"The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line."

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This anonymous quote caught my attention as it encapsulated two things which are part of my clinical practice - helping people reach their ambitions (usually with Life Coaching) and to over-come their fears (usually with a combination of Hypnotherapy, NLP and when called for my speech and language therapy knowledge).  This photo shows me succeed in a significant ski-touring adventure and, as part of that, control a fear of heights.   I was with younger friends - Rebecca Coles and Simon Verspeak, both of whom are experienced mountaineers - and I joined them one weekend on the popular ascent of the Italian mountain, Gran Paradiso (4061m) in 2013.  We split the ascent with an overnight stay in a lovely refuge then got under way early morning to reach the summit before a long ski down. Curiously, the mountain summit has a statue of The Madonna which is accessed along a narrow ledge with sheer drop on one side but I trusted Rebecca's lead and everything went to plan.  That said, my friends may not have known that in days gone by I found it hard to climb a ladder to change a light bulb yet alone something like that! However, my ambition to do more than ski in resorts and my passion for the mountains took me there and my heightened awareness of the day means I can reflect on the moment I put my fear behind me and composed myself before making my way along the ledge to the summit.  My skilled friends and their encouragement had made it possible. No prizes for guessing why I called my company Summit.

So do you have your own ambition or a fear that disrupts your sense of well-being?   My Life-Coaching, Hypnotherapy and NLP skills combine to address both and I will act as my friends did to guide and motivate you along whichever journey you want to take.   My knowledge from working as a speech and language therapist combines to support those wishing to overcome public speaking concerns or prepare for that important interview and you can see that I am an enthusiastic sportswoman.  Perhaps yours is a career ambition or a physical fear like climbing a ladder?  Perhaps it is a social anxiety or business situation like making a presentation?  Perhaps air-travel is a concern?  Whatever it is, I would be delighted to help you address the issue and look forward to you getting in touch.  My email is audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk and my phone number is 075 548 54321.

Photo by Simon Verspeak  - mountaineer/leader and mountain rescue  


I was roped-up to Rebecca Coles - mountaineer/leader and travel writer 







The Nobel Prize and what you should know.

Health and well-being - add an old-fashioned good night's sleep - bliss :)

Health and well-being - add an old-fashioned good night's sleep - bliss :)

You may have heard about this on the news this week and today I caught sight of an article by The Guardian's science correspondent, Hannah Devlin.  It is worth sharing as a reminder of a key way to optimise health.  You may have read my previous blog about "Sleep" and it is in this regard that most of us know about the term "circadian rhythms" and their part in good health.  But as Devlin's article and the blog mention, being in tune with our circadian rhythms affects so much more than sleep.  

The article, "'Western society is chronically sleep deprived': the importance of the body's clock", tells us about Hall, Rosebush and Young's accomplishments in their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms controlling these rhythms.   The prize winners recently found the main gene that controls this clock and how it is connected to our planet's revolutions.   Indeed, most of our cells have a clock of their own and about 50% of these are switched on and off by our bodies' "period" gene.  At night time this gene encodes a protein in the cell then it degrades during the day - giving us a continual pattern.   It is easy to see then that staying aligned to nature's clock enhances our well-being and performance and why it plays a part in risk for strokes, heart disease, dementia, obesity, diabetes and even some cancers.   

In our 24/7 society it is worth making an effort to sync with light and dark because a tiny part of our brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, is linked to the eye's retina and connects to the pineal gland on the opposite side.  This gland pumps out melatonin - a crucial hormone for sleep.  In shift work and jet lag our bodies have to over-ride its biology.  In connection to the common problem of over-eating and diabetes, research shows that animals in tune with their circadian rhythm (even if sleep deprived) maintain a steady weight but animals forced onto a schedule that is out of sync, eat impulsively and develop glucose intolerance.  It shows also why following instructions to take medicine at particular times is important - for example, strokes are most common in the morning so swallowing blood pressure tablets first thing is best.  On the other hand, the liver produces cholesterol more quickly at night so swallow satins before bed. 

Like using self-hypnosis and mindfulness for health benefits the evidence for aligning ourselves to our circadian rhythms is clear.  Can any of us ignore the recommendation to get an old-fashioned good night's sleep?  Perhaps you recognise this but struggle to achieve it? If so, help to sweet dreams, weight loss or other is just a call or email away!  My Summit contact details to arrange a free consultation are audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk and 075 548 54321.  Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques for insomnia and sleep disorder are a good option because sleep is not controlled consciously...ask an insomnia sufferer or those of us who have tried telling a restless child to go to sleep!  On the other-hand, if it is your life-style that needs attention then life-coaching is useful.  Among other successes I have helped clients combat insomnia,  pain disrupting sleep, sleep disorder and weight problems.

