How to speak up in social situations and boost your own self-belief

DSC_2682bLife coach and international speaker Wendy Capewell shares some advice on speaking out when we feel overwhelmed. She also talks about how not speaking out can impact our overall health and wellbeing

Some people find it really uncomfortable to say how they feel at the best of times, but it can be even more difficult when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your thoughts can be jumbled or distorted and you tend to doubt yourself. You may also feel vulnerable and scared of being rejected. But by not speaking up – perhaps when you don’t agree with what someone has said – your silence can be perceived as agreement.

You might feel that if you speak up it will result in conflict, which is something you want to avoid – especially right now.

That might be okay in the short-term but, long-term, it can cause all kinds of problems which can eat away at you and leave you feeling as if your opinions don’t matter. This, in turn, can lead you to feeling worthless. people-2567915_1920

Here’s an example: a few months ago, a group of friends asked if you would be the designated driver on a night out. You agreed but now every time you go out with that group of friends, it’s assumed you will be the driver.

By not speaking up and letting them know you don’t always want to drive, you will be seen as easy-going and might find that you’re put on even more and taken for granted.

You might not want to speak up because you hate conflict but, by not speaking out, you feel resentful. If you internalise those feelings, they can eat away at you and you can feel worthless and, at the same time, worried about upsetting others and losing their friendship.

The danger is that you will start on a downward spiral – sinking into unhappiness that can turn into feeling depressed, believing that your opinion doesn’t matter and that you are worthless.

By learning to speak up, people will not only learn to listen to you, they will also respect you. It’s also important to speak up about your feelings of overwhelm before it becomes more serious. Tell someone you trust and ask them for help. people-2576947_1920

People often don’t ask for help because they think it’ll be seen as weakness, or they worry they’ll be rejected. But asking for help means you want to resolve the issues rather than continue to feel that way. In my experience, people like being asked for help.

Turn it around for a moment and ask yourself how it feels when one of your friends asks for your help. I’m sure you feel pleased they have asked you and want to help. This can also apply in other relationships!

Wendy offers many different online coaching services to people all over the UK and her book ‘From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship’ is out now at Amazon.


10 tips to overcome holiday stress

Most of us look forward to a holiday away from work and home life.  Holidays are supposed to be relaxing and, above all, enjoyable. But some of us aren’t quite as keen to get away from it all – fearing it could trigger unwanted stress and anxiety.

Mike Wakeman, a clinical pharmacist with Master’s in Pharmaceutical Analysis, Nutritional Medicine and Clinical Oncology has looked into this growing phenomena.

“Holiday stress seems to affect a lot of people nowadays, particularly with the ‘always on’ culture of dealing with work emails and phone calls 24/7,” he says.

“Having worked hard all year, the last thing you want is to get stressed before and then on holiday.  Holiday stress is the stress you can feel preparing for a holiday or the stress you feel while on holiday. Nowadays we work really hard with little time off. This means when holiday time comes we feel we really need that break and our high expectations can be the cause of real stress, both prior to and during the holiday.”

Here Mike Wakeman’s top tips for recognising triggers and how to overcome them:

Don’t try to be perfect!  “You’ve worked hard throughout the year, and you’re likely tired and ready to have a break. This holiday probably means everything to you – rest, fun, relaxation and recovery. You therefore put a lot of emphasis on it being perfect. If you carry such high levels of stress into the holiday then you are very likely to have a very stressful time.  Just chill out – nothing’s ever perfect – but above all have FUN!”

Leave work behind!  “Prepare your work schedule in advance of the holiday to make sure all the loose ends are tied up before you go away, so you are not worrying about things you have left unfinished that could impact negatively on your colleagues or business.  This is your ‘down time’ – stop thinking about work and embrace the holiday for your ‘you time’.”

Take a mini break!  “If you haven’t allowed yourself time off for a whole year, the chances are you’re going to be really stressed by the time you get to the holiday, since so much significance is riding on its success . So try and get some time away for the odd weekend every now and then to take the pressure off the main holiday.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend out on hotels and B&Bs – visiting friends that you haven’t seen for a while can be just as, if not more, enjoyable.”

