Tag: mindfulness


How to be less uptight

It’s easy to be less uptight when you know how. Many of us don’t even realise how stressed out we actually are. Bills to pay, queues, all sorts of daily problems that many of us can’t avoid…what do you do? Sometimes when I lie in bed and focus on loosening my muscles, I realise how tensed up I am, especially in my neck and shoulders. Stress has become an inescapable part of life.

There are ways to be less uptight, some you can do instantly, and others will take time to get into the habit of doing.

Grounding techniques

When we are stressed, our bodies feel it. Adrenalin and cortisol are released, our muscles tense up ready for action. Our nervous system activates fight, flight or freeze response and relaxing becomes impossible. Grounding techniques help your body turn the panic alarm off, so it’s a good place to start.

Try taking deep breaths – what’s great about this is you can practise this anywhere, anytime. Box breathing is a good technique for helping you de-stress. Breathe in slowly counting to 4, then hold your breath and count to 4, breathe out slowly counting to 4 and finally, hold your breath once more counting to 4.

Get out of your head

Spending time worrying is the worst waste of time. All it does is increase anxiety when we go down the “what if” tunnel. We imagine all sorts of awful scenarios that might never happen. Focus your attention externally on the world around you. This takes practise but remember that the real world is out of your head – most of the ideas in your head aren’t backed by evidence and are up for negotiation.

Don’t believe every thought you think!!


Below is a list of questions to be used in helping you challenge your maladaptive or problematic beliefs. Not all questions will be as appropriate for the belief you choose to challenge.



• Is it logical?
• Would a scientist agree with my logic?
• Where is the evidence for my belief? What is the evidence for and against this idea?
• Where is the belief written (apart form inside my own head!)?
• Is my belief realistic?
• Would my friends and colleagues agree with my idea?
• Does everybody share my attitude? If not, why not?
• Am I expecting myself or others to be perfect as opposed to fallible human beings?
• What makes the situation so terrible, awful or horrible?
• Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?
• Will it seem this bad in one, three, six or twelve months’ time?
• Will it be important for me in two years’ time?
• Am I exaggerating the importance of this problem?
• Am I fortune telling with little evidence that the worse case scenario will actually happen?
• If I “can’t stand it” or “can’t bear it” what will really happen?
• If I “can’t stand it” will I really fall apart?
• Am I concentrating on my own (or others’) weaknesses and neglecting strengths?
• Am I agonising about how I think things should be instead of dealing with them as they are?
• Where is this thought or attitude getting me?
• Is my belief helping me to attain my goals?
• Is my belief goal focused and problem solving?
• If a friend made a similar mistake, would I be so c critical?
• Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms: is there any middle ground?
• Am I labelling myself, somebody or something else? Is this logical and a fair thing to do?
• Just because a problem has occurred does it mean that I/they/it are “stupid”, “a failure”, “useless” or “hopeless”.?
• Am I placing rues on others or myself (e.g., shoulds or musts, etc.)? if so, are they proving helpful and constructive?
• Am I using words or phrases that are extreme or exaggerated (for example: always, forever, never, need, should, must, can’t and every time)?
• Am I taking things too personally?
• Am I blaming others unfairly just to make myself (temporarily) feel better?
• Am I confusing a habit with a fact?
• Are my interpretations of the situation too far removed from reality to be accurate?
• Am I thinking in all-or-none terms?
• Am I taking selected examples out of context?
• Am I making excuses (for example: I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to go out; The other people expect me to be perfect; or, I don’t want to make the call because I don’t have time)?
• Is the source of information reliable?
• Am I thinking in terms of certainties instead of probabilities?
• Am I confusing a low probability with high probability?
• Are my judgements based on feelings rather than facts?
• Am I focusing on irrelevant factors?


This is the only time you should spend inside your head – when you problem solve you look for solutions instead of ruminating. Brainstorm solutions to your problems and do your best to action the plan where possible. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control something and find a way to accept the things you can’t change currently.

