Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Stress Less – Sleep Your Way to the Top

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”

~ Arianna Huffington, businesswoman

Time stays long enough for those who use it well and protect it fiercely. But many people either, find it difficult to switch off at night, or they sacrifice their sleep in the mistaken belief they’ll be more productive.

Sleep plays a vital role in your health and wellbeing. Getting enough quality sleep helps you maintain your mental and physical health and enhances your quality of life.

Modern science proves conclusively that if you skip out on sleep you’re compromising not just your productivity and efficiency, but also your health.

More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a February 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sleeping less than seven hours a day, they report, can lead to an increased risk of frequent mental distress, impaired thinking, reduced cognitive ability, and increased susceptibility to depression.

Lack of sleep also increases the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. None of which will aid your quest for happiness and prosperity.

When stress becomes too much, is your quality of sleep affected? The next time you’re worrying and feeling anxious around bedtime, try one of these simple hacks to relax and quieten your mind enough to fall asleep:

Take time to unwind after a stressful day

Before going to bed, take some time out to unwind from the stresses of the day. Allow at least 30 minutes before bed for a quiet, ‘preparing to sleep’ activity. Enjoying a calming cup of herbal tea, listening to soothing music, reading a novel or book of poems (paperback), an aromatherapy bath with lavender and other scented oils, or even a relaxation or meditation practice.

Clear mental clutter

If you have the events of the day or other issues running through your head before bedtime, start writing them down in a journal for you to revisit later. The simple act of writing down your troubles – and noting how you feel about them in that moment – can help you make sense of the root cause of your problem and free up some space for more important activities like sleeping.

Schedule time to worry

If you want to sleep better, you need to empty your mind of all thoughts, tasks and stresses. Another way to clear your mental chatter is to ‘box your worries’ by scheduling in dedicated ‘worry time’. This is a programmed time that is dedicated to – you guessed it – worrying. A scheduled 30-minute window in your day allows you, and even encourages you, to think constructively through the problem.  Many of my clients tell me that when their ‘worry time’ comes around their issue has disappeared or become less important.

If the issue is still lingering, by granting yourself some time to focus on the issue worrying you, you’re forced to either formulate a solution, or to let it go.

Be proactive and create a to-do list

Another active way to clear your head and get to bed is with a master to-do list. Write down ‘things to do’ in a list in your diary so that you don’t need to keep thinking about them over and over. This is why planning your ‘tomorrow’ the day before is also an effective strategy. You can sleep well knowing that you have your bases covered. This also minimises decision fatigue.

Did you know that humans are only capable of keeping seven to nine different things in our working memory at once? When you try to recall all the tasks you need to complete, this uses up valuable mental energy and can prevent you from sleeping soundly.

Creating a list transfers your chores from your mind to the page (paper or digital), freeing up valuable brainpower. You’ll be better able to analyse tasks and prioritise, delegate, or even eliminate some of them. It’s a win-win success strategy.

Numerous studies reveal that a to-do list can also make you happier. Don’t sweat it if  you don’t manage to cross everything off your list, the act of compiling one can still help you reach your goals, manage your stress levels and help you relax enough to get some well-earned sleep time.

Disconnect

You can also enhance your sleep by turning off all devices and leaving them outside your bedroom.

“I will not sleep with my phone in my room,” Jessie Burton, the author of The Muse, shared on one of her blogs. After suffering from burnout and severe anxiety she created a not-to-do list to restore and protect her mental health.

In the next chapter, you’ll dive deeper and uncover the life-changing benefits of unplugging, taking control of technology and enjoying regular digital detoxes.

Call to Action

If lack of sleep is keeping you awake and night, and making you tired during the day consider reading and applying the strategies in Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time.

Be ruthless about prioritising your well-being. Remind yourself of the benefits that flow while you sleep, and when you enhance the length and quality of your sleep.

 

 

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, click here to go to your online bookshop.

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Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

How to hatch a job when all the odds seem stacked against you

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket during your job hunt, spread the quest for success and have a minimum of 6 different options on the go. This will help minimise anxiety and disappointment. I recall being given this tip by a career coach I worked with when I was really unhappy at work and had developed shingles.

The same coach who got me to draw how I felt during the job search process. And, as I shared in my mid-life career rescue books,  I drew the picture of the bird trapped in a cage with the door open but she didn’t think she could fly. My coach cried.

But then she and I developed possible solutions, including applying for a minimum of six jobs even if I didn’t think I had a hope of getting them.

And I didn’t think I had a hope.

I really felt nobody would employee me. But my coach kept me focused on my dreams. She helped me realise what I really needed it in a job to feel happy – at work and in life.

And she help me believe that even though I thought it was impossible…that maybe – and that was a tiny, tiny maybe for me at the time with how I felt – that  maybe I could make my dream career come true.

So I applied for these jobs – even ‘far out’ ones I didn’t think I could get. But I still only had five job applications in my career basket.  So on a wing and a prayer, and because I needed one more to keep my coach off my back, I made a “cold call” (they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them) and approached an organisation that I thought had the integrity and true commitment to caring for people in the workplace  that I really needed and which was lacking in my current role.

And blow me down – if I didn’t get offered  the job I never thought I would get. Plus the company I really wanted to work for didn’t have a job but they created one for me – actually we co-created it, because I was so clear about what I needed and what I could offer. And they were clear about how I matched what they needed to. Proof that when passions collide expect to get hired. In fact they said to me, “Thank you so much for walking in the door.” (so if you’re nervous and feel your imposing on people – don’t be! They’ll be glad you showed initiative – and if they’re not? Move on.)

I became the National Manager of Careerlines for an Employer Assistance Programme provider – a new division which complemented their personal and crisis counselling services. They let me develop a new business, with all the tools and approaches I wanted and felt was important to help people make good career decisions, over stress and trauma in the workplace and find their happy place. My first client was suicidal – so I promptly asked for training to become a professional counsellor – just to be sure I was keeping people safe.

