I’m sure we all know someone who appears to go through life seemingly with few worries, they seem to cope with whatever comes their way and spend little time getting worked up about things. Don’t many of us wish we could be a bit more like this ?
It’s natural to worry, there is an endless list of things we can brood and mull over, job security, health, family and so it goes on. For some worrying can really take over as we ruminate on past problems or worry endlessly about the future.
Time spent worrying though is often unproductive as we rarely achieve solutions if we are working ourselves up into a panic. Worrying can make us feel distressed, may wake us up in the small hours unable to get back to sleep and can ultimately affect our health and general well being.
Also, if we have a natural tendency to regard life’s ups and downs with a negative outlook rather than a positive outlook then we are more likely to struggle with worry.
One of the things we talk about during hypnotherapy sessions is the value of what we call the 3 P’s for helping us feel better :-
Positive action…doing something we enjoy, like taking a walk, helping a friend out, exercise.
Positive interaction….time spent laughing with friends, enjoying the company of others.
Positive thoughts …..replacing negative thoughts, for example from…… I can’t, I’m not..… to…… I can, I am.
We do this because by practising these 3 P’s every day we are ensuring that we are producing Serotonin the feel good hormone.
Serotonin makes us brave, happy, optimistic and helps us cope better. It also helps reduces anxiety so we are more likely to be operating from our positive, intellectual mind.
If we are using our intellectual mind rather than our negative mind we will find ourselves taking a more positive perspective in relation to our concerns and notice that we start to worry less. The more we do this the easier it becomes as we create new patterns in our thinking.
If you feel that excessive worrying is impacting your wellbeing please do get in touch for a free no obligation chat to find out how hypnotherapy can help.
It can be interesting to think about what is actually going on in our brain during hypnosis and this short blog will explain a little bit about the different types of brainwaves present in the brain during hypnotherapy.
Our brains consist of millions of brain cells known as neurons which are constantly communicating with each other. This electrical activity can be measured via EEG ( Electroencephalography) and will show up as different types of brain waves.
There are 4 main types of brainwaves present in the brain at any given time and depending on what you are doing, one type of brainwave will show as more dominant:
Beta: the fastest brainwaves, indicating being awake, engaged, alertness, problem solving, however, they can also be associated with anxiety.
Alpha: indicating being awake and resting, not anxious.
Theta: indicating being deeply relaxed, automatic tasks, daydreaming, meditative states and hypnotic trance.
Delta: slowest brainwaves, associated with deep sleep.
During hypnotherapy we start sessions with a solution focused conversation in relation to what you want to achieve, here beta waves are dominant.
As we begin the process of hypnosis and you start to relax physically and mentally, any anxiety begins to reduce and alpha waves become more present.
As you begin to relax deeper, the critical conscious is lowered, which allows you to connect with the subconscious. At this stage theta waves are dominant. When your conscious brain is taking a rest, your subconscious can focus its attention, visualize, process and reflect on the thoughts from our solution focused discussion. Here your creative mind seeks to make connections and resolve issues, helping to bring about the positive changes you are seeking.
A high presence of theta brainwaves make us feel relaxed and carefree, this can be very helpful to us when we are feeling overly stressed or anxious. We can all learn to switch off, chill out and feel calm and be at our most creative.
So, how can we create this feeling of deep relaxation?
Well, we can do this by taking a little time out each day, to practise being fully relaxed. By simply sitting or lying down for 10 minutes, perhaps with our eyes closed, whilst focusing on the gentle rise and fall of our breath, and allowing thoughts to come and go, releasing tension, as we allow our muscles to soften and relax, so we can begin to feel calm. Focusing on a feeling of peace, allowing the mind to simply drift and dream.
Then, when ready, opening our eyes feeling calm, refreshed and invigorated.
If you would like to learn more or experience hypnosis or deep relaxation please do get in touch for more information !
Some people may feel anxious about hypnotherapy unsure about what is involved and this is understandable. Clients however, frequently tell me how much they really enjoy the process of hypnosis – feeling able to switch off and relax fully, waking feeling refreshed and invigorated.
