STRESS!! What Stress??

The statistics of work related stress

The prevalence rate for work related stress in all industries was 1220 cases per 100,000 people employed averaged over the three year period 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2014/15 (Health & Safety Executive 2015). When we break this down into categories of occupation we found that the professional occupations category has significantly higher rates of work related stress than the rate for all occupations.

For the same three year period as mentioned above, the professional occupations category had 1930 cases per 100,000 people employed, compared with 1220 cases averaged for all occupational groups, a statistically significantly higher rate. If we break this down further it appears that health professionals, teachers and nurses have the highest rates of stress within this category with rates of 2500, 2190 and 3000 cases per 100,000 people employed over this period.

When looking at the statistics between gender, it seems that work related stress in males was 590 cases for males and 920 cases for females per 100,000 people employed, with the 34-44 and 45-54 years ranges having significantly higher rates than the average across all persons.

Causes of workplace stress

The predominant cause of work related stress from the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) was workload. Examples of this are:

  • tight deadlines
  • too much work/pressure/responsibility
  • a lack of managerial support
  • organisational changes at work,
  • bullying
  • role uncertainty (lack of clarity about job/uncertain what meant to do.)

Stress at work icons set

Research has indicated around 12 million adults see their GP each year with mental health problems. Most of these include anxiety and depression with much of it being stress related.  Work related stress accounts for 35% of work related ill health and 43% of days lost, in 2014/15.

These figures are alarmingly high and small changes can have big effects on individuals and across companies. As coaches we work on the basis that if one is going to overcome a problem or challenge first one has to understand it. Then with that knowledge one can implement the appropriate changes to improve the situation they may find themselves in.  This is appropriate to anyone at work from whichever background or level they are at.

What is Stress?

It is important to understand Stress has different effects on different people, depending on how we react to certain situations and challenges in our every day lives. It can easily be defined as the way you feel when you are under to much pressure and are unable to cope.

It is suggested a certain amount of stress is good for us as it keeps us challenged and motivated and helps our overall performance. However, too much pressure can lead to stress.

Stress has many causes and is common at both home and at work and with the world around us becoming faster paced and more competitive the pressures of life can creep up on us when we least expect it. So, it is important we continue to ensure we get the right balance in our lives and keep things in the right perspective, and ultimately retain control.

Too much pressure or stress can result in a negative impact on our health both physically and mentally. The main symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, sweats, feeling sick, butterflies, panic attacks and an overall feeling of a loss of control.

The impact of long term stress can be even more severe affecting our ability to function normally in our everyday lives.

That’s why it’s important to recognise the signs early and immediately consult with your GP and make the appropriate and required changes in your life to regain and retain a healthy mind and physical wellbeing state.

Our conscious mind can only cope with an average of seven pieces of information at any one time. Too many things going on for too long can create overload and pressure and result in our struggle to cope. It is easy to see how we become stressed isn’t it?

The chemistry in the body changes fundamentally every time one reacts stressfully. Stress starts in the brain because of the way in which we perceive a situation as requiring our immediate attention i.e. a hostile reaction from a colleague, an exam, a financial crisis, a marriage break up, an impossible deadline and a loved ones death. Everyone’s resilience levels are different. It is down to an individual’s experiences as to how resilient there are against these stresses.

When the body prepares for “fight or flight” it is ready for a short burst of heightened activity. In today’s society, many factors can trigger this response, but few can be dealt with by a short burst of activity. Stress situations are often continuous so stress responses are semi-permanently on red alert, the physical release is unacceptable so the responses are suppressed – a situation which cannot be maintained safely for too long.  The stress build up eventually explodes internally, knocks the body systems out of balance and causes extreme physical and mental exhaustion.

