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This is a transcript of Live the 8Wise Way Podcast.

Episode One: How to Break Down the Mental Chaos

Welcome everybody. This is it. This is episode one of Live the 8Wise Way where I’m going to help share with you tools and techniques on how you can improve your overall mental health and wellbeing so that you can have a healthier, happier mind and a better quality of life. So if you are interested in all things mental health, wellbeing, wellness, how to get your brain functioning the way you want it to function, how to recover from some current challenges you might be having in your life, then keep listening and why not go ahead and press that subscribe button as well so you don’t miss out on any of the episodes that are coming your way.

Now, if you are somebody who is looking for some therapy or some tools and some techniques that are going to help you with something you’re experiencing in your life right now, and you want this podcast to help you to achieve some tangible outcomes, then you can go ahead and buy the book which is called 8Wise Ways To A Healthier, Happier Mind and you can find that pretty much anywhere that sells books online. Or if you want to, you can go directly to my website which is and you’ll find the store there. On there you’ll find the book is there, the 12-week journal is there, the 12-month planner is there, and the pocketbook is there as well. So, if you want to use the book and almost create your own training course from listening to this podcast, then grab a copy of the book and you can work through the book as well as you’re going along and throughout every episode, I will let you know where in the book specific information regarding this particular episode is going to be.

Today, our first episode is all about how to break down the mental chaos. So really, I’m just going to start right at the beginning of this entire 8Wise process where it started for me and how it developed from getting from me to getting to you.

Mental health has played a huge part in my life, for my entire life. I lived with somebody who had mental health issues from a very, very young age so I was very aware of mental health as I was growing up and I’m very open about this and very honest about this. You can read more about this in the book as well. Being young, you don’t necessarily understand everything that is happening and so when I was young, there were certain elements of mental health or experiencing someone else’s mental health and experiencing the stigma against somebody who had mental health issues, it created a fear in me, an ignorant fear and, again, it started at a very young age. The way that ignorant fear manifested in me is that I was very self-aware with regards to my own mental health, and I mean, self-aware from the perspective of I was really scared of developing mental health issues. What that really meant in the end was that I just ignored any signs and symptoms that my mental health might be taking a dip and I just cracked on with life. I just got on with life and I lived my life quite fully.

I’d moved away from home, I was quite successful and then I reached my mid-thirties and I’d been living a very fast life for a very long time and not probably looking after myself. My wellbeing was not very good, my self-care was really, really low and, again, I started to ignore the signs.

Now, on paper, I was living the dream. I was in a new job in a sector that I really, really loved, a great senior management role where I was going to get to travel the country and meet amazing people who worked in the health and social care sector. Really caring people, people really looking after other people. It was so exciting, and I absolutely loved it. I had just relocated to the wonderful, wonderful Warwickshire, and I was just about to get married. So, my life was fantastic on paper, I was marrying this wonderful man, we were buying our first house together, work was fantastic, but all of those things happening in my life all at the same time were causing me more and more stress and again, I started to ignore all of the signs that were very, very clear. Now all of that stress then led to burnout and what that basically meant is I was so mentally exhausted, my cognitive function could no longer work effectively and the magic of it, it stopped working very specifically one day whilst I was driving on the M50 motorway. What I was trying to do was come off the M50 motorway and what happened is my brain just stopped working and I just put my foot down and came off the motorway not really paying as much attention as I probably should have been. Now luckily or unluckily, whatever way you want to look at it, but I look at it as very luckily, there was somebody who was driving quite fast, and their car went straight into mine and caught me and we were in a major road accident. Both of us were absolutely fine from the perspective that we could both get out of our vehicles, we could walk, we could talk, we were doing okay. It was only after a few days that it all started to sink in for me, what had just happened, that realization that if that car hadn’t hit me, my car would have just veered straight across the other side of the road, off of the bridge and onto the other side of the motorway and I’d be dead.

I think the realization for me was that we’re not here forever and I started to really question my own mortality and that started to lead me to some really dark thoughts and some dark places. So suddenly that stress had led to burnout, that burnout had led to a car crash and that car crash started to lead towards what we would call health anxiety.