A few years later, with the experience behind me, I began my own business on the side – then went solo a year or so later! Yay!!

So long story short – you gotta dream – you gotta protect it. Even if it means faking it until you make it and applying for jobs when all your feel is despair. Stepping stones not quantum leaps to success!

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Powerful creativity: making space to create

As Courtney Kennedy writes in her new book, Creating Space to Thrive: Get Unstuck, Reboot Your Creativity and Change Your Life, “Creativity is the missing ingredient for many of us.” Sometimes a reminder of its importance comes to us when we are most in need. As it did for my step-father Ted, a military man diagnosed with cancer and given only three weeks to live. How did he choose to spend his precious time? Surrounded by the wife and family he loved. And immersing himself in the world of water colour—a passion and talent we never knew existed.

One of the most treasured memories I have of our last weeks together was the time we spent painting, and my sharing with him what little I knew of this alchemical technique. Water colour, like life, flows where it wishes, seeping into the crevices of the pages of the stories we create and adding colour to our lives.

What drives us to create, and why—when it is so good for us—do we leave it so late?

Kennedy suggests, we just haven’t cleared some space— this may be physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Ted, like so many people had been waiting for the days when he retired. While he found comfort, peace and a sense of purpose in his creativity— and a legacy in the many memories (and the few paintings) he left—as I watched him paint, a soft smile on his lips, light dancing in his eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder—”what if” …What if he had begun earlier? What if he’d had more time? What if creativity could’ve scare away cancer? In some ways it did. Three weeks became two precious extra years we all shared.

My daughter, a  naturally gifted writer and intuitive healer, shared with her friends:

“3 years ago today the world lost one of its earth angels. He reminded me a lot of how I envision the Archangel Michael.   Someone who was always there. Extremely patient, kind, wise and mysterious.

I was going through some of his medals that Grandma still has the other day. I know his job was always a bit of a mystery but I was taken aback to know that he was the Chief Information Officer for the New Zealand Defence force.

The importance of having a good male role model in a girls life is paramount. This man made so many things possible for not only me but for our family. He married into our family and treated us all like his own.  

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him…when I hear “Hit the Road Jack” on the radio. When I see a sail boat on the harbour or when I go about my day and realise the woman I am becoming today is so greatly shaped by his influence.

Most girls see a hero in her Grandfather more often then not, but this man was like a second father to me.  Cancer is a dreadful disease and Ted I’m so sorry that you were taken from us so early.  It still brings me to tears every time I think about the moments we could have continued to have with you that were robbed from us.

Thinking of you especially today.  I’ll never forget you Edward John Knowsley. 

Xxx Hannie”

Hannah’s  heartfelt sharing reminded me of several things—the power of creativity to leave a legacy and, importantly the power of speaking from one’s heart.  And also of the way natural gifts, so readily apparent in our childhood, if nurtured can blossom and bear many, many years of fruit. Clues to passion and also to your soul purpose can come in many forms—in rekindled memories of a hobby loved in childhood, as it did for Ted. But also other people’s unsolicited praise, as feedback Hannah received below, shows. I’m not so sure it was I who taught Hannah to write, as much as it was I who gave her some space and encouragement to write. But what really matters is not who encourages and shapes your creativity. What matters is that you loved the healing arts enough to spend time with them. And that you cherished them enough to devote yourself in some way to your gift.

As the Brazilian author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho shared on Tim Ferris’s podcast in 2016, he creates a very strong shield around him when he creates.

“…so I can really use my time to do what I think I should do to fulfil this blessing it has been bestowed on me which allows me to live my personal legend, to become a writer against all odds Because Brazlilans don’t have a strong tradition and there are very few authors who can make a living out of writing, not in the US but over the world. However I was so committed to my work that it was my dream, it was my dream from the very beginning. I really enjoy what I do. I don’t work. In fact what I am doing is to have pleasure, and fun and social responsibility towards my readers towards myself, towards the world in what I live.

Courtney interviewed me in for her book and asked how I’d managed to be so prolific in the last few years. For me, as it is for Paulo my creative gifts are my purpose and I show them I’m serious by devoting myself to them.

But creativity doesn’t have to be about your soul’s purpose. It may just be a friend in times of need, a comfort when other elements are stripped away, a meditation and distraction when everything else seems out of control.

Why do we create? Because innate in all of us is the desire to create something of beauty, tranquility, joy. Creating pictures, for example, allows us to put into words what we feel but cannot say. What we value and which we savor. What we yearn for, but may no longer be able to possess. We don’t have to possess the genius of Leonardo da Vinci—we just have to be true to ourselves

For Ted, his illness called time on his cherished days on the sea—but in his art he sailed again, into the endless horizon, carried on a gentle wave of tranquility. We were all happy that when painting he found so much peace.

Cancer provided Ted with the space to paint. We wish it was his well-deserved retirement that had provided the impetuous. But then he loved his work so much he may well have never left.  His work, dedicated to protecting lives, was his passion and provided deep purpose.

As Courtney shares in her book, the opposite is true for so many others.

Many of us work jobs we don’t like. Less than half of U.S. workers said they felt satisfied with their jobs overall according to a 2016 report by the Conference Board. 2016 Gallup figures are worse; they found that only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged with work, and only 13% worldwide. Consider that we spend 10,500 days at work (assuming five days a week, fifty weeks a year between the ages of 23 and 65). Said differently, we work 36% of the total days that we’re alive on this planet should we live to be eighty.

We spend a huge chunk of our lifetime at work, yet one out of every two of us hate our jobs. No wonder many of us feel stuck on repeat—living each day without much thought.

That’s the situation I found myself in a few years ago. I was unhappy. We all have bad days; that’s a fact of life, but it was more than that–I was deeply uncomfortable with my situation and the path down which my life was heading. It wasn’t about regret, rather something important was missing.