Here comes the science part…

When we are stressed deep inside your brain lays the hypothalamus which triggers the pituitary gland which releases hormones to trigger the adrenal glands. These glands release an output of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline into the bloodstream. It is these stress chemicals which induce physiological changes designed to improve performance. This is the “fight or flight” effect and the following reactions are carried out:

  1. Blood supply to the brain is increased – improves judgement & decision making
  2. Heart speeds up and fuel is released into the bloodstream from glucose
  3. Fats and stored blood sugar provide extra energy
  4. Blood vessels dilate in some areas i.e. the skin to make it available for use in other areas like the muscles
  5. Air passages relax and breathing rate improves
  6. Blood pressure rises
  7. Digestion and excretion are not considered high priorities in a “dangerous situation”; adrenaline causes vascular constriction, which reduces the flow of blood to the stomach and intestine

Long term adrenal stimulation with no discharge of energy will deplete essential vitamins and minerals from the system, namely, vitamins B & C which are vital to the functioning of the immune system. If these are depleted this could cause lower resistance and susceptibility to diseases such as ME. Blood pressure can also be affected and cause a build up of fatty substances on blood vessel walls, as well as, damaging the functioning of the digestive system.

When a person faces continual or repeated stress, the response system enters the chronic phase during which resistance declines below normal and eventually that person becomes exhausted.

stressanatomy.jpg

 Ways in which to tackle stress – Five top tips

  1. Mind Workout

Commence a mind workout everyday. Daily mind exercises can help you re-balance your life and regain control of your thoughts and feelings. Quiet meditation at home using deep breathing techniques or a yoga class twice a week can help re-balance you internally. Mindfulness is also proving to be a very popular and effective tool for combating stress and is mow more prevalent within workplace settings.

  1. Diet

Try to cut out any sugary, processed or refined foods. It is these we crave and run for when we need to find comfort, however, the comfort is short lived and once your blood sugar level has risen sky-high it dips just as fast and the cravings return an hour later and the cycle begins again.

Being aware of what you eat is incredibly important in helping to overcoming stress and a diet of fish, white meat, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and pulses can give your body all the necessary nutrients required to retain balance and harmony. If possible avoid stimulants like coffee, chocolate and alcohol and also too much refined and processed foods or sugar as these can only upset the balance.

  1. Exercise

When we exercise our body releases endorphins which in turn combat stress hormones that are released into the body when we are stressed. Think of this as your endorphins putting out a fire. A fire caused on the inside by all the stress feelings and overload experienced every day.

A recommended minimum of forty minutes cardiovascular exercise everyday will keep an equilibrium even if it is just a short walk to work and back. Small changes such as walking or cycling to work. Many people use their lunch hour as a time to get some exercise and go for a stroll, apart from the fact that it breaks up the working day and gives your body a break from work. To make it more fun create a lunchtime walking group or diarise “walking meetings” instead of sitting indoors. For those of you who prefer exercising alone there are some great apps around that measure your steps and even work with your music library on your phone along with motivational prompts from the start to the finish of the jog.

  1. Sleep

Sleeping problems are common with stress. Ensure you have a consistent bedtime routine and go to bed at the same time every night. If you have worries or problems on your mind at night keep a notepad and pencil by the bed so consciously you are in control as you know you can write them down and forget about them if you need to. Avoid cat napping during the day, and try not to become too obsessed with how much sleep you have had.  If you have a bad night, draw a line under it and go to bed earlier the next night after a hot bath and relaxing your body through reading a book or listening to some calming music. It is suggested that we only really need a minimum of 4 hours sleep per night to function normally. We have convinced ourselves we need 6 or 8 hours. Take the pressure off yourself.

  1. Goal setting

Sometimes, we lose our way in this busy world and our aims and objectives become confused or unclear. By writing down your goals and actions with a timeline this will give you focus and a process to follow and implement. Ensure you keep a diary so you can monitor any symptoms of stress physically and mentally, then apply the above and make the appropriate small changes and take back control.

Building a case for wellbeing in the workplace

In order for a company to embrace wellbeing it needs to bring it into their company values. Managers need to encourage, support, sponsor and lead all wellbeing at work initiatives first in order to thread it into their companies culture.  They need to lead from the front. Managers can create the right environment for their staff by offering flexible working hours, manageable workloads, regular lunch breaks without looking upon this as a weakness.  Managers must recognise the signs and symptoms of work related stress and have a process by which to approach their staff sensitively and supportively.  Give your staff a voice and more autonomy and ensure that objectives are realistic, timely and consistent.

