The last year has been a challenging experience. I often hear from new clients that they are surprised to find themselves struggling with new and destructive feelings of anger or short-temperedness where previously they had regarded themselves as calm and in control. Most are relieved to hear that there is a simple explanation and, more importantly, that we can do something about it.
Anger was one of the primitive responses the caveman had available to him to help him to survive. Its purpose was quite simply to give him extra strength and energy to deal with an immediate threat – such as fighting off a saber-toothed tiger.
Nowadays we rarely face a threat so immediate and life threatening, but that anger response is still there. We still feel it in response to a perceived threat, but the threats that we face in our modern day lives are somewhat different…..uncertainty over jobs or finances, worry about health or our children’s education….these things (and many others) are difficult and unpleasant but not instantly life-threatening in the same way as an encounter with a large and toothy wild animal.
Which means that our anger response is not being “burnt off” in a focused and physical effort as it would have been all those thousand years ago. It hangs around and re-surfaces in ways we don’t expect, and often focused on the wrong target – our loved ones, other people around us, sometimes even ourselves.
So what can we do about it? Anger can be an overwhelming emotion and difficult to control in the moment.
Solution focused therapy offers a positive and gentle way to gain control of our negative thought patterns and build our resilience to restrictions and uncertainty, helping to ensure that anger doesn’t get a chance to take hold in the first place.
I’ve been reflecting lately on just how often “relationships” are at the heart of the reason that many of my clients seek help. This was true even before the national lockdown, and if the media is to be believed we can expect an upwards trend as the pressure of enforced isolation takes its toll.
Typically in a dysfunctional relationship we think of a victim and a perpetrator.
Certainly the effect on the recipient of abusive behaviour (whether physical or psychological) should not be underestimated or trivialised in any way. It is very often the victim I am approached by to seek help with overcoming feelings of fear, anger, guilt, loss of confidence and self esteem, or even in extreme cases a form of PTSD. All of this, I am happy to say, can often be effectively addressed using solution focused techniques to move forwards positively – correctly “filing away” memories of the past so that they no longer intrude on the present.
It would, however, be wrong to label everyone on the other side of this relationship equation as “evil”. I am often contacted by people (both male and female) who recognise the damage they are doing to their relationships through anger or other negative behaviours. The question is always whether the type of therapy I offer can help them to change. The answer is usually yes, almost certainly, if the intention to change is a genuine one. The same solution focused techniques can be used to help with learning different behaviours and responses as well as reducing and managing anger in a more positive way.
Whether clients are seeking to mend a current relationship, find the courage to break with something unacceptable or are trying to manage the fallout of past relationship breakdown, hypnotherapy can give both parties the best chance to move forwards for a positive future.
If the answer to this is no you’re in good company. A recent UK study show that more than half of us are struggling to sleep*.
Disruption to sleep is always debilitating, but given the current concerns over Covid-19, lack of sleep could carry even greater risks. Scientists believe that there could be a knock-on effect on our day-to-day resilience, and perhaps even an increased likelihood of catching the virus or experiencing worse symptoms as the immune system is compromised**.
The reasons for an increase in sleep issues may be obvious, with heightened anxiety and disruption to routines the cause of many a sleepless night. Even when events seem to be out of our control there are still things we can do to help ourselves.
Here are my 10 top tips to sleeping well.
Is it really a problem?
All humans work to a natural rhythm of life – something called the circadian rhythm – which is a roughly 24 hour cycle. The length of this natural cycle can vary a little between people, but the average seems to be around 24 hours and 15 minutes. We actually use natural daylight each day to sort of recalibrate ourselves into the 24 hour cycle as that’s what works for us.
The Circadian Rhythm is responsible for activating brain and body mechanisms designed to keep us awake and alert, and then reducing this alerting influence at night time ready for sleep. The peak and trough points for wakefulness and sleep can vary greatly from person to person. You may have heard the terms Night Owls and Morning Larks used to describe people, and these patterns are often strongly determined by genetics.
