anything about certain issues and need to let go of them.
  • Stress Diary:
    Keeping a diary of when you experience stress during the day can help you to understand the causes of stress in your life and help you manage them
  • STOP:
    This is a tool used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is very effective at helping you to reframe and let go of stress or anxiety

Dress to de stress
Free flowing and beautiful materials that feel great on your skin can be more physically comfortable and put you psychologically more at ease.

Energise with white and bright colours and calm with greens and pastel shades

Pets for Therapy
There’s been a huge increase in pets on wards, in day centres and nursing homes, and for good reason.  This proven therapy is now showing up in cafes all over the country, with cats or dogs pottering around and snuggling up whilst you enjoy a relaxing cuppa.

Whatever you choose to do, know that you are in control and only you can create the conditions for a less stressful life.

To access FREE resources, click on the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Wishing you all a happy and calmer life.

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Healing your Chakras & Aura

You could call this therapy an ‘energy psychology’ or ‘energy medicine’, we all have energy in and around us, but how do we use it to heal?

Science and metaphysics agree that everything, living or inanimate objects hold energy which vibrates at specific frequencies (or speeds).  The earth itself has an energy field around it which grounds us and absorbs energy from the sun. We pick up on all kinds of energy around us, good and bad energies. You know how sometimes you feel’ a person has ‘good energy’ or you instantly feel wary of someone?  This is picking up on their auras. Your aura is your energy surrounding you, it is fed from your chakras, the energy within you. Although you can’t see it you can certainly feel it if you focus on it.

Like a rainbow, the 7 core chakras each have a different colour associated with them:

  • Root Chakra – red (base of spine)
  • Sacral Chakra – orange (navel)
  • Solar Plexus – yellow (base of sternum)
  • Heart – green (chest)
  • Throat – blue (throat)
  • Brow – purple (in between your eyes)
  • Crown – violet-white (top of your head)

The flow of energy moves through the chakras, permeating to the minor chakras and beyond to the aura.  When a chakra gets blocked it affects the chakras upstream, any associated minor chakras, and if not resolved, eventually our aura.  You may experience a mild chakra imbalance as feeling out of sorts, or it may manifest in mental issues, dis-ease and physical illness.  This is because each core chakra is linked to our physical body (organs) and our mind.

A qualified therapist will first make a health check of your chakras and aura, using a technique such as Reiki, they may also use a crystal pendulum to pick up on the energy in the chakras and auric field. Once a diagnosis has been formed, a treatment is carried out.  Often treatments come in blocks of 6 and require activity by the client in between sessions to support the healing process. Treatments can come in forms of Reiki, crystals, aromatherapy or colour therapy, meditation and even chanting.  Activity by the client can come in the form of meditation, mindfulness, affirmations and even diet and exercise.  Subsequent sessions will re check the health and work on the chakra and aura as required. If using crystals, a therapist may select specific crystals to support an imbalance.  Often clear quartz crystals are used on the 21 minor chakras to enhance healing.

This is an area that I adore working in, and clients often experience deep relaxation, along with physical and mental sensations during treatment.  Energy healing has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine and practices, and has been used for centuries. It’s now becoming a more accepted form of holistic therapy, with people choosing it over medication, and the side effects that come with traditional western medicine.

If you’re interested in booking in for a treatment, leave your details with me at 360flourish@gmail.com and I’ll contact you to arrange a suitable date and time.

To access FREE resources, login to the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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Relax & Balance with Crystals

Crystal therapy is one of the energy healing therapies and has been used for centuries.  

Whilst some may still dismiss holistic therapies such as crystal therapy, there’s no denying the power of the energy that sits within and around us.   When scientists determined that atoms are not solid, but 99.999% empty space filled with energy in the forms of vibrations, this made energy medicine somewhat easier to explain.  Everything on our earth is made of atoms, and energy.  Energy vibrates at different frequencies; for example, colour is created through vibrating energy and can be seen by some as a white light or golden glow around bodies, think ‘The Saint’ and his circular glowing crown.  Also check out images drawn by cavemen, which often show a glow of colour around their illustrations of man and woman.  This ‘glow’ is known as our aura.

All crystals have energy and their own vibrations.  A quartz crystal has a particularly powerful vibration, and is still used today in watches and clocks to pulse the second hand around.  Dr Valerie Hunt, who sadly passed in 2014, was a pioneer for energy medicine, and as a scientist spent many years dedicated to proving the aura existed through her research.