As a Manager, if you notice these symptoms in your staff and are not sure how to engage with them appropriately our Happiness by Design at Work programmes would work for you and your organisation.

Remember: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Download our brochure today 

or call the Life Practice on Tel: 01462 431112

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It’s never too late to score the winning goal

IMG_2055Throughout life we experience many different situations and scenarios which create a change to be forced upon us; reaching a certain age; getting made redundant, breakdown of a relationship or suffering a bereavement

Whatever the scenario, these situations provoke different emotions and often they don’t serve us in a positive way. We start an inner dialogue with ourselves.

Our inner self talk could be a number conversations like:

  • I’m not attractive enough to date again
  • I’m too burnt out to try for a promotion
  • I’ve never been ambitious
  • I’m too old for that

The emotion attached to these scenarios maybe a sense of loss; a door closing; giving up trying, poor motivation or the end of something great.

We learn from our mistakes

But it doesn’t have to be looked upon in this way, my advice is to think of life as a set of experiences and from each experience we will learn something new. It may be good, bad or indifferent but ultimately, we will learn something new which is the key point (90% of what we learn, we learn from our mistakes).

Re-frame your thinking

By being empowered with more knowledge and wisdom when we are faced with a new experience we should re-frame our thinking in that it is only temporary, nothing ventured nothing gained, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s not permanent or forever, it is just a new path that I am following and let’s see which direction this takes us.  This way you instantly reduce the stress of the expectation of the new phase and can allow yourself to embrace the future without fear.

Every stage of life has its own rewards and success and happiness comes quite often from looking back and reflecting on what you learned and how you can take that learning into the next phase of your life and use it for your own self development.

Whatever stage of life you are experiencing, it is never too late to score the winning goal.

If you are struggling with an experience in your life and need support, we are here to help. Call the Life Practice on 01462 431112 to speak to one of our qualified therapists .

The key to happiness in your career

WhaBusinesspeople Running Towards Finish Linet is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships? Are you someone who always finds other people’s careers interesting compared to yours?  Have you assessed how you are doing lately? If not, why not?  Our career aspirations can change throughout life depending on experiences from our past, maturity into adulthood, and requirements to survive our chosen lifestyle.

Recently my 14 year old daughter has had to think about her career and future and to choose her GCSE options. Who actually knew what they wanted to do at that age?  It seems more of a minefield than it was when I was younger, particularly as the current government seems to keep changing the goal posts and schools seem also to be left in the dark, however, that’s a topic for another time.

Parenthood brings many challenges at different stages of a child growing up and as a parent I have always been conscious to keep happiness at the forefront of their minds and an “anything is possible” attitude to life.  In helping my daughter make her choices I have tried as much as possible to give her enough information so that she ultimately makes the decisions for herself. Her dream (at the moment) is to perform in the West End Musical theatre in London and perhaps eventually go to Broadway.  Whilst, many parents flippantly would say, “oh no, that could never happen for you”. I say “why not? Someone has to, why not you?” Sure, you will come across rejection, disappointment and failure along the way but by learning from these pitfalls and making the necessary tweaks this can enable you to adjust the path and change direction as you go.  After all, the yellow brick road was not straight and Dorothy learnt many lessons along her journey whilst experiencing the twists and turns of the land of Oz.

We have looked into course brochures and her school offered the children a career workshop that has educated them about what lifestyle they wish to have and how much money they would need in order to live it. All of these resources are important in making such decisions but deep down my feeling is as long as you follow what makes you happy everything will fall into place and if it doesn’t, I hear you ask, then you need to keep checking back by asking yourself some unearthing questions about your career.

So if any of you who are reading this are wishing they had had some insight into their future career before they got there and feel it is too late to change direction. Think again.

There are five dimensions of meaning to one’s career.

  1. Earning money
  2. Achieving status
  3. Making a difference
  4. Following your passions (interests)
  5. Using your talents (skills)

These five dimensions can be prioritised in various order depending on your own experiences, influencing factors (family) and perception of the world.