I was now in a position where I was questioning everything that could happen to me, and I could start to feel it on a physical basis. I would get all of those palpitations, my chest felt like I was having a heart attack and it was getting worse and worse and worse and it finally got to a stage where I had quite a severe panic attack and quite a severe anxiety attack and I didn’t realize that’s what it was. So, for me, I felt like I was having a heart attack and I rang the hospital and they said “come on in”. I met a lovely doctor who basically explained to me that it was a panic attack and what he demonstrated to me was how I could manage those physical elements of it for anxiety and he demonstrated it by almost recreating those physical symptoms for me again so that I could start to manage my own anxiety. But by this stage, I realized I hadn’t been looking after myself very well, and I imagine there’s a few of you listening to this who know that you throw yourself into work and you throw yourself into this busy life that you’ve created for yourself and you’re probably not spending as much time looking after yourself or providing yourself with the self-care you need to be able to survive that really, really busy lifestyle and I know that I didn’t. So, I made the decision, my job was a lovely job, but it was the chaos of it and it was causing the mental chaos mainly because the amount of travel that I was having to do whilst trying to reorganize my life in so many ways, it just wasn’t the right thing for me anymore. I was very lucky, and I offered to leave and they asked me not to leave. They gave me a sabbatical and some time so I could go and get myself sorted but as I took that time off, the very first time in my life where I just started to slow down, what actually happened was some old demons in my head started to creep back in and where I’d gone from stress to burn out to anxiety, I was now heading full throttle into depression. I ended up taking six months off work to focus on myself but whilst I was taking time off, I wanted to obviously go and get some therapy and so I went through my NHS route, which we have in the UK and I was told that the waiting was going to be about 16 weeks. That was a few years ago and I know now the waiting lists are a lot, lot longer than 16 weeks. I had a background in psychology because I’ve done criminology at university, so I was very aware where my mindset was going and I knew that if I had to wait those 16 weeks, it was going to get darker and darker and darker and potentially lead me into something really quite horrific. So, whilst I was waiting for my therapy, I decided to start doing my own research and start pulling my own resource tools together and whilst I was doing that, I came across the eight elements that I’m going to be talking about throughout this podcast in each of the episodes that come. Now using these aides, as well as having therapy, I slowly started to develop my 8Wise model and I developed it for me. There was no aim to develop it for anybody else at that time in my life, I was just about getting better, and I was getting better. As I said, the stress had gone to burnout, burnout had gone to anxiety, anxiety had gone to depression and at my very, very worst, I had agoraphobia and my agoraphobia was so bad that there was a period of my life where, not only was I too scared to leave the house, I was actually too scared to leave my sofa. I thought that something quite horrific would happen if I left my sofa and so it took some time to recover from each of those mental health issues that I was experiencing, and it was definitely a combination of using these eight elements with the therapy that I was having that helped me to do that.

This didn’t happen overnight, I obviously had to take some time to really look after myself, but within those six months that I took off work, I really did get to the stage where I was back on some form of solid healthy, mentally, and physical ground and that’s when I made the decision. That’s it, I’m going to retrain, I’m going to become a psychotherapist and when I become a psychotherapist, I’m going to start my own business and I’m going to start helping people who are just like me, those people who are work-focused, those people who are managing lots of responsibilities with high-level jobs. So, they’re the business owners, the CEOs of the world, the high professionals, all those people that are juggling a lot of stress within the workplace and a lot of responsibilities within the workplace, but also tend to be those people that are of an age where they are juggling a lot of responsibilities in life as well.

So, the work-life balance doesn’t exist because work tends to dominate, but the stress is bigger and bigger and bigger, and burnout is leading to so many other areas, so that’s what I did. I went from not being able to move off my sofa, to rebuilding myself and going through a really good, solid recovery process in order to get myself to the stage where I can talk to you right now with a private practice where I’ve helped hundreds of individuals, where I deliver training, where I’ve written books and where I’m sharing my methodology and my model with you now.