And, despite feeling unsettled, there was much to be grateful for—good health, loving family, my husband, friends, and living in a peaceful time. I had built a good career, but I wasn’t happy with my job anymore. Something was missing.

I lived for the weekends. Sunday nights were the worst because it meant going to work the next day. I became a bucket of angst thinking about the coming work week and all my obligations.

Then, a close family member died unexpectedly and saw friends get cancer at young ages. And I realized the stuff I’d been told all my life: “Work hard, save all you can so you can afford the big house and retire comfortably,” was not guaranteed to come true for everyone.

I started wondering what would give my life more meaning.

My WWII-generation grandparents worked hard and scrimped most of their lives, only to sit in front of the television day after day in their elder years. After retirement, when they could have traveled, they no longer desired to or even had the energy for trips. That’s not how I wanted my life to be.

I was lucky to have supportive, career-minded friends. Many were passionate about their careers and loved their jobs. But many were like me—showing up at a job they didn’t enjoy. I was nearly vegetative on weekends after a long week spent at the 9-to-5 job and hours of unpaid overtime.

“There must be more than this to life,” I said to myself. What gives your life meaning?

Why not discover what makes you happy now? Why not reconnect with the activities that drive your passion and energy so you can move toward a life where you spend time in your happy place?

How many of us wait for “someday”‘ or for some  external encouragement? How many of us make the mistake we’ll have more time? Whether you dream of being a writer, a sculptor, a photographer, a painter, a carver or a gardener, or yearn to create in any shape, colour—why wait?

Pick up your tool of choice and feel happier today. As Courtney shares in her book, Creating Space to Thrive: Get Unstuck, Reboot Your Creativity and Change Your Life, “research suggests creative people are happier than everyone else. Disregard the mental image of the starving, depressed artist toiling away in a studio. Anyone can be creative.” And being creative, she adds, will  change your brain, enabling you to  become more resilient to stress when being creative and making art.

Ted found his happy place creating.  When he died, I asked for nothing, only the unfinished painting he was working on before he passed.

For my mother, and his daughter Lisa, I framed some of his paintings. We placed them around the room where his funeral service was held. All his army comrades were astounded to learn this great mind, also yielded such artistic sensitivity and talent.

I have Ted’s paints, and his brushes, and the beginnings of a new picture—like a still life, caught in a moment of pulsing time. We shall leave Ted’s painting for him to finish, but it is as though this is the view he foresaw—never knowing that one day my partner and I  would call the Bay if Islands home.

Always in our hearts (and now also on our walls 🙂

Rest in peace Edward John Knowsley (11 ApriI 1947 –  22 Feb 2014)

Sometimes we need a mentor to encourage us to follow a more creative path. Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci share how creativity can improve your happiness, health and success in The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life by Cassandra Gaisford.

To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Leonardo Navigate to here: getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Coco Navigate to here: getBook.at/CocoChanel

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Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Your Body Barometer Test

Book_whitebg copy 2Excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue

You may have already been feeling stressed before you picked up this book. Perhaps you’ve been unhappy at work for such a long time symptoms of stress, such as feelings of depression, anxiety or even anger, are really entrenched.
Or perhaps the idea of making some changes is causing you to feel anxious. Whatever your current situation there is no doubt that managing stress is a key component of making effective career decisions.
Stress is something we all feel everyday. It isn’t something that only happens when we’re under particular pressure. Some mild stress is good for you. It gives you a feeling of excitement and makes you want to strive to do better. It reminds you you’re alive and can help you thrive.

But too much stress can do the opposite. Stress overload can make you feel overwhelmed and empty, devoid of enthusiasm; or worse, of a reason to live.

Negative thoughts and feelings are a classic sign of too much stress. It’s hard to feel hopeful about the future when you are feeling down, overwhelmed or anxious.

So it’s not surprising that it can even be hard to remember the things that make you happy or to believe in yourself. Your self esteem and confidence can take an awful hit.

Stress can even take its toll when you’re looking forward to making a positive change.

Stress that goes on for too long cumulatively builds up and can make you sick. Biologically we’re incapable of sustaining prolonged levels of stress – if not addressed, our body’s adaptive resources become exhausted. Too much stress can give you chronic headaches, affect your blood pressure, contribute to depression and cause ulcers and heart disease.

Thankfully there are simple but powerful strategies at hand to help you avoid too much bad ‘stress,’ so you don’t become ill, anxious or depressed during the change process.

And who knows, maybe once you have your stress levels back in check, or have found ways to proactively removed the sources of stress in either your work or private life, you may end up falling back  in love with a job that you’d come to hate.

Heed the early warning signs

According to a definition from The Department of  Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), stress is a reaction to the excess pressures we face in our lives, and it arises when we feel we cannot cope. This feeling of not being able to cope is an important point I will come back to, but one of the key things to remember is that worrying you can’t cope, even if it is not actively voiced, triggers the promotion of stress messages in your brain.

You may be so busy trying to juggle everything that you’re not aware of how much strain you’re under. Like Roger, who hates his career so much he says he hates his life. Or Jan, who can’t relax, and is so busy being busy, she can’t remember the last time she felt really joy.

When your life lacks balance this leads to a state of brain chemical imbalance known as – OVERSTRESS. These negative brain messages then flow to other organs in your body sending them into overdrive and a high state of alert.

People who are overstressed complain of being tired but unable to fall asleep or enjoy a restful night’s sleep. They have plagues of aches and pains, lack of energy,  and can’t remember what makes them feel truly happy. They feel depressed, anxious, tearful, snappy and irritable or just unable to cope with life.

Listen to your body barometer

The key to managing stress successfully is to heed the early warning signs. By nipping your stressors in the bud before they start to seed you’ll avoid wreaking havoc with your body, mind and spirit.

