Women’s Health – Breaking the Habits of a Lifetime

The state of a woman’s health is highly influenced by the culture in which she lives, her position within it, her experiences, and her day-to-day thoughts, beliefs and behaviour.” ~ Dr Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom 

Ask most women at some point in their life if they recognise these three things and she’ll almost certainly say this is (or was) part of her history:

1) That she strives to keep people happy;

2) That if she doesn’t achieve number 1) she feels like she’s failed;

3) That when she “fails”, she feels guilty and doubles her efforts to achieve number 1).

This is a pattern for most women and in her book “A Woman in her Own Right“, Anne Dickson beautifully describes these feelings of guilt as “The Compassion Trap”.

As women, many of us grow up believing that we have to be all things to all people. We find it hard to say no, difficult to assert our rights to be heard and, more worryingly, in many cases feel we don’t actually have the right.

Times are changing. Women are rising and beginning to wake up to the fact that they can ask for what they want. But it’s a scary time, and it’s often “easy” to stick with what we know, than elicit change. (In fact, the brain is hard-wired to avoid change so that we stay safe. I mean, better the devil you know, right?) And that’s what can keep us trapped in unhealthy coping strategies.

According to the Good Childhood Report 2016, girls are growing more unhappy than boys every year, and some research suggests that women are more likely to suffer with depression, eating disorders, high blood pressure and alcoholism than men.  (That’s not to say these things aren’t important in our fellow-kind, but this article focuses on women’s wellness).

As a Women’s Health Practitioner and Advocate, I believe in the potential of every woman to become what she truly wants to be.  This includes discovering what she wants (for many of us, we don’t actually know because we’ve been going with the flow to keep other people happy for so long) and then finding her voice.  It also includes cherishing the sacred vessel that she lives in – her body – and living well, both physically and mentally.  It means recognising that we can embrace our innate feminine qualities like compassion, grace and empathy, without feeling like we have to “do it like a dude” to get results. And, being honest?  We all want to be less stressed and more productive, so that the time we spend doing what we enjoy, or with the people we love, actually means something (rather than being exhausted by it).


Here’s some top tips:

1) Notice patterns of behaviour, what “traps” you’ve fallen in to, and how many of these are influenced by the teachings of your ancestors.  Do you stay quiet when you need to be heard, because in your family “that’s what women do”? I remember one lady telling me that when her brother and father came back from the pub on a Sunday afternoon her mother would tell them to put their feet up, whilst she (as a young girl) and her mother would get on with preparing their Sunday meal. This was despite the women having spent the morning cleaning the house and, during the week, dealing with a number of daily chores. They hadn’t been working any less hard than the men, but the suggestion was that the men’s work was more important.

2) Consider a role model. Recognising a female to look up to can help you define what it is about that person you like and decide what it is you want and where you want to be. Growing up I was a huge fan of Princess Diana, not because of her fashion sense, but because of her commitment to charity work. Today, I probably do as much voluntary work as I do paid (if not, more).

3) Ask for help. If you’re starting to identify that your ways of being have been defined by other people, reach out to someone who can understand and support you through this period of change. Read books by women for women, join a Women’s Circle, and spend time in the company of women who empower each other.  You could also look into Rise, my Assertiveness Programme for Women.

In my experience, most women know they have more to do in the world – a purpose – but they try to do it whilst putting everyone else first, and find they fall short of their goal. Then one day, they wake up and realise their own needs haven’t being met for a very long time. It’s no wonder, then, that their health suffers.

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.  Ask me about Serenity: a monthly evening gathering for women dedicated to rest and relaxation, hidden in the heart of Milton Keynes or subscribe.

Your life purpose is to bring your unique light in to the world.” ~ Jamie McConochie

Copyright Delphi Ellis 2017

Delphi is a Women’s Health Practitioner, Qualified Therapist and Trainer based in the UK. She won’t diagnose (or label) you, or discuss medication (because that’s what your doctor is for) but she can help you rise, and shine. Ask for details.

Monday Mojo: Feel-Good Motivation for the Week Ahead

Starting Monday 6th March 2017 my Helping You Sparkle™ website and social media pages  offer weekly motivation for the week ahead. Given the name “Monday Mojo” there will be a post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with a suggested goal, focus or positive intention for the next seven days.

Designed to help you sparkle – or get your sparkle back – Monday Mojo offers you food for thought to keep you moving towards the positive, sparkly life you deserve. If you want to share the posts on Social Media you can use the hashtag #MondayMojo

Monday Mojo

This week, set the intention to say something nice to yourself every day. If you’re someone who looks in the mirror and sees or thinks something negative, reassure yourself that your face is a map of where your heart has been, how strong and beautiful that makes you inside and out, and how far you’ve come. If you call yourself an idiot (or worse) when you make a mistake, remind yourself that you’re trying every day to make a better life for yourself.  (You may find this article on the Power of Words, and the impact that negative self-talk can have on our mental health, useful.)

