Category Archives: Stress

How sleep deprived are you?

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This blog is aimed at those of you who put off going to bed to sleep! Before you know it, 1 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning when you turn off ‘that work laptop or TV screen’ and stagger to your bedroom.

When do you decide to sleep?


Go to bed

Maybe you’ve fallen asleep on the couch and have to drag your body off to your bedroom.

Fancy getting a decent night’s sleep?

How about making improvements to your sleep routine, so that the prospect of having pure deep refreshing sleep becomes more of reality?

Start your Q.U.E.S.T. for something much better

Question: What are you doing now which means you’re not getting to bed at a reasonable time?

  • Imagine what it would mean to your body, to your mind if you have a longer period of deep, uninterrupted sleep-time. What you would be feeling like in the morning?

“What would you be doing, what could you be doing,  with more energy taking you through the day?”  *

Unstick:  What is it that stops you going to bed?

  • Have you heard of ‘procrastination’ it means putting off something which we want to do, because it takes some effort? Going to bed usually has a routine. A set of habits that can take a bit of effort.

Imagine Joe has been watching the late night football highlights on TV. He’s tranced-out and sleepy as the TV shows merge into the next program. He wants to go to bed but hears himself snoring as the beer bottle falls to his side.

“So, what would he need to be doing in order to get his head to hit that pillow at a reasonable time? What time must he kick off that bedroom routine?”

Now, ask yourself the same question when it comes to your bedtime routine.

  • Some people get distracted by a TV channel, internet surfing, checking emails or social media.
  • Worst still is taking work home, and not giving your brain the creative time to consolidate the learning from the day.
  • Leaving the mobile phone on means that just like that phone, your brain is being asked to stay constantly on alert.

“So where and how do you set your boundaries?”

Encourage:  Try an experiment for one week and see what happens if you take up the challenge for BETTER SLEEP.

  • Maybe you could buddy up with your partner or a friend – because sometimes working as a team can be more encouraging than doing things on our own.

Significant:   Rather than being seduced by what you think you should do to not miss out, think

“What have I got to win, by sticking to boundaries and a good bedtime routine?”

The benefits of a good night’s sleep for you:


How good is sleep for you?

The duration of your sleep, and getting the adequate cycles of sleep for your needs is key to your immune efficiency, bringing benefits to your heart, clarity of your mind, and potential longevity to your life force.

Improved memory:

  • During REM (rapid eye movement) memories or new skills, you learned during the day are strengthened and consolidated.

Restrict inflammation and lowering stress:

  • Research  * suggests that people surviving on less sleep, have increased blood levels of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.
  • Deep sleep allows a time for the body and mind to shut down so that biologically our energy is restored and our immune system is turned on to combat illnesses.
  • Healthy sleep patterns mean a lowering of stress levels, which has a positive effect on cardiovascular health, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Get more creative:

  • Sleeping well strengthens one’s creative ability to.
  • The brain consolidates memories during the period of REM sleep. They are restructured and organised in such a way, that researchers believe, may result in a strengthening of one’s creative ability.
  • So, from experience, when you’ve had a good night’s rest, you have a clearer mind for the next day.

Less likely accidents

  • Having to make quick decisions and speedier reaction times are much more likely when we aren’t sleep deprived.
  • Driving on insufficient sleep can be as risky as drink-driving.

Building on levels of quality sleep:

  • As people start to take care of themselves, in their emotional and physical needs, then low mood and depression also decrease. This helps to build on the quality level of sleep too.



Habits for refreshing rest

Being tenacious means you’ve already been clinging on to distracting habits that have stopped you going to bed. So, you already have ‘tenacity’ as a resource.  Imagine using that feeling of tenacity by replacing an old habit with one that gets you to bed earlier.  Go on you can do this!   Ah…We all have to start somewhere; one small action leads to…

Gradually breaking the pattern of old habits and replacing them with new,  and you could see improvements towards better bedtime routines and refreshing sleep.


Tips for refreshing sleep

  1. Kick out the TV and work-related stuff from your bedroom. Stop checking emails or accessing the internet a couple of hours before bedtime.
  2. View your bedroom as your sleep chamber, and place for intimacy only.
  3. Gentle stretching before bed can be quite relaxing and it’s beneficial to stop heavy exercise at least 3 hours before retiring.
  4. A change in the body’s core temperature can lead to feeling sleepy. That’s why having a warm bath an hour before bed can lead to drifting off to sleep more quickly.
  5. Beware of alcohol in excess or too close to bedtime.
  • Contrary to belief the body’s cycle for processing alcohol can lead to us waking up throughout the night and interrupts the deep restorative sleep that we all need for our health and well-being.”

