Will CBT work for me?

Have you been considering seeking counselling or therapy recently and wondering will CBT work for me? When people think about seeking counselling or therapy, it can feel confusing and challenging to know what type of counselling to seek; there are so many models and approaches.

Before we address the question will CBT work for me, it’s important to first establish that there are different types of counselling therapies being practiced, all of which ultimately aim to help the client overcome a range of emotional problems. However this means it’s not surprising the waters can become muddied when taking the first step towards seeking support through couselling.

Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies are among the counselling therapies and psychotherapies that people usually seek.  They are recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for anxiety disorders, depression and many emotional problems, because of the wealth of research that has demonstrated their effectiveness and efficacy.

The ideas that underpin each counselling model have a profound effect on the techniques we develop and the way we ‘do’ our work or the way we counsel.  The model a counsellor uses, their ‘therapeutic bias or preference’, will even affect what is considered important or relevant during sessions. But just because there are different types, it does not mean one particular therapy is more ‘authentically’ counselling than the other.

Many models of counselling

There are many different theories of counselling available to choose from, whether as a practitioner or a client. Some of the most well-known include:

  • Psychodynamic therapies, which includes Psychoanalysis, developed by Freud, are influenced by Freud’s ideas and direct the therapy to the past and childhood in order to make sense of their problems in adulthood.  Emphasis is given to negative experiences of early development and the role of early parenting in the formation of the self and the other.
  • Learning Theory Approaches, which include behavioural therapy which aims to eliminate unwanted and unhelpful behaviours as a way to solve problems.  It is active and goal focused.
  • Perceptual – Phenomenological Approaches which includes Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Therapy and Client Centred Therapy. Client or Person Centred is a non-directive form of talking therapy.  The therapist remains non-directive, does not offer suggestions or solutions.  It is not goal focused but rather focuses on the relationship between the client and the therapist. The idea is that the therapeutic relationship could lead to insights and lasting changes in clients.
  • Existential Therapy is philosophical and focuses on free will, self-determination and the search for meaning.  It emphasises the client’s capacity to make rational choices. It is non directive and the therapist does not offer suggestions or solutions.
  • Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy which includes Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy or REBT, Cognitive Therapy (also known as CT and CBT), and Cognitive Behavioural Modification.  These are goal directed and state that our emotional disturbances arise from unhealthy unhelpful beliefs, attitudes and thinking and behaviours and that these can be changed so that we can free ourselves from being stuck in emotional pain.  They concentrate on present problems and the current mindsets and behaviours that are creating them.

All of these are counselling theories. ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)’ is an umbrella term for several different theories that share common principles, just as ‘Psychodynamic Therapy’ is also an umbrella term.

will CBT work for me

Will CBT work for me? Informed choice is key

When deciding on what type of counselling to seek, it is important to make an informed choice. It is helpful to do some research, speak to your GP and perhaps talk to your friends about what they have found helpful and whether they managed to free themselves from their emotional suffering.  Prospective clients should ideally choose the model that they think best suits them, their strengths, experiences and ways of working.

But equally important is questioning perceived ideas or misconceptions about different models.  So, some non-CBT counsellors think that CBT counsellors don’t pay any attention to the therapeutic relationship (the working relationship between the client and the counsellor), which is completely untrue.  Of course, a CBT-counsellor will work hard to develop an open, trusting and relaxed working relationship. We are, after all, encouraging our clients to be frank and honest with their experiences and beliefs. How could we expect them to share these things if they did not trust us?

In Psychodynamic counselling, for example, the therapeutic alliance is viewed as the most significant condition or the central vehicle through which change occurs.  In contrast, a CBT counsellor sees the therapeutic alliance as significant and very important, whilst believing that change occurs when a client changes their mindset and their behaviour.  This process of change starts from understanding emotional responsibility, emotions, facing our past, present and future and developing skills of critical thinking and healthy behaviours. Without a therapeutic alliance effective change would be limited regardless of the counselling model used.

Even under the CBT ‘umbrella’ there can be differences. REBT, for example, can be described as philosophical CBT.  In REBT, the process of therapy is an active and directive one but collaborative.  The therapist and the client work as a team and focus on the client’s goal.  It is a transparent process where problems and priority problems are agreed, goals set, and emotions assessed.  Then the unhealthy beliefs that are at the heart of the client’s emotional problems are identified.  Once this happens, the client learns to turn the spotlight on these happiness sabotaging beliefs so they can be questioned to check if they are realistic and helpful.  Once this skill is learned, their healthy alternative beliefs are discussed and formulated.  Then the process moves onto how to strengthen the healthy versions and weaken the current unhealthy ones through cognitive and behavioural exercise and homework.   It’s like planting a seed for the healthy version and doing what’s needed so the seed can flower.  The weeds that need to be kept in check are the unhealthy beliefs. The client learns this philosophy of change is universal.  Once learned and applied to the initial problems, it can be universally applied to whatever we experience in life.  REBT is an active-directive existential and humanistic CBT model that leads to consistent mental health and resiliency.

Avy Joseph is the author of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Your Route out of Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage, and Other Everyday Habits with CBT (third edition published by Capstone, April 2022). He is an experienced CBT/REBT Therapist and Director of the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. He is a registered and accredited therapist with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

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Skincare advice for your 40s – myths & facts + #win!

Once you reach your 40s, it is safe to say there are no short cuts when it comes to skincare. The sad fact is, time is no longer on our side, our skin is losing elasticity and collagen at what feels like a rate of knots, and our past misdemeanours are starting to creep up on us. So when it comes to skincare advice for your 40s, what should we being following religiously, and what should we be turning our noses up at? Here, Louise Thomas-Minns, celebrity skin therapist, expert, educator and product formulator, seperates fact from fiction.

