How to conquer overwhelm with ease

How to conquer overwhelm with ease

At times, it can feel like you can’t quite conquer overwhelm when you’re living with a challenging health issue. Particularly when you may be in the early stages of living with it. Or some kind of change happens with your health or life that throws your previous normality out the window.

The overwhelm can feel like a constant in your life. It’s not surprising as you can be dealing with a lot of change, you may not be sure how best to deal with it, and you don’t know what the future holds. So yeah, overwhelm can easily happen.

Pic of a being taking a woman's life which is in the form of a cloud it is holding with 'Your Lovely Life' written in it and the being is saying, "Take these. You won't need your previous life so I will toss that." The being is standing near a window. The being is handing two clouds to the woman with overwhelm & anxiety and chronic illness written on them. She is holding them but saying, "I don't want these. I want my life back." Dealing with a challenging health issue can feel like you're exchanging your life for overwhelm. And all you want to do is conquer overwhelm to get your life back.

So how do you conquer overwhelm?

Without it being incredibly difficult?

Here are three steps you can take to conquer overwhelm with ease

It will be a learning process. And you may not get it right from the start. In fact, don’t aim to get it 100% right as that can fuel the overwhelm.

Learning how to conquer #overwhelm is a learning process. And you may not get it right from the start. In fact, don’t aim to get it 100% right as that can fuel the overwhelm. #stress #anxiety Click To Tweet

First, show some compassion to yourself

And tell yourself:

“It’s ok. I’ll get there. Everything is figure-out-able.”

When you show compassion to and reassure yourself, you calm your nervous system. When you feel calm, it’s easier for you to take effective action to help yourself.

This pic is an original quote by Barbara Babcock of Return to Wellness®. It says: Everything is figure-out-able. This is a great way to reassure yourself that you will figure things out eventually and so conquer overwhelm.

Second, get curious about your experience of overwhelm

Get to know what it’s like for you when you feel overwhelmed.

What sensations do you feel in your body and where?

What do you do when you experience overwhelm? Do you deny it and try to get on with life as normal? Do you hide away? Get cranky? Cry a lot? Get angry? Experience lots of anxiety? Something else?

Whatever is causing the overwhelm? How do you think about that issue? What are your thoughts?

Is it typically certain issues which trigger overwhelm?

When you are aware of how you experience overwhelm and what triggers it for you, you are in a much better position to take charge of the overwhelm much earlier.

When you are aware of how you experience #overwhelm and what triggers it for you, you are in a much better position to take charge of the overwhelm much earlier. #stress #anxiety Click To Tweet

When you feel overwhelmed by a problem, the problem feels bigger than you

You need to get bigger than the problem.

When you do that, you can see how big or small the problem really is and the different parts of the problem.

On the lefthand side of the picture, a woman is looking out of sorts and is laying on the ground as problems overwhelm her. On the righthand side of the picture she is much bigger and has broken down the overwhelm into all the problems that is contributing to it. She is saying, "Ok, now I can see everything more clearly. first, I need to sort my finances and car. Then I'll have more energy for the other stuff." The point is that by making yourself bigger than your problems, it can help you to step out of overwhelm and deal with the problems. This helps you to conquer overwhelm.

To get bigger than the problem and overwhelm, the third thing you can is write about the cause of it

There is no right or wrong way to write about the problem. It may be a simple bullet list of the issues you face. So it doesn’t have to take a long time.

You might write about the different parts of the problem. You may end up writing just how you’re thinking about everything as it occurs to you. Spelling and grammar do not matter.

When you write about the problem, it does two things:

  1. It takes the overwhelm out of your head and puts it on paper. You can let the overwhelm rest on the paper and not in your head or body.
  2. You create distance between yourself and the problem. That makes it easier to look at it and evaluate it more objectively.

You are then in a much better position to start dealing constructively with the problem.

So think of your pen as your sword in helping you conquer overwhelm.