  1. If you’re in bed and can’t sleep for 30 minutes; get out of the bedroom and do something incredibly tedious. For example, reading something that’s not excitable. I once chose the water boiler manual!  Do not pick anything else to do that could be perceived as a reward.
  2. Our bodies have a mechanism that adjusts our sleepiness to the hours of darkness.  You may benefit from a darkened bedroom at night, which is cool in temperature.
  3. Learn to meditate. – I do and I love it! Good meditation engages our nervous system by reducing stress levels and allowing deep rest for health and well-being.

Is your sleep issue due to chronic stress?

  • Generalized anxieties, work anxiety, panic attacks, moodiness, and depression, can all lead to the impairment of sleep.
  • If you are suffering from constant and chronic insomnia it may be time to seek professional therapeutic help.
  • Get yourself checked out by your GP to ensure there is no physical reason for your condition.

All being well you may like to make contact and we can work together towards getting you a good night’s sleep. Or you may like to purchase a personalized recording to help you sleep.

Email me to set something up, either at the office or across Skype or Zoom web meetings.

Are you a shift worker?

Here’s some information and guidelines for you, alongside the 1-2-3 experiment to help you overcome the biological jet lag of changing rotas.  Click here for my shift worker blog…


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  • * Research link above – US National Library of Medicine – NCBI – research on controlled studies
  •  The benefits of a good night’s sleep: Research pointers from NYU school of medicine, Boston University, Stanford University.

NB:  Inflammatory proteins have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging.

Good sleep habits potentially have a positive effect on prevention.

REM :  * Rapid eye movement during sleep allows the brain to process information over the day, and consolidate what we have learned.

Whereas stage 4 in the sleep cycle allows for the calming slow delta brain waves which aid deep rest and healing.



Post Traumatic Stress: PTSD-help to recover

Also known as PTSD – just how common is it? 

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Post traumatic stress PTSD

Recovering from PTSD

Can hypnotherapy help you overcome post-traumatic stress: PTSD?

We’ll look at some facts and symptoms of PTSD, How you can help someone you know who is suffering from this debilitating issue.

We include a look at everyday stress and ask if this can result in PTSD type symptoms.

You may be wondering what are the available treatments.

And how hypnotherapy could be a good option.

What’s the best thing to do next?

Some Post Traumatic Stress facts 

According to *patient UK, 3 in 100 people may develop PTSD in their life time, with 2 out of 3 people getting better without treatment.  It’s not unusual for recovery to take several months after the initial incident.

1 out of 3 people experience PTSD symptoms for much longer, and with treatment, they go on to recover and lead a much more fulfilling life.  The response to treatment will differ from person to person.

Post-traumatic stress is very often attributed to events such as being mugged or attacked, experiencing a natural catastrophe or watching a terrible incident.

Not everyone is affected in the same way.

For example, let’s say two people from the emergency services attended the same distressing incident. One of them may end their shift, pick up the family shopping on their way home, and get on with their life. The other may have found the experience so traumatic, that they require time off work and counselling.

Most people differ when it comes to their threshold level of trauma.

When is the right time to seek more intensive therapy?

The UK National Institute for clinical excellence * (NICE) recommends that

“non-trauma-focused interventions such as relaxation do not address traumatic memories, should not routinely be offered to people who present with PTSD symptoms within three months of a traumatic event.”

Patient UK advice’s that

“if your symptoms are prolonged and moderate or severe, (PTSD) treatment can help you to adjust. If you have severe symptoms 2-4 weeks after the incident, you are likely to need treatment.” 

The importance of empathy for suffers from PTSD 

Being told to pull yourself together is not helpful and pretty counter-productive. Understanding even a little about what’s going on in the brain which causes PTSD may be useful, as you work towards getting better

How a friend or family can help someone suffering from PTSD

  1. Are they showing unusual signs of irritability or flashes of anger?
  2. Listen to the person without interrupting as they relate their experience
  3. What to do if their symptoms continue beyond a month:
  4. If things are getting worse, you could try to encourage them to seek further professional help.