Scroll down from here if you would like to read my "Sleep" blog, posted May 2017.  Go further back to January to read about weight management. There are links to other reading with the blogs.  The one to Devlin's article is below.  

"'Western society is chronically sleep deprived': the importance of the body's clock'

Advancing technology - fun, life-enhancing or just depressing?

An audience with Pepper the humanoid robot - Banking as it should be ...

An audience with Pepper the humanoid robot - Banking as it should be ...

As the Edinburgh Festival comes to a close, I was reflecting on what stood out in my mind.  My top three shows were the stupendous Flip-FabrQue, a remarkable French-Canadian acrobatic troupe; comedian Jason Byrne's laugh-out-loud improvisation and story-telling, and the University of Cape Town's Baxter Theatre Group who excelled in their performance of "The Fall": a brilliantly acted and sung insightful, searing play about equality and colonialism.  The diversity of skill and quality makes choosing a favourite impossible.  But despite all that, what stands out in my mind most is seeing the advert in my bank's window, "An audience with Pepper the humanoid robot - Banking as it should be" (sic).

So the sign intrigued me sufficiently to pop in!  There was the usual queue of bored and impatient customers being served by pressed members of staff flanked by a display with a talking dancing robot that is currently trained to answer set questions.  I knew this technology was already around but seeing it in my bank, getting prepped for use, took me by surprise.

Even if a bit of a struggle for me at times, technology has significant benefits so I am no Luddite.  However, I am aware of increasing concern about poor mental wellbeing linked to the widespread use of technology.  Indeed, the hypnotherapist and internationally known expert in depression Michael Yapko's recent Newsletter goes into the severity of the problem in some detail.  For instance, there is growing and alarming research that connects a rising rate of anxiety and depression in adolescents with technology use.  These adolescents are at increased risk for mental health problems as adults.  The problems can stem from indefensible on-line bullying and exclusion by others, and, perhaps even more common, a lack of actual personal contact, addiction to and anxiety caused by checking social status on sites such as Facebook and Instagram which can lead to a drop in self-esteem when we perceive others' lives to be "better" than our own.  Yapko has a useful book too, "Keys to Unlocking Depression" (2016).  As our perception and thinking can be detrimentally altered by technology the book includes a section "Beware of the Potentially Negative Effects Technology Has on Depression:  Be Smarter than Your Smartphone!".  It is a self-help book I recommend to clients who have low mood and anxiety (or similar).

As the presence of the humanoid robot demonstrated, our future is inevitably going to be ever-increasingly integrated with technology.  Obviously, there are people out there looking at the ethics and risks of all this as we move further into the 21st Century.  But what small things can we do to promote a good balance of technology's benefits with its mental health risks?  Following Yapko's advice would be a good starting place:  take "time out" from technology's offerings by putting it aside for periods of time to allow interaction with others in conversation, get out to enjoy nature, meditate (or use self hypnosis), give time for self-expression through creative arts and exploration.  In fact the Festival shows with friends were ideal!  We already know good physical health requires regular exercise and healthy-eating - similarly, good mental health requires care and attention.



Yapko M PhD - August 2017 Newsletter


Yapko Michael D (2016)  Keys to unlocking Depression:  an Internationally Known Depression Expert Tells you What You Need to Know to Overcome Depression Yapko Publications

This is available from your local book store and Amazon including Kindle version:



Hypnotherapy is a useful complementary health technique which supports issues such as low-mood, anxiety, stress and panic attacks.  There are many small changes and habits you can form to help you regain/maintain a positive perspective.  Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be more effective when used in conjunction with hypnosis (Yapko/others).   If you have a deeper malaise/depression your GP will give advice in the first instance.  Note that the use of antidepressant medication may affect the timing of hypnotherapy treatment.  A combination of medication and CBT may work best for a deep depression as the treatments can affect different parts of the brain (Korb 2015).  Alcohol abuse contributes to depression.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like a free phone consultation if any of these issues affect you.  Call Audrey on 075 548 54321 or email audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk  There are links to this email throughout the website and more information on the "About" page.






To succeed in life you need three things ...

When I help clients make positive change, certain recurring features become evident.  In the first place,  the person approaches me because they have a desire to do something different or fulfil an ambition.  It might be to change a habit for better health, to start up their own business or fulfil a sports objective.  The clients are unique mostly with differing aims but they all share a wish to do something and they are keen to make a success of it.


As the process continues,  I guide, support and motivate through coaching or use hypnosis to engage their own unconscious mind's support to help them reach their desired outcome.  In doing this, I garner the client's own strengths to achieve.  This ultimately involves them applying their own backbone as I can assist (hopefully significantly) but it is they who take the steps that get them to the finishing line!