The woman is sitting at a table and has been writing about the overwhelm she experiences. She is holding her pen up and saying, "For something so small, you are very powerful and effective!" The point is that your pen can be your sword in helping you conquer overwhelm.

What’s it like for you?

Have you used writing before to conquer overwhelm? If not, what do you think of writing as a tool to do that? What other approaches do you use to conquer overwhelm which you’ve found effective? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

The one thing you can do to regain control quickly

The one thing you can do to regain control quickly

When you don’t feel in control, all you want is something to help you regain control. But sometimes the solution doesn’t come quickly enough for your liking. Or it’s hard to sift through everything and determine what’s best for you because you may be feeling so much anxiety. Understandable.

You can end up not taking effective action as a result

And I don’t want that for you. I want you to take good enough action that has helps you get what you need and where you want to be. So I’ll share the one skill you already possess and how it can help you to regain control.

It requires you to notice how you’re thinking and speaking. Noticing is good because it’s the first step in regaining control. To help you do that, I share what you need to be on the look-out for. And I provide a four-step process you can follow to help you take back control.

Click on the video to watch. It’s 11 minutes long.

What’s it like for you?

What do you think of Rotter’s ‘Locus of Control’ model? Do you recognise yourself using passive language when you’re not feeling in control? What do you think about using active language to help you regain control quickly? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

You may also want to watch this video on how to determine which aspects of issues you are dealing with are in your control to manage and what is not and therefore you need to let go of. It’s a great complement to the video you just watched. (It’s 11 minutes.)

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to recover from the coronavirus illness

How to recover from the coronavirus illness

We may be past the peak of COVID-19 with lockdown just starting to ease, but now there’s the question of how to recover from coronavirus. I can speak on this from a number of perspectives, but for now, I want to focus on those of you who have had the virus. Particularly if you were seriously affected.

It can be really scary to have gotten an illness the world is trying to dodge right now. And a new illness the world is still learning about. It’s understandable if you have concerns.

So I want to share seven key things which are in your control to do to help your recovery. Given I am not a medical professional, the advice I share here is non-medical. It is based on my professional experience as a coach, research, and personal experience of serious illness. What I share here also applies to many of you who have dealt with another challenging illness or injury.

There is a woman standing coughing and coughing. Her eyes are closed. Spray is coming out of her mouth but she is trying to cover her mouth. Little bits of coronavirus are stuck to her. She is thinking, 'I feel so tired. And I can't stop coughing.' Those are classic symptoms of COVID-19. When you get a serious illness like COVID-19, it's important to learn how to recover from coronavirus and the blog this picture is from will tell you how. All from a non-medical perspective.

How to recover from coronavirus from a non-medical perspective

If you’re recovering from #COVID19 or another #seriousillness, here’s some things you can do to aid your recovery #wellness Click To Tweet

Take life gently

Your body has been through a lot. So you will naturally be moving more slowly and possibly experiencing some difficulty doing that. You won’t be able to do as much for a time.

This may piss you off. Or you may feel sad. Or something else. And there are a whole host of reasons why you may feel the way you do.

Your feelings are valid. Acknowledge them. But don’t unpack and live in the anger or sadness. Because you need that energy to help your healing.

To take life gently, you also need to do the following.

Adjust your expectations of yourself

Sometimes with illness we can expect ourselves to recover at a certain speed because we’ve got things we have to do or want to do. We can expect our bodies to function a certain way.

And when the recovery doesn’t happen at the rate we want or our bodies don’t function the way we expect, we can get upset with ourselves.

There’s a period after a tough illness call convalescence. And it’s become a bit of a lost art. Convalescence is that period when the worst of the illness is past, we do feel better but we are not yet able to return to normal every day activities with no issues. It can feel like a period of limbo, but convalescence is an important part of the healing process.

Because of the illness, your body has changed. So you have to work with that change. And that means you have to adjust your expectations of what you can do. Doing that doesn’t mean you are ‘less than’ as a person.

Your recovery may go up and down

It’s not uncommon in our society to expect our recovery to be a straight upwards trajectory from zero to hero in a specified period of time.