What is the emotional arousal doing?

Post traumatic stress PTSD

The natural survival instinct

Whether you’re directly involved or a bystander, witnessing a traumatic event can have a significant effect on the body’s reactions.

The emotional part of the brain (amygdala) alerts the nervous system which produces copious amounts of adrenaline, in preparation for the fight, flight or freeze response.

As the flow of blood is diverted from other areas of the body, its fuels the muscles to quickly react. You may experience an increase in heartbeat, sweating, tummy upset, dry mouth, and trembling

At the peak of a negative experience, the brain takes a snapshot of your emotions and everything in your environment.  It uses this information to protect you from any perceived danger in the future.

This raw information gets stored in the brain’s amygdala. Unfortunately, that can mean a miscalculation of risk when everything is safe.

*  What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Memories of traumatic occurrences can severely affect people, and specifically those serving in army battle-conditions. These include:

  • ‘flashbacks’ to incidents which can have a significant impact on family life or ability to hold down a job.
  • ‘Flashbacks’ –  of the event can trigger feelings of anxiety and fear.
  • Persistent, recurring thoughts – of the distressing event.
  • Being on high alert – or hyper-arousal means you may experience feelings of anger and irritability – insomnia, nightmares, poor concentration and being easily startled.
  • Avoidance –  staying away from people or places, events or objects that are reminders of the experience.
  • Change in outlook – individuals who have PTSD may only be able to envision a bleak future. They might have less interest in activities they used to enjoy, feel emotionally numb or detached from others.

Can everyday stress develop into PTSD symptoms?

Stress is a common experience for most people.

  • Good Stress, for example, is those feeling which pushes us by energising a creative drive.
  • Survival stress, for instance, can happen when someone faces a real tangible danger. It helps to protect us by giving us the ability to escape or save lives.
  • Modern stress could mean dealing with issues at work, in social relationships, limiting self-beliefs, public speaking, or self-expectations. Some people find specific experiences far more stressful than others.
  • Chronic Inescapable Stress is where the problem that causes stress cannot be resolved by the person quickly. The problem seems never-ending and therefore persists on a daily basis. There is a feeling of no control.

Traumatic Stress can be indicated when the symptoms are apparent in your daily life.

Visiting your General Practitioner

Medical professionals can prescribe medication. They often do this, as the first line of treatment, for anxiety attacks and depression.

The sufferer may feel more able to cope.

For a person to achieve long-term success, the underlying thoughts and triggers need to be resolved.

Choice of therapies can range from Eye Movement Integration (EMI, IEMT, EMDR), or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Other forms of talking therapies may also be advised, for example, counselling.


Not all hypnotherapists work the same.  It’s advisable to have an initial conversation with the therapist, to find out how they work, and what they can offer you.

If it isn’t possible to come to terms with the initial traumatic event, it is possible to remove or ignore the triggers which increase the risk for ‘flashbacks’.

The aim of hypnosis will be to focus on removing the panic and anxious feelings, related to the original event; thus, helping the client to change the inappropriate responses

Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapists (QCH)

The approach used by Cognitive Hypnotherapists is evidence based. Drawing upon modern discoveries within hypnotic language, Cognitive theory, NLP, Evolutionary Psychology and Positive Psychology.

As a practitioner, I have trained in the area of Eye Movement Desensitisation (EMI, IEMT) and the REWIND technique.

The approach used by QCH trained hypnotherapists is unique.

If you have a problem with Stress, anxiety or PTSD and would like help to resolve your issue, you may like to think of hypnotherapy as a possible option.

I hope this article helps, even in a small way, to get out there an understanding of this condition. And for anybody suffering from associated symptoms to know that they should not feel shame or guilt because it’s not their fault and they are not alone.

Post traumatic stress PTSD

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

If you’re curious about how Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help you contact me directly for an initial no obligation phone conversation.

Reference Sources:

UK Online

UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy and therapy finder for your area.

Happy List releases stress

Your Emotional Needs

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Acts of Kindness

The Happy List


The Happy List represents celebrating those who give kindness and compassion to change the lives of others in their communities, and it just reminds me of how great humanity can be.

During this challenging year in the UK and across the globe, it’s good to be reminded about all the acts of selflessness through kindness that humans are capable of too. So, it was with some joy that I settled down to view The Independents happy list of 50 of the top unsung heroes in the UK, chosen by the public *

Now, we know that great acts of kindness can literally change people’s lives, but have you ever thought about how even one smaller act can help you or another feel happier during your day? Acts don’t have to be large to make a difference to another, or to give you a lovely feeling.