That’s my story. The truth is you have to be able to identify the best way for yourself to recover when you are experiencing mental health but sometimes when we have all of that mental chaos coming in our heads from all of the challenges that life throws at us, it can be incredibly difficult to be able to break down that mental chaos and 8Wise and using this model is a way of breaking down the mental chaos and allowing you to focus on bite sized chunks so that you can recover effectively now. Also, throughout my entire research that I was doing through the time that I was experiencing my mental health issues and the years that followed, the one stat that has always been thrown around with regards to mental health is one in four people will experience a mental health issue within any given 12 month period.

It’s a scary stat, but it’s not as scary as the other stats, which is if one in four are going to experience a mental health issue, then three in four are at risk of developing a mental health issue and we spend so much time in the UK focusing on recovery we don’t necessarily put as much focus, time and effort into prevention and what I wanted to do was develop a model that not only helps you through that recovery process, when your mental health is swinging into those critical crisis areas, you have the tools, the techniques, and the framework to be able to swing yourself back out so you are thriving and excelling in your life, but I also wanted something that you could use every single day of your life to boost your wellbeing and prevent those mental health issues from escalating so that you don’t end up like I was, and that you’re able to pull yourself out of those depths if you need to, but at best you can prevent yourself from ever getting to them in the first place.

So what I wanted was 8Wise to be a recovery model and a prevention model that was easy to use and it broke down the mental chaos into bite sized chunks so you and me and anybody else who might be trying to look after their mental health felt like they were back in control of their mental health and felt like they had tools that they could use for the rest of their life and so that’s what 8Wise is. 8Wise is a model based on four core dimensions and within each dimension there exists two core elements. Now, if you are following along with the book with this, if you aim to move to page 81, which is where you’ll find Part two of the book with the introduction to the 8Wise model, you’ll learn all about this there in a lot more detail, but basically, you’ve got these four core dimensions.

Dimension one is the foundation dimension, and we need to have a solid foundation to ourselves as a human being if we are going to be able to look after our mental health and our wellbeing. So, the foundation dimension is built up of your physical wellness and your emotional wellness. This is the concept of having a healthy body and a healthy mind, knowing that if you are not mentally healthy, you will not be physically healthy and if you are not physically healthy, you will not be mentally healthy. For those of you who’ve ever experienced anxiety, this is easily explained because with anxiety, although it is a mental health reaction, it actually affects us in a physical way. So, for example, if you feel anxiety because of the fear, fight or flight process that takes place, what tends to happen is we feel our adrenaline going around our bodies as it forces our muscles to become really tense and really tight.

Those muscles can become really tight around your breast area that can then start to stop the air flow and oxygen moving in and out as freely. So that’s when we start to get that tight chest feeling, when we start to feel that we can’t breathe as well as we normally do. Then what happens from that is we start to get those pains down our arms and things like that, simply because the muscles are going into such high tension, they contract so tightly that basically what then happens is they start to cause spasms around other parts of our body, such as our nervous system. That’s when we start to feel those pains going down our arms or any parts of our body like back or lower chest, but then what happens because of all that adrenaline going around our bodies, we start to experience a higher blood pressure. Suddenly we get really hot, we start to sweat more, we get those heart palpitations. We just start to feel really rubbish and then sometimes on top of that, we might get tummy aches, we might start to feel nauseous, we might want to be sick, we might feel like we need to have diarrhoea and we might tend to find that we’re having headaches as well. Again, that’s because with the fear, fight or flight process happening it changes the hormonal structure, and everything starts flowing in a slightly different way. So that’s a demonstration of how our mental health, or emotional wellness, triggers our physical world.

Going back to my story with regards to how things were triggering me, because I was suffering with health anxiety, anything that could happen on a day-to-day basis on a physical level, it would trigger my anxiety so I could just eat something that didn’t sit quite right in my tummy for whatever reason. So, for example, I’m lactose intolerant and sometimes I’m a bit of an idiot and I would just have a normal cup of tea and use the wrong milk and it would have a problem in my tummy. That, straight away for me, I suddenly started to think that there must be something really wrong with me, there must be some horrific disease going on in my body and in that moment, the physical wellness was triggering my emotional wellness. So, if we want to be really healthy in body and mind, the foundation dimension is where we start. The foundation dimension consists of your emotional wellness and your physical wellness and when you have a strong foundation, then you’re in the position to be able to move on to, what I would say, is the deeper piece of work.