Skincare advice for your 40s

Myth 1: The SPF in my moisturiser will be enough to protect my skin

Fact: It’s not enough to rely on the SPF in your moisturiser or make up as we come into the height of Summer. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security & think you can get away with just one application a day. You need to opt for a separate product and re-apply regularly.

Myth 2: I can use the same skincare products all year round

Your skin doesn’t necessarily ‘get used’ to products per se. However, it may become accustomed to them as I believe your skin changes every minute of every day so its always good to review your routine. Seasonally is a good marker for change.

Myth 3: I can fix enlarged skin pores

Pores do not open and close. They are not doors so don’t ne fooled into thinking that products can shrink them or eradicate them. Embrace them, deep clean them, which can make them look less prominent.

skincare advice for your 40s

Myth 4: Drinking water is the key to hydrated skin

I often have clients say to me that they feel bad as they don’t drink enough water so their skin isn’t very hydrated. But, water will not hydrate the skin. You need to rely on good fats through your diet and skin care to do that.

Myth 5: Middle aged acne is caused by dirty skin

Some people perceive that if they have Acne then their skin is dirty so this is the cause and they need to clean it even more. If only it were that simple! Acne is a very complex issue and should be treated individually. It certainly doesn’t come from being dirty. Whilst it’s important to keep the skin clean you can actually make things a whole lots worse by over cleansing or cleansing with products that are too harsh.

Myth 6: Natural skincare is better for my skin

Whilst some may prefer or enjoy so-deemed ‘Natural, botanical skin care’ they are not necessarily any better than other ranges. Be aware that the term ‘natural’ isn’t regulated so could be being used as a marketing term. Aways seek advice around what skin care is right for you whether that be ‘natural’ or otherwise.

Myth 7: Retinol is only for the over 50s

Don’t think you have to be in your 50’s to benefit from Retinol. Starting a couple of times a week early, even as early as in your twenties can be beneficial in helping to assist the skins ability to repair, regenerate and rejuvenate.

skincare advice for your 40s

Skincare advice for your 40s: The non-negotiables

So what are the non-negotiable things women in their 40s should be doing for their skin to keep it in tip top condition? According to Louise these are:

  • Apply sunscreen daily – using sunscreen each day, even when it is cloudy, is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.
  • Drink green tea – green tea‘s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce skin irritation, skin redness, and swelling
  • Eat dark chocolate – the flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide 
  • Get advice around HRT – several studies suggest there are benefits from using bioidentical hormones to alleviate symptoms from dry, itchy, thin and fragile skin
  • Get a pro facial assessment and treatment- this will give you the tools to make an informed decision under the guidance of a trained professional regarding the health of your skin
  • Sleep sleep & more sleep – during good sleep, your body prevents and repairs skin cell damage, significantly improving not only your skin’s appearance but its strength

For more excellent advice on skincare for your 40s see louisethomasskintherapy.co.uk and follow Louise on Instagram.

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Benefits of yoga: Why you should add yoga into your everyday routine

We now live in a world where self-care, health and wellbeing are being prioritised, and actually, are actively encouraged – which is something that we haven’t seen until recent years. And one of the very best ways to practise self-care in our humble opinion is through yoga and meditation. Here, Victoria Cranmer, founder of health and wellbeing travel firm Mindful Escapes, shares her thoughts on the benefits of yoga and why yoga should be added to our everyday routine.

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There is a global increase in people battling burnout, and time is of the essence, therefore practising as little as 10 minutes of yoga as part of your daily routine can be a beneficial addition.

People have never been as busy as they are today. Whether it’s juggling work and business with family life or struggling to find the time to relax and unwind, people are continuing to battle the feeling of burnout.

Yoga enables and releases feelings of anxiety, stress, worry, self-doubt, fatigue and the feeling of burnout with each and every breath.

Much more than deep breathing and stretching, yoga is an act of healing – both physically and mentally.

benefits of yoga

Benefits of yoga

As a great source of healing, yoga has many benefits and can work to support everybody in an entirely unique and different way.

Whilst not medicinal, yoga is the ideal way to incorporate gentle movement to your day and improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Improves strength, balance and flexibility

The regular movements and breathing techniques of yoga can aid the improvement of your strength, balance and flexibility by increasing blood flow and warming up the muscles. As well as this, yoga can improve posture, which in turn, reduces back pain and enhances comfort.

Reduces aches and pains

For people with illnesses such as arthritis, or those that suffer from aches and pains, yoga makes for the perfect form of gentle exercise. The stretching and breathing of yoga eases pain and discomfort and is a great way to manage bodily aches and pains without medicinal intervention.

Reduces stress and benefits heart health

When practised regularly, yoga can help people to feel less stressed, thus reducing inflammation and contributing to a healthier heart.

benefits of yoga

Relaxes to aid sleep and boosts mood

With yoga comes a sense of calm and can therefore be a great way to end your day and wind down before going to bed. For a better night’s sleep, alter your exercises to encourage relaxation, but to kickstart your day, yoga can make for the perfect mood booster – simply select exercises that require a little more energy and that make you feel awake and raring to go.

The ultimate self-care tool

Yoga is the ideal way to take care of yourself. Whether it’s 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour – yoga can be practised in such a way that works around your day, providing you with some well-deserved ‘me time’ whilst supporting stress management and encouraging mindfulness.