Culturally night owls are usually at a bit of a disadvantage as the accepted work patterns of industrialised nations don’t suit these people – they can find themselves forced into an unnatural sleep/wake rhythm. However given the current disruption to work life and routines it’s possible that with no imperative to conform to a rigid start time, night owls are experiencing an irresistible urge to “reset” to natural patterns
TIP 1 – Consider – is it actually a sleep problem, or is it a problem with the sleep patterns you have previously been forced to adopt? Are you simply fighting a natural “reset” to your body’s preferred settings?
Manage light levels
Our bodies rely on a chemical called Melatonin as the biological command for the timing of sleep. Melatonin begins to rise in response to light reduction, and it gives a very clear and loud message to the brain that night time is approaching. During the night, as light increases, melatonin levels gradually decrease, and the absence then of circulating melatonin tell the brain that wakefulness can return.
The availability of constant light, whether from old fashioned yellow light bulbs or the blue LED light of our many entertainment devices, plays a very significant role in confusing our melatonin signal and messing with the planet’s natural 24 hour cycle.
Artificial light in the evening can make us believe that we are suffering from sleep onset insomnia (trouble going to sleep), where in fact what is happening is we are simply delaying our release of melatonin by perhaps 2-3 hours by switching on the light or playing with our tablets.
The overhead light bulb (yellow light) has some effect, however blue LED light is worse as the light receptors in the eye are more sensitive to blue light meaning that exposure to blue light has twice the impact on suppression of melatonin. Lockdown probably means we’ve had more time on our hands, and turn naturally to electronic devices to occupy that time.
Blue light is also particularly to be avoided as it also affects the quality of our sleep, meaning that the brain doesn’t get the chance to carry out the repair work it usually does while we’re asleep. That has a knock on effect and might even make it harder to sleep the next night….and the next….
TIP 2 – Dim the lights and limit your screen time in the run up to bed-time.
As soon as we are awake a chemical called Adenosine starts building up in our brain. Every moment that we are awake the concentration of this chemical increases and the longer we are awake the more is accumulated. As adenosine is created in the brain, it binds to adenosine receptors. This binding causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity.
Increasing adenosine means an increasing desire to sleep, and when concentrations peak we feel an irresistible desire to sleep. This usually happens after around 12 to 16 hours of being awake.
Adenosine levels decrease during sleep – even a short nap may cause enough reduction to impact sleep at a normal bedtime. More sedentary time and boredom under lockdown creates greater opportunity for nodding off when we perhaps didn’t mean to.
TIP 3 – Avoid napping during the day, and certainly after 4pm. Find something active to do to stave off sleepiness and boredom during the day.
Control caffeine intake
This won’t be a surprise – we all know don’t we that caffeine is a stimulant and that drinking an expresso just before bed is probably not a great idea. But let’s have a closer look.
Remember our sleep pressure chemical, adenosine? Caffeine actually mutes the sleep signal of adenosine. It does this by latching on to the very same receptors that adenosine uses to slow down our nerve cell activity. Caffeine effectively blocks these receptors so that the sleep signal simply can’t get through – a bit like putting your fingers in your ears to block out noise.
It therefore tricks you into feeling alert and awake.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this effect, however you may not realise just how persistent caffeine is in the system. On average it will take your body 5 to 7 hours to metabolise HALF of the caffeine from a cup of coffee. There is still enough strength in the remaining half, even though considerably diluted, to continue to disrupt sleep for several hours more.
Caffeine is metabolised by an enzyme in the liver, but the effectiveness of this enzyme varies considerably from person to person based on genetics, age, other medications and even the quality and quantity of prior sleep. Sensitivity to caffeine therefore varies widely between people, and even for the same person at different time.
There’s another effect to bear in mind here too – that of the caffeine crash. Caffeine blocks the sleep message of adenosine, but it does not destroy the adenosine itself. In the absence of sleep the level of this chemical in your system will keep right on building up. When the caffeine does lose its effect you will immediately get an overwhelming dose of sleep pressure and energy levels will plummet rapidly. If this is at an inappropriate time the temptation will be to reach again for the artificial stimulant just to keep going.