Don’t try to do too much! “Overextending yourself is a sure recipe for heightening stress levels.  What are you capable of and what do you really want? Choose your holiday with care remembering what it is that you need.  There is sometimes also a temptation to do lots of things on holiday and keep busy. This means you might be replicating the busy life you’ve been leading at home. If this is the case, spend more time chilling so you don’t hear yourself saying at the end of the holiday, “I think I need another holiday to recover.”

Preparation is key.  “Don’t leave packing until the last minute. How often do you forget something or get really burned out because you’ve been in such a rush? This stress again is often carried into your holiday and is an unnecessary burden to take away with you.”

Embrace change!   “Change can be stressful for people. Going to a new environment, culture and language can be very stressful if you are already burned out and tired.  And that’s not all – although most people love the sun or a change of climate, it can often take a few days to adjust. So take time to settle into your new environment.”

A Beach is not the B-all and end-all!  “Beaches in popular resorts, both in the UK and abroad can be busy places.  If you’re used to the peace and quiet of village life, this contrast might be stressful for you.  Consider a quieter location where you can maybe travel to the coast on some days if that’s what ‘floats your boat’.”

Remember – patience is a virtue!  “In reality if you are spending a significant time at work your actual contact time with your family is probably limited. On a family holiday, suddenly you’re living on top of each other. For a lot of people this can be very stressful. So be gentle and patient, and if all else fails make time to go for a walk each day for half an hour or so and practice mindfulness.”

De-stress naturally!  “If you are a regular sufferer of holiday stress, it’s worth recognising that anxiety isn’t unusual, affecting over 25% of us, and comprises physical, emotional and behavioural factors including feelings of insecurity, sleep disturbance, muscle tension and even digestive disorders.  If this is the case, then it’s well worth trying RelaxHerb Passion flower tablets, a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve stress and mild anxiety.  The effects of the active herbal ingredient – Passiflora incarnata L – on anxiety have been assessed with highly satisfactory results. Indeed, clinical trials have demonstrated the herb to be as effective in relieving anxiety of situations such as visiting the dentist for a tooth extract, as the prescription medications oxazepam and midazolam, but without the unwanted side effects these medicines can cause.  Plus, in a recent study, a single dose of Passiflora was shown to be effective in reducing the anxiety associated with public speaking within an hour prior to the event.”

Just do it!  “And finally, if you really need a rest and to lie on the beach for a week by yourself– do it! It might not be the most sociable of holidays but your friends and family will thank you for it when you come back relaxed and refreshed.”


Is stress causing your bad breath?