Getting started

It’s important that people practise yoga in a way that suits them – after all, we all have entirely different needs.

Whilst you will receive maximum benefits from adding yoga to your everyday routine, some people prefer yoga retreats to fully immerse themselves and to create the ultimate experience.

A retreat can be the perfect way to prioritise yoga and its healing benefits in your busy life without any distractions from the outside world. For more information on yoga retreats and its benefits, visit: https://mindfulescapes.uk/

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I hate my job: 6 signs you are having a mid-career crisis (and what to do next)

Have the thoughts “I hate my job” crossed your mind recently? If our jobs are great and we love them (no matter how banal they might seem to others), then we feel good about ourselves. There will probably come a point where we look at what we have achieved so far and reckon up accomplishments and setbacks, and consider planning the next stage of working life – stick or change.

If we feel that progress has stalled, whether disenchanted, frustrated or just bored, there are remedies; a mid-career crisis is a chance to reflect and review what has gone well and what can be done to build for the future.

It is not the responsibility of the organisation to manage the careers of employees, though good employers have career and talent management policies and programmes. They may be good at engaging and developing employees, but career planning is a personal responsibility. It is probably time for a re-think if:

  1. Your job lacks challenge, appeal and fun
  2. Promotion or development opportunities are limited
  3. You’re not learning anything new, it’s all routine
  4. You feel your talent and skill is being wasted
  5. You are stressed and/or feel unappreciated, unengaged, disconnected and undervalued
  6. It’s no longer fun

The career MOT

Reaching a career ceiling doesn’t mean a lack of drive and tenacity to rise further. But there may come a point where fresh challenges appeal. Keeping a career afloat may feel like navigating hazardous and murky waters, especially during mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, ‘right sizing,’ and ‘offshoring’.

A career MOT will afford you some time for reflection before making an action plan. Focus and reflect, nothing is set in stone; the career plan envisaged when you were 23 may no longer be relevant now – that’s fine, just start over.

What if your career is broken? What if you are totally in the wrong space – is there anything you can do? Go back to fundamentals. What do you like doing? Think about your achievements to date and think big, don’t be modest. Life is full achievements – big and small, they all count.

hate my job

Build and grow

Career management rests on identification of your values, interests and skills and then building on those and investing time and effort in a chosen career path. Aim to build and grow, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that years of experience are what counts. If you are not fully invested in career development, there’s danger of ending up with 10 years of experience that is, effectively, one year of experience replicated 10 times.

Survival is about ensuring you appeal to employers over the long run. Ensure you have portable skills that will carry you through your short-term career goals and enable momentum towards a long-term plan. Build a portfolio of roles and interests and commitments that will constitute a real investment in a career path that provides fulfilment.

It’s sensible to plan ahead, managing your career by choosing roles with a range of employers that will increase your employability and transferable skills that so when you are looking to make a move, you are able to make sustainable and fulfilling choices.

Making change happen

Whether it is a mid-career crisis or a nagging sense of disenchantment, you can make a change if you are no longer fulfilled in your job. Life is too short to stay in a job you dislike or that makes you unhappy.

Prepare – ask yourself some searching questions. Think about what you would really love to do, how you want to spend your life, what matters to you and ask yourself what your dream job would look like.

Research – spend time reading and study your area/(s) of interest. Seek mentors and those working in your profession or field of interest to advise you.

Plan – review and evaluate the realistic options, devise a plan whether that is for a new job, a promotion, a new direction or starting your own business. Portfolio workers and entrepreneurs sometimes began their new careers in their 60s or older.

hate my job

Redesign your career – rather than a completely new career path, you may be able to make changes to your current role – look around to see where you might fit and achieve your objectives, at least in the short-term. Use your current job to accrue the necessary skills, contacts, leads and opportunities that will help you.

Be positive – it is never too late, you are never too stuck to make a change. Focus on your skills and experience and on making that move forward. Finally, success in any career requires one to be flexible, open-minded, versatile and resilient; and an inclination to engage in lifelong learning is increasingly important for the ambitious.

Have the thoughts I hate my job crossed your mind lately? If so, it might be time for a career change….

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

Digital people photo created by ijeab, Women work photo created by ViDIstudio

Diagnosed with terminal breast cancer: How to live when life hands you lemons

I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at 47. Whilst I knew there was a small possibility, I didn’t really expect my cancer would return along with an incurable diagnosis. But here we are.

If we know anything, it’s that life often throws us curve balls, this one being the biggest, shittiest one you could ever imagine. Being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer is unimaginable and something I still struggle to believe, even though I know it’s very real. As I walked out the hospital I remember telling myself and those I loved that I would beat this, that if anyone can I would. That I would defy the odds and live with this for a long time. This became my mantra and one I still tell myself most days.

As hard as it is to imagine, life goes on. Living with cancer is far from easy, but this diagnosis has driven me to try and live more vividly and fully than I had before. I may be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer but right now I’m well and not ready to go anywhere.

It takes an army to live your best life when life gives you lemons. Here’s some of the ways I cope:

Choose life

I got busy living. Embracing life, enjoying the little things. I love my adventures and intend to live big.

Belief

This work is never ending. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. It applies more now than ever before. Facing my fears, choosing my beliefs and letting go of those that don’t serve me. All of this work is central to my determination and belief that I can thrive with stage 4 cancer.

Be informed

Do your own research, read books. Make sense of your cancer and take control based on what works for you.

Be my best advocate

I have had to trust myself and the decisions I make. To take charge. It’s documented that patients who direct their own treatment fare better than those that don’t.