Finally, be aware that while we mainly associate caffeine with coffee, it is also present in tea, dark chocolate, pain relievers and some other surprising places….and decaff doesn’t generally mean no-caff!
TIP 4 – find all the sources of caffeine that creep into your daily routine and plan alternatives. If you really can’t do without coffee, try limiting it to early morning only.
With UK alcohol sales up 22% in March it seems likely that one or two of us are enjoying a drink or several more than we might usually have. And many people believe that a drink helps us fall asleep, and can help us sleep more soundly.
However, alcohol is misunderstood.
Alcohol is actually a sedative that works by binding to the receptors in the brain and preventing neurons from firing electric impulses – the things that control most of our bodily functions.
As the brain is thus sedated it becomes easier for you to let go of consciousness.
However sedation is not a natural sleep, and there are two main issues that arise from this.
Firstly alcohol induced sleep is not a continuous sleep, and is therefore not restorative. You make well not remember the numerous small awakenings, but they are nevertheless disruptive and have a significant impact on how you feel and function the next day.
Secondly alcohol also affects the quality of our sleep in the same way as blue light, meaning that the brain isn’t doing the necessary processing while we’re asleep, again with that knock on effect lasting several days.
TIP 5 – Enjoy an occasional drink but avoid drinking heavily and try not to regard it as something to help you to relax or to sleep.
Ambient room temperature along with bedding and clothing determine your bodies core temperature. And ambient temperature is a major culprit in affecting our sleep in our centrally heated and thermostatically regulated homes.
Remember melatonin? That chemical which informs our bodies that night time and therefore the time to sleep is approaching based on the onset of darkness. The body also relies on a drop in temperature (as in the setting of the sun) as a cue for it to initiate the evening surge of melatonin.
In fact our core temperature needs to drop by 2-3 degrees F, or around 1 degree C to successfully initiate sleep.
This means a bedroom temperature of around 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C is ideal, assuming standard bedding and night clothes. In reality this feels just a little too cold for comfort when you’re out of bed.
TIP 6 – Confusingly, considering that we’re trying to lower the core body temperature to initiate sleep, a hot bath just before bed can actually help. The heat of the water dilates the blood vessels near the surface of the skin and helps to draw out inner heat, so our core temperature reduces. For the same reason warming your hands and feet at bedtime also seems to help as it draws warm blood to the extremities and away from the core.
Allow enough time
It might sound obvious, but under lockdown our usual daily routines are out of the window and with no imperative to stick to our usual bedtime there may be a temptation to stay up just a little bit later…..and then later still…but lighter mornings, kids, pets etc may still demand that wake at our normal time. Studies show that we need 7 to 8 hours to operate effectively, both mentally and physically. The last 1 to 2 hours are particularly important, so you are really missing out if you are getting less than 6 hours and again the knock-on effects may be felt in disrupted sleep patterns further down the line too .
TIP 7: Keep to routines as much as possible and allow for 7 to 8 hours in bed each night.
Create a decompression zone
With the constant media focus on worrying reports of the pandemic , available 24/7 via our televisions, phones, tablets and other devices, we can easily find ourselves still ‘wired’ at bedtime. Whether watching a news report or interacting on social media, these things stimulate the mind and generate anxiety at a time when you should be winding down.
TIP 8: Put the phone and laptop away at least an hour before bedtime and avoid any evening or late night news. Listen to music or watch something harmless on TV. Consider brushing your teeth an hour before bed, as this kind of activity can make you more alert.
Focus on what you have achieved
With our usual work and social activities restricted and the challenge of adapting to the new norm, many are finding it difficult to find energy and motivation to complete what may seem like even basic tasks and projects. Going to bed with a mental ‘to do’ list, or beating yourself up for not getting enough done is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
TIP 9 – when you get into bed, review the day and find 5 things you have achieved. They needn’t be big things, they could be things as simple as changing a light bulb, tidying a cupboard, going for a walk or contacting a friend.
Use relaxation techniques or audio tracks.
There’s no doubt that anxiety can play a significant role, and is often at the root of sleep issues. Ironically it is also while we’re asleep that the brain has the greatest chance to process our anxieties, so it’s easy to see how a vicious circle of disrupted sleep – reduced anxiety processing – anxiety build-up leading to more disrupted sleep can be established.