You can also receive regular positive mojo straight to your inbox when you subscribe.

The Big Day is nearly here – looking back and looking forward  

If you were wondering why it was a bit quiet on the roads this morning, it’s because everyone was in the supermarket I went to first thing. And I do mean everyone. 

There’s something about this time of year which sends a lot of people a bit…well…frenzied. 

It’s an exciting time for many but some people meet this time of year with anticipation, thoughts of lost loved ones or find it all just too stressful. I hear you. 

People were stockpiling food into their trolleys as if a Zombie Invasion was imminent (I even checked my newsfeed in case I had missed something), and one person took their full load of shopping through the self-checkout because the queues were so long everywhere else. (Incidentally I found a list of Zombie FAQ’s which includes the question “Will I become a zombie if I sit on a toilet seat“?) 

It’s an exciting time for many but some people meet this time of year with anticipation, thoughts of lost loved ones or find it all just too stressful. I hear you. 

If that’s you, I hope you’ll love the Relaxation MP3 that’s in the Members Area of my Helping you Sparkle™ website – a resource dedicated to positive mental health. A maximum of 10 minutes is all you’ll need for some healthy time out. And it’s free. Just subscribe here and you’ll receive the password. 

Looking back, 2016 has been The Year of the Unexpected – things that nobody predicted happened and these events shocked the world over and again. David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Prince passing to name a few, Leicester winning the League, Brexit and Donald Trump, not to mention the horrors we’ve witnessed in Aleppo and other places around the world.  There is a strong wish from everyone, I think, that 2017 will be less stressful and without so much drama. Calm is welcome. 

Looking forward, 2017 also promises some excitement – there are an increasing number of movements promoting positive change and a growing desire to help others around the world. For me, I will be completing my long awaited book on Dreams and Sleep which is due to be published late in the year and also launching a brand new service exclusively for busy women in Milton Keynes. My focus is and always will be on helping others maintain positive mental health.

In the meantime, I’m heading into the Sparkle Cave and will catch up with you again on the other side of Christmas.   You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook for more updates on the book and my professional work. 

Wishing you a restful festive season whatever you’re doing and a magical new year. 

Delphi 🌟✨🌟

Ps the answer to the Zombie question was “yes but not if you sit on the toilet seat with a loaded gun”. So there you go.

Love and Power: can we have both?

POWER. What does it really mean?

I was recently listening to a talk on bravery, in which the view of what Power could be was challenged.

As a woman I often see the word power used as a call to assert our right to be heard. There is a growing movement expecting women to harness and roar with our feminine nature, to be “a “badass” warrior/goddess”; to be fierce and fearless.

These in themselves are empowering viewpoints – and ones I sometimes run with – but are they the only way to be Power-Full?

Is Power JUST about Strength?

Do we have to interpret Power as noise?

Is asserting our Power the only way we can feel in control of our destiny – the only way to feel valid?

Does Power mean we cannot be warm or compassionate?

I don’t believe so.  

Trying to sustain Power, by these definitions, could be exhausting – and damaging.

Love and Power have, ironically, become enemies over time. A divisive battle believing that you must be one, or other, not both. So what if we’ve got that wrong?

The word power means “the ability to DO something”. There is no reference in its meaning to control, influence, dominate, manipulate or swindle. It is simply our energy in action.

Can I, then, Love AND have Power?

Photograph of a Man and Child, taken in Chile Source unknown

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, we saw people uniting under a banner of Love, in the name of Peace. At the same time, many seemed to invite a war against Power, viewing Power as “bad”. Power was – and still is perhaps – seen as a perpetrator; the cause of all our problems.

Today, Power is a synonym for greed, status, tyranny and, essentially, corruption. Power, as with Love, can be abused in the “wrong” hands, and certainly by those not truly awake to the pain they cause.

So what of Love?

A while ago, I spoke of Love as a means to healing – even a form of spiritual activism – starting with self-compassion. I was surprised by a comment describing me as naive, passive and, interestingly, as if I was giving away my Power by suggesting Love is an answer.

Love is associated mainly with softness, gentility and compassion. But today, if we speak of Love as a solution, we can be seen as weak (or “woo-woo”.)

Society has evolved to believe that Power is what we need, and anything else makes us vulnerable. If you read this article about authoritarian leadership, this suggests how Brexit came about and how Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.  Only time will tell what this sort of Power looks like.

What is needed is the realization that power without Love is reckless and abusive, and that Love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is Love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is Love correcting everything that stands against Love. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

People have become distracted by or bought into a 21st Century (mis)interpretation of the word Power, and we are, once again, in a world divided – not just between men and women, or how we vote – but our definitions of what it is to Love and what it means to have Power.