The reality is often different.

You may have some good days where you feel better and then some days when you feel you are getting worse. If the latter, make sure you have a number to call to get medical advice from your GP, consultant or nurse so you can check with them if there is anything you need to do.

It can be difficult to say how long it will take you to recovery from coronavirus. Every person is different. Some recover quickly, some take more time. Your body will let you know what it needs. You need to listen to it and give it the time it needs to recover.

Look after yourself and your needs

When you’re trying to figure out how to recover from coronavirus or another serious illness, this is one of the key skills you need. It’s so important. And it’s a skill you can develop. In my coaching practice, I’ve helped a lot of people to do that after serious illness.

Start with the basics – sleep + nourishing food + liquid + gentle activity.

Get as much sleep as you and your body needs. If you need to sleep 12-14 hours, do that if you are able to. Appreciate that may be difficult if you also have to look after children.

Eat a balanced diet. Avoid the sugary and processed foods. Your body needs nourishing food to heal.

Drink plenty of liquids. Alcohol may not mix well with any medications you are on, so watch the intake of that.

If you have the energy, a gentle activity like walking around the house or your garden if you have one may be ok. But do check with your doctor first.

Other gentle activities like watching favourite tv programmes, reading, playing a card game, doing puzzles, knitting, etc. can help pass the time in a healthy way whilst you recover. Choose activities you enjoy.

Put guilt to one side

To look after yourself and your needs you often have to put guilt to one side. Or if you cannot put it to one side you, you have to hold it as you also hold on to your needs and look after them.

To look after yourself and your needs when you’re recovering from a #seriousillness it helps to put guilt to one side #wellness Click To Tweet

Acknowledge any anxiety you’re feeling

Sometimes after a serious illness your anxiety levels may be a lot higher. I’ve personally experienced this. Being seriously ill is hard enough in the acute phase. After you leave the acute phase of a serious illness and you enter the convalescence stage, anxiety can make an experience. And you’re thinking, ‘Now I have to deal with this???’

Anxiety is an understandable response to the difficulties you have experienced and an uncertain future. When you’ve had a serious illness like COVID-19, it’s a lot to hold.

When anxiety appears, noticing 3-5 tangible items near you can help you ground yourself. You can also breathe in for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds to help regulate your nervous system. This can help you reduce the anxiety to a level where you can respond mindfully to it.

Reach out for support to help you recover from coronavirus

When you reach out for support, what you’re doing is getting help to hold all that you’re dealing with. You don’t have to hold it all by yourself anymore. That relieves some of the pressure.

Getting support to find ways to respond mindfully to anxiety and the issues you’re dealing with in a way that works for you helps to relieve the pressure further.

Your energy is then more freed up to focus on your recovery.

How to recover from coronavirus - seek out support. In this picture there are four people standing. One of them is a woman who has had COVID-19. A man is saying, 'I'll shop for you.' Another man is saying, 'We'll help you hold the anxiety and uncertainty.' He is holding anxiety. A woman is holding uncertainty. The woman who had coronavirus is saying, 'Thanks. I feel lighter.' The caption reads: Support helps you to return to wellness. The point is that when we seek out support, others can help us hold anxiety we may be feeling. That makes it easier for your recovery because you no longer have to hold that anxiety by yourself.

What’s it like for you?

What advice on how to recover from coronavirus resonates with you? Which pieces of advice may be easier for you to implement, which ones less so? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you have had COVID-19 or are caring for someone who is recovering from it, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

A challenging health issue is often a wake-up call to contribute to your health more mindfully and consistently. And there are many things you can do to contribute to your health. In fact, if you read a lot of the health and wellbeing articles in the press, you probably come across a lot of information, some of it contradictory, and it can get confusing.

So I want to share a range of questions to help you think through what you can do to contribute to your health in a healthy way. You’ll also see how the questions demonstrate that health is multi-faceted. This is a framework to help you think through the actions you are taking (or not) rather than a top 10 hints and tips list.

