It was the belief in our ability to take control of our own lives and transcend many of the negative consequences that arise from modern-life, stressful careers, or even chronic illnesses that drove me to create my company, Relaxation for Living & More.
My own journey of transformation from a life altering, debilitating illness started with this realisation; that the power to take control of my life and my illness exists within me.
In the years up to the millennium I enjoyed a successful career in a challenging but rewarding corporate environment. I had a job I was proud of, that gave me satisfaction and I’d had a long spell as a competitive badminton player. Of course, I had the kind of repetitive injuries that are associated with being an athlete and that I know now, in retrospect, are also affected by stress.
Back then I held the inaccurate belief that symptoms such as physical aches and pains and fatigues were a natural by-product of a busy life. I believed that stress was a necessary element in my busy life.
But in the year 2000 I contracted a life changing condition that saw me go from an active and fulfilling life with a great career and high energy levels, to having to give up my job permanently and quash my dreams of continuing on within competitive sports. The diagnosis informed me that my life would never be the same again; that all of the things that made me the person I was were no longer accessible to me. Who was I? Suddenly my identity had changed. I was now beset with a sense of hopelessness and uncertainty, I wasn’t the person I used to be. Conventional medicine couldn’t change my condition, I was told; so, from then on, I would need to live within the boundaries of my diagnosis. For someone who always had a sense of purpose and control over my life this was shattering news.
Thankfully I was introduced to two programmes, without which I wouldn’t be sharing my experiences via my RFL training today. The first was the Expert Patients Programme, an NHS-run, self-management course aimed at improving the quality of life of those patients with long-term health conditions. I can’t underplay the effect that this had on me both physically and mentally, or the chance to communicate with people who were in the same situation and with those who were able to make a positive change to their lives. But it was the second programme that truly changed my life.
This was the Relaxation for Living charity, started by the philanthropist Amber Lloyd. RFL is an incredibly simple set of strategies and training designed to enable users to alleviate stress, health conditions affected by stress and to go on to restore a sense of balance to their lives.
After an astonishing three weeks of applying the RFL training I was transformed from being in chronic pain because of my repetitive injuries to being pain free, having significantly more energy and starting to take control of my life again. I went from being virtually housebound to being able to manage half hour walks with my family a few months later. After being told that I would never be able to hike again or go back to my old way of life, this small walk was a huge feat of liberation. If, after such a short period of time, I could achieve something I had been told I would never be able to do again, then maybe there was hope for going back to the kind of life that I loved? And so, I did.
Not only was I inspired by the change over such a short period of time, I was also taken aback by the simplicity of the techniques that RFL was built on.
In 2008, with the kind of energy and passion that any reformed person gives to the methods that freed them, I started to run Relaxation for Living Courses to help others. Subsequently I went on to set up Relaxation for Living & More to train people in life skills that they would never lose. It is my strong belief that all individuals hold the ability to transform their lives and achieve balance and happiness. Over the past ten years my company has been teaching the RFL methods to individuals, corporations and healthcare professionals.
If you have your own story of transformation that you would like to share, or if you need help in gaining control over your life, please do get in touch with Hazel.