Earning money

Look at this in a broader perspective rather than going for a career that pays the best. How much income do you want/need? Are you setting your own monetary goals or complying with someone else’s? What is a comfortable living, and what careers might fulfill that? What career fields might suit you in other ways from which you could also earn a reasonable (from your perspective) salary?

Achieving status

As with the perception of money, your definition of status may be different to the next person’s. Take some time to determine your proudest moments at work and in life. That may give you some perspective of what constitutes “status” to you. Does your current position provide you with the sense of pride and status you desire? What in your current job do you take pride in?

Making a difference

Now without thinking I’ve gone all tree hugger on you, making a difference isn’t always about saving the whales or other voluntary projects; you can also make a difference at work. Think about a teacher who makes a difference every day to a pupil but the results aren’t always seen immediately. What about helping someone learn to cope with their debilitating anxiety or fear of public speaking? What does “making a difference” mean to you?  Are you perhaps underplaying the difference you make in your current job or would a different job provide more fulfillment for you in this area? Is making a difference important to you or do other factors trump this desire? Only you can decide.

Following your passions and interests

This is the area in which I have focused on with my daughter and her subject choices. What subjects do you love to learn about as these tend to be the subjects you do well in.  There is no doubt, if you love the job you are in you will love getting up in the morning and springing onto that commuter train and whistling as you go, however, it is not quite as simple as that to achieve this, there are compromises and creative solutions along the path to doing what we love.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you have found your right livelihood.  Are you pursuing what you love or have you found the love in what you do?  Because it might be that doing a less-than-ideal job that puts food on your family’s table and offers you the chance to travel on holidays to sunnier climates is one aspect of the love you can find in it.

Understanding talents, skills & passion

You need to have the right mix of talent and skill. You don’t actually need passion but if you want to get into what you love to do, it helps. Skill is something that you can learn. Talent is something that you naturally have. List down in three columns: all of your skills, talents and passion. When you are at your all-time best, what are you doing? And how can you find a job that lets you do more of that?

I have always been fascinated with the mind and how people behave.  Armed with my interpersonal skills and my talents of leading, motivating and inspiring people I have managed to re-carve a new career in the world of Behavioural Change.  Sure, I needed to do some extra training and education to get me here but the underlying skills, talent and passion have always been there. I just simply got the qualification to fill in the gaps. The skills and experience from my last career have all been transferable in one respect or another.

That’s the key to successful career transitioning: you take a job, figure out what you like best, and then look for a job that lets you do more of that.   Or you take a look at your skills, talents and passions and see what positions could work in line with those.

In my career path, my strength was Sales. I have always been told that I have good inter personal skills and these skills helped me to build rapport with my customers who I sold to and eventually through the years I was promoted up the ranks into a Senior role managing teams within the Financial Industry, earning a shed load of money.  However, the dis-loyal, cut-throat nature of the Corporate world did not sit well with me and I found it soul destroying, extremely stressful and at times unethical. One day the money was just not the priority and my happiness and health took precedence. I still had my good interpersonal skills and had picked up many other skills along the way in the Business world from training, coaching, mentoring and leadership so I re-trained and stepped into a new industry that I remain in today.  Ironically, coaching business men like my “old-self” who have been sucked in by the Corporate life, bigged up, and spat out the other side feeling hit by a train with the look of shock as to what to do next.

A poignant example that springs to mind where I have made a difference in someone’s life which touched me emotionally was when I coached a West end actor to overcome his performance nerves prior to starring in his first West End show. My client had achieved his “status” by being chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom he held in the highest regard in the Musical Theatre World but unfortunately, his nerves did not care about this, his body was struggling to calm down in such a highly charged situation. After teaching him some techniques and exercises along with visualisation he managed to overcome his fear and the show was a West End hit.  My moment of “making a difference” became apparent when I went with my family to watch him. I was so proud of his achievement that it brought tears to my eyes. How many people can say that about their job?

Now you have examined these dimensions. Which is most important? Which is least? How much of each is “enough” in your work? So going back to the original question, “What is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships?” Would making changes in these five dimensions change your life for the better? Is one area neglected at the expense of another? How can you fix that?  By doing this career MOT every so often it helps you keep on the right track and is the key to happiness in your career.