That’s when we move into dimension two, and dimension two is our internal dimension. With our internal dimension, we are talking about the world that exists within our mind. The world that only we know exists within us, it’s where our thoughts are, it’s where our feelings are, it’s where everything is situated with regards to values and beliefs and all of those types of things. When we’ve got that strong foundation, we are then ready to do that deep work, because the deep work can be the scary bit. The deep work tends to be the bit we’ve been ignoring for a long time and within this dimension, the internal dimension, we’ve got another two elements and these two elements are your spiritual wellness and your intellectual wellness.

Now your spiritual wellness is all about who you are as a person. It’s about your value system, your belief system, what your purpose is in this life, what you identify as in this life, where your self-esteem sits. That’s all sat within your spiritual wellness and in your intellectual wellness, this is all about your brain health and are you somebody who is keeping yourself intellectually stimulated? I touch on this in the book with regards to really what is the meaning of life and, for me, we know what the meaning of life is and its two core areas.

We know based on the fact that we have a survival system from our fear, fight or flight process that I’ve just explained to you and that’s about each individual surviving, it’s our survival system, helping us as an individual to survive. But we also have this other part of us, this part of the brain that has the ability to take in information, to remember information, to learn information and to pass that information on and this is our learning process and that’s how our brain functions. For me, that’s the other meaning of life. The meaning of life which is about the evolution of the human species. The fact that we’re able to keep learning and passing information on to the next generation and the next generation, we get stronger and stronger and stronger as a human race and for me, that’s the meaning of life, survival and evolution. Intellectual wellness plays a huge role in that. It plays a huge role in evolution, making sure that we are mentally stimulated and that we keep growing as an individual so we can help the species keep growing and also that we can keep our brains really healthy and keep moving ourselves forward and pushing out of our comfort zone so we can have a better quality of life.

So now at this stage is we’re healthy of body, we’re healthy of mind, we know who we are, and we know what we want from them. Then we’re ready to move to the external dimension, which is what dimension three is and the external dimension is focusing on those things that happen outside of us. They happen outside of us, and they tend to happen to us. So, your external dimension is made up from your environmental wellness and your social wellness. Environmental wellness is the world we live in, everything that’s around us, making sure that all the spaces that we spend time in are as safe and as healthy for us as they possibly can be. Whether that is your home, your workplace, your school place, your college. Anywhere, it could be the gym, it could be the library, could be anywhere that you know, is the place that makes you recharge your batteries when you’ve had a tough day, this space that brings out the best in you and it definitely needs to include nature. So, whether you’re spending time out in nature or you’re bringing nature indoors with you, because we’re part of nature, nature has natural healing processes for us. So our environmental wellness is really, really crucial and then when we know the places we want to spend time in it’s now time to welcome in with open arms the people that we choose to live our lives with, and this is our social wellness and social wellness is all about people and the relationships we have, the intimate relationships, the family relationships, all of the relationships that we have with the different people and it’s about making sure that, number one we have a really good solid support system and, number two we have the ability to communicate effectively with the people in our lives so we can keep strong relationships and sometimes it also means letting go of some of them that aren’t so good for us anymore.

So now we’re in this situation, we’ve got the foundation dimension, so we know how to keep healthy mentally and physically, we’ve got the internal dimensions, now we know who we are and what stimulates us and what interests us. Then we’ve got the external dimension and now we know where the right place to be and who the right people are.