You’ll also avoid derailing your career and damaging your relationships. Increasing your coping skills can be a wonder cure for dissatisfaction with your work and/or your life.

How stressed are you?

Take the following body barometer test and highlight any symptoms you’re currently experiencing. Then take a look at the following stress-busting tips and create your own stress management plan at the end of this chapter. Starting from a positive, healthy foundation will help you make changes in your career and life successfully.

 

Your Body Barometer Test

Physical Signs of Stress

• Increased heart rate/Pounding heart

• Sweaty palms

• Elevated blood pressure

• Tightness of the chest, neck, jaw and back muscles

• Headaches

• Diarrhoea/Constipation

• Unable to pass urine or incontinence

• Trembling/Twitching

• Stuttering and other speech difficulties

• Nausea/Vomiting

• Sleep disturbances

• Fatigue

• Being easily startled

• Shallow, rapid breathing

• Dryness of mouth or throat

• Cold hands

• Susceptibility to minor illnesses

• Itching

• Chronic pain

Emotional Signs of Stress

• Tearful

• Impatience

• Frightened

• Moody

• Highs and lows

• Feeling of loss/grief

• Depressed

• Anger

• Irritated

• Short-tempered

Cognitive/Perceptual/Thinking Signs

• Forgetfulness

• Preoccupation

• Errors in judging distance/space

• Reduced creativity/creative thinking

• Lack of concentration

• Diminished productivity

• Lack of attention to detail

• Orientation to the past

• Diminished reaction time

• Clumsiness

• Disorganisation of thought

• Negative self-esteem

• Negative self-statements

• Diminished sense of meaning in life

• Lack of control/Need for too much control

• Negative evaluation of experiences

• Negative thinking

• Pessimism

Behavioural Signs of Stress

• Carelessness/Accident prone

• Under-eating/Over-eating

• Aggressiveness/Fighting/Hostility

• Increased smoking/Starting smoking

• Withdrawal

• Argumentative

• Increased alcohol or drug use

• Listlessness

• Nervous laughter

• Compulsive behaviour

• Impatience/Agitation

Action tasks: Stress-busting and Building Resilience

Whether or not a person experiences stress at work depends upon the person’s perception of what is going on and the person’s coping skills. It is not the circumstance, it is your REACTION to it that counts.~ Dr Al Siebert, Author

 

1) Identify what’s stressing you out – stress is cumulative, and if it is prolonged or we have too much on the go at once our normal coping skills can be diminished.

Making a list of all the things that are worrying you or that stress you out, and then trying to work out solutions is an effective way to get some control over your stress levels. Think possibilities not actualities to unlock creative ways of resolving.

2) Take control – remember it is not the event which is stressful but your reaction. You can beat the stress response by taking control of the things you can influence with events that are foreseeable.

For example, Mary’s boss used to stress her out because he always dumped things on her at the last moment. To reduce her stress levels she decided to proactively manage his diary, and she also called a meeting and told him she would work more effectively if she could have a greater lead time to prepare. He was glad she told him as he had no idea his behaviour affected her in this way.

3) Prepare – identify stressful events in advance, and minimise the stressful situation – e.g., get up earlier to avoid running late, go to interviews for jobs you don’t want so you can practise and be less stressed and more skilled when the interview’s for a job you want.

You can also reduce your stress reactions by doing things that build resilience, i.e., if you know you have a heavy load coming up factor in more self-care activities, improving your diet, having a massage, meditating, relaxing or exercising, are just a few of many ways.

4) Plan your defence – what is the most realistic solution to your current situation? What options do you have? Plan small, realistic steps: don’t try to do everything at once. Choose a few important goals: some things may have to go by the board. Praise yourself when you achieve a goal on the road to success.

5) Try a different view – all the stress experts agree that it the way that we view events that creates stress. In 2013, research by The European Heart Journal found that those who believed stress affected their health ‘a lot’ or ‘extremely’ had a 50% greater risk of suffering a heart attack, even when researchers adjusted for biological, behavioural and psychological risk factors

So if you want to reduce your stress levels you need to change the way you view stress and the things that cause it. It’s the old glass half full or half empty battle! Here’s a few helpful ways to do this:

a) Do a reality check – look at the here and now: will what you are worrying about or stressing over ever happen? Where or what’s your evidence? If it did happen, what would be the worst case scenario? Is that so bad? Will it kill you? Is there a way to minimise the risk of a bad outcome? What can you do in the here-and-now.

b) Self-talk – Thought is energy, so it’s critical to think and talk positive. Compelling research my Dr, Bruce Lipton, a developmental biologist best known for promoting the idea that genes and DNA can be manipulated by a person’s beliefs, reveals that thoughts really do become things. If you want to create a positive outcome you must grow and foster positive beliefs – even if in the short-term you have to fake-it-to-make-it.

Resist saying things you don’t want to make real. Instead of saying, “I can’t cope,” try replacing it with, “I can do this; I’ve handled change before,” or, “I trust myself to be able to handle this.”

To see confirmation of the power of language on your DNA view this clip on YouTube, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWAuc9GivFo) – Dr. Emoto’s, a water researcher from Japan, findings on the energy of thoughts. His water demonstration shows without doubt how your thoughts and intentions shape the physical world.

Positive messages create shiny, diamond-like reflective qualities while negative thoughts create deformed, collapsed structures with black holes and yellow tinged edges. We know this intuitively every time we’re around someone who is negative but many stressed out people don’t realise their negative, complaining, or angry energy is toxic to those around them. As Einstein once said, “everything is energy.”

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” ~ Wayne Dyer, Author

I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview – to be in the know when Mid-Life Career Rescue is released please email careerrescue@worklifesolutions.co.nz

Best wishes

Cassandra

P.S. Send me an email if you’d like a free copy of my workbook Stress Busting and Building Resilience.