Hers’s a quick pick from the happy list, where so many different types of people are helping their communities. And there in no particular order(!)


* Sourced from on-line Independent Newspaper UK.

Happy List 44.

Doing great work in my home city, Michelle set up a self-funded group to empower disadvantaged, and the disabled, with sport, education, employable skills and personal development.

MPower*, has become a major Liverpool city project

“Every day we work with our clients and they leave happy and smiling” Quote Live BBC Breakfast News  25th June 2017

Happy List  48

Cliff, the friendly postman in South London who cheers up his community by taking time out to chat and really get to know his customers, and whose positive outlook is infectious on the community spirit. They say… “he’s one in a million” 

Happy List 23

At 95 Brian organises a volunteer’s initiative called ‘strictly tea dance’ to help address social isolation for older people.

Happy List 33

Whilst, the much younger Oliver used his IT skills and created an app to help groups of younger people meet to eat and chat and combat loneliness in London.

Happy List 49

How about things you’d usually pass by in the street.  Well, Steve decided to get creative with pot holes in the road, to cheer people up.

Steve creates mini garden potholes in many cities in the UK which just makes passers-by smile!  The “Holes of Happiness” project!”

Happy List 11

Josh goes around his city giving free haircuts to homeless people. Encouraging self-dignity to grow. “#Do something for Nothing”, he aims is to help make the invisible feel visible, and it’s a growing global network.

What’s the reward?

Happy list - work in a team & feel great

Kitchen Staff In Homeless Shelter

All these people who give so much, also receive something very powerful and well-deserved in return.

I can’t generalise on what it means to each of them, as they may not be looking for a reward, and they will all have their own unique reasons… However,


Human Givens – a personal happy list to explore

I’m reminded of something called the ‘human givens,’ which is a list of human needs that, when given attention to, can help us feel that we are experiencing a more fulfilling life.

Sounds like an interesting way to create our own happy list! Be that a sense of meaning and purpose, or belonging to something greater than our self, and therefore life can feel enriched.

A few of  the human givens are:

The need for community and making a contribution

This means that we’re sustaining a need that gives us a reason for being, which is much more than just our own personal needs.

Interesting to note that doing this also increases the health of the givers immune system as well as their mental health. Which boosts a general feeling of happiness.

So, some people find happiness in volunteering in a community project, using their DIY skills, or give professional advice for free, or challenging local issues.

Whatever it would be which contributes towards the people, animals or other things in your local community which helps to make it more of a loving place.

How does the receiver gain?

Here are a few of the human givens which I associated with what I imagine to be the outcome of receiving the acts of kindness as mentioned on the happy list above.

The need to give and receive attention

Social isolation can have a detrimental effect on mental health and emotional well-being. Leading to poor behaviour and potential personal neglect.

Most people need some form of regular contact and quality time with other people. A bit of fun, and mental stimulation does wonders in keeping us physically active and emotionally secure.

The need for safety and protection

If our environment feels insecure or dangerous, then mental health will suffer.

This also applies to our basic needs being met around, financial security, job prospects, as well as physical safety.

When these needs are met through opportunities, which enable people to feel more in control, they can start to move forward again, even if it’s at a steady pace. Simply put this can be quite liberating to self-confidence.

The need for challenge and creativity

happy list learn to juggle?

Leaning into a challenge


This can range from simple things like enjoying hobbies, to becoming more proficient through a training scheme. Or just to have a go at something new,

Learning something new, discovering ways to develop an idea, or growing our potential means different things to different people.

It’s what gets the juices going without causing negative stress, and it’s a way of turning stress on its head.  Up-stress is a positive feeling which makes you want to spring out of bed in the morning.


A feeling of progression, and growing belief in yourself has a way of  lifting your self-esteem and self-worth.


Because it brings with it  a feeling or sense that we have meaning and purpose to our existence.

‘It’s like Exploration with a sense of Curiosity.’ Maria

By stretching our boundaries just a little bit at a time, it means we can find out if something is the right fit for us.  So, there is no pressure in a negative way because we can let go of unrealistic expectation!

The need for intimacy

This is not necessarily a romantic ‘intimacy’ – although that can be nice at increasing those good endorphin hormones too!