TIP 10 – Learning relaxation techniques or listening to a relaxation audio track at bedtime can help with physical relaxation, and it’s when our bodies are relaxed that our minds can relax too. Sleep often follows.
Taking this a step further hypnotherapy, used alongside psychotherapy, offers a gentle and effective solution. By using deep relaxation in a guided way we can help the brain to process anxieties, reset thought patterns to break the vicious circle and develop longer term positive behaviours and mindsets. As part of this process sleep is generally much improved.
For more information, to book a free initial consultation or to request a downloadable relaxation track please email email@example.com or call 07761 533372.
** While it’s too early for any studies to have been done on the effects of sleep on this particular coronavirus (Covid-19), in 2015 researchers in the US deliberately infected 164 volunteers with the rhinovirus (common cold). They found that the people who slept less than six hours a night were four times more likely to develop cold symptoms than the ones who slept for seven hours or more. Aric A. Prather, PhD, Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD, Martica H. Hall, PhD, Sheldon Cohen, PhD, Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, Sleep, Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2015, Pages 1353–1359, https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4968
One of the things that makes my job as a clinical hypnotherapist so stimulating is the variety of issues clients contact me for help with.
In a typical week I can find myself working with clients experiencing problems with IBS, migraines, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, chronic pain, phobias and even weight gain.
You would be excused for thinking that each of these issues has a very different cause, however in each case significant improvements have been achieved by working to address one single common factor. Anxiety.
It still surprises me just how many ways our bodies find to tell us that there is something wrong in our minds.
Anxiety is a strange thing – we may not even realise it’s there as it creeps up on us gradually and we adjust to it as a new “norm”. Put simply we learn to cope. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking its toll on us, as associated stress hormones build up to chronic levels and upset the balance of our whole body.
Often the only way our bodies have to tell us that this balance is at risk is through a physical reaction – stomach cramps & tummy upsets, the urge to overeat, headaches, backaches, tiredness, dizzy spells, irritability, sweating, nausea….the list goes on.
Once we have one (or even a combination) of these anxiety related symptoms it can be almost impossible to see a way of getting things back under control – after all, feeling unwell or out of balance creates a whole new level of anxiety all by itself. This is especially true if symptoms are impacting on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities and it feels like things are just piling up!
There are, however, some positive steps you can take for yourself to help get things back into balance. Here are some of my top tips.
Tip 1 – Get good sleep
Sleep is not just about resting, there’s actually a bit more to it. The advice “sleep on it” is well founded as good quality sleep genuinely does give us a different perspective on things – and here’s how.
While we’re asleep we move through a repeating cycle of REM (dream) sleep and deep sleep, and in the REM part of the cycle we are actually processing the events of the day.
The result of that processing is that our memories are changed from being emotional memories (memories with emotions attached) to being narrative memories. Emotional memories are still very real to us – we “live” them and they still contribute to our anxiety load.
Narrative memories are memories that we have a bit of distance from – we describe them rather than “living” them. Once this processing has take place we have control over the memories, they no longer have emotion attached and they don’t contribute to our anxiety load.
If we skimp on sleep, or do things that impact on the quality of our sleep (for example drinking alcohol or using electronic devices at bedtime) we limit our mind’s natural ability to deal with our anxiety. We end up carrying yesterday’s anxiety forward into the next day, where it is added to any new anxiety generated, making the job of processing twice as hard the next night. This cycle repeats and anxiety simply accumulates.
By making time for sleep and avoiding things that we know affect the quality of sleep we can take the first step towards controlling anxiety.
Tip 2 – Focus on achievements
It’s a fact isn’t it – we’re spend more time thinking about the things we need to do than the things we’ve already done?
Running this kind of mental ‘to do’ list leads easily to beating yourself up each day for not getting enough done. A head full of loose ends and uncompleted tasks is in itself a significant anxiety generator.
We often can’t do much about the number of lines on our to-do list, that’s just life. What we can do is change our mindset and allow space in our minds to recognise what we have achieved, not just what we haven’t (yet!).