One client explained their experience of hypnosis to me :
“ its unexpected, any preconceived notions are washed away, there’s no swinging watch on a chain or ‘look into my eyes’ kind of nonsense, its all rather ordinary until you start to feel calm and relaxed and really rather good. At the end of the session I was rather sad as I was in such a nice place mentally I wanted to stay, I enjoyed the feeling it left me with. On waking I felt similar to when I have woken from a really good sleep, a feeling of ease. And when you feel able to trust the therapist you are engaging with you benefit surprisingly in a way you didn’t think you could ”
During hypnosis I will put on some lovely calm background music, the lighting in the room is subdued and you are invited to rest back in a comfortable reclining chair. When you’re ready I will guide you, via mental imagery to relax and enter into a wonderful natural state of calm and deep relaxation. You will find that any anxiety is reduced and your brain can focus its attention, visualise, process and reflect on the thoughts from our discussions. During this time the brain is at its most creative as it seeks to make connections and resolve problems and issues – bringing about the significant positive changes that you are seeking.
This trance like state is completely natural and safe. You are not unconscious and can bring yourself out of trance at any time
Please do get in touch if you require any further information.
During this time of coronavirus many of us may have noticed that we’re feeling more emotionally stressed and anxious, perhaps not sleeping as well as we usually would. You’re not alone, many of us will be feeling like this. Perhaps you’re finding it hard to fall asleep when you first climb into bed? Or that you’re waking up in the middle of the night and unable to drop back off again?
I’m sure we all know that when we don’t sleep well we wake up feeling fatigued, can find it difficult to concentrate and feel less able to cope. If difficulty sleeping continues we become exhausted and the more we worry about not sleeping the worse it can get as we begin to anticipate that we aren’t going to sleep well and worry even more. As we worry more and more we get in a cycle of poor sleep and more worry, however, there are lots of steps we can take which will help to improve our sleep pattern.
Have a routine – try to be consistent in the time that you get up and go to bed, (this has been shown to be helpful in maintain the timing of the body’s internal clock.)
Reduce alcohol and caffeine particularly in the evening ( these are stimulants)
Short naps (less than 30 mins) can be helpful to provide relaxation and rejuvenation.
Be active – try to do some exercise every day.
Exposure to light – natural light particularly sunshine has beneficial effects on circadian rhythm ( internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle).
Social connections: – maintaining regular contact with family and friends; showing and receiving kindness; giving and receiving support, all of these help us feel connected and reduce stress which in turn will have a positive effect on mood and sleep.
Relaxation ; being able to switch off and fully relax is a very powerful way of dealing with stress and anxiety. Finding techniques that you enjoy for example, mindfulness or guided meditation, yoga or calming music/relaxation recordings can all help in shifting your thinking from worries to more positive thoughts. When we are feeling mentally relaxed we are more likely to be able to drift off into a good sleep. Repetition can be helpful, if we listen to the same relaxation recordings or music each night it becomes familiar to the mind which is then able to ‘switch off ‘ more readily allowing you to relax more easily and deeply.
If you would like to find out how hypnotherapy may help please do get in touch to have a chat.
In these uncertain times I’m currently offering online hypnotherapy sessions via Zoom at 50% reduction.
All of us are currently living through a period of time never witnessed before in our lifetime. Covid-19 has changed all of our lives; our normal daily routines have been altered. We no longer have the normal freedoms and routines; many of us are working from home or some may have worries about security or may have lost jobs. Some of us will be working on the front line in health services and clinics, helping to care for us. Pupils and students are at home, as schools and colleges are closed.
This change and disruption to our lives will bring anxiety and fear to many and for some that can take over and cause stress levels to rise.
When anxiety levels rise negativity builds up, we can then start to negatively forecast and catastrophise, imagining the worst-case scenarios. By imagining what might happen if someone we know or love catches the virus, or what might happen to our job or our security can send our mind into a whirl as our imagination runs away.
What can we do to help ourselves cope if we feel overwhelmed with worry?
Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells and contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness and this helps us cope when things get difficult.
When we feel anxious we often stop doing the very things that can help us feel better.
In my hypnotherapy practice I talk a lot about how we can help ourselves cope better with feelings of anxiety and worry by creating a steady flow of Serotonin. We can do this by doing the 3 P’s:
Positive action – doing something just for you, taking time out to do something you enjoy. Helping or supporting someone.
Positive thinking – each day think about 5 things that you are you pleased to notice about how you are coping – it doesn’t matter how small.
Positive interaction – though we cannot go out to interact with friends and family right now, fortunately we have plenty of ways to interact via technology, supporting each other and creating happy times and fun. It’s fabulous to see all the funny videos flying around. If you are lucky enough to have a pet at home you will know something of the comfort they can bring.
If we try to do these 3 P’s every day we will keep the production of Serotonin flowing. If we are keeping a steady flow of Serotonin then we will find ourselves much better able to cope, think more clearly and be less anxious.
What else can we do that will help ?
