All posts by Sarah Holmes

Does the thought of Christmas drive you Crackers!

Christmas! The time of joy and festivity, peace and goodwill to all men. Of seeing the wonder in children’s eyes, decorating trees, giving and receiving gifts. Christmas and the seasonal festivities can be wonderful – for those with young children excited by the magic of visits from Santa, nativity plays and trips to the ice rink. For others – carol concerts, frosty winter walks and Christmas lights. It can be a time of happy family reunions, appreciation of good food and wine, and time to toast your toes, and indeed marshmallows, in front of the fire and enjoy some time off work.

But for some of us the thought of all that preparation – Christmas shopping, food shopping, making the house ready for guests (who you may only see once a year) and keeping it tidy in spite of excited children running around, can create other feelings – of being overwhelmed by the amount of work involved, as well as the cost, the endless planning lists and wondering how many hours you will be spending in the kitchen, and if the results will live up to expectations.
I’m sure you get the picture…. and have you noticed where that picture is? How big is it? What are the colours like? Close your eyes for a moment and take a look.
If it’s close to your face, right in front of you and in stark colours that you find disagreeable shrink it down to a size you’re more comfortable with, mute or change the colours and move the whole picture away from you until it’s in a position that allows you a sense space.
If there are specific tasks that you can see in the picture, take each task in turn and put it in a different position – may be at arm’s length and off to one side but within reach so you can take hold of it and action it when you’re ready to. When you’ve finished placing each task where you want it notice how the feelings you now have about the time of preparation ahead have changed.
For some of us it’s a voice gabbling away in one ear or the other, listing off a string of things that need to be done…. Slow it down, imagine it’s a radio or TV set and turn the volume down – or off! Now become aware of how your feelings about the tasks ahead have changed.
You may well feel calmer and find that it all feels more manageable. Breathe in and out deeply and enjoy this new feeling.
Of course there are also some common sense tips for reducing the stresses of the festive season:

  1. Plan ahead, and get ahead of the game. Shop online and write the Christmas cards early so you have more space later.
  2. Know when to stop. If you have forgotten some minor detail, it really doesn’t matter. Aim to enjoy Christmas Eve with no remaining urgent preparations.
  3. Resolve to keep calm; take some time out on busy days to go for a 20 minute walk or do some breathing and meditation. Just breathing in for ten seconds, holding for ten, and breathing out for ten a few times relaxes both mind and body.
  4. Turkey is a good choice for the mind as well as a festive favourite as it contains tryptophan, which boosts our serotonin levels which helps promote feelings of well-being and happiness.
  5. Pace the alcohol and avoid too much caffeine.
  6. Have an escape plan – a phone call to make or a neighbour to pop in on – just ten minutes out of the hustle and bustle will clear the mind.

Having put all that into practice if you’re still feeling overwhelmed and anxious by any aspect of the festivities, NLP and hypnotherapy can help, and usually very quickly. For an informal chat, do give me a call on 0117 907 7722 or send an email to I’d be delighted to talk it through and help you to really enjoy this time of festivities and peace on earth.

Get Ready For Winter!

Spring forward, fall back. The way most of us remember which way the clocks go when they change from British Summer Time to GMT and back again. The very concept of time ‘falling back’ can feel negative, and for many the idea of several months of gloomy afternoons and short days can be depressing, and only marginally improved by slightly lighter mornings.
Why the clock change?
Contrary to popular belief, the clock change wasn’t about giving farmers more light on winter mornings – rather, British Summer Time was first established by the Summer Time Act in 1916, after a campaign by a builder called William Willett. He was reportedly irritated with the “waste” of daylight in the early mornings of summer, and when the Act became law it enabled making better use of lighter evenings – hence the term ‘daylight saving’. In the UK, British Summer Time (BST) ends at 2am on the last Sunday of October, and heralds a period many people tolerate at best.
Seize new opportunities
But it need not be all doom and gloom. Just as in our previous article on the end of the summer, in NLP terms, it’s all about how we position things to ourselves, and when we view the season in a positive way, we are far more likely to enjoy it and make the most of it. Here are my top five strategies for seeing your way through the winter months:

  1. Look forward to the winter milestones – be it the fun of Halloween, fireworks in November, the message of Christmas with all the lights and decorations that accompany it, and then only a couple of weeks later the days get lighter again!
  2. Set yourself a target – and do some exercise. It can feel a lot harder to get out and about when it’s cold and dark, so join a gym (it will combat the extra Christmas pounds!), or start a new course, and devise a plan to make sure you stick to it. One of my clients has set herself the target of knocking ten minutes off last year’s triathlon time, with a training schedule to see her through the winter before triathlons start up again in spring. Exercise in particular will release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which combine to lift both mood and energy.
  3. Get out in the sunshine – really make the most of cold, bright, fresh days when you can, and get some sun when it shines. We need vitamin D, which we get from the sun, to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
  4. Book a holiday – it’s fantastic to have something warm and bright to look forward to!
  5. Use a UV lamp/light box if affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). If you experience SAD, you may need some extra UV light to see you through, and some people find a light box which simulates natural sunlight, helpful. Symptoms of SAD include low mood, lethargy and a sense of despair, causing those affected to find it hard to get up and feel motivated in the depth of winter, as well as craving carbohydrates and putting on weight. The causes of SAD are not entirely clear but the theory is that a lack of sunlight affects the efficiency of the hypothalamus, reducing the production of ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin, while increasing production of melatonin, causing drowsiness .                                                                                                                                                      We know from research into the placebo affect that the way we think, powerfully affects our neurophysiology, influencing the production of these hormones. NLP and hypnotherapy can give you the tools to help you to influence your neurophysiology and produce those hormones which boost mood, energy and the immune system.

Get Set for Autumn!

September is a funny month. The shops have been screaming ‘Back to School’ since before the end of the summer term in July, and meanwhile most of the country has had some time off in August (it’s been your month of Sundays), perhaps with a holiday abroad, and more time to relax. Traffic on the daily commute has generally been a lot less; the chances are your workplace was running on reduced staff and with a reduced sense of urgency, and you have had a chance to enjoy the longer evenings (it may even have been warm enough to sit outside without grabbing your coat).

Suddenly, September kicks in and that’s all thrown out of the window.  While many – parents of school-age children in particular – relish the chance for a new start, more routine and the chance to actually get things done, for others it can signal the start of a slow decline into winter, shorter hours of daylight and inclement weather, punctuated only by Christmas on the horizon…

However, you can change those perceptions. How would it feel if despite the evenings drawing in and the weather changing, the next few months looked bright, warm and exciting? In NLP terms, it’s all about how you train your brain to see, hear and feel in such a way that you’re always living the life you love whatever the weather! It’s amazing how, as your brain makes these changes your energy levels improve, you become more confident and even more creative.

 Here are three simple first steps to kick start your autumn energy:

  1. September is the start of the academic year when lots of courses begin – both daytime and evening. Find out what’s going on locally – learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. How would it feel to learn a new language, sing in a choir (there are a great variety in Bristol and a knowledge of music often not required) or explore your inner creativity with some form of art or literature. All known to be great for the brain and memory. Taking up a new sport or hobby now, will become a habit by the time the clocks change, and make it much easier to keep it up as the nights draw in! Doing something with other people is really helpful too both in terms of fun and motivation.
  2. Go out for a walk in the fresh air, and look forward to being able to throw armfuls of falling leaves in the air once they start to fall.  If your walking is limited, even going for a short distance filling your lungs with fresh air, enjoying the autumn smells and colours can be amazingly exhilarating.
  3. Book a treat for a couple of months’ time – it may be as simple as a special meal out or beauty treatment, or a long weekend away; or simply arranging to spend time with people who are important to you. It’s always good to have a glow on the horizon to look forward to.  Here are a few avenues to explore – Local leisure centres, Bristol City Council, University of the 3rd Age (No minimum or maximum age limit), local magazines even your local newsagents window where many local activities are advertised.

Remember to enjoy the now and give yourself a few moments every day to focus on the people and things you appreciate in life. Set some new goals and plan something to look forward to, and notice how an awesome autumn is beginning to unfold in front of you.

If you’re struggling to kick start the process yourself and would like some assistance give me a ring or e-mail (details below) and I’ll be delighted to help you to achieve the life you love!

NLP for Children


Neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP, brings together the mind, language and the notion of programming, or informing the brain, how the two relate to each other. In looking at how we use language to create our model of the world, NLP explores how the dynamic between mind and language affects our state of mind, behaviour and even our physiology.

