New Year's Resolutions?
January is always a busy month for me. It’s the month when many people have decided to make changes in their lives but after a few days or weeks, realise they either don’t quite know how to or they don’t know where to start.
It’s so easy to declare that ‘next year I’m going to…. (fill in the blank!) but I know from experience that a lot of people have high expectations of themselves, only to be left disappointed by their lack of consistent follow through.
So I thought this month I would give you a little tip to help you succeed with those resolutions, using the power of your own mind.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to succeed with change is to ‘plant a seed in your mind’. Start to visualise what your life will be like when you have achieved what you want to achieve. Notice what you will look like, how you will feel, what people will be saying to you. And make this picture big in your mind. Bring in colours and movement, as if it’s a film, making it vivid and attractive so that you are really drawn to it. Get excited about it! And keep playing it over and over.
When you keep rehearsing this in your mind, a few times every day, so you’re telling your unconscious mind what you want. And as your unconscious mind always wants to help you (& keep you safe), you may just find you get sudden inspiration, motivation and ideas to help you on your way.
Try it for yourself and enjoy the experience of making change easier.
7th January 2020
Dull days...Low Mood?
It’s that time of year. The season of wet weather and dull, grey days. It’s also a time when people can begin to feel low, both in mood and energy.
Many people in the UK suffer from what is called SAD (Seasonal affective disorder). SAD is most likely triggered by a lack of sunlight which affects our hormones in the part of the brain that controls mood, sleep and appetite. Symptoms can include depression, a lack of energy, anxiety, overeating and mood changes. Some call it the ‘winter blues’.
But other than move to a sunnier climate, what can we do to minimise the effects?
One obvious thing we can all do is to get outside more in the natural daylight. It might not be the most appealing thing to do when it’s dull and raining, but a short walk at lunchtime can really make us feel better. Make it a daily habit.
For those who suffer more severely, a light box could be the answer. These don’t need to be expensive and can be an effective way to lift the mood. Just 30 – 60 minutes a day can make a huge difference to most people. Use it while watching tv or reading a book.
Pay attention to your diet. It’s very easy to slip into bad habits such as carbohydrate and sugar overload when we’re feeling low but eating a healthy diet can in itself make you feel better about yourself. As Hippocrates famously stated, ‘Let food be thy medicine’.
Perhaps one of my favourite ways to feel better, is to do some exercise. Any type of exercise, especially cardiovascular, helps to release those ‘feel good’ endorphins and gives you more energy for the rest of the day. Force yourself to move that body, even when it feels like the last thing you want to do.
And finally, notice how you’re thinking. I know from experience when I tell myself ‘I hate this time of year’ my thoughts tend to go on a downward spiral which inevitably affects my mood. If I change those thoughts to ‘How can I make best use of the darker days?’, I can start to be more productive; having a clear out of cupboards, reading books, learning…all sorts of things occur to me.
The more we can help ourselves through the dark, gloomy days the faster they can pass and before long, we can begin to enjoy those longer, brighter days again. Take some steps to help yourself today!
26th November 2019
What are YOU saying to Yourself?
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts; the better will be his world and the world at large” – Confucius
Confucius quite rightly pointed out that what we think about affects our whole world. Our thoughts are directly affected by our self talk and we all talk to ourselves, all the time. When the voice inside our head is being kind and constructive, we feel good, but what about when it's critical, judgmental and downright nasty? It goes without saying that we start to feel bad. And when we feel bad, we often reach for something outside of ourselves to make us feel better. Anything from overeating to overspending...
Negative self-talk comes up regularly in my client sessions. Some people even excel in it. But what can we do to stop it so that we can feel better?
First of all, become aware of it. Stop and take notice. Whose voice is it? Maybe it’s not even yours, but the voice of a parent, spouse or your boss.
Ask yourself, is it valid? Sometimes we say things to ourselves that do need to be said, but it is the way we say it that causes the bad feelings. How would you feel if a stranger said those things to you in that same tone of voice? My guess is that you would be quite upset! So, is it really ok to speak to yourself that way?
What happens if you change the tone and the tempo? Play with it, so that harsh tones become softer and it slows right down or speeds right up. It can begin to seem really silly. And of course, the sillier it sounds, the more irrelevant it seems and the better you can feel.
Finally, what would happen if you changed that negative message into a positive? For example, if it’s asking, ‘How could I have been so stupid?’, how different does it feel when you change that to ‘What can I learn from this?’
When you begin to play in this way, you might just be surprised at how different you can feel.
28th October 2019
Slowing Down For a Change
We all know modern life can be busy. Many of us run around with a sense of urgency, trying to get everything done that ‘has’ to be done. And it can feel like life is getting faster and faster as we are constantly bombarded with messages, emails, social media, people to see, commitments to keep. This was me last week… and what happened? I ended up with a sore throat and a streaming cold (huge apologies to all of my clients I have had to cancel this week).
But what did I learn? To slow down. This week I’ve allowed myself time to reflect, to read, to learn. I’ve been able to think about what changes I want to make and have given myself the gift of time. Time to recover, time to plan. And with it has come a sense of inner calm.
I work with so many people who are constantly busy, stressed and ultimately suffering high levels of anxiety. But how would life be if we allowed ourselves some time out more often? Whilst it might not be the answer to all our challenges in life, it could just be starting point to seeing our lives from a new perspective, gaining insight into what changes we want to make to be happier and healthier in our everyday lives.
If you’re feeling stressed, busy or anxious, what would happen if you simply took some time to reflect? Take some time to see yourself in ‘busy mode’, almost as if you’re watching a film of you being stressed, busy or anxious. What advice would you give to that ‘you’? And ask yourself ‘Who do I want to be? What would make me happier? What can I do to enjoy my life even more?’.
Slow down for a change and reflect. I highly recommend it.
20th September 2019
Releasing the Past for a Fresh Start
With only a few weeks left of August, many people are beginning to turn their minds to September. September can be a time of fresh starts. We can all remember the start of the new school year as that autumnal feel fills the air. New uniform, new shoes and new pencil case. I often think of it as the start of a new year.
It’s a great time to start thinking about what we want to achieve or indeed, what we want to leave behind. I’ve recently been working with a number of people who want to overcome old problematic behaviour whether this be drinking too much alcohol, eating too much or indeed ruminating over the past. August always seems to be a month of letting go of the past for a fresh start.
Take Anne(*) for example. She’d been married for 25 years, had (in her words) ‘put up with a lot’ from her ex-husband, but despite having been divorced for 3 years, she was unable to stop thinking about all those past years of marriage. Every day since her husband had left, she had been consumed with replaying the past in her head, asking herself why he had behaved how he had. And it was driving her mad. Within 90 minutes she had been able to release all that emotion attached to her past so she could begin to focus her mind on how she wanted her future to look. She’s since been able to do things she would never have imagined and has firm plans for the future. I am thrilled!
So, in these last few weeks of August, begin to think about what (or even who) no longer serves you in your life so you can release the past for a fresh start. Focus your mind on who and where you want to be by Christmas. What do you want to have in your life? And what can you do to ensure it happens? Imagine it in great detail until it becomes so desirable you feel drawn towards it. You may just be surprised at the future you can create.
(*) Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes
12th August 2019
Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety has continued to be a dominating theme in my clinic in the past year.
Whilst we all have feelings of anxiety at some point in our lives, many people experience high levels of anxiety on a regular basis.
Anxiety disorders are becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced world. People are suffering as more and more responsibilities and demands are placed on them and it is estimated that 13% of the population are suffering from an anxiety disorder at any one time.
So what is Anxiety?
The Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as being a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
It is often referred to as the ‘flight or fight’ response state, putting our bodies into a constant state of high alert. In this state, adrenalin is quickly pumped through the body, enabling it to cope with whatever ‘danger’ lies ahead. This can serve us well in situations where we face something difficult or dangerous. However, problems can arise when this response is generated when no real danger is present. Imagined danger can be the result of overthinking and constantly focusing on what can go wrong until we become overwhelmed with anxious feelings. This in turn can have a negative impact on our physical bodies. Our immune systems can become weakened, leaving us more vulnerable to viral infections.
What can help?
Hypnotherapy and NLP can be extremely effective in helping to alleviate the symptoms quickly. I like to teach people techniques they can use on an ongoing basis so they are able to cope with anxiety in the long term. However, here are some simple steps you can take to help yourself:-
Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Place a hand on your heart area and breathe in to the count of 6, pause, and breathe out for 6, slowly and deeply. Repeat this several times until you can sense a feeling of calm in your body.