Attitude of gratitude

This is an instant pick-me-up. Focusing on what is good in life can automatically improve your mood. Remind yourself regularly of what is good in your life – there is always something but our brains’ tend to focus on the negative things in an attempt to keep us safe. Do you have someone who cares about you? Are you healthy? Do you have a roof over your head? These are some of the pertinent questions to ask yourself.

Accept what you can’t change

There are things you can change and some you can’t. Resisting what you can’t change is futile and will lead to misery.

Care less about what others think

Dance to your own beat. Act dumb. Do whatever you have to but don’t take on board what others think. It’s your life, your decisions and choices. Others love to judge, and why should you care if they do? Only you define yourself, so let them be amused if it makes them happy. When you care too much about that others will say, you live your life for them and not yourself.

Stop taking life so seriously

We all end up in the same place so get some persepctive. Something that upsets you now probably won’t matter in a few days/moths time. Keep perspective and keep a sense of humour. See life as an adventure and stop catastophizing. It’s probably not as bad as you think it is.



Further reading:  https://www.thoughtsonlifeandlove.com/10-things-stop-caring-happier/75376/


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The world of work – have we got it all wrong?

We spend most of our time at work, so it goes without saying that we should enjoy what we do. The sad reality is that most people don’t enjoy their work. The logical conclusion to that suggests most of us spend a large portion of our lives doing what we don’t want to do. Chronic, long working hours can have a major impact on mental and physical health because people’s resources are drained and not adequately replenished by rest.

According to research, British men have the longest working week in Europe-47 hours, and British women work 43 hours. A third of fathers of young children in Britain admit to working more than 50 hours a week. The average man in the US spends just 25 minutes a week with his kids, yet American fathers place their children at the top of their list of priorities.

In his bestseller, “The man who mistook his life for a job”, Jonathon Lazear, a successful New York literary agent, argues that people who work to excess are just as guilty of social delinquency as the deadbeats who don’t work at all. The number of clients who have come to see me due to relationship issues with current partners is staggering. Most of these clients struggle due to a lack of connection with their parents. Many feel abandoned and as a result, their attachment styles are damaged. Children who grow up feeling neglected tend to end up with anxious adult attachment styles instead of stable attachment styles. This insecurity can play out over a person’s entire life.

Where did the notion of work as the central focus of life come from?

The ancient Greeks saw work as a tragedy. In fact, for most of history, paid work has been sniffed at by anyone with the rank or intelligence to avoid it. Only in the 16th century did the Calvinists begin to talk up the notion of a “work ethic”, which was held to be both pleasing to the Almighty and improving development for mankind.

The most ‘overworked’ city:

In 21st century Japan, they have a new law called “Karoshiin” (from the term: Karoshi), which means that if you die of overwork, your boss goes to jail! The Japanese are among the hardest workers in the world.

Here’s an eye-opening example: In July 2013, 31-year-old Miwa Sado, a reporter for Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, was found dead in her Tokyo apartment. She had died from heart failure. It was later revealed that Sado had logged 159 hours and 37 minutes of overtime at work in the month before her death. Sado’s death was officially designated as a “death from overwork”. According to recent studies, Japan was deemed to be the hardest-working city in the world, but despite being notorious for long working hours, cities in Japan have relatively low productivity levels.

According to recent OECD data, Japan is the least productive country in the G7; the US is roughly 59% more productive. This is despite the fact that Tokyo residents work an average of 42 hours a week and have the earliest start time of all cities at 8:57 am.

The hardest-working city:

The Swiss bank, UBS conducted their own research and found that Mumbai was the hardest working city, clocking up the longest average working hours of 3,315 per year per worker. But as with the case of Japan and other cities, working long hours does not necessarily equate to high productivity.

Not only do we work crazy long hours as adults, but we also expect our children to adopt this way of life. Children, like adults, are expected to be actively pursuing something for most of their waking hours. Children often feel under pressure because their parents over-schedule their lives, enrolling them for countless activities such as French, German, computer courses, and music lessons. Children are missing a lot of things we would associate with a normal childhood, such as being bored and messing around in the garden doing nothing.