Then we bring all of that together for the final dimension and the final dimension is the lifestyle dimension. This is built up of your financial wellness and your occupational wellness. This is all about this core concept of when we know all of those other things and we’re healthy, we know who we are and what we want and where we want it and who we want it with. We now know ‘well, actually I want to put all that together and I want to get it in a job. I want my occupation to also encourage all of these different elements of my life, because I spend so much time in work’. That’s the nature of the beast for us, I’m afraid that at least it’s going to meet our values, it’s going to keep us stimulated, it’s going to keep us healthy. Then our financial wellness and, I wish it didn’t, but money makes the world go round and so money becomes one of the number one stresses in our lives. So, our financial wellness isn’t simply just about understanding money, understanding finances and the language of money, it’s also deeper than that. It’s also about understanding what money represents to us as an individual, because we’re all different and money can represent different things. For some people, money is all about having all of the lovely items and that wonderful big house and the big car and the wonderful clothes that are just amazing to look at. That’s fine. Brilliant. Somebody else might be completely different. They might be ‘well, actually my money’s all about just feeling safe and secure and I might not want to spend it, but knowing it’s there just keeps me happy’. Someone else might be ‘well I’ve got money, which means I can look after other people and as long as other people are okay, it’s all good’.

Whatever the reason is, it’s important to understand that for your financial wellness, because the likelihood is at some time in your life, finances are going to cause you stress and you need to understand why they cause you stress so that you can implement the best stress management tools to manage it and that is your eight core elements split into your four core dimensions. So when life is throwing things at you, and it throws things at us all the time, every single day, we call these triggers.

My analogy that I use a lot with a lot of my clients in my training sessions on my one-to-one is the concept of a gun. If you imagine that a plain old metal carcass of a gun represents your mental health, and then you think about the trigger of the gun represents all of the life events that are being thrown at you and the bullets of the gun represent all your memories and experiences to date. Now, it’s a little bit like Russian roulette I guess to a certain degree, we don’t know which life events are going to trigger which particular memories and experiences, meaning we don’t know when we pull the trigger if bullets are always going to fly but we know that triggers are always going to come at us and life events are going to come at us and we’re never lucky enough to just have one. Look at COVID for example, we weren’t lucky enough to just have to be dealing with COVID, we were also looking at COVID redundancies, marital breakups, issues we had way before COVID ever came into our lives. All of these different things were happening to every individual. So it’s not really surprising that since we’ve come out of COVID or, as best we have come out of COVID, that we’re in a situation where people’s mental health has taken a dip, because those triggers, all of those different life events that we are responding to, they trigger as if they are shooting at a target, one, if not more of these eight core elements if you have a life event that triggers just one of them. So, if you are going through a breakup, for example, we know that’s going to trigger your emotional wellness but we know emotional wellness triggers your physical wellness as well. So suddenly we know that one has triggered two, just from hitting one of them we’ve now hit two. Your emotional wellness is also linked to your spiritual wellness and your intellectual wellness. In fact, your emotional wellness is linked to every single one of the other seven core elements of the model. So now we’re in a situation where you thought that one life event was just going to trigger you in one way, but it’s now had a knock-on effect. It’s had a chain reaction towards all of the others. Now, what if that particular life event though naturally triggers each of those eight on their own, so not only does it trigger emotional wellness on its own, it triggers physical wellness on its own as well. Now, suddenly they’re all interconnected and if you can visualize that, and I’ve got this on my YouTube channel, but if you can visualize that it’s like having a spider’s web, everything starts to connect to each other and that’s where the mental chaos starts coming in. It’s almost like a big ball of string that every single part of that piece of string is all intertwined with the others and you can’t see the wood for the trees. It’s when you get the foggy head, and you just feel so overwhelmed that life is horrific to live and that is what happens with regards to our mental health and wellbeing.