Client Coaching – Making the Difference

The CAM Coach Mark Shields examines the skills that we all need to get the best results for our clients. This month’s blog we look more in depth at the proven Life Practice coaching model CASPA

business coaching

Developing Practitioner Coaching Skills

At the moment through their own admittance many CAM practitioners readily admit they deal with a set of problems presented by their client by fact finding the client problems and making a set of recommendations to deal with the symptoms. By applying a set of simple coaching principles CAM Practitioners can not only deal with the output of the clients problems ( the symptoms ) but can also apply a simple coaching model called CASPA (not the white ghost) to highlight and manage the cause that puts us in a much stronger position to help our client and eliminate their problems forever. So what is CASPA?

What is CASPA ?

CASPA is a client needs driven coaching model very similar in principle to the Human Givens coaching model which you may already be aware of. The human givens model focuses entirely on the presumption as human beings we all have a series of needs that need to be met. When these needs aren’t being met certain contradictory and conflicting behaviours can emerge, to compensate for this lack of personal fulfilment. These behaviours often result in many of the symptoms we find in our clients. Weight Gain, Stress, Adrenal Fatigue and so on.

Dealing with Cause and Affect

By applying CASPA to the main areas of our client’s lifestyle we can find the route cause of the client’s problem driving the behaviour we are treating. That puts us in a very strong position as coaches as we can treat the symptoms but most importantly coach the cause of the problem as well. This is known to coaches as cause and effect. When working with a needs driven coaching model such as CASPA it is common practice to segment our client’s lives into four main areas.
These are
1. Health
2. Relationships
3. Career
4. Finance

CASPA represents the following needs that in theory we all need to be met as human beings to remain happy and fulfilled.

  • Control
  • Approval
  • Security
  • Purpose
  • Achievement

By applying CASPA to the four main areas of lifestyle you would complete a SOD (scale of discomfort) score 1-10 (1 meaning feeling fine and  10 feeling terrible). With a max score of 200 obviously the higher the score in a particular area highlights areas of cause to pinpoint

So let’s look at this in Principle

Case Study Example

Gemma gets in touch with you her as nutritional therapist as she has problems with gaining weight and is very tired especially first thing in the morning and struggles to get out of bed in the morning. She has put on a stone in the last three months and feels highly anxious during certain periods and comfort eats to combat her feelings of anxiety. She has recently experienced her first panic attack

Currently some nutritional therapists would complete a fact find (Client Questionnaire + data interpretation of symptoms), food diary and possibly some laboratory testing.

You would interpret the information you had received and make appropriate dietary recommendations and supplements, if necessary. A follow up appointment would be booked six weeks later depending on their case. At this meeting you would review their food diary and any change in symptoms and make adjustments to the recommendations as appropriate. Some of you may see the client two or three more times.

Applying CASPA

By applying CASPA we would establish Gemma was in stage 1 of stress (fear and panic) and her stress / adrenal fatigue was caused by work related stress at work when in the presence of her boss. We would then agree a set of focused goals to formulate a strategy to combat the problem caused at work. When coaching in this way client buy in, trust and focus is paramount so it wouldn’t be unusual to see your client weekly for the first month to ensure progress and develop momentum. In addition to her diet and eating habits we would examine how she handled the stress mentally and would with her to develop a strategy to combat the stress looking at all aspects of her lifestyle.

GROW Model

The GROW model is a review process you would use weekly to begin with to review your clients goals, motivate and inspire your client and ensure momentum is maintained.
G goals
R reality
O options
W way forward

Summary

CASPA is a basic coaching model allowing you to quickly identify the route cause of your client’s symptoms. CASPA is very useful when the client is unaware of the reason they are behaving in the way they are. CASPA enables you to formulate actions and goals at the beginning of your clients first session, get straight to the point and structure a plan and strategy immediately putting the client back in control from the moment you meet them.