This is where creativity comes from as well as the skills to manage a busy mind (when doing less) and enjoy life in the moment. Children these days cannot self-soothe (they aren’t being taught how to do this) and seek out achievement as a way to achieve this. Many children are conditioned to believe that achievement brings with it a sense of self-worth and happiness. This concept is back-to-front and causing excessive anxiety and depression in young people( especially teenagers and young people in their twenties).

Excessive pressure on younger generations

Last year the children’s charity, ChildLine, received 783 calls about exam stress from under 16’s. One in seven was aged under 13. At the same time, the UK government has introduced early learning goals for children as young as three and this generation of school children are the most tested ever. From a psychologist’s point of view it would seem that the more unhappy and dissatisfied we are, the more we want our kids to excel and do better than us. This clearly isn’t the way to go about achieving this aim.

Most people who work long hours tend to be unfocused, putting far more effort into things than is necessary. Perspiration spells pressure. Never forget that there is only one of you yet the company you work for will continue after you’re gone. Keep your effort in perspective. Trying too hard never works. Companies play on people’s insecurities and foster a mindset that encourages working overtime and sacrificing personal time. Believe in yourself and do not let your company exploit your need to do your best and then put in extra on top of that.

Work has become a great excuse for almost everything else. I can’t have a social life because I have to work or I know that my marriage is in trouble but this work project needs to be delivered on time. Talk about skewed priorities-what the heck is going on here? Perhaps the Covid-19 lockdown is a blessing in disguise? Reduced working hours during lockdown has shown clear evidence of how less travelling and working from home is good for the natural environment. I’m liking the sound of reduced working hours more and more.

Fewer working hours – the outcome

Reducing the length of the working week has been proven to boost productivity and efficiency. In Japan, Microsoft trialled a four-day week and productivity increased by around 40%. An organisation in Melbourne found a six-hour working day forced employees to eliminate unproductive activities, such as sending pointless emails, sitting in lengthy meetings, and randomly surfing social media sites on the internet. British businesses that have successfully implemented a four day week include Elektra Lighting, Think Productive and Portcullis Legals.

How can a better work-life balance be established?

Don’t buy into the ridiculous notion that there is something wrong with you if you don’t fit the 9-5 mould. Sacrificing your main priorities and values will absolutely lead to a miserable existence. Downgrading your family, friends, and free time to pursue your passion will most likely result in many regrets when you look back over your life one day. Money is a means to an end – what is it that money can bring to your life? Is there any other way to achieve these goals that don’t involve working yourself to death? Think outside the box and read books on how to live and work more flexibly. One that I recommend is called “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris. It offers ideas on how to break away from the traditional world of work. Thankfully, changes are now starting to happen since the Corona Virus pandemic with more people working from home. Subtle shifts are taking place that encourages the emergence of a more flexible working population.

Switching off from work (physically and mentally) is essential to ensure mental and physical health and a happy and fulfilling personal life. Plan holidays and short breaks through the year in advance; use mindfulness to help you switch off; practice self-compassion and prioritise self-care.

Ever since taking my Sociology Degree and my studies on Karl Marx, I have always wanted to escape the traditional world of work where the minority owns the means to production and the majority only have their labour power to offer. Capitalism has a lot to answer for when you consider all the greed and corruption that abounds. The higher powers want us to be good, well-behaved citizens who work long hours and pay our taxes. This is despite evidence that suggests working fewer hours can have a positive impact on productivity levels. Overwork continues to plague many cities but perhaps when we all shift our mindsets, real positive changes will emerge leaving us a happier and more fulfilled society.