Many people have a constant chatter in their heads about everything that can possibly go wrong in the future. I call this the 'What If? Game'. For example, we might be asking ourselves questions such as 'What if things don't work out?'. We can all have a tendency to focus on what could go wrong from time to time. Focus your mind on the here and now, switching your mind away from your worries and fears about the future.
Exercise has an uplifting effect on our mood, it tires our muscles, preventing anxiety symptoms and it burns the stress hormone that may trigger anxiety. You don’t need to engage in strenuous exercise, even a 15 minute walk outside can help to lift your mood.
Reduce Your Use of Stimulants
Symptoms can be worsened by use of stimulants as these substances actually speed up the nervous system. Caffeine is one of the most commonly used stimulants and can be found in coffee, energy drinks, tea, fizzy drinks and chocolate. In addition, reduce your intake of alcohol as this too is a stimulant.
Give Yourself a Break
One of my favourite questions I ask a client is ‘how do you relax?’. This is often met with a blank face. Make sure you give yourself time to really relax whether this is a soak in the bath, closing your eyes and listening to your favourite music or treating yourself to a relaxing massage.
I like to teach my clients self-hypnosis. However, there are many free self-hypnosis resources available (for example on You Tube) that can help you to switch off and achieve a deep state of relaxation. Plug in, put on your headphones and relax.
Perhaps the worst thing about anxiety is that when it is not managed, it has a tendency to get worse and worse. A sufferer can become anxious about more and more things until anxiety becomes ‘normal’ to them. If you suffer with anxiety, I would urge you to seek professional help as soon as possible.
15th July 2019
Hypnotherapy - Myths & Misconceptions
I recently went to a friend’s wedding where a lot of us guests didn’t know each other. After the formal introductions were made, inevitably the question ‘So what do you do?’ was asked. I always quite enjoy being asked what I do as I like to see people’s reactions when I tell them ‘I’m a Hypnotherapist’.
I find that either I am asked ‘Oh, can you help me?’ followed by a potted history of whatever issue a person has, or someone immediately recoils with fear in their eyes as if I had announced I was a serial murderer!
On this particular day, it was the latter response that I was met with when I was chatting to one lady. She went on to say that even though she had heard how effective it could be, it was the fear of the unknown, of being out of control and being made to do something she didn’t want to do that frightened her.
So I thought I would dispel some common myths and misconceptions about hypnotherapy:-
Hypnotherapy = Mind Control
A person undergoing hypnosis is participating by choice and is fully in control of themselves. They have the ability to take themselves out of the hypnotic state if they choose to by simply opening their eyes. A Hypnotherapist cannot make someone do anything that goes against their core values.
A Hypnotherapist will make me do silly things
We’re all aware of the Stage Hypnotist who makes his subjects cluck like chickens but the fact is a Hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything against your will.
Stage Hypnotists will invite volunteers from the audience to get up on stage but they are ‘willing participants’ who understand the nature of such shows and know that they will be entertaining the audience by doing amusing things.
I might never wake up
Contrary to popular belief, you are not unconscious! Hypnosis is a calm and relaxed state in which you can hear everything that is being said. Sometimes a person can be a little reluctant to leave this pleasant state and return to full alertness. However, with a little encouragement, they will open their eyes and ‘return to the room’.
I might reveal my darkest secrets
You can lie under hypnosis just as easily as in the waking state. In fact, as hypnosis gives you greater access to unconscious resources, you may even be able to tell more creative lies when in trance. But, you are in complete control of what you chose to reveal or conceal.
I can’t be hypnotised
Although some researchers claim that some people are not able to be hypnotised, everyone has the ability to be hypnotised because it’s a natural, normal state that each of us enter at least twice each day – upon awakening and falling asleep. Also, whenever we are driving and we reach our destination without any conscious memory of the journey, we are in a hypnotic state.
I hope this helps to remove some of the fear and mystery surrounding hypnotherapy but I’m always happy to answer people’s questions and to offer further reassurance as to the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
And as for the lady with whom I was chatting, once I had explained more about what hypnotherapy is and isn’t, she booked in for a session…