When the triggers are coming from these life events that we’re experiencing, they’re triggering these eight elements of the 8Wise model and they’re triggering each other causing this chaotic spiral out of control. So the only way to actually manage that mental chaos is to be able to break it down. So rather than go ‘I’m going to use all of these eight straight away’, what I would recommend that you do is you actually evaluate yourself against each of these eight elements. Now you can do this in section three of the book and if you go to my website, again, you will also find free evaluations and a way that you can evaluate yourself effectively to identify where your current levels of wellness and wellbeing are and this then gives you some idea of ‘rather than focus on all eight and try and resolve everything that’s going on in my life right now, I’m going to work out which of my wellness areas, which of these eight areas am I the lowest in right now and if I’m really low in them. That’s the one that I’m going to start with and I’m going to start focusing on just rectifying that particular part of the chaos’. When that one’s done, the positive of this is, as we know, if one gets triggered from a life event, the others will get triggered. If you problem solve something connected to one of them, it will naturally have a positive impact on one of the others as well. So, focusing on one allows you to also passively focus on all of the others at the same time. I recommend again, if you’re going to follow through this entire process, the starting point is to know where you are today. Know exactly where your wellness and wellbeing is right now according to the 8Wise model. So, head to the book or head to the website, you’ll find the evaluations there, complete the evaluations as they are. The evaluations will then lead you to complete what is known as the 8Wise map, which is where your document is a working document that tells you where each of your levels are in accordance to these core eight.

What that allows you to do is set some goals, put an action plan in place and start moving forward to reducing that mental chaos in your mind. This is how I did it for me. Like I said, I went from stress to burnout, to anxiety, to depression, to agoraphobia. When I got to that level, I used the 8Wise model. I used all eight of these elements to recover from those mental health issues, bringing me right back to thriving and excelling and I use all eight of them to this day to help me to prevent myself from going down that route as well and the way that I do it is I wrote a journal and the journal is so that I’ve got to focus every 12 weeks and I look at myself every 12 weeks and go ‘okay, where is my starting point this quarter, what do I need to focus on, how do I need to make sure that I am staying on track with my wellbeing so I’m doing prevention rather than having to do a recovery model, if anything gets on top of me’ and that’s how I do it. I follow a 12-week program using this self-evaluation, then putting actions in place and goals for my 12 weeks and then 12 weeks down the line, I will redo it. So, I’m always working on my wellbeing. I’m always putting time and effort into making sure that my mental health is staying, is thriving and excelling rather than having to move down to the crisis points it’s been in the past.

That’s how I’ve taken control and I think it’s worked for so many other of my clients, whether those clients have come in as one-to-one or they’ve attended my training sessions, that I have faith that it can help you as well if you are somebody looking to do something similar. I’d say go and give it a go, go and get the book, go and have a look at the website, go and get some extra information, fill out all of those free documents that are there to help you start taking back control of your mental health through improving your mental health and wellbeing using the 8Wise model.

Now next episode, I’m going to start talking through each of the eight and really sharing with you some tools and techniques for developing each of those eight elements. So eventually your whole 8Wise spectrum is as strong as it possibly can be. So, I hope you will be listening in for that one as well.

If you are planning to go and learn to live the 8Wise Way, then I definitely recommend go and press that subscribe button so you get told, and you don’t miss out on any of these episodes. If you haven’t done this already, and you want to start working through this process and having some tangible outcomes to it, then I do recommend that you go and get yourself a copy of the book, or you get yourself a copy of the journal and the book, as I said, you can get them from the website or anywhere that sells books online and if you want more information about 8Wise, then if you follow me on either Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, and you can pretty much find me under @8Wise anywhere. Every single day, I will provide you with tips with regards to each of these eight core areas. So, if you’re focusing on financial wellness, for example, there’ll be tips of the day with regards to financial wellness and what you can do that day to just boost your mental health and wellbeing in these particular areas.

Feel free to go and check me out on any of those websites as well and if you are struggling and, yeah, it’s tough and I know how hard it is when you’re struggling, you can feel really, really alone. All I can say is you’re not alone. It may feel like it, but I promise you you’re not alone and feel free, absolutely feel free to reach out to me on any of those social media sites and I’m happy to signpost you or point you in the right direction of some help, if that is what you want and if that is what you need.

So that is our first episode, how to break down the mental chaos using the 8Wise model. I hope you found that useful.

Please go check out the website and utilize all of those free resources. As I said, they helped me recover from my own mental health issues and they continue to help me prevent further mental health issues from developing and they are also helping an awful lot of other people as well. So, I hope they can help you too and I look forward to seeing you, or speaking to you, in episode two where I’m going to be introducing you to the first element of the model and giving you some tools and tips to get healthier in the mind. Take care and bye for now.

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