In one form of crystal therapy, a healer (or therapist) places crystals at certain points on the body with the aim of either stimulating, balancing or reducing the flow of life energy.  A trained healer will use their own energy (for example through Reiki), together with the crystals, to focus on the physical, mental or emotional area(s) that are out of balance and causing illness, dis-ease or distress.  This treatment will support a persons energy to circulate freely and remove any blockages in our aura.  Celeb fans include Victoria and David Beckham, Adele, Miranda Kerr and Elizabeth Taylor.

Have you had any energy healing treatments?  I’d love to know about your experience. Do you want to try out a self directed crystal relaxation?  You can view the step-by-step guide through the members login (see login information below), access through the Flourish Club page.

Many years ago I took my first degree in Reiki and loved the results I gained personally,(going on to complete my second degree this year);  I later went on to study Emotional Freedom Technique and Aura and Chakra healing, all of these therapies work beautifully together to support deep relaxation, and healing on an emotional, mental and physical level.  If you’re interested in booking a session and want to know when this is available, leave your details with me at 360flourish@gmail.com

To access FREE resources, login to the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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Healing through Tapping

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is part of a therapy suite known as ‘energy psychology’.  

Whilst there are many pressure points across the whole body, there are 8 core pressure points that are commonly used as a type of emotional and physical first aid.  I have now completed my ‘Diploma in EFT Practice’, and whilst I’ve been practising on myself I’ve noticed some amazing results. When I first started studying this technique the sequence and approach seemed relatively simple to apply, and that’s because the clever creator, Gary Craig, has crafted this technique from the more complicated TFT (thought field therapy).  As I got further into the course, I realised that there were different methods used dependant on the client’s presentation, and there are often layers of ‘aspects’, contributing to the presenting issue; all of which need to be worked through. Fortunately, as a coach who regularly uses NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), this gives me an advantage in supporting clients to get to the root cause of these ‘aspects’.

It seems you can use EFT for almost anything, overcoming emotional baggage, pain, anxiety, addiction, phobias, even opening up to wealth and success (related to working on embedded subconscious beliefs and sabotaging behaviour).  Interestingly, the researchers of a study in 2013 (Bodily Maps of Emotions), concluded that emotional feelings are associated with discrete, yet partially overlapping, maps of bodily sensations. They worked with over 700 subjects in 5 different experiments related to 13 human emotions.  This is demonstrated quite nicely in the fact that the emotion of stress creates 1400 psychological changes in the body (including hormonal and chemical). So mind affects body, and body affects mind, they work together. You’ve no doubt heard the term, ‘died of a broken heart’, where someone’s loss of a loved one is so intense, so encompassing that their body literally gives up.  A person who feels emotions of self worthlessness, for example, may feel pain in their physical body. Tapping works by getting to the root cause and provides ‘emotional freedom’ from any issue, and hence healing. When you look at how the body and mind is made up, it starts to make perfect sense.  If you’re interested in EFT or using this as part of a blended theraputic intervention, get in touch with me at 360flourish@gmail.com

To access FREE resources, login to the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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Lekke – It’s a happiness thing

I first came across the works of Meik Wiking a couple of years ago when he released ‘The little book of Hygge’ (or hoo ga). This is a man who heads up the Happiness Research Institute, what a job! 

These insightful & inspiring books are a delight to read.  So first off, to explain Lykke (or luu kah) is Danish for happiness.  Iceland, Switzerland & Norway come top of the happiness charts whilst my native country, UK, is forth from the bottom. Ouch.  I’ve just started reading this book so I’m intrigued to understand more about this fact, but it got me thinking, what does happiness mean? How does it differ for different cultures or countries & why? How does our happiness rank now to 10, 20 or 30 years ago.  I’m also struck by our own definition of happiness f what we allow to create ripples in our pools of serenity.  Mind set definitely has a part to play.  When I think about a Buddhist monk for example, does their calm & peace mean happiness or is it neutral? Some people thing money buys happiness but we can all list many celebrities that have an abundance of money & are very unhappy indeed. 

So this brings me full circle to my Live Well programme; it’s not one thing but rather a holistic approach that allows our minds, hearts & souls to experience happiness. 

My Top Lekke Tips to get you started

  1. Health:
    • Good quality nourishment will give you energy, great mood and have you looking radiant.
    • Make time to get active.  A lot of us are now working office jobs and sit on our booty for an average of 8 hours a day, if you travel any distance that time is going to increase.  The most important thing is to enjoy it, so find something you love doing, and find out what time is you sweet spot.
    • Connect with nature.  Go for a long walk or a mooch around your garden, and really use your senses to hear, see, feel and smell your environment.  Feeling connected to the greater world around us has a significant effect on our brain.
  2. Togetherness:
    • Make time to spend with the family you love.  You never know how long you have with them, so make it count.  This will boost your loving connection and release lots of feel good chemicals too.
    • Hug.  Hugging has been proven to increase your bond with someone and that sense of connection.
    • Connect with like minded people. Those that bring you joy, get your intellectual juices flowing or bring about those wonderful belly laughs.
  3. Freedom:
    • Most of us have to work, but we shouldn’t be trapped in jobs that are making us unhappy.  Reframing how you feel about your job can help.  Look for other opportunities that will bring you more joy.  Most of all, create a life that gives you the freedom you deserve.
  4. Trust:
    • When we give our trust to others, the positive nature of that action radiates a sense of connection and wellbeing for both parties, more than you might realise.
  5. Kindess:
    • Underrated. Often not seen. Kindness is a superpower.  It’s effect and impact will ripple far wider than you will ever know.  Doing something for someone else, putting someone else’s needs above your own, even for a small thing (think of the smile from giving that warm coffee to the man on the corner of the cold street, who slept homeless last night).  It’s a powerful action that will bring a happy feeling to you both.
  6. Money:
    • We can have a strange relationship with money.  For sure it can turn a miserable existence into one of joy, but it can also turn families upside down during inheritance and divorce wars. I could also list countless celebs that have lots of money, and not much happiness.  In my experience, you can always cut your cloth to fit your budget.  Find a balance, making money vs freedom or making money vs happiness (if you like), what’s enough?  What’s the most important thing?

To access FREE resources, login to the members area of the Flourish Club and type in the password FR518

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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This Week with Alison – 27 April 18

‘This Week with Alison’ is about sharing whatever I’ve been mulling over, reflecting on, discussing, reading, learning, practicing or generally tinkering with this week.  

anatomy-160524_640.pngIt’s a Gut thing – When I first starting reading about gut health in early 2017 I was amazed at the impact it has on our mood, weight & health.  Who knew that the gut has brain cells? The bad bacteria love sugary foods and as they grow dominant, your good bacteria decreases, along with your mood.  Another fact that I found interesting, did you know that all our good work on probiotics needs a little injection of prebiotic to feed them? A balance of daily recommended fruit (2), & veg (5) plus a few whole grains, nuts & seeds, and throw in a healthy amount of live yogurt & fermented foods & you’ll be on your way to a healthier gut.
Last year I read Dr Michael Mosley’s clever gut diet, where he embarks on scientific research to understand the gut & it’s role.  If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend it.  So, armed with all of this new info. I’ve been looking after my gut better for the past 12+ months & it’s had a positive impact.  Morning breakfast and even lunch could trigger off irritation in my bowel, & some foods left me feeling slightly sick. Yogurt based breakfasts never do this. Throw in some fruit & seeds & your packing a great gut meal.  Make an oat bran overnight oat pot, & get even more gut support.  I’m so convinced by the science, evidence & my own journey, that I use these principles in my Live Well programme.  You can take a peek at my variations on breakfasts and general ‘gut health’ on my Nourish Me Pinterest board.

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Cats the Musical – my thoughtful daughter bought us tickets to see cats at The Grand Theatre in Leeds, as part of a Christmas gift.  It was their last performance & they didn’t disappoint.  We both loved it, & had a brilliant time together.  This is a great way to pack in a bit of joy for maintaining great mental health; time with family, music, song & dance.  Did you know that these type of activities may be something a coach, CBT therapist or OT might be recommended as part of a holistic treatment plan? All of these things help to release our natural happy drug, endorphins.  Sounds good to me.
Picture credit Leeds List


mhabitat is an independent business owned by the NHS, where I work 3 days a week.  Over the past 18 months I’ve been working with health and care Practitioners on the value of digital to their practice & for those people who access our services.  Now we’ve finished the small scale trials (read the public report), I’ll be continuing the work through the Health & Care Academy, where I sit on 2 work streams, to explore how we can leverage the learning & assets to have more impact across Leeds as part of the  city’s Health & Wellbeing Strategy.  This is real heart & soul work for me; being able to tap into the value of digital information, products & services can make such a huge difference to service costs, time pressures & citizen wellbeing.  I also get to continue work on another passion of mine, leadership.  We put on a workshop for middle managers & team leaders last year & the aim is to expand that offer for the Health & Care Academy through mHabitats events programme under Co>Space North.  I sense it’s going to be another great year.

