Travel Phobias

It’s that time of year when many people are looking forward to going away for a summer holiday. But for a significant number of people enjoyment of holidays is spoiled by travel phobias and fears. There are the obvious travel phobias such as fear of flying, fear of insects or reptiles and fear of heights. Then there are the less obvious phobias such as fear of stomach upsets or vomiting.  Sattal

I could write a blog about each of these and how to get over them but having just come back from India, I am going to concentrate on fear of stomach upsets. I travel a lot and have had traveler’s stomach problems in various countries but particularly in Morocco. It might be due to eating different food, the dirtiness of the currency or just a different range of bugs and bacteria.

Some people tell you to get the stomach bug early and then enjoy the rest of your holiday but I was determined not to get Delhi Belly and I pretty much succeeded. Here are my top tips.

#1 Only drink bottled water – even in hotels. Check the seal on the top of the water bottle to make sure it hasn’t been refilled.

#2 Don’t have ice in your drinks. This may seem a bit strict in hot countries but most soft drinks and bottled waters are refrigerated.

#3 Avoid salads and fresh fruit. You don’t know what water they have been washed in. You can eat fruit that you have peeled yourself as long as you are careful about your hand hygiene (see more below).

#4 When eating sandwiches, or any food that you pick up in your hands, use a paper napkin to pick the food up.

#5 Depending on the country you are visiting, avoid eating meat. Again, you may think this is extreme but in hot countries a vegetarian diet is much healthier.

#6 Eat local fresh yogurt to boost your natural stomach bacteria.

#7 Take probiotic tablets for a week before you leave and during your trip.

#8  Keep your hands as clean as possible. Use hand sanitiser after every time you wash your hands, handle money or touch anything that you think might be dirty.

#9 Take a good look at swimming pools before you jump in, particularly in resorts outside of city locations. Health and safety regulations are not the same in other countries!

#10 Pack a toilet roll! Indian toilet rolls are the smallest I have ever seen.

These are simple precautions to take and then you can relax and enjoy yourself.

If you need any help with your holiday phobia contact me and let’s talk about how I can help you.

Three Wise Men

In the past few weeks I have had the privilege to hear three inspirational men speak.  They were the sort of speeches that make you stop in your tracks and think differently.

Geoff Thompson with BAFTA

The first speaker was Geoff Thompson.  Geoff was abused as a child and became a violent young man.  The turning point in his life came when he realised that he might lose his wife and his children because of his violent acts.  He has gone on to become a world famous martial arts teacher, a coach and inspirational speaker.  He has channeled his experiences into writing.  He has written forty books, five award winning films and three stage plays. 

At the start of his speech, Geoff passed around his BAFTA award and invited us to feel the weight of it – surprisingly heavy.  He said that this was the weight of the fear he used to carry around within himself and his way of exorcising that weight is through writing and sharing what happened to him.  Turning fear into art is an amazing alchemy.

The second speaker to inspire me was James Lafferty, a CEO at Coca Cola.  Apart from being a senior executive in some big brand multinational companies and working in some of the most challenging countries in the world, James has had some amazing life experiences.   He is someone whose inner strength is obvious and comes from his complete congruency with his beliefs and values.

James says ‘A principle is not a principle until it costs you something’.  We can all say that we believe strongly in a certain principle but when push comes to shove, how much are we willing to stand up for it?  If you say that you are anti-racist or anti-homophobic, what will you say if a friend or colleague makes a racist or homophobic comment?  How much do you value your principles?

I have to confess I have not met my third speaker, the designer Paul Smith, but I saw an excellent documentary about him.  I loved his energy, his humour and his creativity.  The phrase he used that struck me most was “There is inspiration in everything, if you can’t see it you’re not looking hard enough”.

Wishing you an Inspirational Christmas and a Creative New Year

Getting into Good Habits

The last time I had an essay to write I found all sorts of jobs to do instead.  Suddenly tidying the cupboards, washing the kitchen floor and even cleaning the drains seemed very urgent – anything that meant I didn’t have to sit down and concentrate.
Delaying things, procrastination, is a common problem.  It is part of the ‘freeze’ response that our subconscious activates to protect us from anything new or that has a fear attached to it.  Setting up good habits can take a while to achieve.  Whether it’s starting a new fitness regime, studying or doing something new at work, overcoming procrastination starts with recognising what is going on and planning to do something about it.
The first thing to do is to set yourself a goal and plan the steps towards achieving it. Writing down the goal and the plan makes it more real – don’t just think it, ink it! If you can commit to your goal and plan in front of other people that will make it even more powerful.
Next, identify the things that are stopping you from getting on with what you need or want do.  At this stage you can be easily put-off by small obstacles or distractions.  In a book I read recently* the author suggested that if you want to go running in the morning, sleep in your running clothes – that way you won’t have the excuse of looking for your gear and putting cold clothes on!  If the Internet and emails distract you, make it harder to switch the computer on or put in additional passwords.  To make studying easier, keep your books, notepaper, pens etc in one place so that you can get going quickly.
If there’s a fear that’s attached to the task, what can you do to overcome it?  Could you get advice from someone you trust?  Do you need some training or a new skill?  Could you do some research?
Finally, set yourself some rules that you know you can stick to.  For example ‘I’ll study for forty minutes and then I’ll have a 10 minute break to look at my emails” or “I’ll run for 10 minutes, walk for 5 minutes and run for 10 minutes”.  Once you have the good habit established you can start to break the rules.  
You’ll be surprised how much happier you will feel when you just get on and do that thing that’s been bothering you.  So, make a start today.

*The Happiness Advantage, 2011, Shawn Achor