Today’s Practitioner Habits Forge Tomorrows Practitioner Behaviour

Today more and more CAM practitioners are learning new skills and increasing their value to their clients and their ability to increase their income. In fact my opening line at the recent CAM Conference was if you remember “become your clients coach”.

Our new Life Practice Academy offer online business courses which give therapist’s the business skills and knowledge to improve success in their clinics.Sign up for free today at the Life Practice Academy

CASPA Model Copyright Life Practice

 

Consistently Sustaining A Profitable Practice

It is important to understand that when it comes to business planning we look at the Short Medium and Long term plan of any Business. This often goes overlooked and business owners focus on just one plan if any at all.

Ensure your business plan caters for the short, medium, and long term future of your business typically 1, 3 and 5 years. You will need to be flexible and able to adapt as the business world and market changes as we progress into the millennium years.

Short Term Plan =       6 – 12 Months

Medium Term Plan =   12 – 36 Months

Long Term Plan =        36 – 60 Months

You should commit to forecasting your business results in line with your short medium and long term plan. You should include anticipated appointment levels, income levels, activity, your different income streams and costs.

Short Term Plan =     6 – 12 Months

This plan would include the following

  • Start up Actions
  • Renting of Room
  • Ordering of Stationary
  • Creating first Website
  • First attempt at Advertising and Marketing

Medium Term Plan = 12 – 36 Months

This plan would include the following

  • Ongoing review of Action Plan
  • More Advanced Marketing Campaigns
  • Joint Ventures
  • Adding new Income Streams
  • Media Marketing
  • Personal Development
  • Adding new Therapeutic Disciplines
  • Formulation and Addition to ProductRange
  • Review / Change of Premises
  • Effective Change Management Program
  • Ongoing CPD
  • Data Marketing
  • Business Development

Long Term Plan =      36 – 60 Months

This plan would include the following

  • Effective Change Management Program
  • A review of Short and Medium term Business Plan
  • A more Strategic view of your overall Business Proposition
  • Merging or acquiring new businesses
  • Product Development
  • Keeping up with Economic and Legislative change
  • Attainment of further qualifications
  • Ongoing CPD
  • Strategic Business Development

And the list is endless and can go on and on.

Modeling Tip

Achieving success is one thing consistently sustaining a successful practice is something entirely different.

If we look at the success ratios of any practice over 30% fail in the first twelve months and only 8% remain profitable five years on.

This is why its imperative you ensure you have a five year business plan, split into the three segments of short, medium and long term.

Although it may appear that the three categories above are divided into three action plans, they are not.

They are 1 plan and 1 plan only

A good Practitioner should have 1 Business plan including short, medium and long term actions. This is how you keep up and manage change and stay ahead of the competition.

You simply include short medium and long term actions in the same plan and review the plan every month.

The key is to apportion your time in a sensible way as often short term action seem more pressing than an action you have five years to complete

The key is to dedicate your time to your business plan using the following time weightings

  • Short Term Plan         70%
  • Medium Term Plan    20%
  • Long Term Plan          10%

Think of these as three juggling balls you have to keep in the air all three all the time.

Conclusion

Writing a Business Plan is important, writing a meaningful Business Plan that captures the short medium and long term future of your business is paramount to the long term sustainable future of your practice

20121209-101707.jpgFurther details on how to set up and enjoy a successful Complementary & Alternative Clinic or Practice “The CAM Coach” book is now available to buy from http://www.thecamcoach.com

About The Author

Mark Shields, Life Coach, Author, Media expert and Motivational Speaker, is Managing Director of Life

Practice UK, specialists in Personal And Business Coaching. Contact: Tel: 01462 431112  info@lifepractice.co.uk

http://www.lifepractice.co.uk

Be Social and Healthy during the Festive Season

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Can you be Social & Healthy at Christmas?

At this time of the year it seems an uphill battle to a healthy diet when there is so much temptation around. Christmas is a time of pure self-indulgence and most of us justify our actions by celebrating it to the max. After all Christmas comes but once a year, however, healthy eating shouldn’t, it should be a lifestyle change with occasional treats along the way when a special occasion arises.