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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This Week with Alison – 21 April 18

‘This Week with Alison’ is about sharing whatever I’ve been mulling over, reflecting on, discussing, reading, learning, practicing or generally tinkering with this week.  

Headspace griefThis week I’ve been doing the ‘grief’ meditation pack from Headspace (no affiliation).  My lovely mum passed away suddenly in her sleep 9 years ago, and my brother passed away just over a year ago at 55.  It’s fair to say that everyone deals with grief differently, and there’s no right or wrong way.  What I do know, however, is ‘stuck’ grief hurts, and it affects all kinds of other parts of your life.  This pack gently helps you to sit with grief, not judge the feeling, try to be sad or repress it.  This is a helpful perspective and it sets aside time to focus on the loss of loved ones.  Sometimes I’ve cried, sometimes I’ve felt guilt, and sometimes I’ve felt nothing at all (apart from relaxed during the meditation).  Does it work? I’m willing to believe it does, after all meditation is about harnessing our mind, heart and soul so for me it can only be a good thing.  mHabitat, the team I work in for 3 days a week, released a grief section of the MindWell website they developed as part of a commissioned piece of work from the NHS, so if you’re going through a bereavement, or know someone who is, take a peek at the resources HERE.

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Last weekend we were in the Lake District on a lovely farm in Threlkeld.  We both love the Lakes and visit regularly throughout the year.  Col (hubby), is a keen hiker and would clime mountains all week long (by foot or mountain bike), I on the other hand like to take my time wandering up and stopping to take in the marvellous views, inspect wild flowers and generally nosey at what nature is up to. There were a surprising number of millipedes on route; that said, they’ve got the legs for it 😉   With every step I can feel a sense of calm wash over me.  It really is a small piece of paradise.  Here’s a collage of a few snaps from our walk which started at  Threlkeld, up Doddict Fell, across Blencathra, down via Knowe Crags & back across the fields to Threlkeld.

bee-lovely-range-social-media-tileSigns of Spring – Nothing gives me quite so much joy as nature waking up after a sleepy winter.  I adore watching the bees getting ready for another year of raising their baby bees, and pollinating our fruits and vegetables as they go along with their business. The honey bee is probably the one most people know, but there are over 250 species of wild bumblebee and solitary bee in the UK, all doing a really important job to keep our environment and economy healthy.  Did you know it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion a year to pollinate their crops without bees (Friends of the Earth, Bees Booklet).  Sadly, There has been an overall decline in wild and honey bees over the past 50 years for a number of reasons (government review).  Neales Yard Remedies are supporting bee friendly charities by donating 3% of sales from their ‘Bee Lovely’ range, good job NYR.  Fancy indulging in this gorgeous range of products at the same time as supporting bee charities – take a peek  Bee Lovely

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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This Week with Alison – 8 April 18

‘This Week with Alison’ is about sharing whatever I’ve been mulling over, reflecting on, discussing, reading, learning, practicing or generally tinkering with this week.  

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This week I’ve started reading Georgia Coleridge’s ‘The Chakra Project’ #chakraproject, and I can’t put it down.  I’ve always had an interest in what I now know as ‘energy healing’, and it’s come in and out of my life for the past 15 years, more on that in my next blog.  On the face of it, if not understood, chakras can appear a bit New Age traveller/hippy, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the natural energy within and around us.  Energy from sunlight to moonlight, gravity, and our own heartbeats.  Chakras are the engines in our body spinning to keep the energy flowing, so that we feel physically, emotionally and spiritually well.  What I didn’t know is that we have hundreds of said chakras, albeit it’s usually just the 7 core chakras that are depicted (Crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and root).  The book teaches you about those 7, how to know if they’re out of kilter, what the do to heal them, and how to keep them healthy.  I’ll be using my knowledge to enhance some of the resources for my ‘Live Well’ programme, and some I’ll share for free to Flourish Club members. I also have a Pinterest board for Chakras & Crystal if you want to take a peek.


Back at mhabitat (a team owned by the NHS, where I work 3 days a week), I’m leading a project in Kirklees, exploring what & how existing digital technologies can help those people with visual & hearing impairments, have a better experience when they visit their GP.  We’re right in the middle of recruiting (e.g. patients, carer’s, & GP Staff), to join us at one of 3 workshops in May.  We’re also collecting mini insight blogs from people who have a sensory impairment & are willing to share what tech. They’re using & how that helps them, we’re calling these wonderful people our ‘Digital Champions’.  Digital Champions also include citizens and NHS staff who join us to spread the word & make GP visits a better experience.  If you have a sensory impairment, or know someone who does, and want to share your tech. experiences in this way, we’d love to hear from you.  Just email your mini insight to: enquiries@wearemhabitat.com – use the subject title ‘digital champion’ and we’ll share it within our region and across the digital pathfinder projects nationwide.