It’s estimated that 50% of the UK population suffers from bad breath but is stress the culprit?
Yes, says dentist, bacteriologist and founder of The Californian Breath Clinics and The Breath Company Dr Harold Katz.
“It’s well documented that stress can have a huge impact on our general health and can cause a plethora of physical conditions, such as heart disease and obesity, as well as serious mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression,” says Dr Katz.
“Specifically, when taking our oral health in to account, stress can really take its toll and be attributed to various oral health issues including bad breath, gum disease
and mouth ulcers to name a few.”
But how does stress cause halitosis?
“When individuals find themselves in high stress circumstances, their bodies react by using the sympathetic nervous system as a form of protection.
“This system essentially triggers the fight-or-flight response mechanism, providing you with a boost of energy so you can react quickly to the situation. In cases of chronic stress, your body is kept in ‘fight or flight’ mode and conserves energy by turning off certain digestive functions such as the production of saliva.
“The mouth then produces a lower level of saliva – saliva is mandatory for moistening food for easier digestion, but the body deems it unnecessary in critical situations.
“Saliva evaporates and the mouth becomes dry, leading to bad breath. This happens because the odorous gases created by bacteria in the mouth, which are generally suppressed by spit and swallowed away, are free to be released into the air.
“Additionally, bacteria are much more likely to stick to the surfaces of a dry mouth, which can further enhance the sour smell. Drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing with a non-alcohol mouthwash can help to minimise the effects of stress related halitosis.”
How can stress cause gum disease?
“A small amount of blood in the sink when you clean your teeth might not seem like a big deal, but consistently bleeding gums should not be ignored. Bleeding gums are a visual symptom of gum disease which can be caused by stress. There are a few factors that link stress to bleeding gums and the onset of gum disease.
“Firstly, when the body is under stress it produces elevated amounts of the hormone
cortisol which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. When cortisol is produced peripherally in the gums, it stimulates mast cells to produce more proteins, simultaneously increasing inflammation and the progression of gum disease.
“In addition, individuals with high stress levels tend to adopt bad oral hygiene and lifestyle habits, and this in turn can have a negative impact on their oral health.
“If gum disease isn’t in advanced stages then good oral hygiene habits can reverse it so it’s essential to adopt a robust oral hygiene regimen coupled with regular trips to your dentist who can offer sound advice on correct brushing and flossing techniques.”
How can stress cause mouth ulcers?
“Chronic stress suppresses the immune system and can leave you open to disease and infection. Mouth ulcers are one example of this and although are relatively harmless can make life unbearable when eating, drinking, speaking or swallowing.
“They occur on the inside of the mouth and are white or yellow surrounded by a dark red area. Minimising your exposure to stressful situations and adopting some simple lifestyle changes can reduce your chances of developing moth ulcers.”
How can I minimise stress and its effects on my oral health?
“Stress can often be an unavoidable part of modern day living, but that can really hinder your day-to-day life. You can help to minimise the impact that stress has on your oral health by adopting the following:
Start with some lifestyle changes. Stress can often lead us to make bad lifestyle choices that will impact our oral health. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks, alcohol and quitting smoking will all contribute to healthier gums and mouth. Smoking in particular dries out the mouth and can lead to gum disease as a result of bacteria and toxins causing plaque to form in the mouth.
Exercise. Fitting exercise into your lifestyle will do wonders for your stress level. When you exercise, you’re using physical activity to shed the mind of stressful thoughts. Regularly practicing yoga for example, may be great for the body and mind. Similarly, deep breathing exercises can be very beneficial, and any form of exercise may boost endorphin production and help you better handle your emotions in high-tension situations.
Adopt a robust oral health regimen. Brush and floss regularly but avoid harsh soap in
toothpaste. Brushing helps eradicate the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, however some toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores.
Flossing is an extra step, but it’s an important one, as it helps gets in between the teeth where toothbrushes sometimes miss. In addition, regular and specific application of alcohol-free mouth rinses such as The Breath Company Healthy Gums Oral Rinse will help calm the gum area and work to both eliminate germs associated with gum disease and reduce the formation of biofilm which leads to plaque and tartar build-up.
It’s important to steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes as these can cause dry mouth, and just mask odours rather than killing off bacteria
Stay hydrated throughout the day. The fight-or-flight reaction to stress can make you
dehydrated and this leads to dry mouth and bad breath bacteria forming which can both
contribute to the onset of halitosis gum disease. If you keep your mouth and body well hydrated, you will minimise the chance of developing dry mouth that can lead to these problems.
• Talk to your dentist and make regular check-ups. They are the very best source of advice and will be able to check for any signs of any stress-related gum disease and bad breath issues. In addition, they will be able to offer advice on how to prevent stress affecting your oral health and put in place a care plan that is bespoke to you.”
Dr. Harold Katz is a dentist with an advanced degree in bacteriology and a lifelong advocate of good oral health. He is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and the developer of the The Breath Company line of premium oral care products. He is the internationally recognised expert in the fields of bad breath, taste disorders, tonsil stones and dry mouth.
Known as the ‘Bad Breath Guru’ due to his numerous television appearances on U.S shows like The View and the CBS Early Show, he has helped
millions of people around the world eliminate their bad breath problems.
Dr. Katz is a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry and holder of a separate degree in Bacteriology, also from UCLA. In the 1970s he established a thriving dental practice in Beverly Hills, California, minutes from bustling 20th Century Fox Studios. There, he perfected his dental techniques while working with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.