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Monday, October 12th, 2015

Slay the doubt demons by amplifying the positive

A passion for horses and the big love they shareJust reminding myself to focus on the positive as I finish my revisions  for Mid-life Career Rescue – it’s so easy to get caught in a mindset of ‘not good enough.’

So I’m taking a leaf from the advice I share with my own clients – remind yourself of positive things others tell you when traitorous doubts seep into your consciousness.

My clients, and readers, tell me they value the fact that my advice is gained from both my personal and professional experiences and is both practical and inspirational.

Like Keith, who purchased the first edition of this book, when aged 55 his position was made redundant after 38 years of loyal service.

“The biggest thing I am dealing with is a hit to my self worth,” he wrote to me.

“I am a proponent of the law of attraction and have proved this law many times but that does not stop me having serious doubts about my ability to pull above the ‘mind chatter’. Your book is a great resource for boosting my energy and confidence.

Honestly, your book is a treasure. I have it very useful in terms of information provided and tools available for self awareness and future planning.  This is an awesome book and one I would recommend to anyone looking to change their career, not just mid-lifers.

I feel energised every time I pick it up and I go back and re-read sections I have already read. I thank you for your foresight in writing this book and the energy and enthusiasm you pass on through the book.”

 

I feel really teary as I read this now. And it’s further confirmation to remember to thank those who make a difference in your life, you never know when your own words of gratitude will reach through time and reciprocate the blessing.

Passion, happiness, joy, fulfilment, love – call it what you will but my deepest desire is that this book, Mid-life Career Rescue encourages people like Keith to reach for their dreams, to never settle, to believe in the highest aspirations they have for themselves.

We all have so many gifts, so many talents that the world so desperately needs. We need people who care about what they do, who want to live and work with passion and purpose.

Because what is passion?

Love.

And if you don’t have love…

Well, I’ll let you decide

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PS I hope you LOVE  this image of Georgia whose horses graze in our pastures. Just look at her passion for horses and the big love they share.

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Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Mid-life career rescue – are you ready to answer the call for change?

Mid-life Career Rescue_v7Excited – have just sent off the first round of edits for a double proof, for Mid-Life Career Rescue. Dare I say:

THIS BOOK IS POWERFUL

This book is powerful. I know it is. The life I have created using this awareness is amazing. The strategies are ones I’ve used successfully professionally with clients and personally myself during numerous reinventions – some self-determined, others forced upon me.

I stand by every one of the strategies you will learn here, not just because they are grounded strong theoretical principals, but because I have used them to create successful turnaround, after successful turnaround in nearly every area of my life.

This book is the culmination of all that I have experienced and all that I have learned, applied and successfully taught others for over two decades. I don’t practice what I preach; I preach what I have practised – because it gets results.

One thing I know for sure, is you’re too important to stay in a job you hate. You have treasures buried within you—extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so do others. And bringing those treasures to the light takes faith and focus and courage and effort. It takes a willingness to answer the call for change, and people to help and support you along the way.

My clients and readers tell me they value the fact that my advice is gained from my personal and professional experiences and is both practical and inspirational.

Like Keith aged 55 whose position was made redundant after 38 years of loyal service:

“The biggest thing I am dealing with is a hit to my self worth.  I am a proponent of the law of attraction and have proved this law many times but that does not stop me having serious doubts about my ability to pull above the “mind chatter”.  Your book is a great resource for boosting my energy and confidence.  Honestly, your book is a treasure. I have it very useful in terms of information provided and tools available for self awareness and future planning.  This is an awesome book and one I would recommend to anyone looking to change their career, not just mid-lifers.  I feel energised every time I pick it up and I go back and re-read sections I have already read. I thank you for your foresight in writing this book and the energy and enthusiasm you pass on through the book.”

I feel blessed to have been able to help Keith, and many others like him.

APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN TO JOIN THE CAREER RESCUE LAUNCH TEAM.

Would you like to help me ensure this Mid-Life Career Rescue reaches a wider audience? Leave a comment below or private message me, and let me know why you’re interested in supporting this project.

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Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Rejuvenate your life in four easy steps

Successful September first sign on the trees of our first springSpring is a wonderful time of rejuvenation. It’s a time to begin life anew. It’s a time to reflect on what you wish to remain the same and the things in your life you wish to prune.

Rather than leap too far into your future, pause a while and consider, when you get to the end of September and look back, what will tell you this has been a successful month?

Me? I’m manifesting happiness. Success to me includes surrounding myself with people who accept and love me as I am, believe in the beauty of my dreams, and who help them come true.

And vice versa. Success to me is also helping my clients and friends achieve their dreams too.

So it was heartening and soul enriching today to receive this email from a client, who when she first came to see me was very depressed, and feeling hopeless about her work situation. She now has a shiny new job and has created what I call “a career combo” – making time for her creative passions, while still enjoying her bread and butter corporate job:

“I am really excited about the role and kinda need to pinch myself that I have got it!! And I have just landed a paying client for my photography which is exciting!! Hope all is going well for you up north and you are living the dream! Once again thanks for setting me on this path!!”

Rejuvenate your life

Perhaps you’re like my client and like me, you’re ready to make some changes in your life. As the buds begin to flourish on the trees I’m aware of all the potentialities that exist, and of all the things that can flower in my life. I’m also aware that I need to cultivate the things that matter most to me and extract myself from things, people and situations, which in the grand scheme of things, matter least.

As you prepare to let go of old ways of being and make way for your new life, here are just a few of many ways that you can rejuvenate your life:

Harness the power of your mind. There’s three things you need to know about the mind, says UK Hypnotherapist and author Marisa Peer, it only does what it thinks you want it to do; it responds to the pictures in your head and the words you say to yourself; and it likes what is familiar.

So if you really want to make a change, rather than procrastinate or make excuses or engage in activities that take you further away from your goal, it’s really important you do the things you say you want to do. No excuses!