Many women around the UK put in an extra effort to watch what they eat leading up to Christmas to get into that little black party dress so it seems a great shame to let it all go after the event just because you feel guilty about the binge eating and drinking over the festive season. After all, what are new year’s resolutions for anyway?

Accept that you may slide a little over Christmas and New Year but come 1st January you have the chance to get back on track and start a fresh for the New Year ahead. Don’t beat yourself up about the past and draw a line under it and move on.

During the festive season there will be many occasions from family gatherings to office parties which will divert your attention from “being good” to enjoying yourself. Eating out usually means that we have little control over how the food is prepared or how large the portion is. Also, foods eaten out tend to be higher in fat and research has shown that those who eat out regularly generally have higher intakes of fat, salt and calories.

Unfortunately, eating with friends can tempt us to overeat and drink. Meals with multiple courses eaten over longer periods and with alcohol are all associated with overindulgence. Endless canapé trays at the office party are also laden with foods containing high saturated fat.

As you have no point of nutritional reference with foods bought from cafes and restaurants there is no way of knowing exactly what is contained in that food and  opting for the healthiest option might not always be obvious, or easy. However, with some knowledge and thought, eating out can be enjoyable and healthy!

The Eight Steps to eating out healthily

  1. If you are going out to a drinks or cocktail party, eat something substantial and healthy before you go, this will reduce the chance of gorging on canapés or finger food at the party.
  2. Always ask the waitress if you do not know what is in the food being served. If they don’t know the chef certainly will.
  3. Don’t be polite when it comes to pudding. Opt for a hot mint tea to be sociable but not calorific. Or if on the menu a small fruit sorbet or fruit dish. Avoid dairy based desserts that contain fat.
  4. Think about sharing a course with a companion if the portions look large.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be high maintenance. Losing weight is high maintenance and by asking your waitress to hold the mayonnaise or put the dressing on the side is perfectly acceptable and an easy way to remove these fat laden additions from your healthy salad.
  6. Opt for dishes which are grilled, baked, steamed, poached or cooked in own juice rather than fried.
  7. Order sides of vegetables or green salad to fill up on rather than chips.
  8. If you are drinking alcohol, try opting for spritzers instead or alternating between sparkling water and wine. It will reduce your calorie intake, as let’s face it alcohol is “liquid sugar”. It will also reduce the effects of the hangover the next morning.

So there you have it, a quick eight step guide to surviving a healthy social season. In the meantime, have a wonderful festive season from all of us at the Life Practice and Life Practice Nutrition

If you think you would benefit from a Life Coaching or Nutritional Medicine consultation contact us on 01462 431112 for your free 20 minute consultation.

Tired all the time? Perhaps you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue

Are you tired and struggle to get out of bed in the morning even after a good nights sleep?
If you are, you may be suffering from a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue.

Woman Stretching in Bed with a Man Sleeping Beside Her

Many people every day say that they are stressed. It is a loose emotional term used to describe their current busy-ness of life. However, to some people, stress is a real and very problematic condition that can affect your relationships at work and home and your general well-being and functionality.
Although, a little stress in life is needed to function, a relentless non-stop amount can accumulate within the body to stimulate the organs, known as the adrenal glands, to pump out hormones on a constant basis. Should this constant output continue over a long period of time this can create a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue.
If you think back to when the caveman lived he woke up every day with the job of survival. He hunted for wild boar, which in itself was a life threatening event and therefore did not happen on a regular basis. When faced with this stressful situation his adrenals would excrete adrenaline and nor adrenaline and enter into the “Fight or flight” response. His heart rate would increase, pupils dilate, his blood would be transported away from the digestive system (taking his
mind off hunger) and into the muscles in the arms and legs to help him run faster. He would become alert and his blood pressure would rise. At this point the caveman would either “fight” the wild boar or run for the hills “flight”. After this experience he would either return to his cave with a successful meal or empty handed, either way he would have a restful period whereby to regain equilibrium.

Going forward to today’s modern world with its consistency of accountability, increased output, greed and constant communication and our stress episodes are lining up one after the other. There does not seem to be enough restful opportunities between each episode either which is when the problems start.

