WHETHER you’re happily single, dating, married or looking for love, loving yourself this Valentine’s is the most important thing you can do. And I’m not talking about loving yourself Kayne style, admiring yourself in the mirror, or buying yourself a new outfit, I’m talking about deliberately taking the time out to be kind to yourself, wish yourself well and take in some self-love and appreciation, because love is the highest form of energy and you deserve it. There is a plethora of scientific evidence on the long term benefits of practicing self-love. Barbara Fredrickson’s, (Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina) research reveals how micro-moments of self-love and others forms of positivity nourish your health, wisdom and longevity. Fredrickson has twice been invited to brief the Dalia Lama on her research into compassion and love and says “The science tells us that the love you experience today may quite literally change key aspects of your cellar architecture, cells that effect your physical health, vitality and overall wellbeing”. Feeling love releases feel good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin and can act like a natural vaccine to ease anxiety, stress and worry, and the great thing is we don’t have to wait to feel a sense of love from others we can offer it to ourselves anytime we want! However most of us find it easier to show love to others and find it harder to offer love or compassion to ourselves. For some people the idea of self-love can seem like a weakness, self-indulgent or at least a bit strange. It may seem strange at first, but speaking from my own personal experience, when you get over the hurdle of “this is a bit weird” it really does work wonders for your self-esteem and outlook on life. Here’s a few tips to try: 1. Begin your day with love – as you wake each morning with your first in-breath breathe in the love and with your first out-breath breathe out love. Start your day feeling wonderful! 2. Self-Talk – using affirmations or mantra to train your mind to become more positive about yourself “I love myself and others” – inclining the mind towards love. 3. Be real – speak your truth. Being open and honest can help you to be ease with yourself and the who you are. 4. Quieten Your Inner Critic – notice when that voice inside your head comes calling telling you that you are not good enough, attractive enough, smart enough. Practice letting these unhelpful thoughts go. 5. Forgive Yourself – we all make mistakes, loads of them! Let go of dwelling in the past by coming back into the present. 6. Self Praise – next time you achieve something or help someone else take a oment to notice this, and give yourself a little pat on the back or at least a little smile! 7. Write a Journal – reflecting on all of the good things that you love about yourself, your life or each day can help to build a positive mindset. 8. Read – Self-Help books are no longer seen as “sad” As well as Barbra Freidkson best-selling authors include Louisa Hay, Deepak Chopra, and Oprah Winfrey. 9. Seek professional help – if you are feeling lonely, isolated or depressed help is on hard if you reach out – the following associations can offer you support: www.wavelength.org.uk, www.ageuk.org, www.mind.org.uk 10. Meditate – I practice a Kindness to Self and Others meditation everyday. Just focusing on such intentions can help to dissolve any negativity you may be holding and open you up to the good. It’s amazing how good you feel even after 5/10 minutes practice! Start loving yourself now, it’s the best gift you can give to yourself! Old School, Fresh Ideas I RECENTLY went back to my old school Notre Dame High School to teach the pupils Mindfulness, 20 years after leaving! It’s quite emotional going back to your old school and seeing some of your old teachers but I was blown away by the new school’s state of art facilities and their dedication to pastoral care. The onset of major depression now starts between the ages of 13-15 so it is fantastic that this forward thinking school is supporting pupils with their health and wellbeing and providing them with techniques they can use to cope and thrive both in school and in life. The 10 week Mindfulness in Schools programme is known as the .b curriculum (pronounced dot-be) which stands for Stop, Breathe and Be and aims to offer children life skills to feel happier, calmer, improve attention, cope with stress and get on better with others. After we got over the expected bout of giggles the pupils seemed to enjoy the experience and felt the benefits of being able to take time out to switch off. The theme for our next lesson is “Taming the Animal Mind” so I’ll let you know how I get on! Lose Weight With The Power Of Your Mind CHANCES are you made a New Year’s resolution this year but for all our good intentions only 8% of us actually achieve our goals. Most of us fail due to unrealistic targets, lacking of planning or giving up after our first little slip. Jayne Leigh, 38, from St Helens has managed to avoid all of these pitfalls and is still on track for achieving a monumental weight-loss goal for 2016. Jayne made a decision back in November to change her life in 2016 and set herself a goal of losing 10 stone by the end of this year – all without dieting! Using a combination of Hypnotherapy and a Mindful eating approach Jayne has focused on achieving mini weight-loss goals in order to lose weight in a steady, safe way as well as developing long term healthy eating habits in the process. Jayne achieved her first mini goal of losing one stone before Christmas a week early and has continued to stick to her plan even over the tricky Christmas period. Jayne has been able to continue her weight-loss by concentrating on realistic mini-goals and not be overwhelmed by her overall goal. She is gaining confidence as the weeks go on and has transformed her mind-set and eating habits creating a positive knock on effect to her self-esteem and wellbeing. Jayne says “I was desperate to find a way out of the weight gain rut I was stuck in all and all of the negative thoughts I was having about myself. I have now begun to build a more positive mind-set which has helped me to achieve my mini-goals. I use visualisation techniques, a mantra and follow four habits which includes eating mindfully. I achieved my first goal of losing a stone a week before my target all without counting a single calorie or obsessing about food as I have done previously whenever I have been attempting to lose weight. “This is a huge accomplishment for me as I had been gaining weight for several years and honestly thought I was unable to lose weight ever again. “I know I still have many stones to lose but I now have the confidence to achieve mini-goals without giving myself a hard time” Jayne has shown great strength of character to take action and improve her wellbeing, she is receiving lots of support from her friends and family and is doing fantastically well. Keep going Jayne, you can do it! Five top tips for sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions: 1. Be Realistic – set mini achievable goals to begin with to build confidence 2. Plan ahead – what are your goals? How are you going to achieve them? By when? Write your goals down otherwise it is just wishful thinking. Failing to plan is a plan to fail! 3. Be open – don’t keep your goal a secret most people will want you to succeed and will support you. 4. Keep going – lots of people give up after the first setback. Overcoming a setback makes you stronger and will hardwire determination and a winning mind-set. 5. Reward yourself – if you have achieved a mini-goal treat yourself to something that makes you feel good and doesn’t contradict your goal.