Each day find time to review the day and find 5 things you have achieved. They needn’t be big things, they could be things as simple as changing a light bulb, emptying the dishwasher or arranging to meet a friend. A little mental pat on the back makes a huge difference to our outlook and ability to cope with our busy lives.
Tip 3 – Allow yourself to dream
By that I mean day dream.
We’ve been perhaps taught to regard day-dreaming as a bad thing – as waste of time, but it can actually be quite a good thing.
It’s something that our modern day lifestyles don’t allow for – we don’t do the repetitive tasks (hand washing clothes, scrubbing floors, ploughing a field) that were commonplace 100 years ago and which would have given our ancestors important mental down-time. We have gadgets and machinery that do these tasks for us, and then we compound the problem with our mobile phones and 24 hour culture.
Making time to let your mind wander is far from lazy (actually you’ll be burning quite a lot of energy doing this), it can contribute greatly to mental health. Positive Day Dreaming can help to lower your stress hormone levels in quite a significant way. There’s a catch though – it really does need to be positive day-dreaming, no day-mares allowed or you’ll be achieving the opposite effect!
Tip 4 – Smile
It sounds stupid doesn’t it, but it works.
When you smile there’s an important part of the brain that senses the change in configuration of your facial muscles. It searches in your mental files for examples of the times when that particular configuration has been used before and uses this information to decide, based on previous experience, what its response should be.
The response that it finds actually triggers the release of two “feel-good” chemicals in your brain – serotonin and dopamine. These “happiness” chemicals begin to improve your mood. Genuinely a case of fake it til you make it. Try it yourself…when no-one’s looking if you prefer!
Tip 5 – Keep a “good things” journal
This is not so much an exercise in counting your blessings, rather a case of training your brain to think in terms of what things, people or activities make you happy rather than things that you don’t like or that worry you.
Think of your brain a little like a muscle. If you only ever use it in one way (to worry) it can only ever do one thing (worry). Making a conscious effort to think about different things actually exercises the brain in a different way.
To start with this can feel as difficult as lifting weights or using the cross-trainer at the gym. Eventually though it does get much easier – you can lift bigger weights or complete more repetitions with ease…or in the case of your brain you can halt those anxiety-generating thoughts and instead focus easily on the positives instead.
In your diary or notebook every morning when you wake up write down 3 things that would make you feel good if you did them during the day. During the evening on the same page write down three things that happened during the day that made you feel good. The two lists don’t need to match – it’s not a test. As you look forward to or remember those good things each day you’ll be exercising and strengthening a very important part of the brain.
In time this simple activity will give you a different mindset and tools to control those stress hormones, reducing anxiety and its unpleasant side effects.
Tip 6 – Do more of what you enjoy
How often do we actually stop to consider what we enjoy most in our lives? How often do we just keep going, following the old routines, doing things we don’t enjoy because that’s just what we’ve always done?
Taking the time to do a conscious audit of our daily activities can often be quite an eye-opener!
Those things you don’t enjoy or which you find excuses to drop to the bottom of your to-do list (from where, incidentally, they can actually contribute to your anxiety load!), is there a different way of getting them done?
Those things you do enjoy, how can you create more opportunities to do them? What’s your first step towards making that happen?
It’s not self-indulgent, it’s actually chemically necessary. Science has proven that by carrying out activities that we enjoy or that give us a sense of achievement we stimulate the release of an important chemical in the brain – called Serotonin. A good level of serotonin in our system is associated with a feeling of well-being and balance, helping us to cope with whatever life throws at us. Most importantly serotonin can help us fight back against those anxious stress hormones, putting us back in control.
With so many different physical and mental symptoms, anxiety can be difficult to pin down as the cause. If you are suffering any form of ill-health it is important that you visit your doctor to obtain a diagnosis, however, once any medical cause has been ruled out, you could consider whether anxiety is at the root of your problem.
Just as anxiety takes a while to build up, calming it down again can take a little while – unfortunately there’s no overnight fix. You may find it reassuring to know that hypnotherapy offers a gentle way to address underlying anxiety so that many symptoms can be either significantly reduced or even eliminated completely – often in a very short space of time.