The three stages of stress:

  1. Alarm Reaction: This is when the adrenal glands are healthy and you can function normally whenever the need arises.
  2. Resistance Stage: Stress continues and the adrenal glands enlarge but you can still respond normally and handle situations.
  3. Exhaustion Stage: The adrenal glands fail to meet the demands required of them. You could become fatigued, dizzy and faint. You would have trouble getting out of bed. Anxiety can set in.

Over stimulation of the adrenals can cause a decrease in immune function as stressful episodes use up very quickly the nutrients in our bodies, therefore, stressed people tend to catch colds more regularly. As blood clotting is increased when the body is stressed, prolonged stress can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries and lead to heart disease. During stress the blood is shunted from the digestive organs to the muscles which can lead to indigestion and irritable bowel disease.

There are different forms of stress:

  • Emotional stress which is the most well-known form usually associated with separation, divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, financial worries, exam nerves etc.
  • Thermal stress which comes from being exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Physical stress from obesity, excess physical work, sleeplessness, skeletal and muscular pain.
  • Chemical stress from consuming sugar, alcohol, food additives, exposure to pollutants.

All of these different types of stress affect the body in the same way; the adrenals do not distinguish between them.
Obviously, it is impossible to control all stressful situations but it is possible to control some of them and you can certainly do this in a few ways as mentioned below:

Diet

This is one area that you can control by eating frequent meals utilising protein and complex carbohydrates together. For example tuna (protein) and whole-wheat pasta (carbohydrate). By using complex carbohydrates i.e. foods made using the whole grain rather than processing, bleaching and adding to it, the carbohydrate offers the energy that you need to function and the protein allows it to burn slowly so that you maintain a steady blood sugar level.
By avoiding sugar this reduces the sharp peaks in blood sugar which give you a burst of energy but are always followed with a low trough leaving you exhausted and craving for the sugar again. Avoiding stimulants like tea, coffee, smoking, and alcohol as these all affect your sleep patterns and blood sugar levels.  Lack of sleep can further stress your body so using alternatives to caffeine can help immensely.
Many people suffering with stress complain that they do not have time to eat or prepare food and so skip meals. This has a dramatic effectof dropping your blood sugar level which can result in exhaustion and fatigue. By looking at planning meals that take minutes or organising your meals by batch cooking so that all they need is to be heated up can save time. Food that does not require cooking such as, salads and crudités, fruit and nuts are great ideas for lunches on the run. By
taking control of your diet you can start to regain momentum to return to your normal functionality.

Controlling your Emotions

Try not to focus on relationship problems that cannot be solved. For instance, if you find your boss is unappreciative of your work and never seems to recognise your efforts, focus instead on the fact you have a job. Many people do even have that these days.
Emotional health can be controlled to a certain extent mentally by accepting that a certain situation is happening but that you are unable to change it therefore worrying about it only causes you further upset. Take control by accepting the situation for what it is and move on to more positive things that can be changed or enjoyed.

Physical Activity

Obviously, there are some situations that really do test people, for instance caring for an elderly or sick family member can cause an immense amount of stress and emotional guilt. By looking into support for yourself and time away from these situations can be immensely beneficial to your wellbeing. By having the time to go for a gentle walk or swim, or just meeting a trusted friend to talk to this can be a great stress reliever.
Meditation, yoga and pilates are also great stress relievers as they offer gentle physical activity, rather than vigorous exercise which can cause further stress on the body. Obviously, doing the gentler types of exercise is not going to change your situation but it can change the way your internal body perceives the stressful event and change its
response to it.
Whatever stress you have in your life, you can put in place a programme to cope with it. Life is not always going to be easy and there will certainly be times where you find more on your plate than you would like but there are strategies to help you cope. By addressing the above areas in your life now and taking control of them you will at least be in a position to face whatever life throws at you in the future.

Finally, click on our video to learn about a technique that can be used immediately to help release stress.

To find out more about this article or adrenal fatigue you are welcome contact our Nutritional Therapist Karen Shields at The Life Practice Nutrition clinic . Tel: 01462 431112