A strong reason for living

Focusing on all the reasons I want to keep living, rather than the fear of dying. Looking forward. To the experiences and adventures I’m yet to have. My husband. My family. My friends. My business. Early on, I was so terrified, I couldn’t imagine life six months out. Eventually once the dust settles I just started focusing on living instead.

Avoid statistics

They are indicators not inevitabilities. There are exceptions to every rule. All we can do is walk our own journey, and be grateful and determined to defy the odds

Understand my disease

I spent a long time reading and researching different protocols so I kew my options. I have tried to understand what my body is trying to tell me. How to nourish myself, to appreciate, to let go. I try and take it as an opportunity to change the way I treat my body and the environment around me.

Focus on healing

I have also learnt that maybe this journey isn’t about finding a cure. A magic bullet. It’s about healing. The type of healing that never stops. Everything I do is about trying to heal my mind and body. There are so many options. The important thing is to trust the decisions you make and believe in yourself. My life has taken on a new normal, and whilst it doesn’t fit my old view of what my life would look like, it brings different joys and appreciations every day.

I’m only a year into my stage 4 diagnosis. As you can imagine, it’s been A LOT. It’s a process of continuous learning, about myself, my disease, my healing. My focus is on filling my life with love and adventures and creating something amazing as a legacy.

So when life gives you lemons, shake yourself off, take a deep breath and make shit happen.

Sara Cohen is founder of luxe sustainable womenswear brand www.hakinakina.com. Having already recovered from breast cancer once, she was in remission for several years, until last April when she found her cancer had returned and was by definition terminal. 5 years ago, having recently recovered from cancer she was looking for swimwear that suited her active lifestyle and offered the high level of protection she needed to cover up her radiation burns. She was left with minimal options; so when she moved to New Zealand she decided to take matters into her own hands.  Armed with a background in marketing and 5 years in women’s wear, she opened her own business and a line of swimwear to give women the freedom to play without compromising comfort, beauty or the environment. Find out more at hakinakina.com or connect on Instagram @hakinakina.active.

Broken Britain: How to deal with the frustration of backlog Britain

I am sure I am not the only one to have noticed that good old Blighty seems to be a massive shambles of late. Just when we thought we were emerging from the pandemic, so did our blessed country decide to practically fall apart at the seams – otherwise known as broken Britain.

Try to get a new passport- sorry you’ll have to wait! Try to get on a flight – it will be cancelled. Try to get a train somewhere – there will be industrial action. Try to get a medical referral – get in line, that will be 2024 thank you! And no you can’t buy that thing on your shopping list as it is currently out of stock until god only knows what date or is now three times more expensive. If you want to get something done, then backlog Britain – or broken Britain as I like to call it – will definitely not have the answer for you, and instead will just deliver one big collective exasperated eyeroll or heaving sigh as we deal with the farcical frustration of it all.

Yes not only are we also having to deal with the massive cost of living crisis and things becoming ridiculously expensive, but we are wondering what the point of leaving the house at all is because a) It will cost us a fortune and b) The outside world is apparently broken anyway thanks to broken Britain.

So when we are met with despair and dysfunction practically everywhere we turn, how can we effectively take it on the chin and not let the shambolic state of our country get to us?

We tapped Marisa Peer, world-renowned therapist and best-selling author who shared her insights and tips with us here.

Ukraine, Covid, global warming as well as polarizing politics have dominated our lives for the past decade as well as Brexit, Partygate and NHS backlogs. Dealing with one major upheaval is challenging enough to our mental wellbeing but this relentless series of catastrophes, seamlessly blending into each other has been described as a permacrisis. Levels of anxiety are soaring not only in the UK but globally and there is no immediate end in sight.

Most of us in the Western world have been fortunate enough to grow up with a feeling of  certainty and that sense of security is a real human need.  Certainty that we are safe, that life on the whole is good and has its rewards. Global events would register on our radar from time to time, but life had a comforting routine to it which we could rely on like a young child relies on a parent. But now that parent is out of control  creating a feeling of abandonment and isolation. This unpredictability makes us humans feel anxious, worried and depressed. The future no longer seems a given. That is truly unsettling and many adults are suffering from crisis fatigue.

Many of our RTT therapists have noticed an increase in people asking for help for anxiety. Last year we held a global anxiety symposium and have also developed protocols for our therapists to help them specifically deal with this burgeoning issue.

When the world seems uncertain you have to focus on your own certainty. The certainty that  you are the same person, the same parent, friend, spouse, employee and employer. When you can focus on what is the same in your life rather than what is different, you will have better coping skills. 

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of so focus on what is still good and remind yourself that life will eventually return to normal even if it means we have to adapt to change. This is vital if you have small children. We are wired to fear change in case it’s a change for the worse and not the better. 

To help people deal with the permacrisis, Marisa has put together a free meditation session which people can download here to help with relaxation, sleep and to put things into a more manageable perspective. 

Tips to keep anxiety to a minimum

Perspective and gratitude

Looking at the terrible events in the Ukraine puts minor problems into perspective. Living with gratitude is a powerful way to be. Take time to stop and reflect on all you have to be grateful for each day, or start a gratitude journal. 

Focus on the good

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of; so focus on what is good in your life. Remind yourself that after past catastrophes and disasters, life does return to normal. 

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Side-step the negative

Avoid doom-scrolling and don’t keep the news on in the background, as even when you’re not actively listening you are absorbing these messages. 

Focus on certainty

Instead of fearing uncertainty, focus on your own certainty that despite what’s happening there are constants in your life. This will strengthen your coping skills. 