Back in the 70’s, the motivation for World Peace was as relevant then as it is today. But you can’t “fight” for peace. You have to “peace” for peace. Equally we have to rise together in order to be heard, so that none of us is left behind. The power comes with unity, and a collective desire to create space for each of us.

We don’t have to give up our right to Love for Power, or our right to Power when we embrace Love; we can infuse one with the other.

We don’t have to choose between Love or Power; we can have both.

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Copyright Delphi Ellis

When IS the right time to go for what you want?

Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to learn the drums. I would listen to my favourite tracks (in the original days when vinyl records were first “in”) and tap out the drum beat – a bit like “air guitar” but imagining I had a set of drum sticks in my hands instead.  Animal was – and still is – my favourite character from The Muppets and I still think of Dave Grohl as the drummer from Nirvana. Whenever I hear a strong drumbeat in any music, I stop and pay attention. 

As time went on I could be sat anywhere, music would start playing and I would use my feet to imagine I was beating the bass drum, tap the steering wheel with my fingers at traffic lights in time to the music, and even occasionally would imagine what I would look like playing the drums for real.  But I never did anything about it. 

Have you ever done that? Had a goal or a dream about something you’d love to do but, I dunno, maybe the time wasn’t “right”?  If only you had more time. If only you had more money. 

I wrote an article called “The Elephant’s Rope” to explore the idea that something is holding you back and what can help. 

And then I remembered Randy Pausch. He once said you can always tell how much you want something by whether or not you give up trying for it.  He should know. It took him 15 years to achieve his dream of becoming a Disney Imagineer, which he talked about in the last lecture he gave before he died in 2008 (see below). His dying message was strong. Don’t give up on your dreams and have fun. 

Randy also talked about the importance of having good parents but not everyone would say they’re so lucky.  Our relationships can have an impact on our future, our self-esteem and can also impact our behaviour and the choices we make – until we realise that’s what’s happening.   

It’s not easy to change a habit, and it’s scary to change course or follow a dream – but if the change is for the better, you will see positive results.  If timing is an issue, it can still help to make a plan, which is why asking a coach can work. 

Sometimes we also get a feeling that things are meant to change. We reach our limit or an opportunity arises and we grab it with both hands. Like a voucher company randomly sending me a special offer on drum sessions. So I’ve just booked up (I’ll post a picture ASAP). 

What do you want and what are you waiting for?

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Depression and Anxiety in Pregnancy: it’s time to talk

In 2004 I started a unique website dedicated to the topic of depression in pregnancy; at the time there was almost nothing known of it. 

This ad by PANDA (a great resource) says up to 1 in 10 pregnant women are affected, but the research now suggests its closer to 1 in 3, and it doesn’t just affect women but their partners and family. 

My good friend Elaine Hanzak also talks openly about her experience of Post-Natal Depression which inspired her books Eyes without Sparkle and Another Twinkle in the Eye – you can find out more about the amazing work she is doing at http://www.hanzak.com There are also some great resources on the Mind website

13-19 November is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety awareness week.  Raising awareness of Maternal – and Paternal – Mental Health literally saves lives. It’s time to talk about it.  
#pndawarenessweek #maternalmentalhealth #pregnancymentalhealth

If you’re interested in positive mental health subscribe to my newsletter at Helping you Sparkle™  receive regular insights by email and exclusive access to the Members Area, which includes a guide to Managing Mental Health in Pregnancy. 

Relaxation Classes in Milton Keynes

 

I offer relaxation classes and workshops in Milton Keynes teaching techniques like Mindfulness and Meditation, through Kindfully.  To find out more visit the Kindfully website or send your enquiry using the form below.

Delphi’s calm manner and clear-speaking meant she connected with the audience and made us feel that we were able to ask questions without feeling conscious. We can’t wait for Delphi to return again.” Amanda Coles, President SSEWI

A conversation that matters: World Mental Health Day

On Monday 10th October, I will be starting a conversation on my Twitter and Helping You Sparkle™ Facebook page about mental health and, in particular, the role of spirituality in mental health

There are lots of different reasons why we suffer with poor mental health, relationships (including Domestic Abuse) and poor sleep to name just two.  In 2004, I experienced almost nine months of depression when I was pregnant with my son – I talk about this in more detail here. The last thing I ever expected was to feel miserable when I was so happy to be pregnant. And that’s the thing about poor mental health – often we don’t see it coming – and before we know it we are gripped.  And it can happen to anyone. 