It’s also important that you surround yourself with images and words that reinforce your goals and desires, and which enable you to see vividly how you will feel when you have made a change for the better.

This is where empowering, feeling based affirmations come in too. If, as one of clients does, you desire to be a photographer, instead of affirming, “I am a successful photographer,“ try affirming, “It feels amazing, joyful, and so much fun to be a successful photographer.”

Instead of saying, “I want to be a writer,” you could say as Marisa Peer affirmed to herself when writing her book, “I love writing. This I what I’ve chosen to do.” Prior to this she had been feeling isolated writing and feeling a little resentful that she was not out having a good time with friends – which of course told her mind that she wasn’t really wanting to write. So instead, she retrained her mind, saying repeatedly, “I love this. It’s like having a lover I can’t wait to come home to it and I’m staying up all night with it.”

“When I wrote I would tell myself this book is great, this book is fantastic, this book is amazing. I constantly imagined people loving it. I’m really glad I told myself that when I was writing it, because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had the courage to keep doing it

Repeated practise produces outstanding results. Make your new desired state your habit. Practise. Practise. Practise. One of the things I do to create new habits and cultivate familiarity is to write at a regular time, in a regular place. I’ve also had great fun and success create a Star Chart, rewarding myself with stickers on my calendar when I achieve my daily goals.

“As you get into your groove, you find your faith.” ~Marissa Peer.

 

Cull bad habits. Aligned with adopting new behaviours is the need to eliminate any inappropriate effort, or habits, that create results you no longer want in your life.

Watching TV, for example creates the unwanted results of having less time to spend on more fulfilling creative endeavours or to improve the quality of your relationships. People’s growing addiction to Smartphones and social media updates is even worse.

Sometimes personality traits you once valued also have to be culled.

I can’t give you the recipe for success, but I can failure, try to please everyone, all of the time – some sage person once said. And never a truer word has been said.

For me right now I’m working at letting go of trying too hard to please and accommodating others agendas and apologising when others don’t like who I am and what I do and trying to make others feel better at the expense of my own happiness.

Instead, I’m placing a value on authenticity, joy, and happiness – as well as cultivating more mindful, compassionate assertiveness.

In our Free To Be Me life coaching programme we call these your Living Values. Living values replace outmoded values and behaviours that once may have served you, with those which allow you to be free to be you. Life’s too short and you’re too important not to live your best life.
brainphysiologyBe a seer. Take a page from the Maestro’s book, and do as Leonardo da Vinci would. Commit to making new discoveries based on painstakingly detailed, amazingly acute observation. Study people you admire and emulate or copy-cat their success.

If you aspire to be a published author you may wish to analyse what makes a great story with emotional impact. If you want to be a chef, travel the world via the Internet and find people who are experts in their field. Sign up for a class, interview them, or just start making some of their dishes to get a feel for what they do and how they do it.

If you want more confidence and self-esteem, think of someone you respect who possesses these qualities and when you find yourself in a situation that requires you to be more confident, ask yourself, ‘what would (this person) do now?” Then do that thing, even if you have to fake feeling confident in that moment.

If you want to change careers, or gain experience in a different field, when an opportunity comes up don’t turn it down because you feel your not ready, not good enough or any other self-limiting belief.

Trust whatever happens you’ll handle it. Know that the best learning happens when you have a hands-on experience.

Like my client Lissie who dreamt of being a fashion writer, who I’ve just put in touch with a Dutch fashion designer who’s wanting help with re-branding her business.

“I’m not trained. I’m not qualified, she said at first. “Where’s your evidence that you’re not ready? You love fashion, you love writing, you’ll be a natural. Give it a go – you may surprise yourself,” I encouraged her. “Ok, she said, taking a gulp, “I’ll do it.”

“Just met with Lissie,” wrote back the fashion designer, “What  a beautiful soul. She’s going to get started this week.”

What joy!

 

chakraCultivate everyday poise and balance. Practise balance and grace in everything you do. Find your centre, your core truth, and strengthen it.

Rediscover your natural alignment. Listen to your body barometer. Feelings of tension are clear messages from your soul that you’re off centre.

Feelings of calm confirm you are in a state of natural flow. Like I am now as I sit outside immersed in the Bay of Islands, overlooking the serenity of the sea, surrounded by silence, but for the birds who sing contently in the trees.

Sounds blissful – and it is. But bliss is something I work at every day. Yesterday a storm raged – not literally, but the devastation hurled at my partner and I by a disenchanted ‘friend’ really rocked our equilibrium.

As his holiness The Dalai Lama once said, “Negative thoughts are like weeds, they grow unattended. Positive thoughts are like flowers, you have to nurture them every day.”

 

So now I’m taking my power back. Yesterday is history, and now is the gift of the present-centred awareness. It’s spring, our successful September, and I have a wonderful rejuvenating vision for the future – one I intend on protecting from frosts that could destroy them, and nurturing so they may awaken and achieve their most beautiful potential.

I hope a few ideas have resonated with you as you cultivate your own Successful September. Remember, obstacles don’t have to stop you, you just need to find a way to overcome them.

Wishing you every success

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Cassandra
P.S. What does success look like to you this September. I’d love to know.

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

3 super fast ways to stress less and get your energy back

Close-up of a heart balloon with a bandage on it

Close-up of a heart balloon with a bandage on it

If you’re like me you’re normally a powerhouse of productivity, but there are times when we all get fatigued. It may be because you’ve been putting in too many hours without a break, or it may just be the weather, the full moon – or anything else from an endless list of things that can zap your energy. Whatever the cause  may be it’s so important to listen to your body barometer. Feeling sluggish, lethargic, demotivated, depressed, overwhelmed forgetful, irritable or just plain stressed out are just a few of the many warning signs it’s time to make a change.

Why are we so stressed?