43673154-E1BF-42C4-8725-68EB75203461Signs of Spring – on Friday I walked out with Dad, along the Air & Calder canal & riverside. We spotted, amongst other things, a grebe with his full head gear on, and sand martins, back from Africa for the Summer and Autumn. Hazel willows were bursting into bloom & butterbur & Himalayan balsam were starting to poke up on the banking. On Saturday Col (hubby) & I went to Flamborough coast & spent time watching the kittiwakes, guillemots, & razor bills nesting precariously on the cliff edged. What started out as a rather cold foggy morning turned into a warmer day & it felt good to be out in the fresh air.  Walks for me are soul food. They fill my whole being with joy & light & I use all my senses to experience that special time out in nature.  It’s a time for gratitude that you have good health and the ability to get out & enjoy the beautiful things in life.  For me, this is mindfulness at its best.

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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This Week with Alison – 1 April 18

‘This Week with Alison’ is a new blog series where I’ll be sharing whatever I’ve been mulling over, reflecting on, discussing, reading, learning, practicing or generally tinkering with this week.  

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First off, I’ve had my head in The Louise Parker Method ‘Lean for Life’ book over the past couple of weeks, and I loved it so much I bought her cookery book too.  I have quite a collection of nutrition and lifestyle books and they all add to a greater understanding of what people are trying out, what’s new in science and different things for me to try out too.  
As creator of the ‘Live Well’ programme and a huge advocate of an holistic approach to living well, I love Louise’s ethos and no nonsense approach. You can pick up a copy at Amazon

think well_low resSo I’m just over half way through an EFT Diploma (Emotional Freedom Technique), and I’m loving it.  This is a super interesting energy therapy that helps to relieve emotional and physical discomfort or pain by using 9 core acupressure points.
When I started it the sequence and approach seemed relatively simple to apply, and that’s because clever creator Gary Craig has crafted this technique from the more complicated TFT (thought field therapy).  This week I’ve learnt that sometimes there are layers of aspects, contributing to the presenting issue, that need to be worked through, and enter coaching. So this is a great way for me to combine my techniques from coaching, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and EFT for a deeper healing and mindset shift.  Love it!

eat well_low resThis weekend has been the Easter holidays and my normal diet has turned into a bit of indulgence, and boy can I tell.  My energy levels are down, my mood has been a tad uneven and my mind has been adrift with all kinds of thoughts. So this morning I kicked off my normal diet with one of my favorite breakfasts, overnight oats.  Check out my ‘Nourish Me’ pinterest board for this recipe, along with a whole host of other posts on health benefits of foods, 5:2 meals, and lots more.
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I’m a keen fan of morning meditation and yoga, it really sets me up for the day.  I’d wanted to do a regular routine of both for years but never got into the groove with meditation, and my yoga practice was sporadic.  As I got older I started to get less flexible, and with a busy life I needed some brain down time to balance my thoughts and functioning. Around 18 months ago I knew something had to change, and I was determined to get into a routine that was sustainable. I discovered ‘Headspace’, a mindfulness meditation app, so I added this to what was then a stop-start yoga routine and committed to an (almost) daily routine.  I don’t give myself a hard time if I miss a morning but I make sure that I never skip 2 days in a row, that’s my promise to myself. The secret in the end was guided meditation, and I love Andy’s Headspace app, getting up 30 minutes earlier each morning, having a tailored yoga routine that suited my needs (I created this myself from my trusty Collins Yoga book), and then just getting on with it. 

workout well_low resLike most indoor workers, I can find myself sat for long periods of time without moving, and this is not great for your physical or mental health.  So for the past couple of weeks I’ve tried something a little different, inspired by the 80’s Lizzy (aka Green Goddess). In one of my moments of reflection I’d remembered that she’d reported an increase in her own fitness and noticeable weight loss over the course of the year just by doing short intermittent routines, daily, for TV-AM viewers, I guess this was the 80’s version of HIIT. So I decided to do a 2 minute HIIT routine every hour (when I’m in the office and not in company), which equates to 2 or 3 days a week.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Have a wonderful week everyone,

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