This is of course just as relevant to children as to adults, with the added advantage that children’s minds are receptive to new ideas, as they have not yet lived a lifetime of interpreting the world according to received ideas which may or may not be helpful.

Parents encounter so many challenges in bringing up their children to be the best they can be. Dealing with, and rising above, their own emotions in so many circumstances. From feeling over-protective and learning to allow their children to learn from their mistakes, to managing anger and frustration when conflict arises.

NLP can help both parents and children, from baby blues following birth, through the terrible twos and the trying teens. Visualisation and ‘parts’ techniques can help with issues as diverse as lack of confidence and potty training. It can also help undo negative trains of thought that may have unknowingly crept into parents’ language, even when trying their best to be encouraging and helpful.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can help children to use their brain to better effect, right from the start, using the most appropriate language to understand and express themselves. This in turn can help engender strategies for life, and for success.

Examples of how NLP can help children include:

  • Learning ability, and supporting your child’s learning
  • Confidence and high self-esteem;
  • Setting and achieving goals
  • Developing empathy and positive socialisation
  • Maintaining both mental and physical health
  • Harmony at home, including preventing anger and fear issues, and finding win-win solutions to household disagreements.

It can help parents to parent with confidence, while tackling either general communication and behaviour patterns, or shining a spotlight on specific challenges.


Got the Running Bug?

Welcome to the second of my summer blogs following on from June’s blog on walking your way to fitness.
For this month’s article I’m going to up the ante a little, from walking to running.

The summer is full of running events, and Bristol, where we’re based, is full of runners jogging on the Downs and in the parks, making the most of our many green open spaces. In fact, Bristol has been named the running capital of the country!
Running is great, but, no surprise, can cause injuries. If you are a novice, make sure you build up slowly, with realistic targets – you can’t get to 10k without reaching 5k first. Suitable, supportive running shoes are vital; as are warming up, cooling down and stretching properly. If you are injured, or feel an old injury re-igniting, it’s important to stop and assess, instead of carrying on, potentially making it worse.
Here is a list of some of the most common (but not exhaustive) running-related injuries and their treatments. Physio is often very beneficial in treating running related conditions and in order to return to running as early as possible early intervention is advisable to prevent a chronic situation developing.

Shin splints
Feels like: Stiffness or pain in your shins
What it is: The strain and leg pain results from strong calves pulling repeatedly on weaker muscles near the shin. The muscles of the shin become larger with exercise and sometimes the sheath that surrounds the muscle does not stretch at the same rate putting pressure on the muscle – usually tibialis anterior – and causing pain. Running on concrete is likely to exacerbate the problem.
What to do about it: Cut back on your running for 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the severity, to give the tissues time to heal. You might need an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, or cold packs to reduce swelling and relieve pain. In the meantime, keep in shape by training with low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling. You should also strengthen tibialis anterior to help prevent a recurrence, such as lifting your toes up towards your shins 20 times while standing, three times on each leg.
Physio can help to release the tight tissues, guide you with regard to appropriate stretches and acupuncture can help with symptom relief. Orthotics (insoles) are often also helpful to help unload the overactive muscles.

Trochanteric Bursitis
Feels like: Soreness on the outside of your hips
What it is: Although there are many potential causes of hip pain, it’s common for the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the muscles on the side of the hips ,to become inflamed with repetitive stress. People with one leg slightly longer than the other may be more susceptible to this condition. Weak gluteal muscles and muscle imbalances around the pelvis can also cause more stress to the area, leading to inflammation and pain. Running without ensuring that you are engaging your gluteals well and without building your distance up slowly can predispose you to this condition.
What to do about it: Instead of running, ride a static bike, swim, or do some other non-weight-bearing activity for a few weeks. Strengthening your gluteals and other core muscles is essential. Start again gradually, building from a fast walk to a short jog before taking off on a 10k! Seek physio advice early to help release the tight overactive muscles which cause friction over the bursa and to show you how to strengthen the correct muscles.

Runner’s knee
Feels like: Throbbing either in front of your kneecap or to the side of or behind the knee.
What it is: Usually a low grade inflammation which is a result of friction between the layers of soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles and fascia). This is often a result of some muscles and ligaments becoming tight – commonly the quadriceps and ilio-tibial band. This can also cause low grade inflammation behind the knee cap due to altered pressure between the knee cap and femur (patello-femoral joint). Runners with weak or imbalanced thigh muscles, weak core muscles or flat feet or high insteps, are at greater risk of runner’s knee. The knee pain may occur when you’re walking downhill, doing knee bends, or during or after sitting for a long period of time.
What to do about it: Reduce or stop running, particularly avoiding hills. Change to another type of exercise such as swimming until the symptoms subside. Seek physiotherapy early, for guidance regarding changing the muscle imbalance around your knee, thighs, calves and feet and to help release tight muscles which are causing the increased friction. Acupuncture can also help to settle symptoms. Orthotics (insoles) may be beneficial if you have particularly flat feet.

Muscle Tears
Feels like: Initially it may feel like cramp which you might try to run through or it may be sudden sharp pain which stops you in your tracks. Commonly the hamstrings (muscles behind the thigh) or gastrocnemius (calf muscle). There may be a warning from the muscle of fatigue prior to either of these sensations but not always. It may also occur with a sudden increase in speed if you’re not warmed up well or again if your muscles are fatiguing.
What it is: Tears occur in the muscle fibres and this needs time to heal.
What to do about it: Rest from running for 6-8 weeks depending on the severity of the tear. Ice x 10 minutes 4-5 times a day for the 1st few days. Taping to protect the muscle from further strain is often helpful. As the tear heals gentle stretching can begin to restore the muscle length and soft tissue release from a physiotherapist will help to ensure good structural healing of the muscle. Later rehab includes strengthening the affected muscle and also other muscles in the area which will have inevitably have weakened due to disuse. Building up and maintaining general  cardio-vascular fitness by swimming will also be helpful for a successful return to running. Initially this may only be confined upper body work to avoid re-injuring the muscle.
Seek Physio input early to help with this programme of rehabilitation.

Achilles Tendonitis
Feels like: Soreness, pain and stiffness in the tendon connecting your calf to your heel.
What it is: It is a tendinopathy which is likely to begin with inflammation around the tendon sheath.
What to do about it: Rest from running until symptoms settle. Ice the tendon for 10 minutes 4-5 times a day in the early days. Use a heel wedge to take the strain off the tendon – especially if you are experiencing symptoms when walking. Taping can also be useful to reduce the load on the tendon.
As symptoms settle it is important to begin a programme of graded stretching and strengthening of the tendon and muscle.Strengthening other muscle groups is also important – strong core muscles and gluteals are important as always to help to relieve the strain on the calf muscles by driving the body forward from the pelvis.
Seek physiotherapy early for guidance regarding appropriate rehab. for you. Soft tissue release, acupuncture and ultrasound can also be helpful to encourage good structural healing of the tissues.

Morton’s Neuroma
Feels like: Pain in the ball of your foot.
What it is: Probably the least common of the conditions here. If tissue surrounding a nerve near the base of the toes thickens, it can cause tingling, numbness, or pain that radiates to surrounding areas. It may feel as though you’re treading on a marble. This condition, known as Morton’s neuroma, usually develops between the base of the third and fourth toes. It’s up to 10 times more common in women than men, possibly because women’s feet are structured differently and because women tend to wear narrow, high shoes or very flat ones with poor support.
What to do about it: Treatment varies from simply wearing roomier shoes to surgery, depending upon the severity of the neuroma. Physio can be helpful in order to assess and address muscle imbalances around the foot and lower limb which can help to relieve the pressure. If problems continue custom made orthotics (insoles) or pads that relieve pressure and absorb shock may be helpful. Make sure that your walking and running shoes have a spacious toe box. Ladies -limit your time in high heels, and if you need to wear them, travel in comfortable shoes and then slip on the more stylish pair later.

Above all remember that given the numbers of people running these days injuries are relatively few and correct footwear and a steady graded running programme will go a long way to keeping you on track and injury free.


Walk Your Way to Fitness

Welcome back to the blog! This summer I’d like to look at two fantastic summer pastimes – walking and running – depending on your age, level of fitness and any existing injuries you’re likely to prefer one over the other. In the first article I’ll look at walking – both the benefits and the potential for injuries – and follow up in July by taking it to the next stage, with jogging and running.

Walking is a wonderful way to achieve the recommended thirty minutes of exercise, at least five times a week – at any stage of life. It’s simple, free and easy, and has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. The British Heart Foundation advises people to aim to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, most days.

Before you start, however, make sure you have comfortable walking shoes or trainers, which are supportive and the right fit to avoid blisters. Make sure you’re also wearing comfortable clothes and have a backpack with snacks, water and sunscreen/waterproofs/extra layers (delete as seasonally applicable) if you’re planning to make a day of it!

To enjoy the health benefits, you’ll need to raise your heart rate to a level classed as a ‘moderate intensity aerobic activity’ – put simply, you’ll be able to talk to a friend but not sing along to your favourite song. Build up a walking plan slowly, picking up speed and distance, and make it a habit which is part of your life – walking to work or to the shops, leaving the car behind for short journeys, using the stairs instead of the lift, and so forth. Joining a walking or rambling group is a great way to keep motivated, explore new places and meet new people.

A great way to track your progress is through a pedometer or FitBit, to see how many steps you’ve walked, and with a FitBit, how high your heart rate was, how long you walked for, and how many calories you burned.

Avoiding and treating walking-related injuries

But, even with something as simple as walking, small injuries can occur, or existing conditions, if left untreated, can take the enjoyment away. Here are a few of the most common conditions, with solutions – but if any symptoms persist, physiotherapy can usually solve most of these problems quickly!

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Feels like: Tenderness on your heel or bottom of your foot

What it is: The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs from your heel bone to the ball of your foot. When this dual-purpose shock absorber and arch support is strained, small tears develop and the tissue stiffens as a protective response, causing foot pain.

What to do about it: At the first sign of stiffness in the bottom of your foot, loosen up the tissue by doing this stretch: Sit with the ankle of the injured foot across the opposite thigh. Pull your toes towards the shin with your hand until you feel a stretch in arch of your foot. Run your opposite hand along sole of foot; you should feel a taut band of tissue. Do 10 stretches, holding each for 10 seconds,relaxing the stretch for a few seconds between each one. Then stand and massage your foot by rolling the bottom of your foot over a golf ball or full water bottle. Wear shoes with an arch support, and avoid hard (concrete) surfaces – stick to paths and grass where possible when walking until your symptoms have settled.

2. Ingrown toenail

Feels like: Soreness or swelling on the sides of your toes most commonly the big toe.

What it is: Toe pain can develop when the corners or sides of your toenails grow sideways rather than forward, putting pressure on surrounding soft tissues and even growing into the skin.

What to do about it: Leave wiggle room in your shoes. You may need to go up a half size when you buy trainers, because your feet tend to swell during exercise. Use toenail clippers (not fingernail clippers or scissors) to cut straight across instead of rounding the corners when you give yourself a pedicure.

3. Bunion

Feels like: Pain on the side of your big toe

What it is: A bunion develops when the bones in the joint on the outer side of the big become misaligned, forming a painful swelling. Walkers with flat feet, high arches or stiff ankles may be more prone to develop bunions.

What to do about it: Wear shoes that are wider – especially in the toe box. Stretch your ankle and calf muscles before and after walking. Place your feet in cool water after walking to help reduce any inflammation. Gently stretch your toes whilst in the cool water.

4. Achilles tendinitis

Feels like: Pain in the back of your heel and lower calf

What it is: The Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to your heel, can be irritated by walking too much, especially if you don’t build up to it. Repeated flexing of the foot when walking up and down steep hills or on uneven terrain can also strain the tendon, triggering lower leg pain.

What to do about it: For mild cases, reduce your mileage or substitute non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming or upper-body strength training, so long as these don’t aggravate the symptoms. Avoid walking uphill, because this increases the stretch on the tendon, irritating it and making it weaker. Regular calf stretches may help prevent Achilles tendinitis, but in severe cases, limit or stop walking and place cold packs on the injured area for 10 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day, to reduce inflammation and discomfort.At this stage it is prudent to seek some physiotherapy input. When you return to walking, begin on flat surfaces and gradually increase your distance and speed and then introduce gradients.

5. Lumbar strain

Feels like: Ache in your mid to lower back

What it is: Occasionally when beginning a walking programme people experience back ache. Usually because muscles around the back are doing activity that they are not used to and often because the abdominal and gluteal (bottom) muscles are not engaging consistently.

What to do about it: For general back fitness, keep the abdominal and gluteals muscles strong. While you walk, engage your abs by pulling your belly button toward your spine as if you were trying to flatten your tummy to zip up tight jeans and gently squeeze your bottom muscles. Do this for 30 seconds every 5 minutes whilst walking and it will soon become a habit for these muscles to engage gently all the time. Stretch out your back, hamstrings and hip flexors before and after walking to help distribute the load evenly between your back and legs.

Nordic walking and Pilates are two great ways of maintaining the fitness of these ‘core’ muscles and your back – provided you begin at the right level for you.


Winter Sports Injuries


Winter sports – the thrills, and unfortunately the spills…

For those of us who love to ski or snowboard, there’s little to match the thrill of flying down a shimmering white piste, with clear blue skies above, pine trees and mountain peaks offering up a feast for the eyes, and barely a sound bar the swish of skis slicing through powder.

However, for those of us who love our winter sports but only get to do them once a year at most, it’s also a time when we suddenly make extreme physical demands on a body unused to this type of exercise, and rusty skills can make us more likely to come a cropper. So here are a few tips on how to avoid injury, and if you are injured, how to minimise the damage and heal soonest.

Taking care of your body – before, during and after 

  • Preparation is key

Spend some time at the gym. Most gyms run ski-fit courses, and these will get the quads and other key muscle groups primed for action. Attaining a higher level of general fitness will put you in a far better position to enjoy an injury-free holiday, while it’s also important to take into account any existing injuries, and their healing time, before heading off.

A good pre-ski programme at the gym will prepare you over 6-8 weeks, while if, for example, you have had knee surgery, you should take your doctor’s advice on when it will be ready for the challenge of winter sports. 

  • Heading for the slopes

Warming up each day before setting out for the cable car or ski lift will minimise the risk of injury and muscle strain – simple bending, stretching, loosening the shoulders and priming the thigh muscles will all help. Wear plenty of warm, breathable layers for insulation and remember to take plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Don’t push yourself to do “one last run” when you’re already tired. This is when accidents often happen.

  • On kit, nerves, alcohol and lifts

Firstly,check your equipment – if it’s hired, make sure it’s right for you, as injuries are staggeringly, 800% more likely to occur with hired equipment. If your own boots are 15 years old, it will almost certainly be worth replacing them or at least changing the foot beds.

If you are a nervous skier, invest in a one-to-one lesson and learn some relaxation techniques – falling on a tense body is likely to cause more injury than a more relaxed one.

Alcohol will also seriously undermine your capacities, so as enticing as it may seem, you’ll do better to leave the glühwein until you’ve safely reached base at the end of the day.

Be careful getting off chair and drag lifts, especially if travelling with someone of an incompatible weight or skill level – the vast majority of knee injuries happen here, as one skier or boarder accidentally bumps another out of the way, leading to a twist or fall on dismounting.

Finally, make sure you wear a helmet and goggles, test your bindings and know your limits.

  • If you are injured… 

Some of the most common skiing and snow-boarding injuries are as follows:

  • Errant skis and bad falls can cause knee injuries, particularly to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • Using your arms to break a fall can cause injuries to the rotator cuff or shoulder dislocations, while skiers often injure thumbs due to holding ski-poles during an accident.
  • Collisions can result in head injuries like concussions as well as bruising, pulled muscles and ligament tears.

Sledging is especially dangerous lying on your stomach heading face first, as collisions are the most common type of injury, whether with a rock, tree or another sledger, so it’s advisable to sit upright facing forward and use a sledge with steering controls – and to sledge on a clear, obstacle-free hill.

In all cases, it is vital to seek immediate help and follow the P.R.I.C.E. recovery protocol if injured: Protection (such as strapping up the injury immediately to immobilise it).

Rest with the limb elevated and supported comfortably.

Ice – to reduce swelling and bruising.

Do also see a doctor and invest in physio at your resort, and follow their advice in the days and weeks that follow, with a follow-up visit to your own GP and/or physio on your return.


New Year, New You!

new year resolution

New Year, New You!

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? The New Year has started, and, as many of us are still feeling bloated and slightly queasy from a possible over-indulgence in rich food, late nights and alcohol, we start January full of good intentions.

Lose a stone. No alcohol. Quit caffeine. Stop smoking. Throw the chocolates out with the recycling. Early nights. Don’t shout at the children; hold doors open for people. Let go of grudges and smile more. Our top wish-lists for New Year’s Resolutions include weight loss, exercise and aspects of personal development, ranging from new hobbies and skills to being a better, nicer or happier person.

The problem is, after that initial burst of enthusiasm, often coupled with feelings of self-disgust at the size of our thighs/smell of cigarettes on our clothes/that jaded hungover feeling, life gets in the way. Statistics show that of the 26.5 million of us who made resolutions on the 1st January, 78% of us will have given up within ten days, and 2% by the end of New Year’s Day!

Will power is especially hard to achieve when we’re tired, bored, over-worked or frustrated – which often kick in as we settle back into our routines, at a cold, dark time of year renowned for its lack of fun and sparkle.

The GOOD NEWS is – You CAN do it!

It is possible to stay on track and make permanent changes in our habits. Here are several simple and practical things you can do to make your resolution work, hour by hour and day by day.

Start small and aim above all for consistency. If you set your goal in small, incremental steps, you are far less likely to be setting yourself up for disappointment and all the negative feelings about yourself that go with it. So, for example, aim to lose 1lb a week for 12 weeks instead of embarking on a crash diet that will leave you feeling half-starved and reaching for the chocolate after two days. Substitute the biscuit jar with a lovely bright bowl of healthy fruit where you’ll clearly see it.

Make a list of all the benefits and turn your resolution into a positive, rewarding experience – getting into those jeans that have been in the wardrobe for 6 months; no more stale cigarette smells on your breath and clothes; waking with a clear head and renewed energy.

Use a positive mantra e.g. ‘I want to eat delicious, fresh, healthy fruit’ rather than ‘I have to stop eating that chocolate even though I want to’. ‘I want to breathe fresh air and have clear comfortable lungs’ instead of ‘I have to give up smoking and fight the cravings’.

Keep a diary. This will enable you to celebrate your achievements, and put any lapses into perspective. Accept that there may be lapses from time to time, be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you have the occasional slip.

Two’s company! Any resolution will work better if you can involve a partner or friend to help both of you keep on track.

Formulate an ‘if-then’ plan for when and where you’ll activate your resolution – i.e. ‘IF it’s the afternoon and I’m craving chocolate, THEN I will eat a piece of fruit instead.’

Formulate an ‘if-then’ plan for how you’ll handle obstacles – i.e. ‘IF I don’t have any fruit to hand, THEN I will drink a glass of water and THEN walk to the shop and get some fruit.’

If you feel you may need a bit more assistance, NLP and hypnotherapy can help you access powerful additional tools to keep you motivated, boost your will power and resolve cravings. Do give me a call on 0117 907 7722 or send an email to, and I’d be delighted to talk it through with you and help you achieve your goals.

Most important of all have a Happy and Healthy 2016!


A right pain in the neck (or shoulders, or back)

back pain

If you work for a large company, you will probably have had some basic training about avoiding back, shoulder and neck pain, related headaches, and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). This probably included diagrams or videos around good posture and chair/desk position (if sitting at a computer for much of the day), or how to lift and carry or operate machinery safely (if engaged in more manual work).

However, you may well have glanced at the information once or twice during your induction and then quietly forgotten about it, and if you work for a smaller company, or are self-employed, not really thought about it much at all.

Sounding familiar? Then this article is for you!

A complex joint

The shoulder consists of several joints, connected by various ligaments, tendons and muscles. Its’ large range of movement is what enables us to do so much with our arms – and this is also the reason so many of us experience shoulder pain, as well as related neck and back pain.

Chronic pain in the neck and shoulder area tend to stem from prolonged, repetitive or awkward movements, which put strain on the muscles and tendons in the upper body. Activities which cause this kind of pain or RSI injury can include use of industrial machinery, using a computer mouse, swiping items at the supermarket for long periods, overhead activities such as painting and plastering or carrying and lifting heavy loads.

Neck pain and headaches are often linked to desk-based work: craning sideways at a computer screen, having a desk or chair position which puts strain on the neck, cradling a phone between the neck and shoulder, or spending long periods hunched over mobile phones and tablets.

Relieving the strain

The good news is, there is a lot you can do to avoid putting strain on your neck, back and shoulders. All sedentary workers should get up and take a break from sitting for ten minutes every couple of hours. Simply by making phone calls in  standing, going to make a drink,  doing some filing, discussing projects with colleagues or other work away from the desk will make a big difference.  A 30 second micro-break, to do some stretches and  have a quick walk around the office every half hour, is really important to boost the circulation. Movement refreshes the brain as well as the muscles, so the boss shouldn’t complain!

When sitting at your desk, bear in mind that your:

  • feet should be firmly planted and flat on the floor or on a stable footrest;
  • Knees should be slightly lower than your hips;
  • elbows should be supported and close to your body;
  • wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms;
  • lower back (the lumbar region) should be supported;
  • shoulders should be relaxed;

Finally, check your work station is set up correctly, with everything within easy reach, your screen at arms’ length and the top of the screen just below eye level, centred in front of you.

Bear in mind that fatigue sets in through the day, so we tend to slouch, losing our good posture and increasing strain on the body. Taking a break really helps. In the longer term, counteracting hours spent at the desk with stretching and strengthening exercises such as Pilates, yoga or tai chi is also very beneficial. Some cardio-vascular exercise is also essential – a 10 minute brisk walk at lunch time and 30 minutes walking several times week keeps you fit and has the added bonus of burning off a few calories.

Neck, shoulder, back and RSI pain is cumulative but effectively helped by physio

These types of injuries have a habit of creeping up on us, and sometimes need a helping hand to send them on their way, along with some changes in lifestyle and habit. Habits are often not corrected overnight, and it can take some time to repair the stresses and strains which have built up over the years.

Physio is especially effective in cases of desk related tightness and pain, repetitive strain injuries and injuries caused by lifting or carrying. If you are finding it increasingly uncomfortable to do your job effectively, and would like some help, please get in touch!


When confidence fails you… all is not lost


Confidence. The sense that you can do anything you set your heart and mind on; that you can overcome the obstacles which may be in your way; that you can triumph, no matter what. It is something we are born with – we need it, in order to survive – but is also something which life’s obstacles can knock out of us.

For that reason, we might find the very idea of a particular situation so scary that we simply cannot imagine being able to do it. To walk into a room and introduce ourselves happily to a stranger; stand up and give a talk; perform at an interview or in an exam, or ask the boss for a pay rise or promotion. In the case of generalised poor self-confidence and low self-esteem, we might simply feel that we can’t ever achieve our goals, or that we are not worthy of love or praise. Low self-esteem can often be compounded by related problems, such as comfort eating, which then lead to an even worse sense of self-worth in terms of weight gain and subsequent negative body image.

People with low self-confidence will often feel shy, uneasy or uncomfortable in certain situations; unsure of their needs or feelings, and are likely to have negative thoughts about themselves and their abilities.  The causes can be specific or general – ongoing low confidence can be the result of an individual’s early life experiences, while fear of a certain situation may have been sparked by a particular bad experience in adulthood.

Confidence issues can be resolved.

The good news is, confidence issues can be resolved, as everyone has the ability and skills to enhance their self-confidence. It is often the case that people are simply unsure of how to tackle it, or believe it can’t be done.

The combination of Hypnotherapy and NLP is a really effective way to get to the heart of the problem, as it cuts straight to the subconscious, overriding all the negative messages that have become habitual. It isn’t a magic wand – it does not suddenly turn you into a different person – although many people experience change more quickly than they believed possible. The therapy allows you to forget the unhelpful beliefs you had about yourself. For example that you could not interview well because you fluffed an important interview in the past, or that you were unworthy of love because you had experienced rejection by a parent or other significant person in your life.

Hypnotherapy and NLP work on your subconscious mind helping you to rediscover the innate confidence you were born with, putting you back in the driving seat by reminding your subconscious of the qualities and abilities you possess which will enable your confidence to grow. These positive thoughts and behaviours will then become a natural part of you – happening without you even realising. You can learn to feel confident again, in order that you can live the life that you love!

If you would like help to improve your confidence or self-esteem, through hypnotherapy or NLP, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.