And along the journey of success, it is true to say that some clients experience a frustration or two.   This is when I encourage them to take the rough with the smooth, to persevere, to show resilience so as not to get down about things so they stay on course. Additionally, I encourage them to connect with their sense of humour as a way of handling stress.  Sadly, with the stresses and strains of everyday life we are prone to forget about our playful, humorous side but smiling and laughing generate helpful neurotransmitters and release tension.  It is amazing what seeing the funny side of things can do to shift our perspective, to re-set us into a more positive “can-do” mind-set which serves to motivate us to find a solution.  Indeed, if you saw the film,  "Eddie the Eagle” (2016) and his journey to the 1988 Olympics as the lone British ski-jumper, you would have identified with just how much a “can-do” attitude plays a part in success - and you would, no doubt, have had a good laugh too!

So all in all, I think Reba McEntire’s quote goes a long way to succinctly sum it up… “To succeed in life, you need three things:  a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone!"


If you have a wish for change and would like a helping hand, please get in touch by phone 075 548 54321 or email audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk.  You can scroll down to a link below or find one at the bottom of the Home page. Incidentally you can also see some clients’ Testimonials on the About page.

Take a moment to come up for air ...

Breathing - a built-in, instant, natural de-stressor

Breathing - a built-in, instant, natural de-stressor

Often we have too much going on and that takes its toll, leaving us feeling pressurised and prone to making silly mistakes.  By taking a moment to join forces with our breath, we can effect a beneficial change in our state that helps us to manage better.  Try this:

Hold out your hand in front of you.  Now with the index finger of your other hand, slowly trace its shape by running the finger up and down the sides of the other five fingers.  As your finger runs up the fingers, breathe in; as your finger runs down, breathe out.  

Alternatively, you might like to close your eyes, and with a nice full and rhythmical breathing pattern, say this to yourself:

"Inhale Calm - Exhale Tension

Inhale Positivity - Exhale Fear

Inhale Confidence - Exhale Doubt

Inhale Contentment - And Smile"

Remember to check your breathing technique!  Your lungs are like bags that go from the diaphragm up to the collar bones.  When you inhale your tummy should fill up and move out, then move back towards your spine as you exhale.  Sometimes tension causes us to get this the wrong way around:  the air coming in expands the upper part of the chest, the shoulders rise and the tummy comes in.  If this is happening, give your body a shake, place one hand on your tummy and the other on a collar bone to act as monitors, and try again!  A mirror can be useful too.


Sleep - the unrecognised health benefits and tips

This blog will interest you if you have sleep difficulty, Type 2 diabetes, low-mood, stress, heart, fertility problems or are over-weight.  I'd recommend it if you want to improve your work/sport performance and to increase your knowledge about the importance of sleep.  The information has been gathered predominantly from Performance Sleep Coach Nick Littlehales' book "Sleep..", NHS Choices and various respected websites.  Sources and products are listed at the end.

As a hypnotherapist I offer treatment for poor sleep because hypnosis works with the same automatic part of the brain that controls sleep and our other body functions such as circulation. Most often clients seek help during stressful times or because their work patterns are disruptive to a good night's sleep. Occasionally it is a more unusual sleep disorder.  Research shows that long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems so I thought it worth giving a general review of what seems the best current advice.  It makes particular sense not to overlook your sleep pattern if you are monitoring other aspects of your health.

What role does sleep have in boosting good physical and mental well-being?

An occasional sleepless night will not do us harm but after several nights our brain can fog, it becomes harder to concentrate and remember and we become more accident prone.  On the other hand, good sleep habits help boost our immune system helping us fight infection, help maintain good mental well-being, lift our libido, and make us look better.   Importantly sleep helps prevent Type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes fuel gained from high-energy carbohydrate.  Short sleep duration is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) as sleep is significant in the production of our appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin.   Leptin suppresses hunger while ghrelin initiates meal intake.  More sleep increases the levels of the former and reduces the latter.   That said, apparently obesity sufferers have been found to be leptin-resistant and these hormones' role in the regulation of food intake is complex.  Sleep reduces certain inflammation-causing chemicals that cause heart disease and a lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure as is fertility because fewer reproductive hormones are produced. 

Sleep - maximising minimum gains for improved health and performance

In the last decade the benefits of sleep have been embraced by sports people; so much so, the Premier League and Olympic athletes often employ sleep consultants.  It is a wave that was started by Sir Alex Ferguson when he was approached by Nick Littlehales to work on sleep with the Manchester United team in 2004.  Although many people cannot work to the strict standards of premier athletes, there is a concept of maximising minimal gains which can be applied to people with different lifestyles. To start with we need to look at what happens in sleep and what is the ideal.

Our natural body clock - circadian rhythms

We have a natural rhythm that is synced with the rising and setting of the sun.   Light plays a crucial part in producing serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps with the body’s healing processes and gives a feel-good mood boost.  It is also the substance from which melatonin is derived - that change is triggered when light turns to dark.  The production and release of the hormone melatonin occurs with a clear circadian rhythm and peaks at night.   It is an essential for good restorative sleep. Our natural “circadian rhythms” are 90 minute long continuous cycles.    Whilst not all of us work during the day or have consistent wake-up and bed times, being in tune with day and night, light and dark is exceptionally important for promoting health. 

How much sleep do we need?

The figure of 8 hours a night is commonly bandied about.   This is, however, only an average. Apparently Usain Bolt and Roger Federer like 10 hours per night whereas Margaret Thatcher was renowned for 4-5 hours and additional 20 minute naps.  Information on the NHS Choices website suggests that routinely getting less than 5 hours of sleep increases our risk of diabetes; less than 6 hours gives a greater risk of depression and anxiety and less than 7 hours increases our risk of obesity.  And parents, before you moan at your teenagers, they - like young children - need more than adults; teenagers are programmed to rise later as restorative sleep helps with their growth-spurt!  

Although waking and sleepiness are tied to daylight and darkness, our bodies have a natural dip between 1- 3pm and 5 - 7pm when we are inclined to feel the urge to nap.  Littlehales suggests making use of these siesta times with a proper nap rather than falling asleep in front of the TV after work.

Littlehales’ sleep programme, R90, uses these natural cycles as opposed to counting the number of hours sleep each night.  He does not favour lie-ins, preferring the rise time to be consistent but adds naps or power naps (including meditation) to catch up on lost cycles.  He considers these rhythms so important that, rather than disrupt them, he would prefer you to skip to the next 90 minute period before beginning your night’s sleep routine.  Thinking in cycles rather than hours is helpful… if late to bed one night it will not be detrimental but if this happens several times during the week the answer is to take control by finding extra naps or schedule an early night later in the week.  It is common sense really but being disciplined and monitoring your sleep habits prioritises it.  This allows you to be in control, keep a positive attitude and promotes your good health.   

As an example of Littlehales' programme, by nature I have a late-bed time and like 5 cycles each night.  So, my midnight bed-time until the 7.30 alarm spans 5 circadian cycles x 7 days = a 35 cycles per week target. If I go out or work late then I might go to bed at 1.30am or very occasionally 3am - then I have 1 or 2 cycles to catch up on using sleep naps and meditation. 

Littlehales also pays close attention to early risers (“larks”) and late-bedders (“owls") knowing that people perform at their best at different times of the day.  Indeed, he recommends that an owl is chosen to take the penalty shoot-out in an evening game! 

What steps can we take to help maximise gains from sleep?

First, get up at the same time each day (even at weekends), open the curtains, and get into the daylight.  If you need extra sleep, go to bed early or take day-time naps.  

Include a long unstimulating cool-down before bedtime and a wake-up routine

Littlehales emphasises that the 90 minute cycle pre- and post-bed is an essential part of a good routine.  In this time he recommends a bit of fresh air and a physical stretch as well as the usual getting dressed/undressed, breakfast/bedtime snack and, of course, a trip to the loo.  The rest of the 90 minutes can be used for mundane tasks such as admin e.g. filing and compiling tomorrow's to-do list, housework, ironing, unexciting reading and so on as you cool down/warm up.  It is a perfect time to include self-hypnosis or other (see later).  Exciting/enthralling TV/reading/computer games/work emails are to be avoided before bed.  Littlehales advises hot-water showering/bathing in the morning unless you like a quick tepid shower at night to cool you down.  He also says to avoid hard physical exertion before bed and in the early part of the evening when our blood pressure is at its highest. And in case you are wondering, Littlehales is accepting of sex as part of this routine!

Deliberately switch from Day to Dark to Day

Day-light lamps are recommended to get an owl going in the morning if their work depends on early performance or to help sync them with an early-rising lark partner.  Larks are encouraged to arrange the important work for the morning, owls for later on.  

Dim the house lights during the pre-bed cycle to help the body transition to sleep mode - use a dim beside lamp and if necessary avoid the bright bathroom light in favour of candle light.  Also ensure your bedroom is dark at night as it is considered exceptionally important for your body’s mechanisms.  You may need to invest in black-out curtains or blinds particularly if you are a shift worker.  Littlehales even recommends use of a “Valkee” therapy head-set (like ear-phones) which targets light-sensitive areas of the brain.  These and daylight lamps could play a part for night-workers, those changing time-zones and Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers.

Ban TV/technology and bright lights (no matter how small) from the bedroom

The common consent is to keep the TV out of the bedroom along with any “blue light” technology.  More and more of us seem to be taking our mobiles/laptops into the bedroom to charge/check late emails.  All light is detrimental to quality sleep but blue is particularly so. The message is simple - leave these elsewhere and buy an un-illuminated alarm clock!

Facilitate a cool bedroom

A cool bedroom of 16 - 19oC induces sleep.  However, one list of recommendations listed a hot water bottle as being acceptable because the bottle cools the body as it loses its heat.  

Buy a comfortable and large bed

Perhaps the most obvious….Littlehales advises a Super King-size for couples but this may not be practical.  He also gives tips on how to choose a bed.

Make your bedroom into your neutral “recovery room” or sanctuary

Littlehales refers to the bedroom as a “recovery” room to emphasis the importance for sleep and the role it plays in an athlete/high performer’s life.  He prefers an unadorned room with neutral colour scheme but the National Sleep Foundation recommends turning your bedroom into your sanctuary - colours of your choice, comfortable furnishings and so on along with lavender as a pleasant smell that might help.  In any event, keep it tidy and inviting!

Use relaxation techniques before bed

Examples are following your breathing as in yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, and tensing/releasing muscle groups deliberately to bring about relaxation.  Note that I can teach you about self-hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness in one or two sessions .…do use the Contact page to get in touch!

Consider that what you eat/drink before bed may help or hinder

Alcohol in small amounts is a stimulant so avoid a night-cap.  Along with this are caffeine and taurine (Red Bull). Recent research recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine a day and Littlehales says to use it as a legal stimulant when you need to be on the ball! It is apparently a naturally occurring psychoactive substance.  The amount of caffeine in home-made and different high street brands' coffees varies enormously.  It is found in many foods too e.g. chocolate.  It is worth taking note of your own typical caffeine intake so see the link below to what seems a useful American site, caffeineinformer.com.   It lists products and the possible health benefits/negatives.  My own choice, a Costa Primo (small) Short Flat White, has 277mg.  For my weight seemingly I can safely drink 7.6 smallish cups of tea a day though. Phew!

Whilst I am not a nutritionist, the advice seems to be eat your evening meal 4 hours before bed and some say to avoid snacking before bedtime.  The Sleep Foundation, however, says the best bedtime snack is one that contains both a carbohydrate and protein such as cereal with milk or peanut butter on toast.   Protein is the building block of tryptophan which induces sleepiness and carbohydrates make it more readily available to the brain.  This is why carbohydrate-heavy meals can make you drowsy.  Slow release carbohydrates such as sweet potato and rice are recommended for inducing drowsiness if eaten 4 hours before bedtime.  Others say that cherries are a good source of melatonin but supplements are not considered useful.  Bananas and sweet potato contain the muscle relaxant potassium. 

And finally, The National Sleep Foundation says that motivation to get a good night’s sleep increases sleep by half an hour a night, so start to take things in hand today!  Most of us take good health for granted and it seems to me the benefits of a good sleep pattern are under-recognised.  

If you’ve enjoyed reading this please “like” and share it with other friends who may benefit. :)    Do not hesitate to email me at audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk  if you have a question or would like hypnotherapy/NLP support.  Thank you.

References, products and links:

NHS Choices  (2015) Why lack of sleep is bad for your health


Littlehales N (2016)  Sleep:  The Myth of 8 hours, the Power of Naps .. and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind Penguin

If not supporting your local bookshop, Kindle purchases of Nick Littlehales' book, Amazon:


Appetite hormone/weight management research



American Sleep Association 


The National Sleep Foundation (USA)


Headphones - taking light to the brain via the ears


Suction black-out blinds


Food and drink

J Clin Sleep Med. 2011 Dec 15; 7(6): 659–664 doi:  10.5664/jcsm.1476   Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals





Is fear of public speaking holding you back? Why it's important and what you can do.

As a school-girl, answering questions and reading aloud - like many people - caused me angst, and stage-performance was avoided at all cost.  Hence I can fully empathise with those who find it problematic.  Thankfully these days are long gone but my later-gained NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (NLP) and SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY skills would have brought more rapid success than my clumsy self-help methods!

So when BBC.com's  'If You Only Read 6 Things This Week...' picked out the article "Is public speaking fear limiting your career?"  it caught my attention.  It explains that these inhibitions are extremely common and restrict career progress, and it gives tried and tested ways of over-coming the hurdles.  

Whilst the article is limited in the NLP techniques it mentions it includes the standard ones of breaking limiting beliefs, reframing thoughts and rehearsing using enhanced visualisation.  The latter is used to develop new neural pathways so we can replace fear with new ways of doing and having confidence in these situations.  Of course being sufficiently prepared is a must-do... having noted the key points and learned the few sentences that trigger what you want to say for each is usually enough.  That said, taking time to find out what works for you and rehearsing in front of others will better ensure a pleasing outcome. And, naturally, frequency of speaking publicly (and reflecting upon it) will sharpen skills.

Breezing to professional presentation skills

Breezing to professional presentation skills

We probably know instinctively that communication is important but the article states that top recruiters look for "oral communication and presentation skills" as two of their top four requirements.  "Exposure" - such as making a presentation in person or video-link, taking a lead role, being on a committee and so on - is also mentioned as being particularly influential in career success.  Clearly then if you have a hang-up about speaking publicly you would do well to address it sooner rather than later to succeed in the competitive employment environment.  After-all, your first step into an organisation is typically through evidencing your suitability by demonstrating skills on a CV or application then an interview which increasingly includes a presentation of some sort.  Once "in" you have to continue to shine to progress.  And self-employed people know that their personal communication and social/media presentations are essential in driving business.

It is worth elucidating on the article's point that "good communication" means getting your message over to the audience/listener.  A bit of personality and being succinct will take you far. Take the singer Adele as an example... I doubt she would land a job as a newscaster, but she relates to her audience with presence, warmth, gestures and ease. Again, these are skills that can be learned.

You will have seen that there is a way forward for those who find public speaking a daunting task.   I would be delighted to provide coaching with NLP by Skype/Facetime or in-person for this.  Hypnotherapy has additional techniques but is available only in the clinic for ethical reasons.  To start the process of changing your thoughts, feelings and performance, please get in contact with me by email or phone!

Here's a link to the BBC.com's article by Tim Smedley: "Is public speaking fear limiting your career?"


Happiness ...

I came across this sign for sale in a local street market yesterday.  I bought it to help remind me of what I am grateful of and to help me stay in touch with my feeling of well-being and joy.  Do you have something, a photo or souvenir you keep at hand that, when you look at it, triggers a change in your feeling of emotional well-being?

If you don't feel you have "happiness" at the moment, perhaps it is worthwhile looking at the definition...

vocabulary.com defines it as "the feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile.  It's the opposite of sadness.  It's a state of well-being characterised by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy:

Synonym:   felicity

Antonym:   unhappiness - a state characterised by emotions ranging from mild discontentment to deep grief

Types:        beatification, beatitude, blessedness - a state of supreme happiness;                                                               radiance - an attractive combination of good health and happiness;  enlightenment, nirvana - (Hinduism and Buddhism) the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation; characterized by the extinction of desire and suffering and individiual consciousness 

Types of:   emotional state, spirit - the state of a person's emotions (especially with regard to pleasure or dejection)."

In Life Coaching, NLP and Hypnotherapy often I work with an individual client to help move her/him from a low-mood state to a more positive resourceful one, a place of comfort with more consistent feelings of well-being.  One of my tips comes from my American guru, Stephen Gilligan.  He's an extraordinarily gifted man working in Generative Change using NLP, Trance and Psychotherapy.  We met when I attended his Trance Camp training.  Gilligan's tip is to allocate a corner with some memorable photos and possessions that instil a feeling of well-being and joy.  For instance, he mentioned that his dog gives him feelings of being centred so he has a photo of him on his desk along with others.  Hence, each morning when I wake up,  I look over to my cherished photos of loved ones and inspirational people along with a few momentos including a laughing buddha.  To this I have added my new sign.  The message that happiness is a journey is especially fitting as I've just returned from an epic trip with a team of ski-mountaineering friends.  A reminder too about another happiness tip - that's to stay in touch with your passions, perhaps something you enjoy doing now or that you did when you were young.  Doing so will help you thrive even when the world is an imperfect place.   My passions are working with people, travel and adventure sport so the sign will serve to remind me of the philosophy and our wonderful trip each time I look at it.  So, if you are searching for greater happiness, why not try these two simple tips?!



"Age is Just A Number"...

Today I heard this "senior", Charles Eugster, chatting eloquently on the radio about his new book, "Age is just a number".  What an inspiration.  He is a remarkable man, a mere 97 years young!  He described himself as having been a dentist and parent of 2 children who was "balding, self-satisfied and a lump of lard" until he started rowing at 63.   He became a champion in the over 60s class but worried that, despite the exercise, his body was going downhill.  At 87 he took up body building for a couple of years and, as you can see, transformed it.  He recommends three things:  (1) Keep working/learning new things; (2) Watch what you eat; (3)  Exercise.  (He loves eating fat incidentally - see my reference in my previous blog, "Battle of the bulge".)  He's now a champion long-jumper - in his age-group anyway!  So as I put in my final week of fitness work for my own annual ski-mountaineering trip, I know that excuses won't do even if 60 is not so far away these days.    Maybe it's time to think about next year's trip!



Starting 2017... Battle of the bulge or a mind and body transformation?


Ah, the Festivities are behind us and, if you're anything like me, you've eaten, drunk and been merry!  It might be you've made a New Year's Resolution to give-up a favourite food or "to go on a diet"; I've heard we're more likely to fail if we use that phrase.  Rather we should think of it as a life-style change to ensure that the yo-yo weight-loss / weight-gain cycle is broken.  Ho-hum...  if  only Santa could have given us that without us having to make effort!  

Although I'm lucky to now be at my mid-range BMI (that's a measure of health),  as I come from a line of short overweight-women that hasn't always been the case.  In fact, at 17, I joined my Mum and Gran at Weight-Watchers on a weekly basis.  I try to keep abreast of this emotive and confusing subject for my own and professional interest but it's hard to pick out good, research-based information. Of course, I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, but it is nice to be able to help point people in an informed direction. However, as a coach and a hypnotherapist, where my skills lie is to support, motivate and help with habit change. Through visualising your goal then emotionally and mentally associating to it, you open up a new way of being; building a new neural pathway that helps move you from the "I want" to the "I am".  

So, if weight-management is your target I thought you might like help sifting through all that is being thrown at you about "dieting" as the year starts.  You might like to know about a book called "The Diet Myth - The Real Science Behind What We Eat" by Professor Tim Spector.  It draws on current science and tells us why the balance in our microbiome (our gut microbes) and its interaction with our body plays a crucial part in our weight.  He rejects diet fads embracing food diversity for a healthy gut and healthy body.  He favours a Mediterranean diet which he lists as predominantly fish/vegetables/beans/lentils and fruit and enthuses about extra virgin olive oil, blue cheese and natural yoghurt.  As usual he advocates exercise which will lift your spirits, stress-bust and burn calories.  Of course, some people find it easy to maintain a healthy weight without knowing how important their gut microbes are. Perhaps though it can be a key contribution to YOUR success? 

The current trend of juicing raises an alarm for Spector, as it removes the fibre which carries fat from the body.  Processed foods are a no-no because the body does not handle the added chemicals well. That strikes a huge amount of food off the list, such as, preserved meats (e.g. sausages, ham, salami). Foods with a long shelf life (e.g. cakes, biscuits, butter-like spreads) are off the menu too as they contain worrying hydrogenated fats.  Fructose (the sugar present in fruit) is to be watched - indeed I noticed my large glass of supermarket-bought orange juice this morning contained 26% of my daily recommended sugar intake!  Counter-intuitively, low-calorie diet foods and fizzy drinks laden with artificial sweetener are a non-starter.   Spector recommends sticking to white meat, such as chicken, for the most-part, although it seems an occasional steak and glass of red wine are allowed.  He considers dietary supplements potentially very harmful.  The good news is he is less concerned by calorie counting, the bad news is he'd like a sample of your stool!   The book is an accessible read and highly recommended, particularly if you've tried "the usual" and are a bit stuck.   

Channel 4's programme "Food Unwrapped - The Diet Special", aired on 2 January 2017, provided information along the same lines as Spector's book.   I'd recommend the programme if you've time to take a look - the link's below.  It challenges the Government's Eat-Well guidelines to cut-out fat and makes a plea to cut-out foods containing sugar.  Currently the guidelines encourage us to avoid fat but to eat carbohydrates. The trouble is we need to look at the packaging's small print to discern if it is the sugar or the starch form of carbohydrate we're eating as these are extremely different nutritionally.  Be wary of those so-called "healthy" breakfast cereals!  The programme also reveals that there's evidence to support intermittent fasting, so if you like skipping breakfast then here's your invitation to do so.  They looked at the so-called "Wolverine's" 16:8 diet, when all eating is done within an 8 hours period each day (apparently Hugh Jackman used it before playing the part).  Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve our metabolism.  Spector gives the supporting evidence for the 5:2 diet which allows normal healthy eating for 5 days a week then restricts calories for the 2 remaining days:  men to 600 calories and 500 for women.  

Another fact mentioned on the programme is how a poor sleep routine is linked to being over-weight.   Apparently sleepy people are more stimulated by food!  Nick Littlehales' book, "Sleep - The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your body and Mind",  explores sleep management in huge detail.  That's hardly surprising as he is a sleep coach to Olympic athletes, some Premier League and Sky cycle teams.  What you need to know, most of all, is just how important darkness is for sleep and how important sleep is for good health!  Research shows to avoid obesity your sleep should average 7 hours.  Incidentally those sleeping less than an average of 5 hours are at greater risk of diabetes (type II).  Note, however, that 8 hours a night is an average and not for everyone.  You might be like Usain Bolt who likes a good 10 hours, or more like Margaret Thatcher who existed on about 5 hours per night along with day-time naps.  In Littlehales' programme, your sleep time can vary from night-to-night to accommodate your life-style as sleep is measured over the week and includes naps.  Our natural body clock 90 minute cycles are known as "circadian rhythms" and are a crucial part of his programme.  They continue night and day with your body dipping between 1 - 3pm and 5 - 7pm -  ideal times for a wee nap just like the continental siesta.    

Sadly inexpensive calorie-rich food is on offer almost everywhere and the NHS recommended exercise levels are higher than even an energetic enthusiast might guess.  It takes a while to become conversant with what nutrition and calories are in a portion of food.  There are great Apps out there to help though.  But if you've gone down that route and you're battling the bulge unsuccessfully perhaps there's more you can think about to increase your chance of success?  Good luck and I hope this has been of use to you.   Remember if you've other health issues and you are not used to doing exercise, do get advice from your GP before embarking on your healthy life-style change. If your BMI healthy weight-range seems a long way off, keep going forward step-by-step: that's the weigh to go!  And as ever,  if you'd like some coaching or hypnotherapy for weight-or sleep management (or anything else) please get in touch by emailing audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk or by phoning 075 548 54321.  Coaching is available by Skype so your location makes no difference. My Hypnotherapy and NLP sessions are available at Mulberry House,  a delightful complementary health clinic in the West End of Edinburgh.  Please scroll through my testimonials to read about how I have helped others.

For those interested please find below references and links for further reading/viewing:

Click here to see the NHS Choices page on a Mediterranean Diet.
Click here to watch the Food Unwrapped Diet Special programme.

Spector Tim (2015)  THE DIET MYTH  The Real Science Behind What We Eat  Weidenfeld & Nicolson UK

Habermacher Andy (2016)   The Human Brain and Coaching; Emotional Drives and Coaching; Motivational Patterns and Coaching - Excellence in Neuroleadership  International Coaching Federation Webinars  (Book available)

Littlehales Nick (2016)   SLEEP  The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind  Penguin


Summit Life Coaching Limited, Hypnotherapy and NLP - January 2017.  Not for reproduction without permission.




"Turn That Frown Upside-down!"

I was walking along the banks of the Water of Leith the other day with my daughter and we came across a couple of things that caught our attention.  First was a grey heron at the river's edge.  These birds do not migrate so perhaps no surprise that it was around, but nonetheless a big leggy creature to see in Edinburgh city centre. The other surprise was a private GP's clinic advertising cosmetic surgery "to get more 'likes'".  We admired the natural beauty of one, but were antagonised by the artificiality of the other.  Surgery for social media approval seems so sad and superficial.  As we huffed and puffed up the hill home we discussed the Channel 4 programme, "Your Face Says It All".    In the first programme of the series, a young woman of 23 underwent botox treatment for a hard frown line on her face.  Her reasoning was that she felt better after the treatment.  The programme went on to explain that curiously the neuroscience supports that view.  We were told that when we physically smile our "happy chemicals" are triggered, which in turn enhance our mood, and we know that other people are engaged by and respond positively to a smile.  Indeed, as a way to lift one's mood the programme medic recommended sticking a pencil between the lips to cause them to turn up!  

So, it's free self-help and charming...on not-so positive days, remember to "turn that frown upside down!"   

Please do go see your GP, however, if your low mood is persistent or recurrent.

Here is a link to the programme in case you are interested (available until 18 November on 4OD).

"Laughter is the best medicine..."

In the last week laughter has caught my attention - I read about laughter helping the recovery of a stroke victim, attended a neuro-expert's coaching webinar who described laughter as "nutrition for the brain", and had a minute's raucous laughter at my yoga class.  If you need a pick-me-up it's an easy thing to do - and free...just throw away your inhibitions, think of something funny and away you go!  The benefits are significant.  It's even better done with someone else!

Using the mind to promote healing

Summit Life Coaching Hypnotherapy NLP Blog Promote Healing
Recently a friend injured himself running so, keen to help, I encouraged him to use visualisation techniques to promote a speedy recovery.

Here is a link to the Association for Applied Sports Psychology (USA) on using imagery for injury rehabilitation that's worth a read. It gives information and instruction on how to use this technique. In case you are curious here are some links to research by R. Maddison (2011) and Shackell and Standing (2007) showing how it may help strength and injury recovery.

Hypnosis will help you with guided imagery/visualisation and deep relaxation which I offer in clinic sessions. If you are not in the Edinburgh area to visit Mulberry House I can talk you through how to enhance your visualisation/imagery technique by phone or Skype!

Sometimes unwanted change is forced upon us...

Karen Darke - The Women's time trial H1-3 gold medal champion at the Rio Paralympics. 

Karen Darke - The Women's time trial H1-3 gold medal champion at the Rio Paralympics. 

As the Paralympic ceremony brings the games to a close we can only be in awe of these amazing dedicated athletes.  Karen is one of them, having been paralysed from the chest down in a climbing accident she has gone on to do more than most of us would dream about like pushing herself along on skis with arms and hand-poles over Greenland, climbing El Capitan and more.  An extraordinary exemplar showing perseverance, resilience, determination, future focus strength of mind and body (and more).  Having met her when she launched her book "If you Fall...It's a New Beginning" I am delighted to see her further success.  She's someone to keep in mind the next time an unwanted change comes our way.