Like me, you probably have way too many things going on in your life and they’re not necessarily all bad. But even good things like having loads of passions, or loving your job so much you don’t want to stop, or being enthralled with all the fascinating threads on social media, can take a toll when done to excess.
So many of us are working too many hours, doing too many tasks, have too many activities, or are juggling several high stress jobs while raising a family. Don’t get me started on the crazy love-hate affair people have with their not-so-smart phones. Put simply, many of us are suffering from information overload – or what I call information obesity.
If you’re feeling stressed, if your energy is depleted, if you’re mojo needs some more juice to carry you across the finish line, then here’s something that will help.
Three of my favourite super fast ways to get your energy back. Many of the strategies require little time investment but have multiple benefits. If boosting mental performance and creativity, improving the quality of your love life and relationships and boosting your career and work success sounds good to you. Read on 🙂

hugh jackman meditation1. take a mind spa – meditate

“Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree,” says French Buddhist monk and molecular geneticist Matthieu Ricard. ”It completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are.”

Science has proven that when people meditate they alter their brains in a good way – lowering stress levels and increasing energy and positivity amongst many other important things. If finding time to do two lots of 20 minute meditations sounds too hard, start small. Even giving your brain a break for 5 minutes can do wonders for your energy and sense of well-being.

Meditation is not just about distracting yourself from stress and pain; it literally changes you at the genetic level, writes Arianna Huffington in her best-selling book, Thrive.

“Meditation is the Swiss army knife of medical tools, for conditions both small and large.” ~ Arianna Huffington

“Meditation is the Swiss army knife of medical tools, for conditions both small and large.” ~ Arianna Huffington

Ridding yourself of self-limiting thoughts, controlling your reactions, discovering an inner contact with a creative source, and having more creative insights are just a few of the benefits that can flow from meditation. The whole experience is primarily an experience of wholeness, rightness, and power.

2. massage for mind, body and soul

One of my favourite ways to top up my energy is to lie back and let someone else do all the work. Massage – isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessary health behaviour for the busy person. You can’t beat a good therapeutic massage –  it’s up there with meditation when it comes to delivering multiple benefits. As I send out this newsletter I’m heading off for a hot stone massage, here are just a few on the health benefits:

+ Drains and cleanses the lymphatic system – riding the body of built up toxins and boosting the immune system that helps us fight illness and disease

+ Relieves built up tension and promotes flexibility in the body

+ Cleanses the liver-relaxing the ducts in the liver, promoting easier flow

+ Increases serotonin levels – the chemical responsible for healthy sleep. A one hour massage has been proven by scientific research to deliver benefits equivalent to sleeping for six-eight hours. Great for the sleep deprived!

Best of all for one blissful hour I get to do NOTHING. Be sure to tell your massage therapeutist not to babble away during your massage – make it your sacred time.

If you don’t like being touched, try a Reiki massage – it’s hands off, clothes on and all about restoring your energy.

 

3. smell your way to health with aromatherapy

I’m a big fan of the power of nature and for a quick boost you can’t beat essential oils. They don’t call the healing power of smell aromatherapy for nothing. Once again the benefits are endless.

Having said that, some people are strangely suspicious. One lady, a health care worker at Wellington Hospital accused me of peddling snake oil when I suggested a few drops of lavender oil would help alleviate some of her tension.
You have to find the solution that’s right for you, but it’s important to be open-minded. The proper use of essential oils can enhance your emotional outlook and provide support and help balance your emotions during the day. Without providing an intimidating lesson in olfaction (the science of the sense of smell), the inhalations of these naturally occurring synergistic chemicals provide triggers to our brain.  These triggers effect our emotions.  Inhalation of these wondrous molecules also provides physical benefits that can work together to aid in our emotional state.

For example, Lavender is a well known mildly analgesic, useful for healing headaches, wounds, calming the nerves, insomnia and mild depression.

Rosemary on the other hand is a mild stimulant and is used to treat physical and mental fatigue, forgetfulness and respiratory problems among other ailments.

Here’s few blends professional aromatherapists recommend for alleviating some of the symptoms of stress:

Three drops Clary Sage, one drop Lemon, one drop Lavender
Three drops Grapefruit, one drop Jasmine, one drop Ylang Ylang

Put on a tissue, or in a diffuser or blender, inhale and enjoy.

 

Stress workbook cover copyI love writing these blogs to share with you strategies that work for me and for the clients I coach. I hope they help you improve your happiness, well-being and success. If you would like more help on this topic you can order my Stress Busting and Building Resilience eBook for only $12.99 via my website:
Stress Busting and Building Resilience – eBook

Cassandra Gaisford’s Stress Busting and Building Resilience eBook will give you tools to proactively identify and eradicate stress from your life. What you’ll learn from this eBook will reactivate and regenerate within you the innate health and well-being we are all born with and deserve.
You will become energised, inspired, happier, empowered and more successful. It all beings with taking care of you – and your precious mind, body and soul.

Just read this eBook and start feeling better – today!

My book : Stress Busting and Building Resilience is only available through my website.
http://www.worklifesolutions.co.nz/shop/stress-busting-ebook/

Cassandra Gaisford is a health psychologist, author and coach with a passion for helping people live their best life – full of joy, well-being and success. She was the resident life coach on Television New Zealand’s Good Morning Show and a columnist with two of New Zealand’s  largest national newspapers. She is the author of Happy at Work – now out of print and due for re-release in October 2015.

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Friday, July 11th, 2014

Whipping depression and anxiety into shape: getting back on track to live and love life

Oh, I have the coolest clients ever. I love working with people who are honest and genuine and, despite feeling vulnerable,  are so generous with their stories and sharing with a view to helping others. My wee heart is overwhelmed with admiration for Laura, a young woman with such a big heart who has written the below. We hope Laura’s story provides hope and encouragement for anyone feeling overwhelmed. You are not alone. There are so many people here to help. In my experience it is the truly beautiful, creative souls who seem to suffer most. Please feel free to share with anyone who may need a boost. The world so needs sensitive souls who feel truly, deeply, creatively, sensitively and passionately. Don’t let the passionless people rule!