Breathe!

When overwhelmed, just stop and take a minute to breathe. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. This is a great way to bring yourself back into the moment and break the fear cycle.

Connect to yourself

Be mindful of what you are experiencing – acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling and where in your body you are experiencing a physical reaction. By observing what’s happening, rather than repressing it, you will find you work through things much quicker.

Live in the now

Anxiety is usually a response to a fear of things that may happen, but most likely never will. Instead of focusing on the what ifs, take each moment as it comes and deal with the reality of what emerges.

Prioritise self-care

Self-care is so important and boosts resilience. Take time out for yourself each day to stop, relax and reflect. Do something you love, or anything that helps shift your energy and mood. Take a walk, play music, dance – it doesn’t need to be complicated!

Ask for help

If you are struggling, ask for help – whether this be from friends and family,  through a support group or from a therapist. Feeling connected and sharing your fears and worries helps you avoid feeling alone in what you are experiencing.

Be proactive

Feeling helpless can lead to anxiety, so do anything you can to help by donating or offering services. Get involved in your community so you have a focus and sense of purpose – be part of the solution, rather than the problem

Have you been feeling frustrated by broken Britain recently? Or perhaps you are living elsewhere in the world and can share a different perspective? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Create a roadmap to change your life with the 7 stages or purpose

Are you hoping to change your life? For many people, their 40s is when they reflect on relationships, friends, and things like work/life balance – a time to assess where they are. For others, it is a time when they’ve really hit their stride, and often this is because they have found their purpose.

Look at 46-year-old actress and filmmaker Reese Witherspoon. A few years ago, she founded the production company Pacific Standard—which is now a subsidiary of her media company Hello Sunshine—to share stories written by women, with a female lead, brought to the screen by women. As Reese pitched her business venture to investors, she was informed that no one would want to watch films with a female lead, that this was not a profitable venture. She invested her own money, which she was also told was a mistake.

But with a purpose to share women’s stories on the big screen to change the narrative of women in US culture, Reese Witherspoon’s first two film productions with female leads, Wild and Gone Girl, grossed half a billion dollars. She also produced the hugely successful TV series Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere, and the film from the best-selling book Where the Crawdad Sings is due for release in July 2022. 

We are all born with a purpose. As unique as your fingerprint, it is held within your heart, your reason for being, your north star. With your purpose placed at the heart of your life you benefit from clarity of focus and direction. On the occasions self-doubt creeps in, purpose empowers you. Decisions become easier as you choose the path aligned with the fulfilment of your purpose.

Your purpose doesn’t arrive one day ‘boom!’ fully formed, expressed, and embodied. There are recognisable stages to the growth and development of your purpose. These stages are not linear. You may experience more than one stage at a time, and some stages last longer than others. And when you become aware of the stage you are at, you have a map and can more easily participate in your purpose being fulfilled.

Here are the seven stages of purpose. Use these to create a roadmap to change your life. Take a look and decide where you are, and this will help you define the next steps you need to take towards your true purpose and passion.

The 7 stages of purpose to help your change your life

1. Calling

You sense you have a bigger purpose than what is currently being expressed. There may be a sense of ‘something’ missing, a frustration, a sensation pulling you towards ‘something’ you can’t quite understand, it is led by a desire for more – more meaning, contribution and impact.

Simon Haas, yoga philosopher and author of The Book of Dharma and Yoga and Dark Night of the Soul shares that your purpose emerges naturally when you live your true nature.

This is echoed by Jill Ellis, former coach of the USA Women’s Soccer Team sharing the experience of opening up to her team that she was married to Betsy Stephenson, a woman. Fully supported, the US women’s team went on to campaign for equal pay for women using the World Cup as their global platform. Jill said: “When I became open in who I was, I found my purpose there.”

When you experience a calling, practice bringing more of your true nature into your life every day, and as you do, your purpose is revealed to you.

2. Receive

As you follow your true nature, you begin to receive a sense of your purpose, the more you receive the clearer it becomes. At this stage, stay curious. Don’t deny it or push it away. Embrace and begin to own your purpose.

change your life

3. Articulate

As you embrace your purpose, articulate it in a few simple words that inspire and resonate with your heart. The simpler the better. For example, TheTeen Yoga Foundation has a purpose to empower young people through yoga so that there’s a generation of kids with self-esteem, resilience and mental wellness. Maddy Cooper, co-founder of Brilliant Noise, has a purpose of protecting the earth so that families have a bright future, with sustainable marketing for brands that really mean it.

4. Align

Now your purpose is clearly articulated the next step is to align your decisions, actions, behaviours, products and services with your purpose. Let go of any aspects of your life that are not aligned with your purpose. This can take courage, but it is worth it.

5. Embody

As you make decisions aligned with your purpose, you shift from an intellectual understanding to your purpose becoming a tangible, living expression. The more you can appreciate the deep fulfilment, value and impact embodying your purpose brings, the more you grow.

change your life

6. Lead

As you grow in the embodiment of your true nature and purpose you are now ‘walking your talk’. There is a noticeable dedication, integrity and congruence and this inspires others. At this stage, as you communicate and share the wisdom of your experience openly and transparently, you become a recognised leader in your field.

7. Evolution

Your purpose, your north star, becomes an evolutionary force, both in your personal and business development taking you into the unknown, towards new frontiers. If you haven’t already, here you are invited to surrender more deeply, to let go of what wants to go and allow what wants to come.