The research is now suggesting that as many as one in three people will experience poor mental health during their lifetime and statistics around suicide are frightening.  If you or someone you know is affected there are a number of sources available, including Mind and the Samaritans

Other options include CBT and Mindfulness, both tried and tested techniques for improving mental health.  (I’m also running relaxation classes in MK in November and December – take a look). 

To keep up to date on this and other topics involving wellbeing, subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll receive feel-good mojo direct to your inbox along with exclusive access to the members area of the Helping You Sparkle™ website, where you can view free resources on sleep, meditation and much more. 

The elephant in the room: why I will keep talking about things which make people uncomfortable 

Note to the reader: this article discusses domestic abuse and human trafficking

A while back I was standing in a café with a friend, waiting to be served.  The couple in front of us were politely challenging the cashier about the cost of a bread roll. The couple were explaining, previously, the roll included the price of butter; today the cashier was telling them it didn’t. This meant the couple ended up having only one bread roll and butter between them, instead of two, and a bowl of chips (the other cheapest thing on the menu). 

My friend turned to me smirking and said “honestly, who argues over the price of a roll and butter?”. I replied, “this might be their weekly/monthly treat, what if that’s all they can afford?”. He looked mortified and said he hadn’t thought of that. 

To this day, he remembers that moment. He tells me he realised how judgemental he had been and what assumptions he had made, not just then but many times before. How he had lived in what he called a “bubble”, where he assumed everyone had enough money to treat themselves to more than a bread roll with butter, and how he had never considered it was all someone could afford. (Jack Monroe talks beautifully about these assumptions in this article).

This is why I talk about things a lot of people don’t seem to want to know or talk about: to encourage people to have those “aha” moments, where they suspend judgement for a while and ask the question “what if…?”

It’s why when people say to me that “people choose homelessness or poverty”, I ask what if we are all just one decision away from a totally different life? It’s why when people say that “women must be stupid if they choose to stay with a violent partner”, I ask what if their violent partner has threatened to drown their children or pets if she leaves?

Assumptions can be the judgements that take people’s dignity away. They create stigma and prejudice where empathy is what’s required.

A woman once asserted to me that “all people who use Food Banks are alcoholics or on drugs”. I offered a story of an elderly friend (neither using drugs or alcohol) who I had discovered went to a food bank one winter,  because she couldn’t afford to eat and heat her home at the same time. 

Assumptions can be the judgements that take people’s dignity away. They create stigma and prejudice, where empathy is what’s required.

It’s why I talk about subjects that some may prefer to stay taboo, like poverty, racism, Domestic Abuse, homelessness, modern slavery and mental health. And sex work too.

Sex work is complex to discuss when people make assumptions. It is actually mired in misogyny and for many, especially those trafficked, a life they would never choose. The Guardian explains in this report how one in ten 15 year olds in Kenya exchange sex for money to buy sanitary towels.  

In the video above, Juno (Toni) Mac talks about the ways in which different countries approach the subject of sex work and how we should consider what women and men actually want, before deciding what they need. She uses education to encourage people to suspend judgement about what they think they know, and instead spend time with the very people who can tell us what it’s really like. 

That’s a lesson we all need to learn I think, that when we talk about change we must involve those it most affects.

Difficult conversations make people think about change – and that’s uncomfortable.

When I signed up to a life of service to others, I don’t think I realised that being “outspoken” (if that’s what I am) or asking organisations to put people before profit would make me unpopular. But here I am.

Difficult conversations make people think about change – and that’s uncomfortable.

I’ve been called sensitive because I fight so hard for others to be treated as human. Called tenacious because I argue a point until I know it’s been heard. Labelled as boring at gatherings because I like to dig deep about things that matter, and don’t indulge in gossip about the Kardashians – because, well, for me there’s more important work to be done.  I take no pleasure in people’s discomfort when they realise what they’ve said is deeply judgemental or ill-informed. I’m not trying to be righteous, or powerful, or judgemental myself. I’m just trying to give humanity a voice.

I am an educator, an advocate, and I guess all this makes me an activist. If I didn’t stand up or give a platform to those who are underrepresented, I wouldn’t be authentic or speaking my truth, something as a counsellor I encourage in others too.

I won’t always get it right but at least I’m listening and asking the questions. So, where it helps, I will keep putting the elephant in the room. 

If you know someone affected by the topics in this article; here is a list of other links you may find helpful.

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Picture via Leadership Hospitality

Copyright Delphi Ellis – updated 2020

Free Access to Resources

Monday Mojo™ is my regular newsletter which aims to provide feel-good motivation for the week ahead.  

You’ll receive weekly insights straight to your inbox, including inspiration and access to free online resources like ‘The Sparkle Repair Kit™’ and ‘Cultivating a Resilient Mindset’ eGuide, developed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

You’ll also receive regular updates on events happening in the area.  You can subscribe here.

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