 

Getting Back on Track to Live and Love Life

 Have you ever felt incredibly overwhelmed to the point where it causes you to stop being able to function properly? I certainly have. For a chunk of my life (I am now 27) I have struggled with depression and anxiety.

I have spent the last few years letting my depression and anxiety control my life. I even got to the point where I could not go out of the house because I was so anxious and worried (worried about what you say? Oh gosh absolutely everything; what if this happens? I should have done that, ah why am I so weak – all running through my head 24/7 and completely jumbled up!).

After feeling so low, and feeling like I couldn’t carry on much longer like that, I decided enough was enough; I deserved to be happy! I had tried to manage my depression before and at times felt ok, but would always get back into a really bad slump again. For me, I think what was very different this time was that I believed I was worth something and I deserved to be happy just like every other being in this world.

We all have different issues and events in our lives that cause us to get sad and down. Mine was very much low self-esteem on the inside and out, and a few other things that added to my depression flaring up and getting worse. I think it’s really important to try and believe in yourself and know you can be happy. Know deep down that you can get through any thing, there may be loads of obstacles in the way – because that is life, right – but believe you will get through!

Here are some of the simple little strategies I have for keeping myself on track and managing my depression – and basically for trying to live a wholesome life in general:

Exercise:

Ah I know, it is that dreaded word, but trust me it helps immensely! Sometimes if I am feeling really, really low, I go for a little walk around my neighbourhood and it really does clear my head. It doesn’t need to be a huge walk, even just around the block and back. Also, I try to incorporate a bit of exercise in while socializing with my friends. So for example, sometimes a friend and I will grab a takeaway coffee and walk around Oriental Bay on a nice day. Or at the moment a group of us is playing indoor netball on at Thursday night and it is so much fun, plus I sure do get a bit of a cardio workout! Other types of exercise I find fun is: Spin classes at the gym (a sweat towel is a must), step classes (at first I was worried about looking like an idiot but then I decided stuff it, just do it and now I love them!), walking up Mt Kau Kau or Colonial Knob.

Find your ‘happy place’ and what brings you peacefulness and calm:

It is so important to know what brings you joy and pleasure in life. I don’t mean something farfetched like going on a trip to Bali – although that would be nice, and if you can go there every week then that is great. I would if I could too.  But what I mean is know what helps you feel happier, what makes you smile, what makes you feel calm so you can go there or do that when you are feeling low. For me my happy place is sitting on the beach at Petone on a beautiful day, and what would make it even better would be walking a gorgeous wee dog along there. I absolutely adore animals and they make me feel so calm and happy. I can be feeling stressed and down and then walk into a room where one of my cats is lounging (they have a tough life) and suddenly a smile will come across my face. They are my happiness; animals bring me a sense of peace. Other things that make me happy are my friends, family, movies, fashion, and beautiful nature – when I go for a walk I love looking at all the different colourful flowers in the gardens.

Stop being so hard on yourself!

I am definitely my toughest critic. And I know others do this to themselves too. We put ourselves down and are so judgemental and harsh towards ourselves. My advice to anyone who puts himself or herself down a lot would be to challenge what you are saying internally. For example, if you say to yourself “ah I have put on three kg’s, I’m so fat, I look so yuck”, make sure you catch yourself saying that and in your head challenge it: “calm down, it’s only three kg’s, you haven’t put on much weight at all. 3 kg’s is easy to lose, and no one is going to notice something so minor on you anyway!” This might sound silly to you, but it really works for me. Even just something as simple as saying “stop” (in your head) when you recognise a negative thought can help. You need to give yourself a break. If you are struggling with something don’t put yourself down, instead try to work out where to go next and remember no one is perfect!

Set little goals to accomplish:

When I am feeling down, I sometimes feel like I can’t bear to do anything. Something so normal like doing the washing can actually be a big deal and effort to do, so take little steps. Plan out your day, set yourself some goals and make sure they are realistic ones. When you plan out your day, make sure after every goal there is a reward for accomplishing that goal. Day one might have: do the washing in the morning, so once you have done this you might decide you get to watch a little bit of TV that you enjoy, or a few pieces of chocolate. Another goal might be to do some exercise, write some of your university essay, do the shopping, or write an email to a friend you have been meaning to write to. Once you start doing some of these goals, you will start feeling stronger within yourself. Go easy on yourself though.

Eat wholesome food:

I find when I am eating good nutritious food I feel I have a lot more energy and feel a lot better about myself. Something that I find really good is making a super smoothie in the morning. I have: frozen blueberries, milk, water, ice, chia seeds (these little seeds are so good for you), a handful of baby spinach (promise you actually can’t taste it – no seriously you can’t), some yoghurt and a bit of Complan or protein powder. It keeps me full for a long time and I love knowing that I have had some good nutritious stuff inside me as fuel for the day ahead.

 Let people inspire you:

I love reading blogs (including this one) and books which are by some really inspiring, talented people. I even like looking on Instagram and following cool people on there. Here are some of my faves:

– Zoe Marshall –      Instagram: zoebmarshall

– Julia & Libby –         Blog: juliaandlibby.com

– Richie Hardcore – Instagram: richiehardcore

I hope that this has helped anyone going through what I have and still am going through. I hope that wherever you are, whatever situation you are in and however you are feeling that you will believe in yourself enough to know you can get through this. Know that you are worth fighting for and that you can manage depression and get back on track. I still battle with my depression but I finally feel like I am actually living a life again. I am not saying I am always 100% happy but I am so much happier than I used to be and I look forward to what the future brings.

If anyone is struggling I would love to chat. Write in the comments below and I will check back to see if anyone has commented.

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