If you’re not feeling quite right, don’t accept it as the “norm”. Why not try some of my top tips or even give hypnotherapy a try?
Due to an increase in new enquiries I’m extending my clinic hours to be able to offer more appointments. This also means I’m adding two new locations, giving clients a choice of environment for hypnotherapy sessions.
From 6th May I am pleased to announce that Implicity
Hypnotherapy will be offering appointments at:-
Physio Phoenix Clinic, 7 Victoria
Square, Skipton, BD23 1JF
Dales Angels, Market Place, Settle,
Appointments are available in Skipton on Tuesdays,
Wednesdays mornings and Fridays, and in Settle on Mondays and Wednesday
Limited early morning and evening appointments are available
for those with commitments during normal working hours.
The consulting rooms at both Physio Phoenix and Dales Angels
are newly refurbished dedicated therapy rooms, offering comfortable and calming
environments in which to relax.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy offers a gentle and positive
way to address many of the issues which impact on our quality of life. It
can help with:-
Overcoming anxiety and reducing stress
Addressing insomnia and other sleep problems.
Dealing with a lack of confidence, motivation or
Controlling unwanted or destructive habits such
Reducing the effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you are ready to make a positive change in your life why
not get in touch to arrange a free initial consultation to find out if
Hypnotherapy can help you.
Working with clients
who are suffering with sleep problems is one of the most rewarding parts of
being a hypnotherapist – not because of any sadistic pleasure taken in seeing
the genuine misery that sleep deprivation causes, but because of the
opportunity, through hypnotherapy, to make a very significant difference to the
quality of life of the sufferer. And
often in a surprisingly short period of time.
Sleep issues can take many forms, perhaps presenting as
either difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, or waking too early
each morning. In some instances you may
find yourself struggling to sleep at the proper time, only to fall into a deep
sleep that is difficult to wake up from just before the alarm goes off. These patterns are often the mind’s way of
signalling to you that there’s something in your daily life that needs
Problems with sleep can have their roots in many different
causes, often related to or exacerbated by issues such as anxiety, stress or
depression (any medical concerns should always be checked out with your
GP). Most of us can cope if sleep loss
is for just a few night but if left unchecked it rapidly becomes debilitating
and has a significant knock-on effect in all areas of everyday life causing, amongst
other, things low energy, poor concentration and irritability.
The cycle can be difficult to break – poor sleep leads to
worrying and worrying can make good quality sleep even more elusive. Unhealthy sleep patterns can quickly become
established and because you start to “expect” poor sleep this becomes
a self fulfilling prophecy.
It is important to address sleep issues, not only because of
the obvious impact on daily life, but also because of the longer term health
issues, some of which can become serious and even life threatening. Links
between healthy sleep patterns and mental health are well documented but did
you know that sleep deprivation has also been linked to a number of physical
health issues, including a weakened immune system, obesity, type 2 diabetes,
stroke and heart conditions?
If you are suffering as a result of poor sleep, one of the
options you could consider is
hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy addresses the
subconscious part of your brain, helping to reset unhealthy patterns and
address underlying issues of stress, anxiety or depression – a positive step towards
making healthy and restful sleep a reality again.
I admit, not what I thought I’d be doing when deciding on my New Year’s Resolutions just a few weeks ago. I did however start the year with the intention of just “going with it” when a new opportunity presented itself. So when I saw the posters for a new choir starting up in Skipton I thought “Well why on earth not….?”.
That’s not to say I didn’t have to have some firm words with
my primitive mind just before setting off for the first meeting. And yes, even as a qualified clinical
hypnotherapist with a good understanding of how the human mind works and the
tricks it can play, I am still not immune to the influence of this powerful
Let me explain.
The primitive mind is the part of the mind which, since the
days of the caveman, has been responsible for survival. So while my conscious
intellectual mind knows that joining a choir is unlikely to represent a
significant threat to my continued existence on this earth, unfortunately the
primitive subconscious part of my brain really does not like change and
therefore resists whatever new venture my intellectual mind has planned.