Mandy X

Reference/Sources: The 10 Minute Life Coach – Fiona Harrold



Mental health maintenance kit

Life is so challenging and day to day challenges can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. I have created a mental health maintenance kit to help maintain emotional wellbeing. It’s a quick and easy way to keep yourself balanced and can assist in coping with stress and anxiety.
This mental health maintenance kit has been created after doing research on what works and many of my clients have reported that this has helped them to overcome difficult times in life. Of course it can’t solve everything but it’s a great checklist to remind you of positive things you can do each day to keep yourself on the straight and narrow,
I use it daily and try my best to make sure I have used each one of the seven strategies to help me deal with life, especially when I feel vulnerable or know that my thinking is ‘off’. When we feel especially emotional about something, our thinking can be affected by these intense emotions and this is when we should accept that our thinking may not be accurate.
When we’re emotional and in a vulnerable place it’s a good time to implement the mental health maintenance kit too, it can be used as a preventative measure or to help us during tough times:
In short, the mental health maintenance kit is based on the acronym: IMAGINE
I = “I” for self care
M = Mindfulness
A = Acceptance
G = Gratitude
I = Interaction
N = Nurture fun/playfulness
E = Explore


It’s a good idea to engage in self care daily. Looking after yourself involves many different things. Some are basic such as brushing your teeth and showering. Other forms of self care: hand creams, face creams, moisturiser, getting a massage, going to the hairdresser etc. Try to improve on self care over time. If you currently can only manage to brush your teeth, then try to brush teeth and shower. If your basic hygiene needs are met, perhaps put body cream on or a face mask. Prioritise self care as it does wonders for emotional well being and has many psychological benefits.
Examples of self care: getting your hair done, going for a massage, any forms of self improvement, eating a healthy diet, exercising.


Several times a day, it’s good to practise mindfulness. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes each time, try to focus on the present moment. Focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Being mindful takes our focus away from our worries about the past or the future and gives our minds a well needed rest.
Good examples: a meal with a friend, watching television, playing with your children, meditation


Ask yourself if there is anything that you are resisting when you need to accept it? Are there things out of your control that you fight against? Acceptance can take a lot of strain off us. Resistance can lead to unnecessary anxiety and/or depression. Regularly look at your life and learn to accept the way it is at the moment. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to want things to change but acceptance frees up our energy to focus on what can influence and change.

Example: I went througha breakup a while back and found it hard to accept. I kept resisitng and hoping we would get back together. Once I accepted the status quo I healed much quicker and was able to move on.

Ask yurself: What am I fighting against that I actually have no control over? Accepting what is can be very liberating.


It’s easy to focus on what isn’t right in our lives. The grass can seem greener on the other side and it’s common to want what we don’t have. It’s a great mental skill to practise gratitude as it can instantly help us to feel happier.

Think about what is good in your life, no matter how small. Some people even keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.

Our default seems to be quite negative and it’s a good strategy to remind us that things aren’t always that bad.

Each day focus on what went well – it could be something as simple as the fact that the sun is shining. We activate different neuarl pathways in our brains when we focus on what is good and this leads to longer lasting levels of satisfaction over time.


Spending time with others can often bring us the most joy. Being with others releases the feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. Being with others helps us to feel connected and involved. If you find you are avoiding others, it’s important to figure out why. Of course we all need time out but if you systematically avoid people, you are missing out on many happy opportunities.


Make time to be silly in life. Laugh often and always maintain a sense of humour. We often take life too seriously and seeing the funny side can lessen the emotional impact if it’s negative. Watch comedies, play games, go skiing, do things that make you smile.

Get in touch with your fun childlike side again.


This involves looking a little deeper into your patterns of behaviour. Identify what your ‘mental diet’ is – that is, what thoughts are you ‘feeding’ yourself? The thoughts we accept and ‘buy into’ will affect our quality of life. Are there any unhelpful thoughts leading you off course – such as mind reading, catastrophising or being self critical? (see the list of unhelpful thinking). If you struggle to understand your behaviour and find that it is causing you issues, Cognitive behavioural therapy could help you uncover deeper issues.


Mandy X

Copyright mandy kloppers/thoughtsonlifeandlove/headscience.co.uk 2019

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash