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Posts Tagged 'stress less'

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

I applaud our Prime Minister’s recent sacking of former Government minister Meka Whaitiri following allegations of verbal abuse and physical assault. Jacinda Arden acted quickly and with great strength—signalling that regardless of any possible political repercussions to herself, she would not, could not, will not tolerate abuses of power.

Workplace bullying and assault is reaching epidemic proportions and past experience has taught me that very often the perpetrators are adept at avoiding the consequences.

My own experience of workplace bullying included a former manager yelling at me in an open plan environment and threatening to “smash my fucking head in.” And no, he didn’t lose his job. And no, there were no consequences. But what I did learn was, in the absence of anyone else stepping in, was how to stick up for myself and no longer tolerate such abuses of power. It’s not easy, but it does become less painful to deal with, as life goes on.

In the case of my angry out-of-control boss, who was enraged because I wanted to keep a job seeker, who had applied for a role with us, informed, I simply said, “I know you’re angry, but I’m going to ask you one more time, is my candidate going to get an interview?” I was terrified, but somehow my voice was calm, despite the volcano of emotions exploding through my body. I took a calculated punt—he wouldn’t really act on his threat to smash my head in, not in an open-plan environment with 100 + staff, would he? No, he didn’t—but what he did begin to do was systematically attempt to derail my career. As I reflect back now, at the time of his outburst, not one person came to my aid.

A similar experience happened to me when I went to a new high school following my parent’s divorce. Prior to this, I had attended an all-girls private Catholic school. Now, I was going to a mixed, or co-ed, public school with kids from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. A boy, perhaps around 14 or 15 years-old came up to me, scrunched up some paper he was holding in his hand and dropped it at my feet. “Pick it up,” he demanded.

At that moment, that moment of choice, I recall thinking, ‘I would rather die than suffer the humiliation of being controlled and bullied’. “No, I said, more calmly than I felt. “I didn’t drop it, so I won’t pick it up.” And at that moment he lost his power, and at that moment he, perhaps, respected me. He grinned, and tossed his head slightly, as if to say, “yeah, you’re okay.” And he left me alone after that.

Perhaps I was lucky. Lucky no one touched me. Perhaps, like animals and predators who can sense fear, perhaps my defiance, my determination, my refusal to disempowered or disrespected created an energetic field of protection. I don’t know, but what I do know, is that these bullying behaviors didn’t magically disappear from my life. I continue to face situations where bullying, aggression, rage, or silent manipulation are present. Sadly, it’s an epidemic.

I’m sorry to say, abusive behavior appears to have become ‘normal’ behavior and with that is the implicit belief that bullies are immune to prosecution.

But Jacinda Arden’s stand today is an important one. It sends a strong signal that bullying behavior will not be tolerated—and more than this, that it will be punished. My hope is that as our leaders take a stronger, united stand, people will begin to have less tolerance for nastiness.

 

Whose behavior are kids modeling?

Even more troubling is the prevalence of bullying in schools—and some of it is truly horrific, including the rape of children as young as five, by older students.

  If you’ve been following the #BelieveSurvivors, or # MeToo movement, sexual assault is very much in the forefront of people’s minds.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has accused Donald’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. Her disturbing but, as yet, unproven allegation is the cause of a monumental political headache for the President.

Equally worrying, is the news I received recently that in some instances of bullying, teenagers are spreading rumors that girls have been raped, when no rape has occurred, in an attempt to humiliate, control, or punish.

Of course, there is much goodness in the world to celebrate, people that fight for justice, and positive advancements that are being made by people who are waging war on abuse, but it’s important to continue to spotlight issues and importantly, to provide solutions and support to those who suffer needlessly.

I applaud the work of women like Jess Tyson, who at the time of writing this, is the reigning Miss World NZ. Tyson has revealed a childhood involving alleged sexual abuse at the hands of someone known to her family. She has made it her personal mission to help young victims of abuse.

“I know that the topic of sexual abuse or violence is hard for people to talk about or heal from and people are often too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

“I would like to share my story to young New Zealanders that if they have been victims of any type of sexual violence there is support available to help them heal from it and I want to be there to help them,” Tyson says.

So many people who have experienced bullying experience great trauma and this leave a lasting stain on their soul. Personally and professionally, I believe and aim to help others believe that we can refuse to allow ourselves to become victims. We can refuse to let others rob our power. We can refuse to allow bullies and sexual predators, to steal our lives.

“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others,” a woman wrote in the impact statement.

It takes great strength of spirit, great resilience, great determination—as people like Oprah Winfrey model in bucketloads to refuse to be a victim. But we can do it. We must do it.

United we can stand up to bullying, threats, and tormenting—in all its guises. But to do this, we have to be the change we want to see and empower each other.

 

Are you, or do you know of someone being bullied at school?

D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, provides the following advice

Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use social media or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings.

It’s important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to “tough out.” The effects can be serious and affect kids’ sense of safety and self-worth. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as suicides and school shootings.

Why Kids Bully

Kids bully for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they pick on kids because they need a victim — someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker, or just acts or appears different in some way — to feel more important, popular, or in control. Although some bullies are bigger or stronger than their victims, that’s not always the case.

Sometimes kids torment others because that’s the way they’ve been treated. They may think their behavior is normal because they come from families or other settings where everyone regularly gets angry and shouts or calls each other names. Some popular TV shows even seem to promote meanness — people are “voted off,” shunned, or ridiculed for their appearance or lack of talent.

Signs of Bullying

Unless your child tells you about bullying — or has visible bruises or injuries — it can be difficult to figure out if it’s happening.

But there are some warning signs. Parents might notice kids acting differently or seeming anxious, or not eating, sleeping well, or doing the things they usually enjoy. When kids seem moodier or more easily upset than usual, or when they start avoiding certain situations (like taking the bus to school), it might be because of a bully.

If you suspect bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. For instance, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What do you think that person should have done?” This might lead to questions like: “Have you ever seen this happen?” or “Have you ever experienced this?” You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age.

Let your kids know that if they’re being bullied or harassed — or see it happening to someone else — it’s important to talk to someone about it, whether it’s you, another adult (a teacher, school counselor, or family friend), or a sibling.

Helping Kids

If your child tells you about being bullied, listen calmly and offer comfort and support. Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it’s happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.

Sometimes kids feel like it’s their own fault, that if they looked or acted differently it wouldn’t be happening. Sometimes they’re scared that if the bully finds out that they told, it will get worse. Others are worried that their parents won’t believe them or do anything about it. Or kids worry that their parents will urge them to fight back when they’re scared to.

Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Emphasize that it’s the bully who is behaving badly — not your child. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.

Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation. They are often in a position to monitor and take steps to prevent further problems.

Because the term “bullying” might be used to describe such a wide range of situations, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. What is advisable in one situation may not be appropriate in another. Many factors — such as the age of the kids involved, the severity of the situation, and the specific type of bullying behaviors — will help determine the best course of action.

Take it seriously if you hear that the bullying will get worse if the bully finds out that your child told or if threats of physical harm are involved. Sometimes it’s useful to approach the bully’s parents. But in most cases, teachers or counselors are the best ones to contact first. If you’ve tried those methods and still want to speak to the bullying child’s parents, it’s best to do so in a context where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.

Most schools have bullying policies and anti-bullying programs. In addition, many states have bullying laws and policies. Find out about the laws in your community. In certain cases, if you have serious concerns about your child’s safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.

Advice for Kids

Parents can help kids learn how to deal with bullying if it happens. For some parents, it may be tempting to tell a kid to fight back. After all, you’re angry that your child is suffering and maybe you were told to “stand up for yourself” when you were young. Or you may worry that your child will continue to suffer at the hands of the bully, and think that fighting back is the only way to put a bully in his or her place.

But it’s important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. It can quickly escalate into violence, trouble, and someone getting injured. Instead, it’s best to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult.

Here are some other strategies to discuss with kids that can help improve the situation and make them feel better:

  • Avoid the bully and use the buddy system. Use a different bathroom if a bully is nearby and don’t go to your locker when there is nobody around. Make sure you have someone with you so that you’re not alone with the bully. Buddy up with a friend on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess — wherever the bully is. Offer to do the same for a friend.
  • Hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Sometimes kids find it useful to practice “cool down” strategies such as counting to 10, writing down their angry words, taking deep breaths, or walking away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to teach kids to wear a “poker face” until they are clear of any danger (smiling or laughing may provoke the bully).
  • Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, then walk away. Practice ways to ignore the hurtful remarks, like acting uninterested or texting someone on your cell phone. By ignoring the bully, you’re showing that you don’t care. Eventually, the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you.
  • Tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school can all help stop bullying.
  • Talk about it. Talk to someone you trust, such as a guidance counselor, teacher, sibling, or friend. They may offer some helpful suggestions, and even if they can’t fix the situation, it may help you feel a little less alone.

Restoring Confidence

Dealing with bullying can erode a child’s confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships.

Provide a listening ear about difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good parts of their day, and listen equally attentively. Make sure they know you believe in them and that you’ll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.

 

Are you being bullied at work?

Sometimes the best cure if to free yourself from a toxic situation and make a move to career nirvana You’ll find plenty of help in my book Mid-Life Career Rescue: (The Call For Change): How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you  love, before it’s too late.  Available in paperback or for immediate download for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

In Mid-Life Career Rescue I share my own personal story of career reinvention and the strategies that have worked for my clients.

High Sobriety: Changing Our Relationship With Alcohol

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

‘An ugly statue sits where your spirit should be.”

~Rumi

 

Do you know what the hottest trend in the social scene is at the moment—sobriety! Yes, folks, Sobriety is the new black. But some habitual drinkers are skeptical—others tragically, sometimes fatally, addicted. Many people struggle to control alcohol because they’re not motivated by sobriety. But being sober isn’t just about not drinking.

Sobriety is achieved by putting energy and effort toward something you really desire.

Knowing why you want something is just as important as knowing what you want.

Why do you want to control your drinking? To feel better about yourself? To achieve wellbeing goals? Because you’re afraid that drinking alcohol is taking over you and your life? To inspire others? Because you’re curious that what you’ve been hearing is true—life really is better sober? Or something else?

I explore ways to help you discover your driving purpose in my self-empowerment books, but first here are just a few of the many benefits of achieving sobriety:

  • Improved mental health and wellbeing
  • Better physical health
  • Improved emotional health
  • Elevated spiritual health
  • Saves money
  • Enriches your relationships
  • Is an indispensable part of fulfillment
  • Energizes you
  • Liberates you
  • Will change your life and the lives of those who matter most to you
  • Higher vibration and an increased connection to your higher soul self

 

Being sober sounds great, and it is. But the challenge is that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing it’s awesome to be drunk. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, many of the people we look up to, including writers, singers, and even our political leaders have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol—no wonder it’s hard to control our drinking or implement laws aimed at reducing alcohol harm.

But if it’s cool to be high, why do so many of us want to quit? Why do thousands of people sign on for Dry July or make New Year’s resolutions to lose the booze only to be coerced or bullied into drinking again?

Giving up drinking can feel like losing your best friend, even your lover—until you remind yourself how alcohol is a  fickle companion who lets you down again and again.

Sobriety, now there’s a forever friend.

She won’t turn sour, she won’t piss you off, or get mad at you, and she won’t rob you blind. Sobriety won’t hijack your brain and make you say and do things you’ll wildly regret in the wake of hangover hell.

Sobriety is not seedy or unpleasant. Sobriety is a sophisticated, serene, stabilizer in a world gone mad.

And, sobriety doesn’t always mean giving up booze for good.

 

Sober

1. Synonyms

2. Not drunk

3. Thoughtful, steady, down-to-earth and level-headed

4. Serene, earnest

5. Not addicted

 

Thoughtful, serene, earnest—dependable—who doesn’t want a friend like that?

Sadly, the opposite is also true. Some of my best, most trusted friends turn into tyrants, either at the time of drinking or in the days that follow. These are just a few of the changes I notice when they drink alcohol:

• Overly critical

• Short-tempered

• Tyrannical

• Moody

• Solemn

• Angry

• Silent

• Withdrawn

 

Unlike alcohol-drenched friends, sober friends can be trusted.

 

Alcohol Unmasked

Do you know what’s in your drink? Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is.

Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. Yes, folks, everything can really go up in flames when you drink.

I fondly remember Christmases spent at my grandmother’s and the excitement we all felt when a match was held against the rum-soaked Christmas pudding and it burst into plumes of fire.

For some reason, until researching my books, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, and Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol I never made the connection that booze was a flammable substance I poured down my throat.

Ethanol is also used in some countries instead of gasoline in cars and other engines. In Brazil, for example, ethanol fuel made from sugar cane provides 18 percent of the country’s fuel for cars.

In short, the alcohol or ethanol found in your favorite beer, wine, and spirits is a poison, masquerading as a happy drink. It’s so toxic that, when consumed too quickly or in huge quantities, your body’s default position is to expel it—usually in a totally unglamorous technicolor spray of vomit.  That’s if you’re lucky.

Alcohol poisoning can, and does, cause death—both directly and indirectly through liver disease, breast cancer, and a staggering amount of other alcohol-related diseases. We’ll explore the havoc caused by booze, as well as how sobriety leads to nirvana in the chapter, Health Havoc or Health Nirvana?

Yet, despite all the risks and dire health warnings, alcohol seems such a benign substance. Perhaps it’s the allure of its origins—a uniquely natural process.

Alcohol is formed when oxygen deprived yeast ferments natural sugars found in fruits, grains, and other substances. For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, cider from the sugar in apples, and most vodka from the sugar in fermented grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat (though you can also use potatoes, fruits or even just sugar.)

Many people use alcohol as a way to self-medicate their way through life’s ups and downs. Peer into the history of alcohol and you’ll find that its medical origins enjoy a good pedigree. Gin mixed with tonic containing quinine, for example, was historically used to treat malaria.

 

“So it’s totally good for you,” writes one enthusiastic supporter in an alcohol forum.

Yeah, if you’ve got malaria perhaps, but not if you’re just sick and dog-tired of living.

Alcohol is classed as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug. That definition on its own may sound just like what you’re craving until you discover the true impact. Sedative-hypnotic drugs depress the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses.

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so flash, especially if you’re prone to knocking back a few too many drinks. Your central nervous system controls a majority holding of the key functions of your body and mind. The CNS consists of two parts: your brain and your spinal cord.

As you know, the brain is the chief conductor of your thoughts, interpreting your external environment, and coordinating body movement and function, both consciously and unconsciously. Complex functions, including how you think and feel, and maintaining homeostasis, a relatively stable balance between all the interdependent elements in your body, are directly attributable to different parts of your brain.

Your spinal cord with its network of sensitive nerves acts as a conduit for signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

You definitely don’t want to mess with the way this important duo functions. But every time you ingest alcohol you do, weakening their ability to perform like virtuosos, interfering with maintaining a healthy balance and the finely tuned harmony which is so vital to your health, performance, and effectiveness, and causing all systems in your body to play horribly off key.

Would you love to possess an outstanding ability in your field? Excel in your chosen profession? Tap into higher knowledge? Hone a much-loved or admired skill? Be universally admired? Many people think alcohol aids the fulfillment of these desires—until they realize their beliefs were deceptively wrong.

Sobriety on the other hand… now there’s a different story.

 

It’s not all bad, right?

At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant inducing feelings of euphoria, optimism, and gregariousness. Everything looks beautiful, your belief in yourself, your talents, and your ability elevates like a seductive piece of music. Your inhibitions float away, suddenly you imagine yourself to be far better than you really feel. Shyness disappears, in its place talkativeness.

For a little while.

But pour more and more drinks down your throat,  knock back liters of your favorite elixir and you’ll quickly find yourself confronted by the truth. Alcohol is trouble. I talk more about this (as well as the joys of sobriety) in my interview with Melinda Hammond—https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/

Quite simply, alcohol knocks the life out of you. The more you drink, the higher the likelihood you’ll become drowsy. Recall the drunk in the corner, slouched against the wall, or the once vivacious life of the party, barely able to hold her head in her hands, as she sits slumped at the bar. I’ve been there—it’s a predictable rite of passage. In a culture that values drinking, this is normal.

Normal but definitely not glamorous, hip or cool.

But things get worse. Sometimes much, worse. Your breathing naturally slows into a state called respiratory depression. It can become exceedingly shallow or worse, stop entirely—what’s truly frightening is you have absolutely no control. No one chooses to fall into an alcohol-fuelled coma, but this is exactly what happens to far too many people.

Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. And, tragically, far too many beautiful people needlessly die this way.

Can I scare you sober? It’s not my agenda, but I do know this—that’s exactly what happened to Amy Winehouse. And it’s exactly what’s happened to a great many other talented, beautiful, smart people. People who only wanted to feel high, but never intended to die.

As well as its acute and potentially lethal sedative effects at high doses, alcohol undermines every organ in the body and these effects depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over time.

We’ll examine the dangers of drinking both large and small alcoholic beverages over a short period of time in the chapter, Binge Drinking Blindness.

We’ll also dive deeper into what constitutes safe drinking, including analyzing what constitutes a standard drink and why health authorities want you to control your drinking—assuming you don’t want to kick the alcohol habit for good.

But first, let’s stop to consider, how natural is alcohol really?

 

What’s Hidden in Your Drink?

Ethanol made be created via a naturally occurring process, but that’s not the end of the production cycle. The other thing to be mindful of is all the other hidden dangers lurking in your drinks.

Peer a little closer and you’ll find all sorts of nasty additives—not to mention toxic sprays, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and other things that infiltrate many crops. But you won’t find many of these disclosed on the labels.

Sorry to spoil the party.

Health gurus cite dangerous levels of sulfites or sulphites (as it’s spelled in New Zealand) and warn of harmful side-effects, particularly for those with a low tolerance.

The term sulfites is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking (and most food industries) for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays an important role in preventing oxidization and maintaining a wine’s freshness. When used in high levels, because it’s considered harmful, it must legally be disclosed on product labels.

To be fair, many foods also contain sulfites. Some people claim the preservative is nothing to be alarmed by—unless of course, you include yourself in the numbers of people who are allergic. Sulfites cause bloating and itching in sulfite-sensitive people. Does your beloved have a beer gut or sulphite bloating?

Histamine High?

Some studies suggest sulfites and other additives, including compounds such as histamines and tannins, are connected to the pounding headaches many of us suffer after drinking. That, and our ballooning weight.

Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer are histamine-rich.

As the author and psychologist Doreen Virtue explains in her excellent book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, many people binge drink when stressed, but most don’t realize that some of the excess weight may be attributed to stress-hormones and neurotransmitter responses. These biochemicals, Virtue says, are triggered by the fact when you’re stressed you often binge on food and drinks to which you may unknowingly be allergic to, or which are intrinsically unhealthy.

As I’ve mentioned, any product that undergoes fermentation contains high levels of histamine. What I didn’t know was that these histamines trigger allergic reactions in our body, especially if we’re under a lot of stress.

Histamines get you both ways, not only occurring in the food and alcohol you drink but also because when you’re allergic to something your body releases its own histamine, says Virtue. “Stress produces histamine. We’re all naturally allergic to stress,” she says.

When you consume a diet that’s high in histamine or histamine-inducing foods, your body becomes overwhelmed. Add a stressful lifestyle to the mix and it’s no wonder you feel less than perky.

Histamines are also manufactured and released by our bodies not only when we’re stressed but also when we’re dehydrated. Again, alcohol, because it magnifies dehydration, makes things worse.

Virtue explains, “The trouble is that histamine produces uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, itchy skin, profuse sweating, hot flashes, runny or stuffy nose, and feeling cold all the time, as well as low blood pressure, arrhythmia, anxiety, and depression.”

Nice.

No wonder, we start to look and feel better when we lose the booze.

Other addictive beverages, like coffee and sugar-laden drinks, also trigger histamine reactions. The net result is a ‘histamine high.’ This boosted energy and elation you experience is always short-lived and is always followed by an energy crash, plus other painful symptoms discussed above.

Before publishing her findings Virtue decided to test her theory and embark on a 30-day histamine-free diet.

“Within two days of going ‘low-histamine,’ I felt a youthful energy and exuberance that I had never experienced before. I felt well. I felt happy. And I knew it was due to the low-histamine diet… you cannot return to the old ways of bingeing upon histamine once you realize the process behind these binges.”

Sugar Rush Anyone?

Submerged in many alcoholic drinks are dangerous and highly addictive levels of sugar. Research collated in a New York Times article stated, “Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.”   

Latest research revealed in The New Zealand Listener in 2018 reveals the physiological and neurological reasons your brain makes you crave sugar.  I share some of these findings in the chapter Sweet Misery. It’s only since researching and writing this book that I realized I was more addicted to sugar than alcohol.

Whew! That’s a relief. But it’s also not—because both are tough habits to crack. Tough, but not impossible. Knowledge is power, right?

In summary, not only is alcohol a highly addictive poison, but your cravings, your weight gain, low energy levels and less-than-optimal mental and emotional health may be fuelled as much by additives and sugar, as it is ethanol or alcohol itself.

You can heal your life and it begins with examining the facts. Consider becoming an amateur sleuth and adopting the role of an investigative journalist. Discover how alcohol is made, including all the artificial things that are added to many products to make it tastier and more alluring—and potentially more dangerous to your health.

Perhaps this may be all the motivation you need to develop a healthy intolerance for alcohol.

Is Your Drinking a Problem?

“Not everyone who has a drinking problem will be able to see it,” says recovering alcoholic and author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, Anne Dowsett-Johnston.

Perhaps you’re read what a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald refers to as a ‘grey-area drinker’ – neither a falling over-over drunk, but nor is your relationship with booze healthy.

Is your drinking already cause for concern? How do you know if you have a real problem, versus a temporary itch that you’re using alcohol to scratch?

“If you want to know if you’re getting into trouble, ask yourself … are you drinking to numb? To numb feelings, to numb stress, to numb depression or anxiety?’” Dowsett Johnston says.

Alcohol makes us love life, we’re told. If this is true, why aren’t we a happier lot? Burnout, stress, anxiety have become worldwide epidemics—and with them alcohol and food addictions. We’re either eating or drinking our way to happiness—or both.

Granted, not everyone has a problem with alcohol. Some people say there are four types of drinkers:

• Light or non

• Weekend-non binge

• Weekend drinkers who get drunk

• Heavy drinkers where every night is party night

The problem with those in the latter two categories may not be the booze, but maladaptive attempts to mask the causal factors.

Addictions and consistent alcohol abuse, in particular, are essentially attempts to escape pain. The nature and causal factors of this pain and the scale of dependency will vary in specifics and severity from person to person. It could be the pain of not fitting in, the pain of boredom, or the pain of deep, unresolved trauma.

We all suffer painful experiences—but not everyone has learned to cope in a way that promotes, not depletes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, health and happiness.

Instead, too often developing and becoming dependent on unhealthy coping techniques becomes the norm—a norm that creates even more problems.

“Alcohol abuse can lead to major health problems—and can affect your ability to learn and function well.” says neuroscientist Dr. Susan Tapert.

 

If you’re going to successfully kick or modify the drink habit you’ll need some pretty compelling reasons to sustain your decision.

Many of us have bought into the cultural myth that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol makes us happy, cool, popular. But what if the opposite is also true? What if everything you have been told is a lie?

The truth about alcohol is that it is a highly addictive poison. Some people can handle it, but millions of people can’t. There’s no shame in admitting alcohol has you by its tail.

Booze impacts people differently. Your weight, height, the water composition in your body, your social group, unresolved traumas, and a whole host of other interesting factors all impact how quickly and how often you drink.

Do you truly know how it impacts you?

Do you become depressed or teary—sharing your tales of sadness, or wailing songs of melancholy,  with anyone close enough to hear?

Perhaps alcohol gives you the confidence boost you lack or dulls the thunder of social anxiety.

Do you become gregarious, hyper-friendly—willing and ready to go to bed with anybody?

Perhaps you become impulsive—driving recklessly at great speed or daring yourself to achieve impossible physical feats, like diving through the air or surfing dangerously across a crowd of strangers.

Or does alcohol summon forth the warrior, the mutinous murderer or the vengeful vixon? Under the influence do you harm the ones you love? As you’ve read, even good people are capable of unfathomable brutality and even murder.

“There is no inexplicable defect in our personalities, no elusive flaw in our bodies. Alcohol is simply a highly addictive drug,” writes Annie Gracie in her book This Naked Mind. “We find it hard to accept that we are all drinking the same addictive poison.

Alcohol weaves an often unpredictable, yet foreseeable path of harm in us all. Individual differences in brain chemistry, lifestyle choices, stress levels, upbringing, peer pressure, group-think and other factors trigger impulsivity, aggression, depression, and other emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes—all of which are seemingly beyond our control.

Alcohol changes who you are. These changes are hard, but not impossible, to predict.

“Anyone of us could be here,” a prison-officer once told me while I was working in the bowels of a maximum-security prison. “Take Hemi,” he says, gesturing to a young, good-looking guy aged eighteen, now in jail for life.  “He got pissed, got into a fight and the guy wound up dead.”

Yep, I know that story well.  I also know intimately the wide and bewildering range of effects triggered by alcohol abuse. Winding up in bed with strangers, euphoria which turns to dread, closeness that turns to rage, and feeling I no longer wanted to live—truly believing how peaceful it would be to throw myself from a cliff and fly through the sky. To die. I also know that’s the demmon of alochol talking – weakening my inhibitions and stoking the fantasy of relief from pain.

 

Take a moment and make a list of everything drinking steals or has stolen from you.

Here are a few areas to consider:

• Harmonious relationships?

• Happiness?

• Career success?

• Custody of your children?

• Liberty and freedom?

• Security and safety?

• Sanity and peace of mind?

• Health and well-being?

• Your waistline?

• Money?

• Or something else?

 

For example, many people have either perpetuated or experienced domestic violence, been hospitalized, lost custody of their children, derailed a much-loved career, destroyed their most important relationships, suffered from an inoperable disease caused by alcohol abuse, nearly died—or did.

Recent prison statistics reported in the New Zealand Herald revealed that over 54% of offenders have addiction issues, with 53 percent of women and 15 percent of men have experienced sexual assault. Dig deeper and it’s not hard to see alcohols role.

 

Controlling Alcohol and the Triggers that Compel You to Drink Takes Vigilance

‘There’s so much marketing about alcohol, but I can’t see any signs warning people of alcohol harm,” I said to the woman at my local electorate office.

“They’re silent,” she said.

“They don’t exist,” I replied.

It makes you wonder. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Why?

 

Why is that you can’t escape the continual barrage of marketing messages inviting you to drink? Could it be there so much money spent on reactively fixing alcohol fall out and none left for proactive health initiatives—including education?

But you can right the imbalance and become more mindful of alcohol harm.

People who go to AA meetings, or other sobriety meet-ups, are continually reminded of how alcohol has no place in their life.

Many people who successfully control alcohol find other ways to remain vigilant.  For example, I counteract all the positive messages the booze barons and happy drunks spin about the wonders of booze by constantly reminding myself of the negative aspects of drinking.

I also remind myself that alcohol is a poison dressed up as lolly water, that it’s a neurotoxin, and that it makes me feel flat, discouraged and depressed. Affirming the negative is a simple way to counteract and rebalance the positive marketing spin.

As I shared in the opening of this book, keeping a Sobriety Journal is one of many strategies I share in this book, which works for me.

When I first created my Sobriety Journal I brainstormed and bullet-pointed some of the areas in which my excessive drinking was becoming problematic, personally and professionally.

As you read through this list give some thought to your own experiences.

 

Negative Physical Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Depression

Anxiety

Blackouts

Despondency

Cognitive impairments

Memory loss

Fearing for my safety

Negative Financial Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Reduced savings

Sucked away money that could be used to repay debt or diverted for a massage, flowers, beauty

Reduced productivity and work effectiveness

Diminished creativity that I can pour into money-making endeavors and things that spark joy

 

Negative Emotional Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Depression

Anxiety

Aggression—arguments with my partner

feeling blah

fear—especially when around other drunk people

Loss of confidence and self-esteem

 

Negative Spiritual Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Lower vibration

Dark Energies

Harmful spirits

Aggression

Shift from essence

Lack of mindfulness

Dis-ease

Disconnection from source energy

Reduced intuition

 

Negative Physical Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Aging

Weight-gain

Stress

Overload on liver

Increased likelihood of cancer—8 percent increase in risk for every standard drink you have

Ugliness—red eyes, pallid skin, bloating

Insomnia

Nutrient loss

Depletes almost every vitamin your body needs

Headaches

Eyestrain

 

Negative Relationship Impact of Drinking Alcohol

Increased arguments

Emotional distance and disconnection

Operating on different wavelengths

Breakdowns and meltdowns

Anger

Fear

Loss of love

Loss of respect

Neglect

 

I didn’t need a textbook or neuroscientist to warn me about alcohol harm, although further research illuminated the side-effects. But I did find it helpful to bring more mindfulness to the negative impact drinking was having on all aspects of my life.

As Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote (also in my Sobriety Journal): “Sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

Dr. Candace Pert, formerly the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health in the US, revolutionized her field by discovering that emotions create biochemical compounds called peptides that serve as messengers in the brain; her team’s work won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which is often a precursor to the Nobel Prize.

She urges us to honor all our feelings and look for the insight and hope of healing emotions provide. “When we don’t admit to or accept responsibility for these less comfortable emotions, they can be more dangerous,” she says

Take a moment and consider what alcohol steals or has stolen from you. Does this change how you perceive alcohol and addiction? Be grateful for the teaching.

Let’s Talk Numbers

How much is too much?

Your liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol per hour, which for an average person is around one standard drink.

Yes, but what is a standard drink? Is there even such a thing as a standard drink. Apparently not! Different countries set the bar lower and higher when it comes to determining the safest amount of alcohol to drink per hour.

Some experts say that the international guidelines for alcohol consumption are so confusing it’s no wonder people drink too much.

Scientists who studied drinking advice around the world concluded that there is a “substantial” risk of misunderstanding.

And it’s not surprising. One study found that the measurements of the amount of alcohol in a ‘standard drink’ ranged from 8 grams to 20 grams.

An article by the Daily Mail Newspaper in the UK reported the following anomaly, “In the most conservative countries, “low-risk” consumption meant drinking no more than 10g of alcohol per day for women and 20g for men. But in Chile, a person can down 56g of alcohol per day, the equivalent of three pints, and still be considered a low-risk drinker.”

 

Here’s the current Australian and New Zealand definition: “a standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. One standard drink always contains the same amount of alcohol regardless of container size or alcohol type, that is beer, wine, or spirit. A standard drink is a unit of measurement.”

Thankfully, in New Zealand, you no longer have to have a mathematics degree or a scientific calculator to work out what constitutes a standard drink. It’s now compulsory to clearly state how many standard drinks and how much alcohol per volume is contained in each product.

In the UK, at least at the time of writing, they’re still talking units. A unit is the measure of the amount of alcohol in a drink.

One UK unit is 10ml (8g) of pure alcohol and a typical pint of ale contains one or two units (20ml or 16g), while a glass of wine can contain anything from around one and a half to three units. This depends on the size of the glass and the strength of the wine.

Recently the UK changed its health guidelines to say that men should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week, the same as the limit for women. The previous guidelines were a whopping 21 units for men and 14 units for women per week.

The reason for the shift? The rising cost of healthcare stemming from alcohol-related disease is causing concern. In fact, alcohol is a major cause of the 25% increase in deaths from liver disease in the UK over the last decade. And figures show victims of liver disease are getting younger.

Many drinks now show the strength, measured as ‘alcohol by volume’ or ABV, on the label alongside the number of units.

Alternatively, people can calculate the number of units in their drink by multiplying the amount in milliliters (ml) by the strength (ABV) and dividing the result by 1,000, or by using a unit calculator.

Sounds complicated, and let’s face it, people are rarely that regimented to consume one drink an hour, let alone calculate how much is safe to drink.

If the liver can only process one unit of alcohol per hour what happens to all that excess alcohol?

 

The quicker you drink, the drunker you get

 

If over the course of one hour you consume two bottles of beer, that’s a whole lot of excess blood alcohol in your system—especially if you’re partial to one of the craft beers which can equal close to 3 standard drinks per bottle.

Because alcohol is a poison which your body can’t eliminate, your liver has the challenging task of processing it so we can eliminate it from your system. It’s a big job and it takes time—an hour to get rid of only 10 mls.

It’s a dangerous job too, with considerable health implications. When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde (as though poisonous ethanol wasn’t enough for it to handle).  Acetaldehyde can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm your brain and stomach lining.

If you’ve upped the recommended safe quota all that unprocessed ethanol will be leaping through the blood-brain barrier and corroding your brain cells directly.

Oops…not good.

Your liver also requires water to do its job effectively. Again, alcohol puts your liver under strain—alcohol acts as a diuretic, thereby dehydrating you and forcing your liver to rob water from other sources.

The severe dehydration is part of the reason why, after a big night of drinking you can wake up nursing a crippling headache.

Regular or heavy drinking over time can disrupt the way alcohol is metabolized within the body, which can lead to alcoholic liver disease, along with other unhealthy side-effects.

In short, all that excess alcohol zooms in fast laps around your body, jumping the blood-brain barrier, again and again, impacting your blood-alcohol levels, which in turn impacts all the systems in your body— your physical coordination, your ability to think and speak, and your mood.

Alcohol changes your brain permanently—and not in a good way, either.

Enter the standards—an attempt, and non-too successfully, to encourage people to drink a maximum of one drink per hour. Yeah, right. Sure thing. When has anyone followed rules, particularly those that they have to self-regulate and which stand in the way of their ability to party?

 

Are You Standard?

Blood alcohol content (BAC), also called blood alcohol concentration, blood ethanol concentration, or blood alcohol level is most commonly used as a metric of alcohol intoxication for legal or medical purposes.

However, BAC does not correlate exactly with symptoms of drunkenness and different people have different symptoms even after drinking the same amount of alcohol. The BAC level and every individual’s reaction to alcohol is influenced by:

• The ability of the liver to metabolize alcohol (which varies due to genetic differences in the liver enzymes that break down alcohol).

• The presence or absence of food in the stomach (food dilutes the alcohol and dramatically slows its absorption into the bloodstream by preventing it from passing quickly into the small intestine)

• The concentration of alcohol in the beverage (highly concentrated beverages such as spirits are more quickly absorbed)

• How quickly alcohol is consumed.

• Body type (heavier and more muscular people have more fat and muscle to absorb the alcohol)

• Age, sex, ethnicity (eg, women have a higher BAC after drinking the same amount of alcohol than men due to differences in metabolism and absorption—since men have on average, more fluid in their body to distribute alcohol around than women do, some ethnic groups have different levels of a liver enzyme responsible for the break-down of alcohol)

• How frequently a person drinks alcohol (someone who drinks often can tolerate the sedating effects of alcohol more than someone who does not drink regularly).

Be Aware. Not All Drinks Are Created Equal

They make look the same, but they most definitely aren’t the same.

A tiny increase in strength in the percentage of alcohol can make a massive impact on intoxication. As a rule, if you want to drink safely, go slow and go low. Stay informed—be sure to check the labels

Take a closer look at this article which explains why a 5% beer can make you twice as drunk as a 4% version—http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3209119/Why-5-beer-make-TWICE-drunk-4-version-Calculations-reveal-tiny-increase-strength-big-impact-intoxication.html#ixzz4dPWZYzFv

Familiarize yourself with a standard drink: it’s probably not as much as you think.

I know I got a heck of a fright when I was invited at random to participate in a survey by Otago University. One of the questions in The Alcohol in New Zealand Communities Survey was, “How often have you had 6 or more standard drinks in one occasion in the last 12 months?” I was shocked to tick the highest category, “Six of seven times a week.”

Cripes, I was bingeing and didn’t even realize it. That’s how insidious alcohol is.

Know your limit. Monitor your BAC level, understand your reaction to alcohol, and how to influence it. Check out the documentary The Truth About Alcohol in the further resources section, and join British emergency room doctor Javid Abdelmoneim, and other experts, as they explore the benefits, risks, and science of drinking. If you’re determined to drink, you also discover ways to lessen the impact of alcohol.

While we’re talking numbers, did you know alcohol is a known health antagonist and a causal factor in more than 60 adverse health conditions? Would you rather not know? Skip the chapter Health Havoc if you prefer to be kept in the dark.

 

Are You Worried about your drinking?

I’ll discuss some of my strategies for living in a booze-soaked world, including how I keep my energy and vibration levels high and don’t allow alcohol or other peoples destructive relationship with alcohol to dull my sparkle, throughout this book.

One simple strategy I do find helpful, however, is to pin inspiring quotes somewhere visible to remind me to censure the tendency to demand others change or to judge.

Letting go of judgment creates peace, strength, and ultimately increases joy. Becoming judgment-free and leading by example is also one of the key sobriety steps recommended by many successful addiction programs. This includes self-judgment and self-criticism.

My current go-to quote is by Abraham Hicks, “Let others vibrate how they vibrate and want the best for them. Never mind how they’re flowing to you. You concentrate on how you’re flowing because one who is connected to the energy stream is more powerful, more influential than a million who are not.”

I also invite love, not fear or anger to guide my day. I’m not saying it’s easy—if it were the world would be a happier place. I work to remember how my loved ones are when they’re sober—how kind they are, how caring. This love extends to me too. I know I’m a nicer, kinder person sober than I am drunk.

Exercising self-love means, however, accepting that sometimes there comes a time when being around people who abuse alcohol becomes too toxic. Their drinking may undermine your health, threaten your resolve, or cause you to constantly fear for your life.  There are times you may have to quit not only the booze but people, places, and relationships that hold you back.

Finding joy in sobriety is a lifestyle choice—a very personal, and very empowered and empowering choice. It’s a choice you make eyes wide open, determined to celebrate and make the most of your one precious life in every way.

Humor, as you’ll also discover, goes a long way.

 

This man is giving birth to a six-pack…‘Father and beers are doing swell.’

It’s a picture I drew in my Sobriety Journal in part, to remind me how staying sober improves my waistline.

Call it like it is….would you like a shot of ethanol and a gallon of sugar with that?

Our soul, basically creative in nature, also longs to find self-expression. Creative expression and communicating what you truly feel is one of our greatest joys and freedoms. It is a simple and effective way to inject more happiness into your life without needing drugs, alcohol, or indulging frustration by allowing acts of aggression. 

Creativity in its various guises is also a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy, including writing, is such a potent and popular tool. Pep up your peptides—find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Make finding a way to release all those stuck energies your mission.

Many people say they drink to help them deal with negative feelings and emotions. But fighting fire with fire (remember alcohol is ethanol – a highly flammable liquid) is never going to be a winning strategy. Learning to channel your feelings constructively is.

Journaling and writing morning pages are some of my favorite ways to express any stinky feelings that bog me down in a rut. Writing my self-empowerment books has also been a fantastic and profitable way to share life lessons learned and ignite my passion and purpose. 

A recent example has been writing my book, “Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety – Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life. Writing this book has been healing for myself and others struggling with addiction.  

“I like the content of the book a lot. As an ex-drunk who quit for both mental and physical health reasons, it’s very affirming. I like her comment that she’s yet to meet an ex-drinker who preferred life as a drinker. I think it will appeal to both people who are considering change and people who have made a change to their drinking and want both affirmation and some information so they can explain why to their friends. I like its meandering style (it makes me think of sharing in a group). It’s too good a message to ignore.” ~ Andrew Nicholls 

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available in print and Ebook here—

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink 

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

 

“I work with people and their whanau/families on a daily basis who have, have had or have recovered from Alcohol and Other Drug issues.  The damage caused by AOD overuse and abuse is enormous and has ongoing negative effects on our society and future generations mainly due to observation and learned behaviours.  I really like the approach that this book takes in not attempting to stop drinking totally.  It instead explains and coaches how to manage and cope with consuming alcohol so that the damaging effects may be minimised.  This is a very useful supportive book for ‘drinkers’ and their families.  It is a book that is very easy to read and understand.  I really like the quotes, sayings and tools contained therein.  This book is much bigger than just the social and familial issues with alcohol – It is in a very big way about ‘Your Beautiful Mind’.  It fits very well with my style of practice and that is to start with the basics and move onwards and upwards from there. I see in the book an AHA (awakening, honesty, action) moment in the book.  I really get the reference to wisdom (The smart person knows what to say, the wise person knows when to say it) and the associated learning.  I will be recommending this ‘must read’ book to my clients and their whanau/families and anybody else who will listen”.

~ Philipe Eyton, Counsellor, Life and Leadership Coach, BSocP, NZAC (Stud)

 

“One thing that I like about this book is that the author doesn’t trash other recovery programs whether she agrees with them or not.  This approach is very different (and refreshing) from other books I’ve read that claim to be the “real or only solution” which involves tearing down other methods in the process, but as Cassandra’s book alludes—one form of recovery may work for some people and not others—it depends on the person, their physiology, background, life experience, etc. At first, I thought the segments about advertising would be boring but they actually really appealed to the part of me that loves science, facts, and proof.  Reading the explanations led to many “Aha!” moments! I also felt so relieved to read there is a sober/not drinking movement going on. I felt relieved and hopeful. How I wish this was going on when I started my own drinking career in my early teens. I’m feeling so grateful to Cassandra for writing it. There is so much vital information packed into this book and I wish fervently that it ends up on the best seller list!”

Lisa Ruggiero, Amazon 5-Star Review

 

“This is a book for anyone who is struggling with alcohol (or even overeating/comfort eating – it can be used for several addictions) as a way to encourage the reader to look at  their drinking (or other affliction) in a loving way, encouraging the reader to work with their intelligent self, on a loving level, it offers support, (you don’t feel alone), it offers stories of awareness, idea’s for moving beyond the clutches of alcohol and experiencing the joy of living a full, creative, and/or self-loving life.”

~ Catherine Sloan, Counselor

 

“I see people that I would love to give this book recommendation to.  They need this in their lives-a few of who would not consider, they have any problem with alcohol, nor have any desire to stop drinking – but I liked this book because the message is that you take control of how you steer the ship.  You can choose to decrease and manage your drinking or you can choose to omit alcohol altogether from your life.

Alcohol is abused and I know a few young people (18-25yrs) that haven’t a clue of what they’re drinking or the impacts on them physically, mentally or emotionally.  This is huge.  Yet each and every week they are returning to the bottle to find some solace in drinking or in fact getting pissed.

I love the connection Cassandra shares with herself in this book.  The Sobriety Journal she mentions and has created is a fantastic tool – and I would recommend people use conjunction with this book and your own journey- it will do wonders.  It’s a great reflective tool also to go back to down the track, as Cassandra has openly displayed herself.

I am quite surprised myself about the new knowledge I gained from what I read in this book.  And wondered why when I was drinking did I never stop to consider what I was drinking, what my drink was made of and how- never ever!  I can remember thinking, I wonder how many calories are in this beer.  Or how much sugar.  But never looked it up as such, as I didn’t actually want to know at the time.  I was in somewhat of a denial.  I just wanted to consume it anyway.  I quite often was sick on the evening or the next day after a binge.

So this information needs to be shared and is available in this book.  I think that’s fantastic.  It’s not too complex.  At first, I wondered if I would see my younger relatives reading this and relating to it.  And thought, maybe not.  But then when momentum picked up and the diverse realities were seen and heard – I thought it would relate to many soft spots they have and I hopefully allow them to take control of themselves and their drinking.

Loving what I read. I am seeing some home truths and common vulnerabilities which makes this book relatable to many.

~ Jo-Maitera

 

You might like:

 Discover the joy of sobriety. Listen to Cassandra’s interview with Melinda Hammond—https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

 

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

 

Does talk therapy actually work?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

One of my clients Romana drew the image above. The title ‘naval gazer’ accurately sums up what can happen when too much time is spent dwelling on problems, suppressing pain, and not enough time healing, actively evaluating options and challenging any unhelpful assumptions. In a state of paralysis, many people get bogged down.

Sometimes, a simple but effective way to get unstuck is to explore a range of different thinking styles – ideally, ones that challenge crippled thinking, open up possibilities and move you into a state of inspired, solutions-focused action. This is where working with a therapist can help. However, many people resist going to see a counselor or therapist because they assume that all they will achieve from the session is ruminating on their problems and more navel-gazing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A skilled counselor can not only provide much-needed support but also act as an objective, independent sounding board who can help you get to the root of your issues, add a liberal dose of much-needed empathy and understanding and support you to make the changes necessary to empower your life. As one of my clients told me, “It wasn’t until someone listened to me, really listened, that I knew what I really thought.”

All too often, no one gives us the space to think or express our emotions. Well-meaning family members, work colleague, friends and even strangers may dispense advice—not all of it is helpful. Take the example of Simon whose wife of thirty-years had recently died. “You just need to suck it up and get on with it,” a friend told him. Working through his grief in therapy proved to be a much more helpful and healing approach.

“I thought I should be able to handle it. I told myself I wouldn’t get upset, ” he told me.

“Who told you that when you lose someone you love very, very much that you shouldn’t feel something?” I asked. He shrugged.

We both agreed it was natural to cry. I suggested that if he didn’t feel anything – if he didn’t feel loss, or grief, sadness or pain, he would be inhuman. Cognitively we can often fool our minds, but the heart is often our greatest, and most honest, teachers.

In our Western culture, so many people, particularly men, bottle up their feelings. Some experts say that these repressed feelings are contributing factors behind the escalating rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Tom, whose sister took her own life when he was in his earlier 20’s recalls his parents praising him for showing a lack of emotion, “Good boy for not crying,” they told him. Bottling trauma is neither helpful nor good.

Now in his fifties, Tom suffers from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Rather than seek help releasing these feelings, including anger toward his parents, he abuses alcohol in an attempt to anesthetize dark feelings. And he’s not alone. As I share in my book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, A great many people drink alcohol to mask or numb the symptoms of their wounds.

No one escapes walking in this world without some degree of hurt. But for many people, this hurt is profoundly deep. The first cuts, experts (and songwriters) say are the deepest—very often these wounds are inflicted during childhood. Tragically, what should be a happy time of innocence is one of incalculable pain. Incest, rape, physical abuse, emotional neglect—and many more horrid things happen to people growing up.

Many wounded souls never receive therapy. Reasons vary. For some, it appears too costly, for others they think that talking to a therapist make them weak. Tony Soprano, one of the thoughest characters to storm across our TV screens in the award-winning show, The Sopranos, sought therapy to deal with repressed emotions which contributed to his anxiety attacks.

In 2017 movie superstar Brad Pitt revealed he had a shocking drinking problem that wrecked his marriage and tore his young family apart. “I feel retarded when it comes to expressing my emotions,” he said as he opened up about his battle with alcohol. To help him kick the alcohol habit he opted to face his demons and learn how to express and handle emotions by seeking the services of a qualified and skilled counselor.

Asking for help, whether this is addiction counseling, relationship therapy, coaching to deal with stress at work, or something else, isn’t easy for many successful people. However, it’s often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life. You may like to check out this interesting series discussing why men struggle to express theiir feelings.

As a qualified counselor and psychologist, I know that very often integrative talk-therapy which draws on an eclectic range of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and other modalities, including creative and art-based techniques can be extremely effective, and therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives.

Creativity in its various guises is a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool. Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate.  They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing unhelp subconscious belief to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking and reckless behavior I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

When I completed my counseling training many years ago I was also introduced to Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). REBT originated in the mid-1950’s as Ellis became increasingly aware and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional psychoanalysis to produce a change in his patients.

The REBT worldview is that people often make themselves emotional victims by their own distorted, unrealistic, and irrational thinking patterns. Ellis takes an essentially optimistic view of people but criticizes some humanistic approaches as being too soft at times and failing to address the fact that people can virtually “self-destruct” through irrational and muddled thinking.

According to Ellis and the REBT worldview, all people are born with self-defeating tendencies. When something goes against your goals, your values or desires, feelings of failure, rejection, etc., can set in; but you have a choice.

You have a choice of feeling terrified, panicky, depressed, self-pitying, self-doubting, etc.—and succumbing to these emotions.

But these feelings can prevent you from making positive changes—and may drive you to drink, for example.

Which emotion you choose, according to REBT practitioners, is thought to mainly depend on your belief system—not your goals and values, but what you tell yourself when your goals and values are thwarted or blocked.

We all have a rational set of beliefs called “preferences.” In this context, “rational” means self-helping beliefs, such as, “I don’t like what is going on.” “I wish it weren’t so.” “How annoying?” “Let’s see what I can do about it.”

Many people very frequently pick irrational beliefs, referred to as “demands,” such as, “Because I don’t like what is going on, it absolutely should not be allowed.” “It can’t happen.” “I can’t stand it.” “Everyone should love me–if they don’t, I am worthless.” “It’s horrible, I think I’ll give up” (or, when taken to the extreme, “I’ll kill myself”).

Ellis’ therapeutic approach is not to challenge the clients’ goals and values, but instead attack their absolute demands about achieving these values. The emphasis of the therapy is on changing the way the client thinks about the behavior or the upsetting event, rather than on changing the behavior itself.

This is a critical point—it is not the actual event but our view of the event that is critical.

The task of the REBT therapist is to help clients’ challenge and self-correct thought patterns and minimize irrational ideas, while simultaneously helping them to change their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Challenging the irrational statement is key to changing an entire philosophy of life.

The ABCDEF Method

Perhaps Ellis’s most important concrete methodological contribution is his A-B-C–D-E-F theory, which can be summarized as follows:

A – the “objective” facts, events, behaviors that an individual encounters. (I call this, ‘the activating event’).

B – the person’s beliefs about ‘A’

C – the emotional consequences, or how a person feels and acts about ‘A’

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

E – the effect that disputation has on the client

F – new feelings and behaviors

 

Example:

I helped a friend apply the ABCDE method following a Boxing Day alcohol-fuelled drama which impacted his son. The following is an edited extract (I have changed names to protect people’s privacy):

A – the activating event and “objective” facts, events, behaviors encountered.

Following Boxing Day, Tim, who is nineteen, rang and told his father, Simon about an alleged assault between him and his mother’s new boyfriend. Tim says both his mom and her boyfriend were drunk.

 

B – the beliefs about ‘A’

Simon is waiting to speak to the ‘old-one’ (his ex) to determine the facts but believes his son’s account of what happens.  The ‘old one’ is not returning his call.

He believes the reason she is not returning his call is because she is at fault, and that an assault did occur.

 

C – the emotional consequences, or how Simon feels and acts about ‘A’

Simon’s emotions are heightened. He’s feeling frustrated, powerless, angry, resentful and fearful for his son’s safety. Yet, aspects of his son’s version of what happened concern him. He feels confused as to what really occurred.

Simon drinks 3 bottles of beer and goes to the bottle store to buy more.

Simon believes alcohol relaxes him, minimizes stress, and helps him stay calmer and in control while he waits.

Over the course of the evening (3 hours), he drinks five 500ml bottles of beer (11 standard drinks.) Feeling stressed, I join him—minimizing my drinking by consuming small quantities in six crystal glasses (in total 500 ml, or 2.2 standard drinks.)

After speaking to ‘the old one’ and his son on a three-way call, and resolving all misunderstandings, I asked how he feels now that he knows his son is not at risk. He shuts me down and says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He doesn’t speak to me again that evening.

 

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

Rather than work myself into a state, I challenged my belief that by drinking with Simon we would both be relaxed. Alcohol is a depressant, it depletes your energy, and increases symptoms of stress already triggered by external events, I reminded myself.

It increases anxiety, melancholy, gloom, and aggression, which is why Tim’s mom and her partner argued, and why Tim ‘lunged’ at this stepfather when he told him to mind his business.

I counsel myself, “Alcohol is ethanol, a flammable, colorless chemical compound—it’s poison, also used to fuel cars, masquerading as a happy drink.”

 

E – effect that disputation has

The episode strengthened my resolve never to drink during times of stress, and my conviction that I don’t want to ingest poisons.

Simon’s knowledge that his ex is an alcoholic causes him to question his own dependency on alcohol during times of stress.

This change in thinking affects Simon by making him more committed to controlling his drinking and being a role model to his son.

 

F – new feelings and behaviors

Simon and I felt calmer and more optimistic about the benefits of not drinking.

Simon felt more empowered and in control now that he has discovered the truth about his ex’s drinking and how her relationship with a man who drinks excessively affects his son.

He decides to take control by helping Tim find a way to gain his independence and leave home, knowing that despite urging his ex to seek help for her drinking that, as with other times, this may have fallen on deaf ears.

Tim successfully finds work that he loves which means he is seldom at home and tells his father that alcohol has no place in his own life. Tim is happier sober!

 

As a holistic practitioner and life coach I also know there is a wide range of alternative healing approaches that yield remarkable, extremely quick results. It concerns me, and a lot of other health professionals that too often people turn to antidepressant medication, Despite research that cites the lower effectiveness, for many people this still appears to be the solution of choice prescribed by many medical professions.

“Pills are cheap,” my doctor told me when I asked her why counseling wasn’t recommended to more people. It may be cheap, but worrying it is not always effective and the side-effects can also do more harm than healing. Rather than offer short-term help very often people come to rely on medical prescriptions for decades. In an extract from his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsJohann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, says masking the pain does not offer long-term relief and calls for a new approach.

“I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him – crouched, embarrassed – that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.”

You can read a summary of his views, including his claims of an over-riding profit motive by pharmaceutical companies, in his interview with The Guardian. ‘Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?”

A good therapist will often share strategies that can help you rebalance the hormones in your brain, or refer you to other health professionals like nutritionists and dietitians. There are a great many ways to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, including meditation, exercise, sunlight, vitamins and other low-cost approaches. Many will save you money, boost your health, help you reduce weight and improve your relationships—here I’m talking about eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has been found to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. As this article in SpiritScience claims, there is also a clear link between alcohol consumption and violence or other types of aggressive behavior. Aggression is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels and may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism.

In an article which appears in  Psychology Today, F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City, cites research confirming the ineffectiveness of antidepressant medication compared with other therapies, including talk therapy. In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind: “Getting to Know Me: Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits,” claims Jonathan Shedler. Shedler, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Service. As Barth notes, Shelder ‘combines anecdotes from clients and therapists with fascinating research to explain something that those of us who have practiced “insight” therapy (sometimes also called “talk” therapy) have known for a long time: psychodynamic psychotherapy works. It helps clients find solutions not only to specific symptoms but also to difficulties at work, in their social lives, and with self-esteem.

For example, Shedler writes, “One major study found an ‘effect size’-a measure of treatment benefit – of 0.97” for psychodynamic psychotherapy. “For CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

Barth describes seven features that researchers have found contribute to the power and effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy: “exploring emotions, examining avoidances, identifying recurring patterns, discussing past experience, focusing on relationships, and examining the patient/therapist relationship.”

As a result of counselling, many people choose to connect or reconnect with lapsed spiritual or religious rituals. I love integrating spiritual approaches into my ‘talk therapy.’ Many people have lost their union with God because of the hypocritical dogma which has polluted many faith systems. However, prayer, for example, comes in many shapes, colors, and textures.

Many recovering alcoholics, prosperous creatives and successful business people, including Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, refer to prayer in several forms, including describing it as the voice of God, intuition, higher self, inner goddess, or their Sacred Divine. In her book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson, who also shares her early dysfunctional relationship with her mother, speaks of prayer as a way of “focusing our eyes,” dramatically transforming our orientation, releasing us “from the snares of lower energies,” and aligning “our internal energies with truth”.

Prayer, or invoking a higher power, is revered by many for its power to help them reclaim their strength, find their inner power and overcome tragedy. You may enjoy reading my earlier post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

 

Whether you elect to seek the services of a therapist, put your faith in God, divine wisdom, spirituality or something else, the truth is very often that safety, guidance, and strength comes from a place within. The right therapist can act as a much needed and much-valued guide who supports you to find solutions to your problems and develop strategies you can apply yourself to regularly to stay well.

 

 

Cassandra is a holistic psychologist, integrative counselor, life coach, and author. To book an appointment or learn more about her wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

 

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Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

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Endings and beginning – just for today don’t worry

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Recently someone close to me went through a very stressful relationship ending, and a client of mine was experiencing a profound sense of grief when she thought about a dream job she walked away from.

As I was talking with these people I was reflecting on the best way to help. During my Reiki training we discussed the work of Elizabeth Kuler Ross and her profound work on the stages of grief – a timely reminder given the above and taking me right back to my counselling training.

I like the way Elizabeth “normalises” the feelings we all experience during times of loss. It is “normal”  and healthy to grieve the loss of someone/something when something ends – whether this is a job you really hoped would work out or a relationship that has come to an end.

Many people get caught up in the shock and anger stages of grief and suffer profoundly.

In my Reiki training we learned the principal – “just for today don’t worry”.  This could help with the shock stage where feelings of worry and anxiety can be torturous and make us feel out of control. Not worrying does not mean not caring, it refers more to the state of mental anguish that occurs when we spend time in our heads over-thinking, catastrophising or fearing things that may actually never come to pass.

We also learn the principal  “just for today don’t be angry” – a helpful affirmation should these feelings arise. Anger is a valid and normal emotion but a very toxic one when abused or sustained too long.  Anger can be a positive force for change, however. It can motivate you to make a change for the better.

I wrote the following, incorporating some of the above, to the young woman whose relationship had ended very traumatically:

Happily, when one door closes another opens – you will return to a meaningful life and by the sound of it quite quickly because you are doing all the right things:

  • Talking with others who care about you and can help.;
  • Acknowledging your feelings; caring for the person you are losing but not being controlled by them;
  • Tapping into your own intuition and sense of what is right for you;
  • Taking care of yourself and recognising the need for rest;
  • Acknowledging that the relationship you are in no longer works for you. This is important as so many people try to hang on – finding comfort in the known rather than the unknown – even though the known is no longer comfortable at all. Sometimes the comfort rut can be the most uncomfortable place of all

In Reiki we learn that energy flows where energy goes. Focus your energy on the things, people, and circumstances that bring you peace. Keep looking ahead to the dreams and goals you have for your own life.

What can you do to help move through the stages of grief when you experience loss?

 

If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness, overcome obstacles, and elevate your success you may enjoy reading Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford, available for preview or purchase heremyBook.to/Bounce.

 

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Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

The other day while celebrating my partner’s birthday, and while seeking refuge from a considerable period of stress, I noticed a tourist deeply entranced in capturing an image of a local child with his Canon camera.

 

I took this snapshot on my phone and then showed it to him. He was very surprised and exclaimed, “You got me!”

 

The energy was infectious, pure, spontaneous joy – or as Deepak Chopra writes in his book The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing The Infinite Power of Coincidence—divinely inspired.

The man I spontaneously photographed was Suresh Lala, who I later discovered was on the last day of his trip to New Zealand from Mumbai. He also spontaneously reciprocated his joy by taking an image of me which he entitled, “Me photographing the photographer who photographed the photographer.”

“I shall certainly cherish this memory. Keep that high wattage smile going!” he wrote to me. Little did Suresh know that my partner and I have been experiencing a time of profound stress. Suresh’s passionate camera-presence was a gift to me, and immediately boosted my deflated spirits.

As I write, I am not sure where this coincidence will let. Yet it is remarkable that yesterday I also received my first truly spine-tingling review on Amazon India for my newly released book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More

 

5.0 out of 5 starsDiscovering my beautiful mind!

21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision- to quit alcohol- strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful additions rather than following self destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!

Now, I am hoping to visit Mumbai too! And loads of other places in India too.

Thank you Justin Raj—I’m so thrilled to have been able to help. Justin’s feedback is even more significant because, as I share in my books, one of the main reasons I wrote Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, and also my follow-up book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, was following the desperate plea for help by a beautiful woman I met on a wellness retreat.

“I’m an alcoholic,” she sobbed, “I can’t stop drinking and they’re going to take my kids.” At the time I felt powerless, ‘How could I possibly help you? I wondered. What did I know about treating addictions?

Little did I know that my frustration and feelings of inadequacy would spur me to find answers. So to know that Justin, not only found self-empowered healing, but that in the process he also reawakened dormant and neglected passions is especially poignant. As he shared on his Facebook page and blog he is looking forward to replacing a negative addiction with a positive obsession with writing and researching and has rekindled his then-dormant blog.

Coincidentally – or what I call ‘go-incidentally’ my dream has been to visit Kerela one day. I hope we can meet!

Are you struggling with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed? Have negative addictions and substance abuse claimed your creative power? Below is a powerful reminder about the life-enhancing magic of creativity—a short edited excerpt from Your Beautiful Mind.

 

Powerful Creativity

Creative expression and communicating what you truly feel is one of our greatest joys and freedoms. It is a simple and effective way to inject more happiness into your life without needing alcohol. Creativity in its various guises is also a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool.

Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate.  They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing it to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

I wonder, if you were an animal who would you be and why? Asking this question so directly, often yields substantially different, more rational, carefully considered choices, than those which arise through the techniques of tools like Interactive Drawing Therapy (IDT). The strength of IDT is its ability to access what is repressed, hidden and buried in the subconscious and bring it to light for healing.

Job stress, as we have discussed briefly, is a major reason many people over-drink. Again, drawing came to my rescue. I had become quite accomplished at pretending I loved my job—I couldn’t afford to admit the truth.

As I share in my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue The Call for Change, “I was a single mum, the only one able to support my young daughter and myself. I used to go home with a brave face, but inside I was tired and depressed. My self-esteem was so low I thought no one would hire me. I tried to go to work, grit my teeth and bear it.

I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. But that wasn’t what my boss wanted from me. “You could make a lot of money here,” he said. “You just need to be more selfish.”  For a while, I tried to be someone else—motivated only by money, but every day my values were compromised, and the skills I loved weren’t used.

My job started making me ill. It got so bad I got shingles—a painful virus affecting the central nervous system. I felt trapped and unable to leave. My colleagues at work had similar experiences. It really was such a toxic workplace. Several people had heart attacks, and the amount of alcohol people consumed after work to numb the pain was staggering.

I needed a career rescue. In desperation, I agreed to see a career counselor. During my first session, I was asked to draw a picture. I drew a grey bird in a black cage.

“The door is open, but she’s forgotten how to fly,” I told her.

This drawing brought tears to her eyes. Although I didn’t understand why at the time, I can see now that she felt my pain at feeling so caught and trapped by my situation.

Through our sessions and the structured exercises we completed together, I rebuilt my confidence and strengthened my awareness of my skills, and most importantly, I learned how to dream.

The work the career counselor did with me was so important, so vital—saving me from despair. It led me to not just finding a job I loved, but later creating one that gave me a sense of purpose.

What she taught me literally gave me my life back. Happily, I can now serve others in this way too—as an author, qualified holistic energy psychologist, career counselor, life and career coach, and a trainer of other coaches who also aspire to make a difference in other people’s lives.

If you’re reading this book and recognize yourself in my story, if job stress or a toxic workplace is causing you to over drink, don’t wait too long for help. I promise that your happy place is out there—it may even mean employing yourself. Now, that’s ultimate freedom!

 

Therapy Can Be Fun—and Free!

Many addiction and rehab centers use art therapy as part of their therapeutic offering, and report that clients find engaging in creative arts highly satisfying and fun. It’s a playful way of relaxing and an enjoyable way to address some of the more complex aspects of rehab.

Creative activity provides a way to process some of the stressful emotions and anxieties that can emerge during treatment. After rehab, activities like painting, sculpting or drawing can be used throughout the individual’s life as a way to express feelings, explore creativity, and reduce stress.

Best of all, it’s a tool anyone can access, anywhere, at any time, and the effects are long-lasting. You can engage in creativity whenever you feel the need to escape the madness of this world.

But you don’t need to go to rehab or analyze how and why creativity works to understand it’s magic.

Art in all its guises heals and empowers. Have you ever wondered why silencing or controlling peoples creative expression is the first things marauding tyrants and dictators silence or destroy?

Leonardo da Vinci, a great scientist once said, “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating to the world.” Art permeates the inner and outer worlds and elevates our soul.

My grandmother Molly was a naturally gifted and self-taught artist. Her escape, when she needed one, was painting flowers and landscapes in oil colors.

Molly also loved to play the piano, the accordion, and even the banjo and sing for others. Perhaps it was her Irish ancestry which unleashed the happy, confident entertainer. I can still hear her beautifully manicured nail tapping along the ivory keys of the piano. Art banished her heavy episodes of drinking—when she sang, painted, created she never needed a drink.

I have a tiny painting of Molly’s in my shed, a small bunch of violets framed in a custom-made frame my grandfather made for her. Reg Fairweather (beautiful name) was a talented wood turner and furniture maker. This was a hobby, a beautiful retreat he found great joy and personal expression in.

I wonder now, was that his way of escaping and coping when my grandmother’s drinking got out of control? Or was it Reg’s way of coping or distancing himself from his own pain? At the time of writing, I’ve only just learned that Reg’s mother, my great-grandmother, died not long after giving birth. It’s a trauma that had until now, remained a secret.

“I write songs to deal with things I otherwise might not be able to,” a young woman once said about her budding music career, hobbies and dreams.

“For me to be happy is about pleasing only my heart and not worrying about what others think,” says Interior designer Olimpia Orsini about her magically surreal lair in her home away from home in Rome’s bohemian Campo Marzio.

“I love what a camera does,” says landscape photographer Alicia Taylor. “It opens up people to connect with you, it can take you on an amazing journey, and probably is the only time I feel I’ve got the guts to do something is when I’ve got the camera in my hands. I feel like it’s a key to the world.”

“Knitting saved my life,” the waitress at my local cafe told me recently. She told me how her hobby has provided the ultimate cure for her anxiety, and of the joy she finds in knitting for friends.

Without the anxiety of feeling different, author Isabel Allende, says she wouldn’t have been driven to create. “Writing, when all is said and done, is an attempt to understand one’s own circumstance and to clarify the confusion of existence, including insecurities that do not torment normal people, only chronic non-conformists.”

What do these people all have in common? They harness the power of creative expression to rise above the challenges of life.

Personally, I love to write paint, take photographs and have dabbled in a great deal many other things during my life—including making stained glass Tiffany-style lampshades, pottery, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch. You name it, I’ve tried it. They take me out of this world, out of my mind, into the realms of the divine. I find great comfort there.

Get drunk on creating—yes, please! It’s a positive addiction I’m happy to feed.

“I love the chaos. I do everything I’m not meant to do. I used to drink like an animal, but now I use my art to express the chaos in my mind,” says Sir Antony Hopkins about the joy he finds in painting. “I used to take myself so seriously. I have an obsessive personality. I do everything fast. I want to do everything I can because time is running out”, he says. “I want to express color. Maybe it’s reaching for some sort of divine.”

Don’t get caught up in the classical definitions of an artist when you think about creativity, you don’t have to be an artist, painter or sculptor to be creative. Expressing your thoughts or imagining what doesn’t yet exist and then bringing it into being lies at the heart of creative expression. You could harness the transformational power of creativity by:

• Imagining or dreaming what could be, for example, your life of sobriety

• Challenging the status quo, as I am in the writing of this book, or generating solutions and new ideas

• Designing new products or services, perhaps instead of drinking you will pour your heart and soul into creating something you are proud of

• Expressing thoughts and feelings, visually, that are too big or too difficult to put into words

• Or doing something else that helps you deal with life and creates joy in your heart.

One of the most liberating features of the creative process is that it triggers moments of vitality and connection.

“The arts address the idea of an aesthetic experience,” says Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity.

“An aesthetic experience is one in which the senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, when you are fully alive.”

Being fully alive is part of the enchantment that creative expression holds. This transformational process connects you to your authentic self. But to free yourself you must act. As Shakespeare once said, “Joy’s soul lies in the doing.”

How can you harness the power of creativity in your own life?

In the next chapter, we’ll explore more deeply the transformational power of pepping up your peptides and changing the way you feel naturally.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

The Truth About Alcohol, Addiction, and Recovery

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

 

Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is.

Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. Yes, folks, everything can really go up in flames when you drink.

I fondly remember Christmases spent at my grandmother’s and the excitement we all felt when a match was held against the rum-soaked Christmas pudding and it burst into plumes of fire.

For some reason, until researching this chapter I never made the connection that booze was a flammable substance I poured down my throat.

Ethanol fuel is also used in some countries instead of gasoline in cars and other engines. In Brazil, for example, ethanol fuel made from sugar cane provides 18 percent of the country’s fuel for cars.

In short, the alcohol or ethanol found in your favorite beer, wine, and spirits is a poison, masquerading as a happy drink. It’s so toxic that, when consumed too quickly or in huge quantities, your body’s default position is to expel it—usually in a totally unglamorous technicolor spray of vomit.  That’s if you’re lucky.

Alcohol poisoning can, and does, cause death—both directly and indirectly through liver disease, breast cancer, and a staggering amount of other alcohol-related diseases. We’ll explore the havoc caused by booze, as well as how sobriety leads to nirvana in the chapter, Health Havoc or Health Nirvana?

Yet, despite all the risks and dire health warnings, alcohol seems such a benign substance. Perhaps it’s the allure of its origins—a uniquely natural process.

Alcohol is formed when oxygen deprived yeast ferments natural sugars found in fruits, grains, and other substances. For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, cider from the sugar in apples, and most vodka from the sugar in fermented grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat (though you can also use potatoes, fruits or even just sugar.)

Many people use alcohol as a way to self-medicate their way through life’s ups and downs. Peer into the history of alcohol and you’ll find that its medical origins enjoy a good pedigree. Gin mixed with tonic containing quinine, for example, was historically used to treat malaria.

“So it’s totally good for you,” writes one enthusiastic supporter in an alcohol forum.

Yeah, if you’ve got malaria perhaps, but not if you’re just sick and dog-tired of living.

Alcohol is classed as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug. That definition on its own may sound just like what you’re craving until you discover the true impact. Sedative-hypnotic drugs depress the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses.

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so flash, especially if you’re prone to knocking back a few too many drinks. Your central nervous system controls a majority holding of the key functions of your body and mind. The CNS consists of two parts: your brain and your spinal cord.

As you know, the brain is the chief conductor of your thoughts, interpreting your external environment, and coordinating body movement and function, both consciously and unconsciously. Complex functions, including how you think and feel, and maintaining homeostasis, a relatively stable balance between all the interdependent elements in your body, are directly attributable to different parts of your brain.

Your spinal cord with its network of sensitive nerves acts as a conduit for signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

You definitely don’t want to mess with the way this important duo functions. But every time you ingest alcohol you do, weakening their ability to perform like virtuosos, interfering with maintaining a healthy balance and the finely tuned harmony which is so vital to your health, performance, and effectiveness, and causing all systems in your body to play horribly off key.

Would you love to possess an outstanding ability in your field? Excel in your chosen profession? Tap into higher knowledge? Hone a much-loved or admired skill? Be universally admired? Many people think alcohol aids the fulfillment of these desires—until they realize their beliefs were deceptively wrong.

Sobriety on the other hand… now there’s a different story.

At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant inducing feelings of euphoria, optimism, and gregariousness. Everything looks beautiful, your belief in yourself, your talents, and your ability elevates like a seductive piece of music. Your inhibitions float away, suddenly you imagine yourself to be far better than you really feel. Shyness disappears, in its place talkativeness.

For a little while.

But pour more and more drinks down your throat,  knock back liters of your favorite elixir and you’ll quickly find yourself confronted by the truth. Alcohol is trouble.

Quite simply, alcohol knocks the life out of you. The more you drink, the higher the likelihood you’ll become drowsy. Recall the drunk in the corner, slouched against the wall, or the once vivacious life of the party, barely able to hold her head in her hands, as she sits slumped at the bar. I’ve been there—it’s a predictable rite of passage. In a culture that values drinking, this is normal.

Normal but definitely not glamorous, hip or cool.

But things get worse. Sometimes much, worse. Your breathing naturally slows into a state called respiratory depression. It can become exceedingly shallow or worse, stop entirely—what’s truly frightening is you have absolutely no control. No one chooses to fall into an alcohol-fuelled coma, but this is exactly what happens to far too many people.

Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. And, tragically, far too many beautiful people needlessly die this way.

Can I scare you sober? It’s not my agenda, but I do know this—that’s exactly what happened to Amy Winehouse. And it’s exactly what’s happened to a great many other talented, beautiful, smart people. People who only wanted to feel high, but never intended to die.

As well as its acute and potentially lethal sedative effects at high doses, alcohol undermines every organ in the body and these effects depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over time.

We’ll examine the dangers of drinking both large and small alcoholic beverages over a short period of time in the chapter, Binge Drinking Blindness.

We’ll also dive deeper into what constitutes safe drinking, including analyzing what constitutes a standard drink and why health authorities want you to control your drinking—assuming you don’t want to kick the alcohol habit for good.

But first, let’s stop to consider, how natural is alcohol really?

What’s Hidden in Your Drink?

Ethanol made be created via a naturally occurring process, but that’s not the end of the production cycle. The other thing to be mindful of is all the other hidden dangers lurking in your drinks.

Peer a little closer and you’ll find all sorts of nasty additives—not to mention toxic sprays, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and other things that infiltrate many crops. But you won’t find many of these disclosed on the labels.

Sorry to spoil the party.

Health gurus cite dangerous levels of sulfites or sulphites (as it’s spelled in New Zealand) and warn of harmful side-effects, particularly for those with a low tolerance.

The term sulfites is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking (and most food industries) for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays an important role in preventing oxidization and maintaining a wine’s freshness. When used in high levels, because it’s considered harmful, it must legally be disclosed on product labels.

To be fair, many foods also contain sulfites. Some people claim the preservative is nothing to be alarmed by—unless of course, you include yourself in the numbers of people who are allergic. Sulfites cause bloating and itching in sulfite-sensitive people. Does your beloved have a beer gut or sulphite bloating?

Histamine High?

Some studies suggest sulfites and other additives, including compounds such as histamines and tannins, are connected to the pounding headaches many of us suffer after drinking. That, and our ballooning weight.

Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer are histamine-rich.

As the author and psychologist Doreen Virtue explains in her excellent book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, many people binge drink when stressed, but most don’t realize that some of the excess weight may be attributed to stress-hormones and neurotransmitter responses. These biochemicals, Virtue says, are triggered by the fact when you’re stressed you often binge on food and drinks to which you may unknowingly be allergic to, or which are intrinsically unhealthy.

As I’ve mentioned, any product that undergoes fermentation contains high levels of histamine. What I didn’t know was that these histamines trigger allergic reactions in our body, especially if we’re under a lot of stress.

Histamines get you both ways, not only occurring in the food and alcohol you drink but also because when you’re allergic to something your body releases its own histamine, says Virtue. “Stress produces histamine. We’re all naturally allergic to stress,” she says.

When you consume a diet that’s high in histamine or histamine-inducing foods, your body becomes overwhelmed. Add a stressful lifestyle to the mix and it’s no wonder you feel less than perky.

Histamines are also manufactured and released by our bodies not only when we’re stressed but also when we’re dehydrated. Again, alcohol, because it magnifies dehydration, makes things worse.

Virtue explains, “The trouble is that histamine produces uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, itchy skin, profuse sweating, hot flashes, runny or stuffy nose, and feeling cold all the time, as well as low blood pressure, arrhythmia, anxiety, and depression.”

Nice.

No wonder, we start to look and feel better when we lose the booze.

Other addictive beverages, like coffee and sugar-laden drinks, also trigger histamine reactions. The net result is a ‘histamine high.’ This boosted energy and elation you experience is always short-lived and is always followed by an energy crash, plus other painful symptoms discussed above.

Before publishing her findings Virtue decided to test her theory and embark on a 30-day histamine-free diet.

“Within two days of going ‘low-histamine,’ I felt a youthful energy and exuberance that I had never experienced before. I felt well. I felt happy. And I knew it was due to the low-histamine diet… you cannot return to the old ways of bingeing upon histamine once you realize the process behind these binges.”

Sugar Rush

Submerged in many alcoholic drinks are dangerous and highly addictive levels of sugar. Research collated in a New York Times article stated, “Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.”   

Latest research revealed in The New Zealand Listener in 2018 reveals the physiological and neurological reasons your brain makes you crave sugar.  I share some of these findings in the chapter Sweet Misery. It’s only since researching and writing this book that I realized I was more addicted to sugar than alcohol.

Whew! That’s a relief. But it’s also not—because both are tough habits to crack. Tough, but not impossible. Knowledge is power, right?

In summary, not only is alcohol a highly addictive poison, but your cravings, your weight gain, low energy levels and less-than-optimal mental and emotional health may be fuelled as much by additives and sugar, as it is ethanol or alcohol itself.

You can heal your life and it begins with examining the facts. Consider becoming an amateur sleuth and adopting the role of an investigative journalist. Discover how alcohol is made, including all the artificial things that are added to many products to make it tastier and more alluring—and potentially more dangerous to your health.

Perhaps this may be all the motivation you need to develop a healthy intolerance for alcohol.

 

You’ll find more ways to cultivate joy and moderate your drinking in, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

You’ll find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

 

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Staying happy and motivated is like caring for delicate roses, you need to nurture your fragrant dreams every day and be vigilant in keeping predators away. As a coaching client, who suffers from reoccurring bouts of depression, said recently, “Changing my view from one where I am trying to motivate myself, to one where I am inspired by the things that motivate me will help me achieve my goals.”

Successful people don’t force themselves into submission, instead, they harness their love and enthusiasm for their projects to lift them higher. Successful people also know how to bounce back from inevitable setbacks. Guided by the  wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci, here are 6 things successful people do to become and stay motivated:

 

1.) HARNESS THE POWER OF PASSION

 

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.  It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

Sadly, when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, the things that you love are the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that feeds your soul you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me”. Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

2.) BEGIN WITH THE END IN SIGHT

 

There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Beginning with the end in sight is a powerful way of strengthening motivation, persistence, and perseverance. The future does belong to those believe in the beauty of their dreams and schemes

Every extraordinary achievement starts as someone’s daydream. Dream big, become audaciously obsessed, and fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles!

Let desire propel you forward by acting as if, seeing as if, feeling as if, tasting as if, touching as if your success has already been achieved.

Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment,” may inspire you as much as they do me.

Her advice reminds me to watch my tendency to visualize and picture failure. Sometimes when I embark on an inspired quest I tell myself messages of failure, and as a result, I feel failure. This is hardly a formula for success!

Jesse Burton, the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed books The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Julia Cameron, playwright and author of phenomenal bestseller The Artist’s Way, all understand the transformational power of keeping words, thoughts, and feelings in journals. As did Leonardo da Vinci.

He was a prolific recorder of all things that interested and excited him. He maintained over 13,000 pages of scientific notes and drawings on natural philosophy, life, travel, and mysteries.

“Preserve these sketches as your assistants and masters,” he once wrote in his journal.

His notebooks not only log his interests and the things he witnessed with his own eyes, but it was also a medium by which he channeled his intuition. They also helped him shape his vision for future creations he wished to transform from his mind into tangible reality.

Whether you keep a passion journal, dream board or store your vision in your mind, visualizing your preferred future is an essential tool for your success.

 

3.) BE AMBITIOUS

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, loss. Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.

Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines. As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.

“Dream big,” encourages James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world. “Don’t set out to write a good thriller. Set out to write a #1 thriller.” 

Given that science has barely even begun to explore the real potential of the human mind, it’s a funny thing how easily we persuade ourselves of its limitations and settle for less.

You’ve probably caught yourself thinking about a big dream, some inspired course of action, and at some point talked yourself down by saying, “I could never do that!”

Or perhaps you’ve come up with a bright idea about something and then shelved it because somebody said dismissively, “You can’t do that!” or “That’s crap.”

Or perhaps, as I have so often said to myself before reconnecting with my millionaire mindset, “I can’t do this. I can’t write this book. It’s too big. Who do I think I am trying to write such a complex book?”

But how do you really know what you are capable of unless you try?

Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist, once said: “Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.”

Thinking big demands a long step outside the comfort zone of what you know.

It can feel scary to contemplate stepping out of the space where you feel you know what you’re doing and you feel fully in control.

It can feel frightening to explore what it would be like if you were to leave the comfort-rut and attempt to climb toward a new summit. You don’t know for sure where it will lead. But everyone who’s ever made a success of anything started with a big dream.

And you can, too.

Tim Ferris dreams big by adopting and cherishing his beginner’s mind. Rather than succumb to the fear of failure, he changes his mindset, and affirms his love of variety and challenge and being a perpetual debutante.

“Think small, to go big” encourages Gary Keller in his book The One Thing. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.

“It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make a focus.”

When you think too big, achieving success can feel overwhelming, time-consuming, and complicated. Calendars can become overloaded and success starts to feel out of reach. So, people opt out and either quit or settle for less.

“Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much, and in the end, accomplish too little,” says Keller.

“Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.”

 

4.) PLAN FOR SUCCESS

 

God sells us all things at the price of labor

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Planning and effort prevent poor performance. This is such a powerful message when it comes to our goals, especially if you’re someone who equates planning with feeling controlled. You may be looking to the future thinking, “Someday! Someday I will achieve that.”

How can you be assured that things will happen if you don’t plan your action steps effectively, efficiently and productively?

So many people end their lives disappointed that things didn’t come to fruition. “Why didn’t it happen for me? Why, when it happens for other people.” Successful people don’t sit at home waiting for things to happen. They go out and conquer things.

If you’re sitting back waiting for ‘someday’ you have a problem—you think you have time!

Successful people set goals and start breaking them down into bite-size chunks. If you want to generate $100,000 out of your business in a year what do you need to do to get there? If you want to start a new relationship, or improve the one you’ve got, develop your success strategy. Your efforts will be repaid in exchange for your labor and your courage to try.

Planning for success also means planning for possible failure. As Oprah once said, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

Planning to for success also means showing up! Successful people don’t spend their time thinking and strategizing about success.

To be inspired is to be in spirit, and inspiration has to find you working or it won’t come out to play. Eighty percent of success is empowering your mind, body, and spirit by showing up.

Showing up requires the ability to balance creativity with flexibility and discipline.

To be disciplined is to be committed, devoted, able to control your SELF in accordance with, and sometimes against, your desires.

You may be a genius, gifted or have an IQ of 160, but if you lack self-discipline and follow-through your success will be limited.

Leonardo affirmed the importance of this by writing reminders to himself of the superiority of doing to knowing.“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

 

5.) CHASE THE LIGHT

 

Darkness steeps everything with its hue, and the more an object is divided from darkness the more it shows its true and natural color

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

What’s your default position when things go awry, obstacles challenge your resolve, technology goes belly-up or unforeseen demands on your time derail your plans?

Does your mood darken? Setbacks are normal foes you’ll meet on the path to success, but how you greet them will determine the outcome.

Keep your thoughts light. You may need to bring out the big guns to wage war against doubt, despair and other dark, heavy thoughts. While they’re often part of the journey to success, you will need to slay them to stay motivated and optimistic.

Leonardo would turn again and again toward the things that created light. He didn’t ignore the shadows, but he didn’t allow his palette to be overloaded by darkness.

Acceptance, optimism, willpower, grit, stubborn determination and a resolve to persevere are critical skills to cultivate, as is flexibility and the willingness to adapt. Sometimes it’s all too hard and you need to hibernate. You can take a lesson from nature in this regard.

Successful people resist complaining and victim talk—they know it increases toxicity in your mind and body, hampering your progress. Instead, they throw their energy into positivity and strive to engineer and implement solutions, no matter how small.

They also ask for help if too much darkness creeps in, and, rather than suppress, numb or try to ignore problems they peer into the darkness and look for the gift.

The astoundingly innovative and talented British architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, faced unimaginable obstacles on her road to success, including battling the predominately male industry who viewed her curvaceous designs with destain. “Having to fight hard has made me a better architect,” she once said.

6.) SAVVY SOBRIETY

 

Here again, many vain pleasures are enjoyed, both by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of life. Extremes are to be avoided

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Alcohol and success don’t make good marriage partners, but they’re often fatally attracted.

While there’s no evidence that Leonardo was a teetotaller, he was a clever man. Experience would have told him what we all know—too much booze muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit.

Many successful people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve, however, often takes extraordinary willpower.

Spiritual guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra, gave up drinking, saying “I liked it too much.”

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, fought her way back from alcoholism. Others like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it.

Drink to success? Destroying your career, ruining your relationships, sacrificing your sanity, and taking your life is a massive price to pay to celebrate success.

Benefits of not drinking are many, including:

  • Authentic happiness
  • Increased memory and mental performance
  • Better control of your emotions
  • Increased productivity
  • Sweeter relationships
  • Improved confidence, self-esteem
  • Stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams
  • Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

The choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the toll it exacts. Consider trialing sobriety—take the 30-day challenge. Experiment with living an alcohol-free life.

Do you need help to moderate or quit drinking? Consider purchasing any of my books in the Mindful Drinking series, including Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life 

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

Why sobriety is cool, sophisticated, and savvy

Monday, March 12th, 2018

 

Many people struggle to control alcohol because they’re not motivated by sobriety. But being sober isn’t just about not drinking.

Sobriety is achieved by putting energy and effort toward something you really desire.

Knowing why you want something is just as important as knowing what you want.

Why do you want to control your drinking? To feel better about your- self? To achieve wellbeing goals? Because you’re afraid that your drinking it taking over your body and your life? To inspire others? Because you’re curious that what you’ve been hearing is true—life really is better sober? Or something else?

We’ll explore more ways to help you discover your driving purpose later in this book, but first  here are just a few benefits of achieving sobriety:

• Improved mental health and wellbeing

• Better physical health

• Improved emotional health

• Elevated spiritual health

• Saves money

• Enriches your relationships

• Is an indispensable part of fulfilment

• Energizes you

• Liberates you

• Will change your life and the lives of those who matter most to you

Being sober sounds great, and it is. But the challenge is that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing it’s awesome to be drunk. As I share later in this book, many of the people we look up to, including our political leaders have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol—no wonder it’s hard to implement laws aimed at reducing alcohol harm.

But if it’s cool to be high, why do so many of us want to quit? Why do thousands of people sign on for Dry July or make New Year’s resolutions to lose the booze only to be coerced or bullied into drinking again?

Giving up drinking can feel like losing your best friend, even your lover—until you remind yourself how alcohol is a  fickle companion who lets you down again and again.

Sobriety, now there’s a forever friend.

She won’t turn sour, she won’t piss you off, or get mad at you, and she won’t rob you blind. Sobriety won’t hijack your brain and make you say and do things you’ll wildly regret in the wake of hangover hell.

Sobriety is not seedy or unpleasant. Sobriety is a sophisticated, serene, stabilizer in a world gone mad.

Sober

Synonyms

2. Not drunk

3. Thoughtful, steady, down-to-earth and level-headed

4. Serene, earnest

5. Not addicted

 

Who doesn’t want a friend like that?

Sadly, the opposite is also true. Some of my best, most trusted friends turn into tyrants, either at the time of drinking or in the days that follow. These are just a few of the changes I notice when they drink alcohol:

• Overly critical

• Short-tempered

• Tyrannical

• Moody

• Solemn

• Angry

• Silent

• Withdrawn

 

Unlike alcohol, sobriety can be trusted.

Throughout this book I’ll discuss some of my strategies for living in a booze soaked world, including how I keep my energy and vibration levels high and don’t allow drunks to dull my sparkle.

One simple strategy I do find helpful, however, is to pin inspiring quotes somewhere visible to remind me to censure the tendency to demand others change or to judge.

Letting go of judgment creates peace, strength, and ultimately increases joy. Becoming judgment-free and leading by example is also one of the key sobriety steps recommended by many successful addiction programs. This includes self-judgment and self-criticism.

My current go-to quote is by Abraham Hicks, “Let others vibrate how they vibrate and want the best for them. Never mind how they’re flowing to you. You concentrate on how you’re flowing because one who is connected to the energy stream is more powerful, more influential than a million who are not.”

You can see this quote, along with the image of a young woman in a glass jar, sending her loving light into the world. The jar represents the shield she places around herself, to protect her from negative people and dark outside forces.

I also invite love, not fear or anger to guide my day. I’m not saying it’s easy—if it were the world would be a happier place. I work to remember how my loved ones are when they’re sober—how kind they are, how caring. This love extends to me too. I know I’m a nicer, kinder person sober than I am drunk.

Exercising self-love, however, means accepting that sometimes there comes a time when being around people who abuse alcohol becomes too toxic. Their drinking may undermine your health, threaten your resolve, or cause you to constantly fear for your life. There are times you may have to quit not only the booze, but people, places and relationships that hold you back.

Finding joy in sobriety is a lifestyle choice—a very personal, and very empowered and empowering choice. It’s a choice you make with eyes wide open, determined to celebrate and make the most of your one precious life in every way.

Humor, as you’ll also discover, goes a long way.

This man is giving birth to a six-pack…‘Father and beers are doing swell.’

It’s a picture I drew in my Sobriety Journal, in part to remind me how staying sober improves my waistline.

Call it like it is….would you like a shot of ethanol and a gallon of sugar with that?

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

Are You Worried about your drinking?

Download the first 66 pages of Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More for FREE—navigate to here

 

“I work with people and their whanau/families on a daily basis who have, have had or have recovered from Alcohol and Other Drug issues.  The damage caused by AOD overuse and abuse is enormous and has ongoing negative effects on our society and future generations mainly due to observation and learned behaviours.  I really like the approach that this book takes in not attempting to stop drinking totally.  It instead explains and coaches how to manage and cope with consuming alcohol so that the damaging effects may be minimised.  This is a very useful supportive book for ‘drinkers’ and their families.  It is a book that is very easy to read and understand.  I really like the quotes, sayings and tools contained therein.  This book is much bigger than just the social and familial issues with alcohol – It is in a very big way about ‘Your Beautiful Mind’.  It fits very well with my style of practice and that is to start with the basics and move onwards and upwards from there. I see in the book an AHA (awakening, honesty, action) moment in the book.  I really get the reference to wisdom (The smart person knows what to say, the wise person knows when to say it) and the associated learning.  I will be recommending this ‘must read’ book to my clients and their whanau/families and anybody else who will listen”.

~ Philipe Eyton, Counsellor, Life and Leadership Coach, BSocP, NZAC (Stud)

 

“One thing that I like about this book is that the author doesn’t trash other recovery programs whether she agrees with them or not.  This approach is very different (and refreshing) from other books I’ve read that claim to be the “real or only solution” which involves tearing down other methods in the process, but as Cassandra’s book alludes—one form of recovery may work for some people and not others—it depends on the person, their physiology, background, life experience, etc. At first, I thought the segments about advertising would be boring but they actually really appealed to the part of me that loves science, facts, and proof.  Reading the explanations led to many “Aha!” moments! I also felt so relieved to read there is a sober/not drinking movement going on. I felt relieved and hopeful. How I wish this was going on when I started my own drinking career in my early teens. I’m feeling so grateful to Cassandra for writing it. There is so much vital information packed into this book and I wish fervently that it ends up on the best seller list!”

Lisa Ruggiero, Amazon 5-Star Review

 

“This is a book for anyone who is struggling with alcohol (or even overeating/comfort eating – it can be used for several addictions) as a way to encourage the reader to look at  their drinking (or other affliction) in a loving way, encouraging the reader to work with their intelligent self, on a loving level, it offers support, (you don’t feel alone), it offers stories of awareness, idea’s for moving beyond the clutches of alcohol and experiencing the joy of living a full, creative, and/or self-loving life.”

~ Catherine Sloan, Counselor

 

“I see people that I would love to give this book recommendation to.  They need this in their lives-a few of who would not consider, they have any problem with alcohol, nor have any desire to stop drinking – but I liked this book because the message is that you take control of how you steer the ship.  You can choose to decrease and manage your drinking or you can choose to omit alcohol altogether from your life.

Alcohol is abused and I know a few young people (18-25yrs) that haven’t a clue of what they’re drinking or the impacts on them physically, mentally or emotionally.  This is huge.  Yet each and every week they are returning to the bottle to find some solace in drinking or in fact getting pissed.

I love the connection Cassandra shares with herself in this book.  The Sobriety Journal she mentions and has created is a fantastic tool – and I would recommend people use conjunction with this book and your own journey- it will do wonders.  It’s a great reflective tool also to go back to down the track, as Cassandra has openly displayed herself.

I am quite surprised myself about the new knowledge I gained from what I read in this book.  And wondered why when I was drinking did I never stop to consider what I was drinking, what my drink was made of and how- never ever!  I can remember thinking, I wonder how many calories are in this beer.  Or how much sugar.  But never looked it up as such, as I didn’t actually want to know at the time.  I was in somewhat of a denial.  I just wanted to consume it anyway.  I quite often was sick on the evening or the next day after a binge.

So this information needs to be shared and is available in this book.  I think that’s fantastic.  It’s not too complex.  At first, I wondered if I would see my younger relatives reading this and relating to it.  And thought, maybe not.  But then when momentum picked up and the diverse realities were seen and heard – I thought it would relate to many soft spots they have and I hopefully allow them to take control of themselves and their drinking.

Loving what I read. I am seeing some home truths and common vulnerabilities which makes this book relatable to many.

~ Jo-Maitera

 

“I like the content of the book a lot. As an ex-drunk who quit for both mental and physical health reasons, it’s very affirming. I like her comment that she’s yet to meet an ex-drinker who preferred life as a drinker.

I think it will appeal to both people who are considering change and people who have made a change to their drinking and want both affirmation and some information so they can explain why to their friends.

I like its meandering style (it makes me think of sharing in a group). It’s too good a message to ignore.”

~ Andrew Nicholls

 

 

 

 

 

Why not making mistakes is the biggest mistake you’ll ever make

Sunday, March 11th, 2018
“And then, out of many years of silence and failure and feeling that my whole life was a disaster, the writer came, like a blessing, like a door that opened into another space.”

~ Isabel Allende


 
Conquering failure often requires learning the hard way to reach dizzying heights and allowing room for disappointment. 
One successful author, whose name escapes me, once advised aspiring authors to affirm the following, “I am willing to write badly; I am willing to do the work whether it is any good or not; I am also willing to allow brilliance.”

 
Many people stagnate under the weight of perfectionism or fear of failing because they worry about making mistakes. 
It may be challenging, but investing in strategies to create more tolerance and acceptance towards making mistakes will prove liberating.
 
One strategy is to learn from others’ misfortune.
With hindsight, sometimes the greatest fortune comes from making the biggest blunders.
 
Here are just a few mistakes that turned out well:

 
Isabel Allende started her career in journalism and soon found herself offside with people who didn’t appreciate her outspoken views. For years she felt under-appreciated—until she decided to tackle her first novel, The House of Spirits.
The novel was named Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982, and Allende received the country’s Panorama Literario award. The House of the Spirits has been translated into over 37 languages. It was also adapted into a film of the same name starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Winona Ryder, Glenn Close, and Antonio Banderas.
 

Musician Ornette Coleman’s mistake led her to be acclaimed as the inventor of “free jazz.” She was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship (nicknamed the Genius Award) in 1994 and the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2007.
“It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something,” she once said.
 

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper for lack of ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he and his brother co-founded Walt Disney Productions, one of the best-known motion picture production companies in the world. Disney’s revenue last year was $US45 billion.
Dr. Suess’ first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 publishers. The 28th publisher, Vanguard Press, sold six million copies of the book. He went on to write numerous other books which still sell well today.

 
Rhonda Byrne’s life was at an all-time low. Fifty-five and twice divorced, her father had just died and her career was in crisis. 
That was until, acting on an inspired thought, she created the DVD The Secret and later produced a book, both of which galloped away to become some of the biggest-selling self-help resources of all time.
 
 

At the heart of Byrnes’ inspirational series of products is the Law of Attraction.
“Everything in your life is attracted to you by what you are thinking,” Rhonda says. “You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with your thoughts. If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts.”
Refuse to be a victim.
 
Next time you feel you’ve made a mistake, ask yourself, “How could this work out for my highest good?” 
Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes making mistakes heralds a time of new birth and energy.
 
Draw on the lessons you have learned to help you move forward
Notice how you have grown and changed as a result of everything that has happened.
 
Gather information as you go and be ready for a new adventure. Look for positive signs for successful outcomes in the future.
 





Mining for Gold


 
What is the biggest mistake you ever made and what did you learn?
 

Buoy your resolve by collecting stories about other people who felt like failures, or were treated harshly by peers, critics, family, and other disbelievers.
 

Collect a file of inspiring stories about mistakes that turned out well.
 

Follow your inspiration.


 

 

This is an edited extract from The Prosperous Author: How to Make a Living With Your Writing (Book One: Developing a Millionaire Mindset by Cassandra Gaisford. ORDER THE EBOOK TODAY, and SEND YOUR ORDER CONFIRMATION AND RECEIVE YOUR FREE BONUS GIFTS—Click the Amazon link here getBook.at/TheProsperousAuthor

Develop A Millionaire Mindset Today!

The truth about Alcohol Addiction and Recovery—Wrestling With the God Thing

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

“Spiritual and environmental factors are starting to make a bit of an impact but are not fully accepted as a mainstream approach yet (particularly spiritual approaches). But every approach has its day …. and as they do become more accepted maybe it is a matter of watch this space …”
~ Dr. Gillian Craven, Massey University (personal email, 2014)

As I wrote in the foreword to this book, while finishing my psychology degree at the young-old-age of 49 I decided to take a spiritual approach to the treatment of alcohol addiction. The topic proved challenging.

It was the final assignment needed to complete my third-year paper, Abnormal and Therapeutic Psychology. A lot was resting on it. I’d failed my first assignment where I had researched the causes and treatment of obesity. I was told this was because I hadn’t consulted enough empirical data and scholarly articles—relying instead on people’s personal accounts. I was keen to avoid the same mistake.

But I quickly discovered a lack of psychologically-validated research to cite.

Perplexed I asked my lecturer why, when so many alcoholics swear that taking a spiritual approach was instrumental in their recovery, there was a dearth of research?

“The theoretical etiologies of disorders do focus on cognitive, genetic, neurobiological, personality-based theories —this reflects the bias of both the authors themselves and the current Western approaches,” my lecturer, Dr. Gillian Craven, wrote back to me.

“This is for better or worse the zeitgeist of our time. Spiritual and environmental factors are starting to make a bit of an impact but are not fully accepted as a mainstream approach yet (particularly spiritual approaches). But every approach has its day …. and as they do become more accepted maybe it is a matter of watch this space …”

This was back in 2014. In my view, spiritual approaches were, and continue to be, adopted by mainstream practitioners, including Deepak Chopra who offers addiction recovery programs at his Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center.

Alcoholics Anonymous also addresses spiritual issues, and many followers attribute placing their faith in God to their recovery.

The challenge for many psychologists, particularly those focused on academic research, is their inability to measure, quantify, and place spirituality in a test-tube.

“Science has sometimes been at odds with the notion that laypeople can cure themselves,” writes Jarret Liotta in a National Geographic article, ‘Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?’

The purpose of Your Beautiful Mind is not to prove or disprove anyone beliefs or to discredit any profession, but to present you with options, backed by my own experience, and the experience of others who have struggled to control alcohol—and succeeded.

An increasing number of people also adhere to the belief that God lies within us all—we are God—and it is time to connect to our inner guidance and the ultimate source of empowerment. Many great minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, subscribed to this view.

As we explore an eclectic and holistic range of strategies—spiritual, cognitive, feeling-based, and scientifically validated, to help you control alcohol, I encourage you to adopt an open mind and ‘do a Leonardo da Vinci’ and experiment with different approaches until you find what works for you.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f

Would you like to drink less? Cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life.

Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Sexy Sobriety: Alcohol and Guilt-Free Drinks You’ll Love: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life. Available in ebook and paperback here—getBook.at/SexySobriety

Love is the Drug: Mindful Drinking—How to Follow Your Passion to Sobriety

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Lose the booze and replace the desire for alcohol with a healthy, positive addiction.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are. When you do what you love it’s like hanging out with your best friend—with less pinot and fewer craft beers.

Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.

When you’re feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, hungover or drunk, doing things which feed your soul are often the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that enlivens your spirit you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

Passion brings the energy or chi of love, giving you energy, vitality and a heightened sense of well-being. It’s one of the greatest stress-busters and most powerful drugs of all— promoting the generation of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that will give you a natural high.

The Power of Passion

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion,” the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel once said. Denzel Washington and many other successfully sober people agree. “You only live once, so do what you feel passionate about, take chances professionally, don’t be afraid to fail,” Washington says. 

Washington also said, “I made a commitment to completely cut drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened on upon me—spiritually and financially

.

• Passion is energy. Without energy, you have nothing.

• To be passionate is to be fully alive.

• Passion is about emotion, feeling, zest, and enthusiasm.

• Passion is about intensity, fervor, ardor, and zeal.

• Passion is about fire.

• Passion is about eagerness and preoccupation.

• Passion is about excitement and animation.

• Passion is about determination and self-belief

• Passion, like love and joy, is contagious

• Passion can’t be faked. It’s the mark of authenticity.

 

Passion fuels inner purpose and fires the flames of your imagination. It gives you a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue your dreams. Passion enables you to unleash latent forces and God-given talents.

When you find and follow your passion, you’ll find your sweet spot.

You’ll be emboldened by love— thus powering your creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity. You’ll also bounce back from setbacks, and refuse to allow failure to stop you—increasing your likelihood of achieving extraordinary success.

 

What’s your drug of choice?

Before Grant Cardone built five successful companies (and counting), became a multimillionaire, and wrote bestselling books… he was broke, jobless, and addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Cardone had grown up with big dreams, but friends and family told him to be more reasonable and less demanding. If he played by the rules, they said, he could enjoy everyone else’s version of middle-class success. But when he tried it their way, he says that was when he hit rock bottom.

Then he tried the opposite approach. He said NO to the haters and naysayers and said YES to his burning, obsession. He reclaimed his passion to be a business rock star, a super salesman, a huge philanthropist. He wanted to live in a mansion and even own an airplane.  Obsession, he says, made all of his wildest dreams come true. And it can help you achieve massive success too.

Instead of drinking focus on what excites you.

“I find things I like and I do them,” says James Patterson, arguably one of the most financially successful authors today. Patterson is also the son of an alcoholic.

Feel the power that comes from focusing on your passion obsession. What do you love doing? What inspires you? What makes you feel joyful?

Channel your passions into your career or pour it into a hobby. Even five minutes a day doing something you love can give you back your mojo and take your mind off the need to drink.

Laurie, a hobbyist lepidopterist escapes the need to drink by studying and enjoying his collection of exotic butterflies.

“Knitting saved my life,” the waitress at my local cafe told me recently. She told me how her hobby has provided the ultimate cure for her anxiety, and of the joy she finds in knitting for friends.

I love to write—it’s one of several favorite obsessions, and the perfect activity to do instead of drink, especially when I write books like this to help and empower others. It’s a similar ploy that’s worked well for Russell Brand (Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions), and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way), and other creatives who’ve channeled their creative energy into help others.

Your passion may start as a hobby or as a way to cure your blues, but could very well turn out to be your ticket to a more fulfilling career.

That’s how things rolled for Claire Robbie. At a low point in her life, and drinking way too much, what started as a way of healing became an essential part of her sobriety process, and as her love for her new practices grew, so did the sense that she had discovered a new vocation.

Robbie founded No Beers? Who Cares! to encourage and support people to jump on the alcohol-free bandwagon.

Another go-to-booze-replacement strategy I love is to head off for a swim in the sea or go for a brisk walk.

In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at the life-changing magic of exercise, including how Duff McKagan, bass guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, and one of the world’s greatest rock musicians, cycled his way back from vodka-induced near death.

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without AlcoholAvailable in ebook and paperback here—getbook.at/SobrietyJournal

Bonus: Alcohol-Free Drink Recipes You’ll Love!

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the 2018 Alcohol Detox challenge. The best New Years present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety https://www.facebook.com/YourBeautifulMindControlAlcoholBook/

 

#Sexysobriety #AddictionFree #TheSobrietyJournal #happy #AuthenticHappiness #teetotal

Booze and Guilt-Free Drinks You’ll Love for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life

Monday, January 1st, 2018

 

 

 

 

How did you enjoy the holiday season? Did you drink too much, wake up in hangover hell or did you resolve to quit or reduce your drinking in 2018? Perhaps you’re like me and are looking for some sexy sobriety alternatives to support your health and wellbeing goals during the year ahead. My latest book offers some carefully curated, sexy and sophisticated booze-free alternatives. Here’s an advance read of the blurb and a few healthy alcohol-free drink alternatives:

Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life

Cassandra Gaisford, a health counselor, holistic psychologist and the #1 bestselling author of Stress Less, Mid-Life Career Rescue and Find Your Passion and Purpose, (BCA, Dip Psych) provides the ultimate sobriety solution— easy to prepare alcohol and guilt-free drink recipes you’ll love.

Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Alcohol-Free Recipes for Happier HouJoy-Filled Filled Life brims with a range of a range of sexy, wonderfully refreshing and healthy alternatives to drinking alcohol.

Cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life. These easy to prepare drinks and pre-purchased alcohol-free alternatives can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home, office party or hip location.

“For readers who sincerely want to stop or rescue their drinking, but lack awareness of healthy alcohol-free alternatives, the recipes in this book will pave the way.”

Not everyone wants or needs to join a support group to adopt a more mindful approach to controlling their alcohol consumption or to deal with their drinking problems

Gaisford provides readers with a series of carefully curated, delicious, and healthy alcohol-free alternatives.

Anyone who needs to be kept on track or inspired by living sober will find genuine help in this refreshingly insightful and solution-focused book.

Mind Over Mojitos grew out of Cassandra Gaisford’s decades-long work in self-esteem, well-being and success coaching.

Organized into two volumes, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter this book guides you through a variety of different mocktail recipes and booze-free alternatives that will make your tastebuds sing and send your dopamine levels soaring.

Over time Mind Over Mojitos enables you to more easily make positive choices again and again.

Mind Over Mojitos is a companion guide to Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life—integrating neuroscience, cognitive therapy, proven tools, and teachings to help people suffering from alcohol dependence and addiction.

Mind Over Mojitos’ easy recipes for happier hours & a joy-filled life will help you achieve your goals—whether that’s getting sober or just cutting back—and create positive, permanent transformational change in your life.

Mind Over Mojitos will help you:

  • Take control of your drinking
  • Relieve stress and still have fun
  • Enjoy the taste of sexy and healthy alcohol-free alternatives
  • Eliminate alcohol to do a life and career reset
  • Love drinking minus the booze, hangover, and guilt
  • Join the trend toward tantalizing tee-totaling
  • Enjoy happier hours
  • Improve your relationships
  • Live a joy-filled healthier life.

 

Stop drinking now, here’s a sneak-peek at some of the booze-free recipes to help you love life sober.

Virgin Island Fox

A mocktail version of a classic created for me by the hip-cool folk at Charlotte’s Kitchen in Pahia, The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—my spiritual home. An elegant and restrained cocktail with subtle richness balanced with lovely zest.

Ingredients

• 1 tsp orange marmalade

• 90mls grapefruit juice

• 30mls lime juice

• 15 mls sugar syrup

• Ice

Instructions

• Add all ingredients except the ice into a mixer

• Single strain over ice into a wine glass

• Garnish – grapefruit

 

Asian Pear Sparkler

 

This Asian pear sparkler is smooth and refreshing with an enticing undercurrent of warm autumn flavors and mellow warmth. Rosemary and ginger with discrete tastes of honey finish this splendid drop.

Ingredients

• 1 cup freshly pressed Asian pear juice*

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 3/4 cups honey

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary

• 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into coins

• Small grating of fresh nutmeg

• Ice

• Soda water

Instructions

Combine pear juice, lemon juice, honey, sugar, rosemary, ginger, and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugars.

Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Let syrup cool completely.

To serve, fill an 8-ounce glass halfway with ice cubes, add 3 tablespoons of syrup, fill with soda water, and stir. Add more syrup for a sweeter or stronger flavor.

*Note: Use the most flavorful Asian pear you can find; Hosui is a consistently sweet variety. Making 1 cup of juice requires about 1 (12-ounce) pear, peeled and cored. If using a juicer, follow manufacturer’s instructions to extract the juice and discard the pulp. If using blender or food processor, puree the pear until smooth, strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and discard the solids. If you wind up with a little less than 1 cup, top it off with water.

Source: https://www.thekitchn.com/drink-recipe-as-161626

I was thrilled to receive this review for my latest book, especially because Niki is the daughter of an alcoholic.

“More motivating inspiration from Cassandra. Be honest with yourself … do you drink too much? Do you want to take back the control that alcohol has over you? Cassandra shows you how you can do this without missing out on the fun. Complete abstinence does not have to be the answer, neither does drinking water in boring tumblers at social functions have to be subject to questioning peers.

As the daughter of an alcoholic father, I am well aware of my own predisposition. When he fought for control, he would drink orange juice on ice, in a highball glass with a splash of soda and a wedge of orange. It looked just like a Screwdriver and no-one ever questioned it. 

With Cassandra’s advice and delicious mocktail recipes, you too can release the grip of alcohol and regain your life.” 

~ Niki Firth, 5-Star Amazon Review

As she writes, she is mindful of her own genetic predisposition. She’s generously shared a few of her own personal booze-free, healthy alternatives—including the Virgin Screwdriver her Dad would drink when trying to stay sober. “When he fought for control, he would drink orange juice on ice, in a highball glass with a splash of soda and a wedge of orange. It looked just like a Screwdriver and no-one ever questioned it.

Here’s Niki’s recipe for a Virgin Moscow Mule:

Virgin Moscow Mule

 

A refreshing taste of lime with the added zest of ginger but no hangover. World class!

Ingredients

• 1 Lime (quartered)

• Ginger beer (not dry or ale)

• Ice, lightly smashed

• Ginger toffee (optional—recipe follows)

 

Instructions

• Add ice and 2 lime quarters to a mug style glass

• Muddle lime and ice to release juice and flavor

• Top the glass with ginger beer and serve with 2 straws

• Decorate with clapped mint leaves and a slice of lime or alternatively …

• Decorate with some smashed ginger toffee (optional)

Serves 2 / Prep Time less than 10 minutes

 

Grab a copy of Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life, and see the scrummy Ginger Toffee optional add-on.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Mind Over Mojitos: Available in ebook and paperback here—viewBook.at/MindOverMojitosRecipes

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the 2018 Alcohol Detox challenge. The best New Years present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety

Share your stories and experiences, we’d love to hear from you! To join, please visit our dedicated Facebook group— https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment

What’s the ultimate Christmas present? The gift of your sobriety

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

When I cut out alcohol, my life got better. When I cut out alcohol, my spirit came back. An evolved life requires balance. Sometimes you have to cut one thing to find balance everywhere else.”

~ Sarah Hepola, author

How Alcohol Affects Your Brain and Behavior

You may think that alcohol relaxes you, but in reality, you’re disrupting your brain’s natural functioning. Every time you drink alcohol you’re slowing down, impeding and even destroying your beautiful brain’s ability to do its job.

Scary and true.

Your brain is your body’s control center. It’s the maestro of the orchestra, directing a wide range of abilities and vital life processes, including breathing and maintaining a regular heartbeat, and influencing your emotions.

When you introduce booze into the mix the melody changes from one of harmony to potential discord.

While all the systems in your body feel the effects of alcohol, the Central Nervous System (CNS), is acutely sensitive. The CNS is made up of billions of neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior. And none of these are for the better.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior.

 

The Great Depression

Alcohol depresses your CNS—slowing motor function, thinking, comprehension, and reasoning.

Booze makes nerve cells in your brain dull and less excited. This may surprise you. You may think that alcohol is a great ‘pick-me-up.’

In the short-term drinking alcohol can make you become more animated and socially confident. But this is only because the first wave of alcohol affects parts of your brain that involve inhibiting your behaviors.

The first drops of alcohol are like a green light signaling to your neural network, ’Let’s go! It’s happy hour. Time to party.’

But look more closely and you’ll see many warning indicators that your brain is either slowing to a crawl or getting ready to brawl.

Take a look at the list below. How many have been true for you after knocking back a few too many?

• Slurring and altered speech

• Hazy thinking

• Slowed reaction time

• Blurred vision

• Uncoordinated muscles

• Foggy memory

Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects your brain and behavior.The role of different parts of your brain and how alcohol compromises optimal functioning follows:

Central striatum and prefrontal cortex: Contains connections that make up the brain’s reward system and regulates impulsive behavior. This is also the part of the brain that is affected first, causing your behavior to become looser, less guarded and increasing the likelihood you’ll do something impulsive you may later regret.

Hippocampus: Your brain’s memory storehouse. Even a small shot of alcohol can cause forgetfulness and memory loss.

Cerebellum: This part of your brain works with the primary motor cortex to control your movement, maintain balance, and enable complex motor functions. When you’re drunk, your motor function is impeded and reaction times slow. If you can’t stand or walk in a straight line after a night on the booze you’ll know why.

Frontal lobe: Your judgment, behavior, and emotions are controlled by this part of your brain. Alcohol affects the natural rhythm of your emotions and may cause anxiety, depression, crying, fighting, and aggression. Alcohol can make good people turn bad, and happy people become sad.

Reticular activating system: This part is in the midbrain, and controls sleeping and waking. Alcohol can depress these systems, causing you to pass out. Alternatively, it can disrupt your normal sleeping patterns, causing insomnia and waking you up at annoying hours. Lack of sleep increases irritability and low mood.

Medulla: This part is in the hindbrain, and it controls your heartbeat, breathing, and other important life functions. Heavy drinking sessions can disrupt everything, putting your life in danger.

Neurons: Your brain has billions of these nerve cells. As you’ve already read, alcohol can reach and enter these cells and damage, or even, at high enough levels, kill them off completely.

Blood vessels: When you’re intoxicated, alcohol causes your blood vessels to relax and open wide—slowing blood pressure to crawl. At very high levels of intoxication, booze can shrink your blood vessels and send your blood pressure soaring, exacerbating such conditions as migraine headaches, or worse, compromising your heart.

Hypothalamus: Finally, alcohol depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus, which control sexual performance and arousal. Sexual urges may increase, but sexual performance and sensory pleasure decrease.”

Shut off, shut down…and worse

Okay, now you know what happens in your brain when you drink, and how this compromises your behavior and health. The chances are high that you know that alcohol can be dangerous. But very often, it’s not a story that’s often heard.

Many people don’t abuse alcohol and enjoy a good time. But a lot of people don’t.

Alcohol affects just about every part of your brain and your nervous system. It ‘shuts down’ different parts of the brain and compromises your health, causes you to engage in unhealthy behaviors and engage in activities you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t ‘under the influence.’

In essence, you’ve lost control. At worst, letting alcohol get in the driver’s seat could take your freedom and your life.

Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood of making bad decisions, engaging in risky behavior, increasing the alcohol dependence, and can lead to addiction and alcoholism.

In the following chapter, we’ll look at why some people develop alcohol dependence and how relying on booze to deal with life can escalate to alcoholism. You’ll then be better armed to avoid getting immeshed in the alcohol trap.

Sexy Sobriety: Your Challenge

Educate yourself. Next time you decide to hit the bottle monitor what happens to your brain, your mood, and your ability to function. If you’re around other people who are on the booze, study how excessive drinking affects them.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when my new book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f

Would you like to drink less? We value your advice—help customize this book to peoples’ needs, navigate to here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5K8KSN7

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the December Detox challenge. The best Christmas present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety https://www.facebook.com/YourBeautifulMindControlAlcoholBook/

Boost happiness, joy and prosperous productivity by 600%—create a magic morning

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

“If you win the morning, you win the day,” says millionaire author, podcaster and polymath Tim Ferriss. Despite his phenomenal success Tim suffers from anxiety and credits a robust morning routine and other health behaviors with giving him more bounce throughout the day.

Ferriss kick-starts his day with 10-20 minutes of transcendental meditation, five to 10 minutes of journaling or Morning Pages, making his bed, and a healthy dose of positive vibes. He also does at least 30 seconds of light exercise. 30 seconds!

“Getting into my body, even for 30 seconds, has a dramatic effect on my mood and quiets mental chatter,” Ferriss wrote in his book Tools of Titans.

I’ve followed a similar ritual for years—long before I discovered Tim Ferris. But whenever I am tempted to flag my meditation or my ritual of writing in my journal, I find it helpful to remind myself these are the tools Titans like Tim use to achieve phenomenal results.

Below are just a few of the many Magic Morning routines and rituals you can use to prime your day for miracles:

Meditation and mindfulness—enjoy some sacred silence

Affirmations—empower your beliefs with feeling-based reminders of your intentions

Goals to go for—set your priorities, including health and well-being activities (exercise etc.)

Inspiration—journaling, visualization, reading

Co-create—partner with spirit, tap into your Higher Self, evoke the muse…and get ready to create

 

Importantly, complete these crucial focusing activities before you get to work.

I experience many of these activities simultaneously when I meditate, write my Morning Pages, and consult the oracles; and also when I go for a walk in nature, listen to an uplifting audiobook or podcast, or sip my morning coffee.

Ferriss, in a podcast episode, sums up the potency of similar mindful practices: “It’s easy to become obsessed with pushing the ball forward as a Type-A personality and end up a perfectionist who is always future-focused.

“The five-minute journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person. That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person—which is not something that comes naturally to me.”

I’m not alone in knowing the positive difference daily habits like journaling or taking the time to reconnect with my higher self, makes to my resilience and happiness levels.

Get your day off to a high-vibration start.  Choose, develop, and apply your own Magic Morning routines.

 

This is an edited extract from Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness and, overcome obstacles and elevate your success read the book here—myBook.to/Bounce.

How I put more fuel in an empty tank

Friday, November 17th, 2017

 

Recently, someone asked me, “Have you always been a hamster on a wheel?”

Her question certainly got me thinking how seldom it is that I stop and take a break. Many people who love what they do find it hard to stop. In fact, very often working is how I relax. I Iove writing—it’s like a meditation to me. I love creative expression, and I love encouraging others. I love what I do for work so much I find it hard to stop and take time out just to be.

Most of my life I’ve struggled with taking time out. I love being busy 🙂 But several things changed my thinking and altered my perspective. I began to feel fatigued and feelings of despondency crept in—including increasingly negative evaluations of the effectiveness of the work that I do.

If these feelings are something you can relate to, know that they are red flag warning you that’s it’s time to cut yourself some slack and take a break. I did just that when, in September,  I went to Bali with my mom. For three blissful weeks I went off the grid—no writing, no social media, no digital gadgets whatsoever—other than my camera. It has been so long that I did something just for fun, as a hobby, that I had forgotten how much I loved it.

So, in this end of the week Kickstarter, I’m sharing a few timely reminders from The Happy, Healthy Artist: Worry Less, Improve Your Health & Create a Sustainable Creative Career

 

Excerpts to soothe & inspire…

PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Jessie Burton, the author of The Muse and The Miniaturist, powerfully sums up how anxiety can sneak up on you and the importance of protecting your health—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Below is an extract from the vivid account she shared on her blog earlier in 2017:

“I looked my mental health in the eye and did not do enough to protect it. I burned out again, I suffered dehydration and a viral infection, but far worse, my anxiety came in huge and truly awful doses and, in the end, I had to cancel a few events. I am well aware of the places I had to cancel events, and one day, I hope to make up for that in those places. It wasn’t many, but I did feel terrible.

I truly love having readers, and I did the best I could, a four-month publicity tour, two continents, five events in three days kind of thing, but by the end of September, the scrutiny and analysis, repetition and a sinking of myself led to physical damage and a deep sense of alienation, panic and an indefinable loss.The thing I want most to do in the world is write, and I agonized that if writing led to this kind of struggle, then what was the solution?” she asked.

Balance. That is the solution.

***

STRESS LESS

Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil…It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time. ~ Margarita Tartakovsky, blogger

AS JESSIE BURTON’S experience illustrated when you are under too much pressure, take too much on and don’t take time out, you tend to live your life on overdrive and on the verge of burnout. When you’re stressed you are less effective, make more mistakes, suffer more and are prone to illness. Very often people turn to “medicine”—chemical highs, alcohol, and prescription drugs—to manage the symptoms.

But the reality is that these only offer temporary relief. They mask symptoms which, left unresolved, can set fire to everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Fortify your resilience. Stop, take a break, rest, eat well, stay away from negative people, cultivate optimism, exercise, do things you love, play, spend time in nature, experience the quietness of solitude, and experiment with other effective stress management techniques.

***

AROMATHERAPY FOR MENTAL ALERTNESS

 If you believe in aromatherapy…it works! If you don’t believe in aromatherapy…it works! ~ Cristina Proano-Carrion, aromatherapist

ALONG WITH YOUR skills and capabilities, it is your state of mind that determines how productive, successful and happy you will be. There are many ways to empower your mind—working with essential oils is one of the most effortless. The sense of smell is the most basic and primitive of all our senses and is of vital importance to authors.

The process of smelling is called olfaction and is incredibly complicated, taking place in several areas of the brain including the limbic system which itself has approximately 34 structures and 53 pathways. The limbic system is linked to sensations of pleasure and pain, and emotions— both positive and negative, including fear and confidence, sadness and joy and other feelings that can either erode or boost productivity and prosperity.

THE FOLLOWING BLENDS are also great ‘pick-me-ups’ for your weary mind:

Alertness:

Ginger, 6 drops

Grapefruit, 5 drops

Juniper Berry, 4 drops

15 ml of a carrier oil

Energizing:

Lavender, 8 drops

Lemon, 2 drops

Orange, 6 drops

Rosemary, 4 drops

 

All excerpts from  The Happy, Healthy Artist: Worry Less, Improve Your Health & Create a Sustainable Creative Career available from Amazon as an ebook or paperback here—viewBook.at/HappyHealthyArtist

P.S.

I’ll be sharing my strategies for a stress-free Christmas and holiday season with a journalist from the New Zealand Herald, who interviewed me recently. It’s a super important topic – so many people find it hard to switch off.

See this blog about the importance of a digital detox-https://buff.ly/2z5x2cF

Are money worries holding you back?

Friday, October 20th, 2017

New Release: Financial Rescue: The Total Money Makeover: Create Wealth, Reduce Debt & Gain Freedom

 

Are money worries cramping your lifestyle? Are you losing precious sleep worrying about how you are going to make ends meet? Do you want to tone fat and flabby expenses into a well-honed budget?

Or, perhaps you want to find savvy ways to boost your finances, change careers, build a business or become a solopreneur—on a shoestring.

There’s one sure way to stress less and whip your finances into shape, and that’s with Financial Rescue: The Total Money Makeover

Forget the flaky get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of fluffy, new-age ideas but not a euro in your pocket. If you’re tired of bloated lies and false promises, look no further—completely make over your money beliefs and your habits.

I know what it’s like to struggle with debt, and I know how finances can suffer when you want to change careers. I’ve been a single mom, struggling to pay my mortgage, but I’ve survived and thrived through financial crises and I’ve landed on my feet.

I built a brand new home and started several successful businesses from nothing more than the smell of an oily rag and an audacious vision. This same audacity, tenacity, and refusal to accept the financial hassles I inevitably faced means I now live in a millionaire-dollar plus lifestyle property in the beautiful Bay of Islands, in New Zealand. And I’m sharing all that I’ve learned in my new book, Financial Rescue: The Total Money Makeover.


I hope, no matter what your current financial situation, you’ll find some tips that resonate with you. 

 

With Financial Rescue: The Total Money Makeover: Create Wealth, Reduce Debt & Gain Freedom, you’ll be able to:

• Stress less and whip your finances into shape

• Find a way to finance a career change and create a living from your passions

• Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all debt

• Overcome mindset issues, including self-doubt, fear of failure, anxiety, or despair

• Boost confidence or self-esteem

• Employ creative strategies and scientifically engineered hacks proven to increase prosperity

• Do less and earn more

• Apply no-hype, practical tips, and easily implementable strategies

• Create a juicy, golden nest egg for emergencies and retirement!

 

You may not have the cash at the moment, and the economy may not be ideal, but that doesn’t mean your mind can’t be working on your ideas and creating the way to a better future. Look for opportunities in every climate. That’s leverage!

Financial Rescue: The Total Money Makeover Create Wealth, Reduce Debt & Gain Freedom Is available for immediate download and enjoyment from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076BM9R9W

viewBook.at/FinancialRescue

 

 

 

 

 

Are you feeling stressed? Anxious? Or just plain “over it?”

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Are you feeling stressed? Anxious? Or just plain “over it?” My newest release may provide the mojo boost you, or someone you love, need:

 

Praise for Stress Less. Love Life More

“Currently, my workload is pretty intense and a little stressful. After reading this book I felt less stressed and more focused. I highly recommend adding this helpful book to your collection.”

~ Paul Brodie, Eight-time Amazon bestselling author

“This is another of Cassandra’s well researched and thought-provoking books, this time focusing on stress and how to best manage it. Cassandra has packed this book with great suggestions to help the reader cope with stress; brings statistics to life with colourful side stories and includes many helpful quizzes to enable the reader to gauge for themselves where their stress levels are at.

I particularly liked the Happy at Work tips. But mostly I  enjoyed the way the book moved along the subject never allowing the reader to consider whether there were better books out there as this book contains everything a stressed reader, or even someone wishing to help a person who is stressed,  maybe looking for in the way of practical suggestions and thought-provoking information. I highly recommend this book.”

~ Catherine Sloan, counselor

“Reading Stress Less brought me real inspiration to incorporate Cassandra’s stress-busting strategies into my daily routines. While it was not news to me to read there is a correlation between reduced stress levels and self-care, meditation, and not over- “boozing,” the book (and it’s revealing quizzes) really drove home to me the necessity of actually putting self-care into practice.

Cassandra effectively demonstrates how high-stress is largely self-perpetuated, and anyone can become empowered to free him or herself from stress-inducing patterns and environments. Stress Less is well-researched, full of helpful links for further reading, listening, and exploring, and is an easily navigable resource to which I am sure I will return.”

~Amy Stokes, editor

 

Here’s a wee excerpt:

 

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.

“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.


Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…

What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.

Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:

Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.

Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.

Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.

More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.

Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.

Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.

Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.

“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.

Are screens the problem or a symptom?

“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.

“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.

None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”

 

Call to Action

Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.

Dive Deeper…

Take a real break from work—check out my interview in the New Zealand Herald, “Escape the Always On Culture,” navigate to here—http://bit.ly/2s7PEWd


Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq

 

 

This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, navigate to: getBook.at/StressLess to go to your online bookshop

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