This picture shows a person sitting down looking at a board that has written on it: What do you do to contribute to your health (or not)? There are two columns underneath, one with a green check indicating actions which contribute to her health and the other containing a red X meaning actions which don't contribute to her health. The woman is saying, "Hmm... I yo-yo diet and don't move as much because of the pain."

Food, exercise and lifestyle habits contribute to your health

Obvs! This is what we often first think of.

For example, the food you put in your body

Are you feeding yourself premium fuel or substandard fuel? I reckon you can discern between premium and substandard fuel food-wise and if you are unsure, speak with a qualified dietician or nutritional therapist.

We may also have to change what food we eat, how much, how often and even how we take in food.

A challenging health issue can also exacerbate a not so healthy relationship with food. The shock and challenge of a big change in your health is a lot to bear. It is not uncommon for people to find emotional comfort in food. And I certainly don’t say that to judge. To just acknowledge that you are trying to cope.

How much can you/do you move?

How much you can physically move about now may have changed due to your or your loved one’s health issue. So there is something about being mindful of the amount you are eating. Does it correspond with the amount you’re moving?

Also, our lifestyle and how sedentary it is can have an impact. If you can still move about as you did before your illness or injury, is your lifestyle full of movement or more lifestyle?

If you have a physiotherapy routine to follow to maintain or regain functionality, do you follow it? Sometimes in physiotherapy we may not see much improvement but continuing with it despite that can help us regressing.

What are your lifestyle habits like?

Habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and snacking on sugary food may serve a purpose – providing a break, putting social anxiety to one side or give you emotional comfort for example. But in the long run how good are they for you? And I don’t say this to judge. I know very well what it’s like to have one of these habits. (I quit smoking in 2008.)

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking or any other habit that isn't helping your health can help you change your habit for the better. And this can contribute to your health.

Managing your health issue

If you are dealing with a challenging health issue, how proactive are you at managing it?

What kind of relationship do you have with the health issue?

What kind of relationship do you have with your body now? How closely do you listen to it?

How are you at managing symptoms? Do you take your medications?

What are your expectations of treatment? Of a cure?

What kind of preparation do you do for your medical appointments? How do you help the medical and healthcare profession to help you?

Note that everything else mentioned here can impact your health issue too.

What do you do that contributes to your health and experience of feeling healthy? #health #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The pursuit of health is so much more than our physical health

It’s also about how you tend to your inner world. I I think of this as physiotherapy for your heat, mind and soul.

Do you self-criticise yourself more than you show yourself self-compassion?

What do you do to nurture your self-worth? Do you generate your self-worth internally or are you relying on others to feed it? Or a combination?

Do you know when get yourself into vicious circle patterns of thinking and hence behaving?

What strategies do you use to get on with your life, people and situations which may no longer be serving you? Hint: Those people and situations that cause you a lot of stress.

Pic of a woman in a bath and the water is her self-worth. Bathing in your self-worth is something important to do to contribute to your health.
Take the time to bathe in your self-worth

How much do you focus on the negative in your life as compared to the good and what makes you smile?

How often do you put your needs as ‘less than’ or on the back burner in comparison to others’ needs? Do you know how to get your needs met? Or are you just out of practice?

What level of control do you feel you have over yourself and your life? Do you feel you can take control of things that matter to you and what you want for yourself? Or is it down to others making things happen for you?

What is your window of tolerance like for stressful situations? What is happening when you easily snap? Or when you get through a stressful situation pretty well?

To what degree do you feel you can learn to change things for the better? Or do you feel that isn’t possible?

Your relationships contribute to your health

What is the quality of your relationships? Are you satisfied with the level of connection you have with people?

What kind of people do your surround yourself with? Do they lift you up and support you? Or criticise you and generally don’t support you?

What kind of relationships might you need to let go of?

Do you have a network of people you can rely on for help? Remember, it’s great to have several people as often times one person cannot meet all of your needs. Keeping that in mind, who might be willing and able to help you? And how can you help the people around you to help you?