Kat Byles is the Founder of the True Business School, for creative leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and healers who want to do business differently. She works with people to find and align with their purpose and creativity to build a happy, healthy, wealthy business and world. Why not get in touch and find out how she can help you change your life for the better.

Photos by Julia Avamotive, Joshua Abner, Thought Catalog

Feeling perimenopausal? Here’s how to decode your perimenopausal mindset

Remember when we thought we would have it all nailed in our forties? Remember when we walked into the kitchen and actually remembered what we walked into the kitchen for; and didn’t have to walk out and back in again seventy billion times to remember that all we wanted was just a cup of coffee? Feeling perimenopausal and wondering what has become of your life?

The advent of peri-menopause seems to come at the hardest time of our lives – often as we’re navigating children getting older but somehow needing us more. It’s a time when some of us are thinking of running our own business and then BANG here comes the brain fog, the anxiety, the overwhelm and all of the rage.

So what can we do about it?

Well we can try and rock in a corner, but then someone will probably ask us what’s for tea and whether we can give them a lift to their mates round the corner…

So we have no choice but to crack on and just push forward, even if we’re feeling perimenopausal, right?

You have a choice

Well we do have a choice if we’re feeling perimenopausal. We have a choice to make every day and it comes down to mindset (and in my case a sh!t load of HRT).

Navigating the murky world of feeling perimenopausal, and everything it entails, can become a daily battle and our best asset to learning to swim in the channel is to train our brains, take back control and work really blinking hard to master our mindset.

The key to mastering your mindset when you’re feeling perimenopausal, to rewiring the main frame, is practice and commitment. That’s the key. If we simply think about it, there’s no benefit. We have to act on it. We have to take action. And there is only one person that can do it. It’s the same person who takes all the laundry up the stairs rather than simply stretching across it… That’s right, it’s you. It’s me. It’s the mental mum rocking in the corner still wishing the bloody fairy would turn up with her magic wand and just do something for her.

Our mindset is the key to the door. It is the magic wand (in the absence of a housekeeper, cook and chauffeur). If we can manage and master our mindset then we take back control, and we can stem (some) of the overwhelm, fear and rage that is often part of  the Peri-Menopause Party happening in our head.

Step one

The first step is simply self-awareness. How often do you get up in the morning and check in with how you’re feeling, what your mood is and how you’re going to approach the day? How often do you give yourself that crucial five minutes in the morning that can then impact your mood for the rest of the day?

As you’re waking up and slurping on that vat-load of coffee each morning, ask yourself how you are feeling; and then here’s the magic, ask yourself how that is going to impact your day and what your triggers are going to be.

So if you’re feeling perimenopausal and knackered, and you acknowledge that you’re more tired than anyone who grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street, you can understand that you are potentially going to be triggered, and therefore should pause and step away before you totally blow a gasket. (Although I’m not sure Mother Theresa would remain calm during a morning routine school run with a teenager.)

feeling perimenopausal

Step two

There’s power in choosing your mood, and not letting it choose you when you’re feeling perimenopausal. In the Manchester Mindset I don’t advocate all of the positive affirmation and some high fiving of the mirror to get the day started. I advocate a much more realistic approach. Understand how you are feeling, understand how you are going to react given your mood and pop in a moment to pause.

The power of the pause is the best thing we can gift ourselves (well other than a week on a beach in Thailand with Tom Hardy). By stopping, by pausing and by giving ourselves a chance to process, we stand a better chance of managing our mood and our reactions and triggers.

Our brains have something called the default mode network – it’s where all of our experiences are processed, and it only comes into play when we are in active rest.

Science is very clear on the amount of rest we need: it’s 42 per cent. That’s the percentage of time your body and brain need you to spend resting. And that is about 10 hours out of every 24. Yep – none of that ‘I only need four hours’ sleep malarkey’.

Ladies, we need to be in a state of rest for 10 hours out of 24 so that we can function and fly. It’s simple; if you consistently don’t take the 42 per cent, the 42 per cent will take you. It will sneak up on you, it will hunt you down and it will pull you under – so give yourself some time back to pause, to process, to rest.

Step three


Third, and finally, there is power in a good routine and a plan. There is freedom in routine and rituals, particularly when you’re feeling perimenopausal.

Find yourself a routine in the morning and stick to it – no I don’t mean get up at 5am for a HIIT workout. I mean get yourself a cup of coffee in peace before the shouting begins. A big benefit of a routine is that it signals to the brain that it’s an automatic response, which means the brain then has increased mental resources for other tasks. Eliminating the need to constantly make decisions about a particular set of activities reduces “cognitive load”. 

Creating predictability reduces stress, which in turn can give your brain more energy to concentrate on other tasks. 

In a nutshell, once you decide to do something, it frees up your brain power and you get more sh!t done. Find your routine and you will give yourself some headspace – which is what we all crave during these bonkers years.

Feeling perimenopausal

So here’s your checklist to navigate the perimenopause:

  • Check in with yourself,
  • Check in with your triggers
  • Gift yourself the power of the pause
  • Rest, find a routine and repeat
  • Drink the coffee

Oh – and have a bloody good shout and a swear when you need to. Because let’s face it, we’re perfectly imperfect.

Sarah Knight, founder of Mind The Gap Academy, for consideration for any profiling slots and any features surrounding motherhood and mindset. Sarah is full of practical tips about how to rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset, as well as juggle the menopause, being a mum and running a business. 

With over 20 years experience in business, Sarah specialises in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind the gap between running a business, managing a business and staying sane!