It works on the principle that if what I did yesterday (i.e.
not joining a choir) kept me safe it would be best if I did the same again
today. And paradoxically that includes avoiding
new situations and activities which may contribute to my enjoyment of life, and
even wellbeing – because in its view “new” and “different”
may constitute a threat to my survival.
So, the primitive mind is now battling for the upper hand,
and one of the other tricks it has up its metaphorical sleeve is to encourage negative
thinking and seeing things from the worst possible perspective. This too is a survival mechanism, discouraging
any optimism in the face of a perceived threat and ensuring that the threat is
taken seriously and dealt with.
Now this may seem like an overreaction to the case in hand….seriously, just how dangerous can singing be? But it’s important to recognise that the mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. By the time we’ve thought about all the things that can possibly go wrong (I have to walk into a room of people I don’t know, what if there’s no-one there I get on with, what if I’m no good at it, what if I look stupid….?) anxiety is at an all-time high – and the primitive mind is looking for any excuse to back out of going…..
Fortunately in this instance my intellectual mind managed to
reassert itself for long enough to get me in through the door…and then to
stay to give it a try.
The reluctance of the primitive mind to try new things is
particularly ironic in this case, given the abundance of research and evidence
now available showing the link between singing and improvement in both mental
and physical health.
The very act of singing has been shown to increase our sense
of happiness and wellbeing – probably because it is associated with the release
of important neurochemicals, such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Endorphins are the chemicals we usually think
of in relation to exercise – something that many of us find difficult to find
motivation for, especially on a cold winter evening. Singing perhaps offers a more palatable way
of achieving some of the benefits…..minus the lycra and aching muscles……
Performing together, even without an audience, also promotes
a sense of social closeness. As many
studies have found evidence which suggests that social connections and positive
human interaction act as a trigger for the brain’s reward system (more of those
good neurochemicals!), it makes it even more certain that we should try to
override the primitive mind’s natural caution and just give singing a try.
The “All Together Now” choir has just launched in
Skipton, meeting at the Church Hall, Skipton Baptist Church on Rectory Lane
(right opposite the exit from the Town Hall car park) each Thursday morning at
10am. More details here All-Together-Now-Skipton
Come and join in. Someone
will be listening, but nobody will be judging.
How are those Resolutions going? Have you given up
smoking/nail-biting/cake, been to the gym/swimming/running? If you have then well done, but on a dark
cold winter’s evening, it’s easy to slip and find yourself back where you
started – on the couch with a large glass of wine and a takeaway.
So why is it so difficult to change our habits?
Well it’s because the brain is in a bit of battle with
itself. Our conscious mind knows that
these changes are good for us. Unfortunately the subconscious part of our brain
responsible for our survival doesn’t like change and will encourage us to
simply repeat past patterns as we’ve survived thus far by doing just this. And paradoxically that includes continuing bad
habits which may be damaging our long term health and wellbeing.
So how do we get our conscious mind to take control and help
those resolutions to stick?
Take small positive actions which move you
towards your ultimate goal, and take the time to really notice your
achievements. This in itself triggers a
chemical response in the brain which promotes a feeling of confidence and
Enlist the support of people around you. Positive interaction with others also creates
that chemical response which helps us to feel good and keeps our conscious mind
Don’t try to change too much at once. The subconscious is more likely to dig it’s
metaphorical heels in – one of the symptoms of which can be a feeling of
anxiety which persuades you to you return to the old “safe” patterns.
Recognising this and rationalising it can help you to overcome the urge to
And this is where hypnotherapy can help. In hypnotherapy we use trance – a state in
which we can bring the conscious and subconscious mind together to focus on the
positive change you would like to achieve. In this state we can work to resolve
the battle and take back control for the conscious mind, helping you to make
that New Year’s Resolution a reality.
The Quaker Meeting House, Settle – Thursday 24th January 2019 at 7.30pm.
Happy New Year! It’s that time of
year when we make our resolutions about the positive changes we’re going to
make during the year.
So how’s it going for you?
Well done if you’ve managed to stick
to your resolutions so far.