Who isn’t a part of your life but you would like them to be?

What kind of relationships do you want going forwards?

Your job can impact how healthy you feel

How does your job, whether paid or volunteer, meet your motivations for doing it?

We all have different motivations for doing the job we do. Sometimes we do a job because it pays the bills which allows us to get loads of satisfaction from our hobbies. Sometimes it gives us a sense of purpose in our life. Or it gets us out and connecting with people.

Some jobs can demand a lot of you – whether it’s a hard commute, long hours, lots of responsibility, not much resources to do the job, stressful relationships, job security, or something else. This can have an impact how healthy you feel – the level of stress, happiness in the job, etc. You may have to address how you approach aspects of the job to manage the impact of stress.

A lack of a job and experiencing difficulty finding one if you haven’t worked for some time or you experience discrimination in the recruitment process because of a disability can also have an impact.

And other aspects of your life contribute to your health

Our hobbies, personal interests and activities can do so much for our mental health. I have already written about that here and here and I encourage you to read those blogs.

Your hobbies and personal interests can contribute to your health in a healthy way. This picture shows a virtuous circle of how hobbies do this. Our hobbies increase enjoyment which in turn increases relaxation and reduces stress.
The impact of hobbies on our mental health is a virtuous circle.

Your physical environment can impact being able to get around and your level of independence. For example, you home may not be wholly accessible particularly if you use mobility aids. It may have mould which exacerbates existing health issues. It may not be in a great part of town. Or you may live in the country so have to drive everywhere but driving is an issue. Or maybe where you live is good for where you’re at in your life.

Our financial situation can contribute to your health or not. Accessing benefits can be a stressful affair. Or trying to afford equipment or having to move home to facilitate your independence. In some countries it can be very difficult to afford the treatment and medication you need to manage your health issue and have a quality of life.

The culture we were raised in and/or live in now and expectations of us in that regard can have an impact. For example, a culture may have a lot of stigma associated with an invisible illness or disability for example. That can impact our stress levels, or whether or not we seek treatment even.

If you subscribe to a faith or have another kind of spiritual practice, this can have an impact. For some people, it is of enormous benefit to them. For others it will not feature.

What do you find meaningful in your life?

Even if you are stuck at home a lot more than you would like due to your or a loved one’s health issue, or your life isn’t quite what you had hoped for, what gives your life meaning?

What contributes to your life feeling like it’s a good one to be living? Even though you may have some tough stuff to deal with. It doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you.

Your life purpose doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you. And it can also change as you grow and change #lifepurpose #chronicillness #health Click To Tweet

So how can you contribute to your health in a healthy way?

Reflect on the questions above. Remember, you know yourself best and what you’re like. So it’s ok to be honest, it’s ok not to like some of your responses, and it’s ok to celebrate what you feel you are doing well.

If you are looking for a way to answer some of the questions above to assess where you are regarding how you contribute to your health, you can download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook. It’s a do-it-yourself exercise that helps you figure out where you are now and where you would like to be in the areas of your life mentioned above.

This picture show the different aspects of your life which can contribute to your health (or not): how you manage your health issue, your physical environment and getting around, nutrition, your emotional health, your relationships, finances, life purpose, returning to work, volunteering or education, leisure activities, spirituality/faith, cultural factors.

The workbook is very flexible. You can focus on one, two, some or all of the areas listed above and you can re-use the exercise in the workbook. Also, you don’t have to use the categories I mention here. Or you can use different names for them. You can adapt the exercise to suit you. And it’s free. You can get it here.

Heads up – when you download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook, it does subscribe you to the Return to Wellness newsletter, which I typically send out weekly (although not always). I do not sell or give your email to any third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What’s it like for you?

What action might you take or stop to contribute to your health? And what support do you need to do that? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

How can there be a danger in the pursuit of health? Sometimes I wonder if it has become a bit like: “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Do X, Y and Z and you will be healthy!” A magical formula that gives quick results.