Exercise will help burn off stress hormones and release endorphins which help bring about positive feelings. Whilst at the moment we may be restricted to indoor exercise there are lots of online videos available with a whole range of exercises and activities to suit everyone.
Meditation /mindfulness can help calm overthinking and racing thoughts. Again there is a plethora of meditation and mindfulness videos and apps available online that will help guide you through the process.
Relaxation techniques – when we feel anxious we create tension unconsciously by tensing muscles, often in the shoulders and by clenching the jaw. By practising relaxation techniques that involve progressive muscle techniques ( gradually relaxing each muscle group from head to toe) we can release that muscle tension. When we are physically relaxed we are mentally relaxed and when we are mentally relaxed we are better able to cope. This takes practise, but you will feel a real difference if you can take 10 -15 minutes each day to do this.
If you feel you are struggling and are wondering if hypnotherapy may help, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free and confidential chat about how I may help.
I am currently offering online video hypnotherapy sessions.
This month I was delighted to be invited to speak in Dubai at some of Good Habits support groups – a fantastic group helping people manage weight and lead healthier life styles.
‘We work better as a tribe than as individuals’ – having the support of a friendly group like Good Habits has helped so many people reach their personal goals and I was amazed how members were doing so brilliantly in reaching their goals.
I think most people would agree though that weight management for many is not the easiest thing. There is so much differing advice out there, so many books on weight loss and lose weight fast gimmicks that it can be quite bewildering.
However, if we think about how our brain works we can begin to understand why we think, feel and behave in the way we do when it comes to eating and this can be useful.
The primitive mind
In tens of thousand of years the primitive mind has not changed. This part of our brain is all about survival, we are programmed to eat and our brains were hard wired to eat when food was plentiful as primitive man didn’t know when the next meal would be available, this is why for many of us when we go to brunch or a buffet we overeat, even though we are no longer hungry! This has been hardwired into our brain.
When our anxiety level rises we release cortisol (stress hormone) which can makes us feel fearful, negative or angry as our primitive mind takes over. So, often when we feel anxious we tend to operate from our primitive mind as opposed to our intellectual mind – the thinking, rational and positive part of our mind. Our primitive mind is negative, obsessive and vigilant making us feel fear and discomfort giving us a strong desire to eat, so we build up reserves for the ‘fight’ ahead – useful when we were cavemen but not so helpful for us in the modern world. Cortisol also makes us store fat rather than release it. The primitive mind neither cares how we look or how healthy we are.
Subconscious childhood memories
As well as being hardwired to eat for survival we also hold subconscious memories from childhood that often associate happy times with food (love and security) and this is why some of us develop emotional eating.
If we over eat when we are feeling anxious or when our mood is low, we are telling our primitive mind that this behaviour is a useful solution to help us feel better, however, we only feel better for a short while before we usually regret our overeating. This can then become a pattern of behaviour we repeat because the primitive mind is not an intellect and it will always refer to previous patterns of behaviour. If what we did yesterday ensured our survival we are encouraged to do the same again.
So what can we do to help ourselves manage our weight better?
By practicing these 3 P’s every day we are ensuring that we are producing Serotonin the feel good hormone which makes us brave, happy, optimistic and helps us cope better. Serotonin reduces anxiety as we are more likely to be operating from our positive, intellectual mind making sensible decisions rather than from our negative primitive mind.
Be in the moment when it comes to eating, focus on the food, and be present. Sit at a table, turn off the TV and really appreciate the food that you are eating, notice its texture and flavour and notice what you enjoy about it.
Avoid guilt trips and negative rumination. Its too easy to blame ourselves about a past event, if we’ve eaten a piece of cake let the thoughts go, there is no point worrying as that will just make us feel unhappy and serves no purpose and only adds to feelings of stress.
Avoid worrying about the future (negative forecasting. For example, if going out with friends for a meal, focus on the event, of having fun and enjoying your time together rather than worrying about what you are going to eat. You will feel more confident and able to make sensible decisions if you’re having a lovely time and feeling good, enjoying the moment and the positive interaction your having.
Our brain is designed to see change as a threat. This is why we often hang on to old mindsets and habits. Much of our eating is habit based but we can disrupt habits and interrupt neural pathways by changing the routine, for example sitting somewhere different, using a different cup or stopping for coffee at a different time. The good news is that we can create new habits and patterns of behaviour as the brain is plastic and can create new neural pathways ( more information on this is in my January 2020 blog). By repeatedly focusing our attention, for example on a thought or action the more likely the new habit will be wired into your brain. Repetition is important, the more we affirm that thought or desire the stronger the wiring will be to support that change you wish to make. Old habits and previous patterns of behaviour will then diminish.