Sarah Knight is founder of Mind The Gap Academy. She specialising in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset. You can follow Sarah at www.instagram.com/mindthegap.academy and learn more about Sarah’s latest online courses by heading to www.mindthegap.academy.

Beautiful lady photo created by 8photo, Flat lay photo created by freepik, week photo created by rawpixel.com

The power of breath: breathwork benefits & 3 techniques for beginners

I am a big believer in the power of breath, and have used breathwork for a whole host of things – combatting my anxiety, tackling my insomnia, getting a handle of big emotions, dealing with pain as well as my own particular health worries. I have very much felt the myriad of breathwork benefits first hand.

However, to many, the concept of breathwork might sound mysterious – after all, breathing is something we do every minute of our lives, without even thinking. But the reality is, most of the time, we are not breathing fully, or properly.

So what? You may ask. Well. Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Finding Inner Safety and wellbeing, sleep and energy expert, explains the problem here, “When we don’t breathe fully, we don’t inhabit our bodies fully. We become dissociated and numb. At some point in our lives we may have learnt that this was a helpful thing to do, that it would stop us feeling a pain or trauma at that time that we didn’t have the resources to deal with. Maybe we were young so learning how to not feel, to block out (in) uncomfortable feelings was preferable to feeling them.”

The good news is is that this is pretty easy to reverse, and if you are curious about breathwork benefits, then here is your chance to experience them right here, right now as we share three breathwork exercises taken from Dr Nerina’s book, so you can try along with us today, to experience what can be truly profound breathwork benefits.

Practice 1: Notice the Breath

Notice your breathing. What is it doing right now? Don’t try to change it, simply allow it to do what it has been doing all along until you paid attention to it.

Have you been holding your breath while reading or listening to my words? Are your shoulders tight? And what about your jaw?

Have you been gripping it? Is your breathing deep? Do you feel it in your belly or does it feel stuck in your chest, shallow and tight?

Go deeper.

If you find that your breathing is shallow and restricted in your chest, lie down comfortably. Don’t get into bed if you might be in danger of falling asleep! Using blankets and cushions, make yourself comfortable and warm.

Notice your breathing. Place your left hand on your chest and over your heart. Place your right hand on your belly. Allow your breathing to settle and deepen, feeling the weight of your hands on your body. Can you allow your breath to reach deeper into your belly?

Start to gently prolong your exhalation but don’t force it. Imagine you are breathing roots out through your lower body – belly, hips, legs, and feet. Don’t worry about your exhalation – it will take care of itself. Simply, gently making the exhalations longer OOOOUUUUUUTTTTTTT as if you are breathing roots out through your feet and deep into the earth.

Send those roots deep down into the earth. As you breathe out your roots of safety, repeat to yourself:

IT IS SAFE FOR ME TO BREATHE.

IT IS SAFE FOR ME TO BREATHE DEEPLY.

I AM SAFE.

I AM SAFE IN MY BODY.

I AM SAFE IN MY LIFE.

breathwork benefits

Practice 2: Take 5 a Day/Morning Practice

This simple practice is one that I do most days. On days that I don’t I might find myself rushing around, feeling ungrounded and even overwhelmed with everything I feel I have to do.

When you wake in the morning, avoid rushing to open your eyes. With your eyes closed, simply check in with your breathing. What is it doing right now?

Simply follow five exhalations. Doing this might make you want to breathe in a different way – your breath might deepen so you feel your belly expand. Alternatively, let it do whatever it wants to do. Simply follow it.

As you notice your breathing, ask yourself ‘How am I feeling right now?’ Just a simple check-in to start your day.

It would be good if you could repeat this exercise as you go about your day. Perhaps find three other times when you simply notice five exhalations at three other times in the day. Maybe before you have your lunch or while you make a cup of tea. And then, last thing in the day when you turn your light out, follow five exhalations to help you to slide effortlessly into velvety sleep.

This simple practice helps you to become acquainted with yourself and how you are feeling rather than being constantly caught up in the mental realm – always thinking, often over-thinking.

Breathe.

Come back into your body.

Come back to yourself.

breathwork benefits

Practice 3: Sigh it Out

This is a really effective practice for letting go of emotions or stuck energy as you go about your day. We tend to sigh spontaneously as we go about our day but if we bring intention to our sighing it becomes a powerful therapeutic practice in its own right.

When we sigh, it drops us into feelings of calm and contentment. Try it right now. Take a big, exaggerated breath in, hold it in for a second or two and then sigh it out through your mouth. Make a sound as you do so. Make a sound of relief as you sigh.

Try this again, this time exaggerating the exhalation and making it longer.

Imagine sending this exaggerated sigh out of the soles of your feet, as if you are breathing out roots, so this prolonged out-breath makes you feel safe, grounded, and connected to the earth.

Notice if you start to feel softening anywhere in your body. Maybe your shoulders drop and relax, or your eyes and jaw soften.

Have you tried breathwork before? Or is this your first time encountering the benefits of breathwork? Do let us know in a comment below.

This is an edited extract from Finding Inner Safety: The Key to Healing, Thriving and Overcoming Burnout, by Dr Nerina Ramlakhan (published by Capstone, April 2022)

Images by rawpixel.com

Feeling stressed about money? How to be more zen about your finances

Financially, times are feeling pretty bleak right now. With the cost of pretty much EVERYTHING going up, and the value of what we’re earning going down, many of us are feeling stressed about money – which is pretty understandable. So you’ve cancelled your unnecessary subscriptions and stopped going out for dinner because you can’t deal with those eye-watering bills for a pretty standard and unmemorable meal. But what else can we do if we’re feeling stresed about money? Here, Michael Gilmore AKA the Seven Dollar Millionaire and the author of The Little Book of Zen Money: A Simple Path to Financial Peace of Mind shares his tips for feeling more financially zen whilst bracing ourselves for a bumpy ride ahead.