The pursuit of health is a great and meaningful aspiration, but…

A woman is walking towards a hill and there are signs which say "Your health transformed in only 3 weeks! Don't delay! This way!" The woman is saying, "So glad I found this plan! It will give me what I need!" The point is there can be a danger when we view the pursuit of health resulting in an end destination and a magic plan will get us there.

We can end up pursuing health as if it’s a destination and with expectations of getting to that destination quickly. If it doesn’t happen quickly enough for our liking, we can quickly give up.

Also, what can happen when we arrive at our destination of health? Celebrate, of course. We did what we had to do to get here. We’ve made it! Hurrah!

But what happens next? For example, weight loss is a common goal in the pursuit of health. After the holiday or special event you lost the weight for, do you maintain the changes you made?

It’s not uncommon to see that once people lose the weight, they return to their previous habits. And eventually regain the weight. How many of you have found yourself in that cycle? Or a similar cycle regarding another change?

Two women are sitting on top of The Mountain of Health. They have recently finished climbing it. One woman is saying, "We made it! We're healthy!" The other is saying, "Let's go the pub and celebrate!" The caption reads: What happens after you arrive at your destination of health? The point is we can end up viewing the pursuit of health as an end destination. Once we get there, we can end up going back to our old ways, i.e. lots of drinking in the pub, or not eating very healthily for example.

So I think we need to approach the pursuit of health in a different way

I want to share four things you can reflect on to help you ensure your pursuit of health and wellness is a healthy one.

First, define what health and being healthy mean for you

This is especially important when you or a loved one are living with a challenging health issue. It’s not uncommon to define health and being healthy as how you were and felt pre-illness or injury.

My recommendation is to be very careful in doing that. This can be a double-edged sword.

Sometimes trying to get back to your ‘previous self’ can be a source of positive motivation to look after yourself in healthy ways which helps your rehabilitation.

What you don’t want to do is work to your pre-illness/injury expectations and personal standards to the point you experience a terrible quality of life. That can happen and can be a hard place to be. You can end up continually focusing on what you’ve lost rather than what you can be doing now. Read this blog if you are doing that.

How do you define #health and being healthy? Particularly if you’re living with the impact of a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: What kind of health can I have within the reality of my illness or injury?

This isn’t about having a lower level of health than you had before or being less healthy. That form of comparison can be emotionally draining.

It is about what being healthy and not healthy is like for you now, as you are.

When you are living with the impact of a challenging health issue, you have good days, so-so days and some downright awful days. Therefore, your health and experience of being healthy fluctuates.

Answering this question in conjunction with your medical and healthcare team can also help you determine what is realistic and appropriate for you given the health issue you are dealing with. Or the health issue a loved one may be dealing with.

Second, health ensues due to the action we take. We create the conditions for experiencing health (or not)

It’s the same as with happiness. We create the conditions for our happiness. And those conditions are many. What contributes to your experience of health and feeling healthy is also multi-faceted. It is so much more than just our physical and mental health.

Note: There are some things which can have a negative impact on our mental and/or physical health which we cannot fully control. For example state systems regarding benefits, a relapse, or what other people say to us. What we can control is our response to these situations and people.

Third, ensure the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of health and wellness are healthy actions

Are the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of #health and #wellness healthy actions? Read more here. Click To Tweet

The actions we take to pursue health may not always be healthy for us. For example, the diet products that have no evidence base, or yo-yo dieting as mentioned above, or forgoing meals in an effort to lose weight, or doing too much exercise so we end up hurting ourselves, or completing disregarding the advice of your medical or healthcare team without giving it due consideration, or expecting results very quickly which could be unrealistic.

You can always double check your actions with experts and I recommend this if your action involves your medical routine, change in medications, your diet/nutrition and your psychological health.

And remember, your actions can be small. I often say that a range of small actions in various parts of our life can be a tidal wave of change for the good.