Self talk – when we force ourselves to do something the primitive mind will often try to rebel. Self talk can be very negative so reframe and take a new perspective :
“ I should exercise / I must stop eating these biscuits”, replace with “I could go to the gym / I can go for a walk”
Rather than “what can I eat”? Think, “what can I do”? What activities could you do to replace some of your eating habits?
You can do it ! Keep going, the more we do something the easier it becomes !
For many cultures the 1st of January is the start of a New Year. A time when we often reflect on the past year and significant events that have brought us joy or happiness as well as challenges or difficulties.
It’s a time when we look forward, perhaps thinking of new things we would like to do or things we would like to change. The beginning of a new year often gives us hope that these can be achieved.
When we are reflecting and using our imagination to consider new possibilities we are actually taking the first steps toward bringing about change. We are telling our brain that this is what we would like our preferred future to look like. Our imagination allows us to play things out in our mind so that anything is possible. Muhammad Ali the famous World Heavy Weight boxer would frequently predict how he would win his fights by using intense visualisation to imagine how he would beat his opponent. Frequently he would go on to win!
Taking time out to relax or even daydream is vital, it allows our brain to rest, though contrary to what we might think, research shows that during this time the brain is actively creative and productive, helping us to reflect on the past and make future plans.
During Solution Focused Hypnotherapy we look at what you want to achieve (the solution) rather than analysing the problem and encourage you to use your imagination in this process. As you are guided into a deep level of relaxation during hypnosis the mind can visualise and reflect on those solutions and ideas discussed bringing about change and positive benefit.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is something I feel very passionate about as much of my practice is based on the latest findings from neuroscience, a topic which I find fascinating.
A recent discovery is the acknowledgement that the adult brain is much more flexible that we ever thought, this means that the brain has capacity to change, recover from physical and mental damage and effectively rewire itself to bring positive changes in our thinking and behaviour. Isn’t this amazing? Our brains are in fact adaptable like plastic and this is known as neuroplasticity. To explain, the brain is made up of millions of pathways, pathways that we travel down every time we think, feel and behave. Some pathways we use more than others such as established habits, here the pathways are well worn as we have established ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Each time we travel down this pathway we strengthen it and this makes it easier to travel down.
If we decide that we want to make a change, would like to take on a new task or a challenge, if we decide we would like to think in a different way or feel alternative emotions we find ourselves starting to make a new pathway, a new road. The more often we go down that route the easier it will get as the changes we want to achieve start to become established. As we are using the old pathway less and less it gradually becomes weakened as we rewire new connections.
So how can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help?
Many of us may think, “Well this is the way I am; I can’t change, I’m stuck like this ”, but yes, we can make changes, as we know that the brain is not fixed but is constantly rewiring itself.
The first step is wanting to change, we don’t have to believe that we can change but we have to want to change. Change can be scary and daunting, it is also exciting and liberating and opens up new opportunities.
Let me give you an example: A client came seeking help as she wanted to put herself forward for a job promotion, however, she convinced herself that she was not up to the challenge, even though deep down she knew that she was capable of undertaking the job. She told herself that her colleagues were probably better than her and just the thought of going through the interview process made her feel nervous and anxious. She had over the years missed many opportunities to gain promotion as she talked herself into a negative state.
Through Solution Focused Hypnotherapy she identified that her goal was to build confidence so that she could apply for promotion.
During sessions we discussed how the brain worked i.e. in the past rather than take a new pathway the brain preferred to stick to the old pathway, the easy and comfortable pathway of staying put in her current job, which felt safe and comfortable (the brain often doesn’t like change as it may see it as a potential threat). Negative thoughts and feelings associated with this became reinforced in her brain so whenever she thought about applying for promotion she became anxious and did nothing. We discussed that when we want to make changes, when we want to create a new pathway, we must first of all tell our brain that this is the new way we want to go so we can begin to take the first steps.
Hypnosis itself allows us to process thoughts and ideas; solutions discussed can be explored and utilised by the brain for positive benefit and as the brain always likes to find solutions we begin to find it easier and easier to move in the desired direction. The more we go down the new pathway the more it becomes embedded and easier to navigate, the old pathway becoming redundant.
By telling our brain what we want not what we don’t want we begin to change the way we think, feel and behave. Happily it wasn’t long before my client gained the confidence to put herself forward for promotion.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free no obligation chat about how I may be able to help you.