Can you share some strategies for surviving this stressful financial period?

Things are really hard right now, and it can all get too much. Whenever that happens, in any scenario, whether it’s because of inflation or work or relationships, the key is to reduce how over-whelming it feels. There are two really great steps that always help in that.

First, recognise that this is a tough time, and that you’re right to feel anxious about it. Denial can lead to spirals that make things even worse, so look it in the eye.

Second, remember that we don’t have to do everything in one go. Small steps are always the path to achievement, so identify a small change that you can make, and go for that first. Make it the tiniest step you can, do it, and that will make the second and third steps easier, and those will show you a path away from the stress.

What are your tips for budgeting and saving during this time?

If you don’t already track your spending, writing down every single item, start right now. We forget about 3 things off any list of 10, and 30% of our spending is a lot. That “grey area” is a source of uncertainty, denial and even stress. Writing down our spending brings it out into the world, creates new synapses, and enables us to think about it in a new way.

If you need to, reframe it. Don’t think of it as tracking, think of it as journaling, but for money. As with any journaling, you will get a better sense of what matters to you, and what doesn’t, which is so important right now.

If you don’t already save, then it is going to be harder than ever before – but you may also feel more strongly now that you could have saved in the past for this rainy day, and want to develop that habit. The most important tip for saving is to treat it like the first bill of the month, and pay it into a saving or investment account before you do anything else. You can build that habit with the smallest amount of money, a pound, and then when things get better (remember, they will), you can build numbers on to the habit.

Can you share some ways we can stay in control when prices around us are feeling very much out of our control?

One of my favourite things to do is remember how many things I enjoy doing don’t cost money, or how many cheap things I prefer to expensive things. In my book, The Little Book of Zen Money, I explained how I write a list of my happiest times, and then of expensive times, and look at how little connection there is between the two lists. Money doesn’t equal enjoyment, and now is a really useful time to break that link between the two we all have.

Two important components to staying in control are awareness and agency. By tracking your spending, drawing out lists of very cheap or free things to do, and starting to do something, you are increasing your awareness of the situation and taking more control, both of which will reduce anxiety.

Can you share any hacks for increasing our spending power when it feels like our collective spending power is diminishing?

There are so many hacks, but they all depend on where you’re at – how much money, savings, debt, etc you have. That’s the thing about money, is that it is so individual. We should all be looking to as many places as we can right now. Don’t worry or get angry about ones that aren’t right for you, that seem almost insulting. Keep looking for people who you can relate to, with more relevant ideas.

For me, the best and most universal hack is to increase the amount of time I spend doing truly free things with my time. My favourite example is to go for a walk. I honestly don’t think anyone goes for too many walks, not just for enjoyment’s sake. We might feel we walk enough, taking kids to the park, to work, to the bus, but these aren’t going for a walk. Rather than meet a friend for drinks, meet for a walk. Rather than date night with your spouse, go for a walk and chat. Rather than complain about there being nothing on the telly, go for a walk on your own and think.

If that’s not for you, identify something else free you have always enjoyed doing, but don’t feel you have done enough, and commit more time to that.

What else can we do to fix our finances during this time?

Again, it is all so specific. If you’ve got debt, try to do whatever you can to lower the interest rates on that as quickly as you can. Speak to debt advisors, consumer advisors or any other counsellor who can help you reduce that burden, and delaying repayment. There is help available if you are in serious need – so go and take it. There is also no shame in this. Multi-billionaires declare bankruptcy all the time: you deserve the same help they get.

If your situation isn’t that bad, then perhaps remind yourself of that, and identify spending you really can avoid. I know it would be nice to travel again, but with airfares going up rapidly, holidays nearer home are just as much fun.

Most of us may be in between those two examples though. By tracking our spending, precisely, we will see where we can improve things. We can use that awareness of our own position to make our own meaningful change.

Can you share some of your favourite financial mantras and mindfulness exercises to help us feel less stressed out?

Breathing exercises are the most important for stressful times. Taking slow deep breaths, fully inhaling and exhaling, can literally change the chemical composition of our blood that makes us feel stressed or not. We can’t just turn it on the first time we really need it though, so practicing this is important. Try triangular breathing, with a hold after the exhale, and box breathing with holds after the inhale and exhale. Five minutes of that can change the way you feel for the next hour, and that could change your day. It’s also free – and doesn’t leave you with a hangover the next day!

As for mantras, personally I always try to look at how a decision, or spending, is being “framed”. So much of finance is psychological, and to see the framing of a situation is to understand the real “why” behind a decision. So stepping back, looking at the frame, can really help make a better decision, and help stop the confusion between when we feel we need something and when we really do.

Any final tips to help us become financial experts without the stress?

Commit to engaging with money, to thinking about it and learning the fundamentals, how to save and how to invest. Financial security isn’t a number, it’s a journey, like a path, that is much easier to see if you start at the beginning and walk all the way along it, but almost invisible if you join it midway and walk across it.

One of the reasons money can be so stressful is because we keep trying join the path midway and feel lost. Recognise that, commit to learning some of the basics, and the path will become much clearer.

The Little Book of Zen Money: A Simple Path to Financial Peace of Mind by Michael Gilmore, ‘The Seven Dollar Millionaire’ is out now, £15

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