A woman is riding a tidal wave and within the wave are these small actions such as set my intention for the day, take a walk at lunch time, eat dinner earlier, and knit whilst watching tv. The woman is saying, "All these small actions are at tidal wave of change!" A fish is near the wave saying, "This is wave I want to ride!" The point is the actions we take in our pursuit of health need to be healthy actions. It's ok if they are small. Lots of small actions can be a tidal wave of change.

Fourth, the pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process

There is no end destination. Health and wellness are resources readily available to us. It’s up to us to create the conditions, to take actions which are within our control and influence, for them to flourish for our benefit. Whilst keeping in mind our health and wellness will fluctuate over time.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: The pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process, not an end destination.

What’s it like for you?

How do you think about the pursuit of health and wellness? How has your definition of health and being healthy changed over the years? What’s it like now? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to change your snacking habit for the better

How to change your snacking habit for the better

You’ve tried to change your snacking habit and you may have made improvements at times, but they don’t seem to have lasted for very long. You end up dissatisfied and maybe even angry with yourself.

After all, you’re on a quest to improve your health because you’re dealing with your own or a loved one’s health issue. Or you just want to be and feel healthier. Also, if your snacking habit is a sugary one, that can have an impact on symptoms you or a loved one may be living with.

This is a common issue people have. I’ve been working with carers over the past year and more than one person has this issue on every course I do. So here I share what you can do to change your snacking habit for the better.

Have been working with #carers and an issue many of them have which they would like to change is their snacking habit. You can get a snapshot of how I work with them via this blog #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Note that this blog is less about the surface level things you can do to change your snacking habit

The internet is awash with it. It’s the hints and tips like don’t go down the snack aisle in the supermarket, limit what snacks you do buy, or substitute the chocolate and crisps with grapes, cucumbers and unsalted nuts. You know this stuff already.

What I offer here is an opportunity for you to dig a little a deeper. To get closer to the root cause of why it may have been hard to change your snacking habit.

You can’t look at snacking in isolation

To change your snacking habit for the better and for the long-term, it really helps to examine your relationship with

  • Food
  • Your emotions
  • Your body
  • Life events both positive and negative, small and large, past and present

A woman is looking at a circle which has been divided into four areas: Food, Your Emotions, Your Body, Life Events (past and present). She is saying, "I'll have to reflect on how my relationship with each of these areas influences my snacking habit." Considering how these four areas do that can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

You do that because snacking could be serving a purpose

That purpose could be connected to your relationship with food, how you view your body, your emotions, or it could be connected to something which happened to you in your life or even your present-day circumstances. These four areas can influence one another.

Sometimes people snack because they are bored. Snacking is something to do.

Or they snack alongside another activity – working on the computer, watching tv, driving. In this case, cares I’ve worked with described the snacking as ‘mindless’, i.e. they weren’t thinking about it. When you don’t think about it, you can very quickly go through a packet of biscuits or a bag of sweets.

Or snacking can provide comfort when you’re feeling down or upset.

Snacking could also be a distraction from difficult emotions and feelings which may be related to how you feel about yourself generally, an earlier life event or present-day circumstances.

Or maybe you grew up having a snack after school and have continued that tradition into adulthood even if you’re not hungry at that time.

Or you don’t like your body, you ignore it, and snacking is one way of dealing with that.

How to become aware of the purpose of snacking for you

When you next go for a snack, notice how you’re feeling.

Bored, restless for some reason, wanting to ignore a difficult task/project/activity you’re meant to do, you just had an argument, you did something well and want an award, something else?

This is about noticing your triggers.

Next time you go to get a snack, pause.

Give yourself a couple of minutes to notice what is triggering you. Notice what you’re telling yourself. And how you feel. You can even write this down including the time of day. If you do this over a period of time, you may start to notice patterns.

When you are eating the snack, what is that like for you?

How do you feel then? Satisfied? Disappointed? You’re not noticing anything?

What are you telling yourself?

What are the downsides of eating the snack? And the benefits?