But the reality is that on a dark
cold winter’s evening, it’s easy to slip and find yourself back where you
started – on the couch with a large glass of wine and a takeaway.
This free event takes a fun but informative look into how and why our brains trick us into failing at even the most sensible and well-intentioned resolution. And perhaps more importantly what you can do to fight back!
Join us at the Quaker Meeting House, next to Ashfields carpark in Settle, at 7.30pm on Thursday the 24th January 2019, to find out how to make your resolutions reality.
Make a positive life change and achieve your 2019 goals.
With 1 in 5 people affected by it during their lifetime, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can have a serious impact on the lives of many and the common symptoms of pain, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation are well documented.
Less well known is the part that Hypnotherapy can play in alleviating the condition – even recognised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective complementary treatment.
IBS is considered a biopsychosocial disorder – put simply this means having elements associated not only with the physical functioning of the body, but also psychological factors such as stress and anxiety, as well as potential social influences. This can make the condition difficult to treat, as instead of one single cause rooted either in the body or the mind, it is often the interaction between the mind and the body which produces and magnifies the symptoms.
It is recognised that IBS is exacerbated by stress and anxiety, perhaps initially caused by external factors but then also by the additional worry about the symptoms. In this way a vicious circle is created where anxiety causes a worsening of symptoms, leading to further anxiety, which in turn further amplifies the physical aspects of the condition.
Hypnotherapy works by helping to break this cycle through:-
processing existing fears and anxieties which contribute to symptoms
focus on reducing the negative thinking which perpetuates anxiety
visualisation of specific goals which may be attained when the IBS is under control.
If you believe you are suffering from IBS it is important that you visit your doctor to obtain a diagnosis and rule out any other causes for your symptoms. Then don’t suffer in silence – why not give Hypnotherapy a try?
It’s a fact, all of us will have suffered the odd anxious moment in our lives at some time or another. But for some anxiety builds to a level where the impact on quality of life is significant and sometimes devastating. So what is anxiety and how can we stop it becoming destructive?
Anxiety is part of our primitive defence mechanism, put in place to protect us when life was full of dangers such as sabre tooth tigers – a fight or flight response which takes place in our subconscious (part of our brain that we have no direct control over). Let’s call it our primitive brain.
And there are a few things you should know about that primitive brain…..
It’s negative – it always sees thing from the worst possible perspective. To be honest we should be grateful for this as it’s how the primitive brain has ensured our survival for as long as it has. Optimism is not helpful when facing a sabre toothed tiger – it only leads to being eaten! While this negativity is great when facing a genuine threat to life and limb, such as a tiger, it’s not so good for dealing with our modern day anxieties, such as finances, relationships and deadlines.
It’s obsessive – and keeps checking on the thing that caused the initial anxiety. Again helpful if there’s a tiger in the room, but seriously, what’s that bank statement actually going to do to you?
It’s habitual – which means it’s not so great at planning a new response. Once you’ve got into the habit of worrying about your finances (or whatever it is that causes your anxiety) your primitive brain likes you to keep on worrying about it – because you’ve survived so far by doing just that so why change?
Nowadays much of our anxiety is caused by the negative thought patterns that we fall into around every day events in life. A build up of anxiety can be a gradual process, but eventually the balance will tip, the fight or flight response is triggered and our primitive brain simply doesn’t know where to turn with the modern day threats it faces.
Once that balance is tipped a vicious circle is established – the more anxious we feel the more time we spend in our primitive brain, and the more we are encouraged to be negative….thereby creating more anxiety.
So how can we break this vicious circle?
Firstly we need to retrain the brain, learning a new pattern to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative. It’s a fact that whatever we focus on we amplify, and simply making ourselves notice the good things protects us from building up new levels of anxiety.
Secondly we need to process the anxieties already present – and the best way to do this is through REM sleep. Once the influx of new anxieties is under control we have enough processing power during our sleep to deal with what’s already there.
Sound simple? It is, but it does take determination and commitment to make the shift. Hypnotherapy offers a gentle and natural way to create new brain patterns, often having a rapid effect in reducing anxiety to manageable levels.