As you’re snacking, you can write the responses to these questions. At this stage it is all about noticing without the intention of changing anything. You just want to raise your awareness and identify any patterns in your snacking.

Raising your level of awareness can be enough to help you move forward with changing your snacking habit.

Raising your level of awareness about your snacking habit – when you snack, why, how it helps you (or not) – can be enough to help you to change your snacking habit for the better. Read more here #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

But the following is good if you are finding it hard to change your snacking habit.

What can be particularly helpful to change your snacking habit

Go back to the trigger for wanting a snack in the first place. Notice if you experience any sensations in your body as well. Do you feel anything in your legs, feet, stomach, solar plexus, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, head, somewhere else?

Notice the sensation you feel. Is it a buzzy feeling, or more like shocks, a wave, or like knots, rocks, ache, hot, cold, something else? It can be anything. Or you may feel nothing.

Notice how big or small the sensation feels. Even if you feel nothing. What shape does it take? How much space does it occupy in that part of your body?

What colour is it? Does it have a texture, and if so, what is it like?

If this sensation could speak, what would it say?

Sometimes emotions accompany this. And that’s ok. It’s actually very valuable information so if emotions do appear, give them space to be there without judging them.

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

That sounds a little bit woo woo, what are you having me do?

If a habit like snacking is difficult to shift, the underlying reason could be resting in your body somewhere. By working with the bodily sensation, we are by-passing the rational mind which can be quick to discount and question everything. When the rational mind gets out of control like that, it can get in the way of us making change for ourselves.

Also, working with our bodies in addition to our minds is a holistic approach to change

In our society, we are sometimes very quick to discount our body and all the information it contains. People often think they are in full control of their bodies.

But given you have dealt with or are dealing with a challenging health issue, or know someone who is, you know that is not the case. There is a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves.

Discover how working with your bodily sensations in relation to the snacking habit you wish to change can help. There’s a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves. #change… Click To Tweet

So back to working with your body…

When you work with your body in this way, you can discover what the various parts of you need. If you are not used to identifying the bodily sensations you feel and working with them, this may take some practice. And that is ok. It is a skill that can be learned. And you don’t have to get this ‘perfect’ or ‘right’. Fumbling along is normal and acceptable!

If you feel nothing, sit a while longer. If you still feel nothing, it could be that this is a skill to develop. Or it could be a sensation of numbness.

When reading that it might be numbness, if you feel a reaction to that, it could be numbness you are feeling. And you may feel numb for any number of reasons.

A question to ask yourself is, ‘What could I be numbing?’ An answer may not appear readily. That’s ok. Just let that question percolate for a while and something may come to you.

If an answer does spear, it may be in the form of images, thoughts, events you remember and/or other sensations.

Identifying what you really need

You’ve identified the bodily sensation, its colour, texture, shape, how much space it occupies and even what it could say if it had a voice.

What does this part of you want?

What is driving this want? Is anything missing?

If you could have what you want, or what is missing, what would it be? What would having that give you?

Change your snacking habit by bringing more of what you want or what is missing into your life

How can you bring more of what you want or what is missing into your life?

When people share what that part of them wants, what is missing, I hear things like:

  • ‘A hug.’
  • ‘Love me.’
  • ‘You were a little girl. It wasn’t your fault.’
  • ‘Please slow down.’
  • ‘Don’t take on anything else right now.’
  • ‘I’m tired.’
  • ‘Pay attention to me.’

That’s really important information. Many times it’s a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement or recognition. There’s this part of us that hasn’t been seen, heard or understood for some time. What you can do now is look at ways of bringing more of what that part of you needs and wants.

Sometimes when we examine and feel into everyday habits we do without thinking, like snacking, we discover a doorway to something much more meaningful and fulfilling.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: "An unhelpful habit can actually be a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement and recognition." This is sometimes the real purpose behind snacking. If you become aware of what plea snacking is covering up, then you are in a better position to change your snacking habit for the better.

What’s it like for you?

What purpose does snacking play in your life? What strategies have you used to help you change that habit? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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