This is just about having that one person, close family, close group of friends, or favoured pet with whom we can share time.

That includes our sensible or off the wall ideas, our doubts to encourage support, our hopes and our dreams for a future that is fulfilling.

And also, just to squeeze in spending time with and for ourselves, otherwise known as ‘me-time’ is really important too, in our need for privacy.

Your own happy list?

Get happy list take action

Create your happy list

Is it time to start making improvements in your own emotional needs? If like me, you want to cherish the good feelings that your own personal happy list could bring.

Whilst we’re at it, what could we be doing, no matter how small, to help make someone else’s day that bit sweeter too. You never know they may just ‘pay that kind act forward’

  1. Time to get out that pen and paper or voice record those ideas straight into your phone app.
  2. How would you schedule in one small incremental action a day, which will continue to encourage you to GO FOR IT!
  3. When you build on those actions daily they embed like a really good habit, so that each day you’ll find you’re getting closer to fulfilling your happy list, and your emotional needs.

Wishing you and yours a fulfilling journey ahead.

And of course, should you wish to explore more about your values, your strengths and what would give you more meaning in your life you can always try out some coaching.

Contact me link

This Blog’s Sources:

If you’d like to see the full list follow the external link to the happy list as produced by The Independent Newspapers.

“In these anxious, unsettled times, let’s celebrate those who do their bit to help make a better Britain.”  Quote Independent 2017

Michelle Smith MPower people in Liverpool

Josh Coombes  #DoSomethingForNothing

The Human Givens Institute


Managing Stress

 Are you managing-stress levels on a daily basis?

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Managing-stress! Severe delays in the tube Central line London 2015

Rush Hour crush

The daily commute equals Stress City!

Oh boy, try managing-stress levels when it’s sweltering in the UK and London is experiencing one of its hottest days since 1976. ( Recorded 21st June 2017.)

First thing in the morning people are crowded onto the tube (underground) train – virtually almost cheek to cheek.

Silently trying to avert their gaze whilst staring up the nostrils, or worse down at the shirt or blouse, of a fellow traveller!  Ever noticed people who stand with their eyes closed?

It’s not the most comfortable way to travel, physically it’s hot and sweaty, emotionally it’s stressful but it’s something a lot of people appear to generally learn to live with, because they see no alternative, and need to get to work on time!

What’s the difference between individual stress and chronic stress?

This is very different to individual stress events, like imagine the boss arrives at your desk and says ‘Office now ______’, or you’re feeling stressed because you’ve ‘just had an argument with ______again…sheesh!’  This kind of stress is very much in the foreground of the mind when it happens and applies to circumstances where there is a resolution in sight. You meet with your boss, you have the outcome or later you make up with_____.

Chronic inescapable stress:

Lurks in the background and is persistent. What can you do about it…

The daily rush hour train commute can set up a persistent type of stress. Yes, there is an end in sight but suddenly there is a signal problem on the line, and bang goes another 5 minutes waiting in a tunnel. Building up your expectation of being late for work…again! And guess what – yep, we may have to go through it all again this evening and tomorrow….

Without strategies to cope it’s a daily, 5 times a week annoying affair and a creeping stress builder.

Looking on the lighter side we can still look forward to our weekend break from the commute, and taking into account those yearly holidays!

Making sense of what’s going on can help some people.

It’s said that our conscious mind is at any one time aware of just those things we need to be aware of – like now you’re reading or listening to this blog.

We are designed to place out of mind anything we don’t need to be aware of in this moment. That gets sent into the background or our sub-conscious mind where its monitored for possible changes, when it will come back into your awareness.

” Doh! Just missed my tube stop because I had zoned out…you get the idea.”

Emotional Arousal:

With persistent chronic inescapable stress, we can be emotionally aroused and reacting to the discomfort of the situation at the ‘unconscious’ level.

So, what?

One of the reasons for experiencing negative emotional arousal is because as humans, we prefer to be within a ‘herd’ of people who we can relate to.

Be that individuals or groups of people who are like minded and share similar values, we find that stepping outside of those familiar ‘herds’ can be unsettling.

So, one can speculate that traveling in close confinement everyday with people we don’t know, in the rush hour, can arouse our natural internal security system to feel stressed-out which can trigger a type of ‘danger-alert’ felt by our body and experienced as anxiety.

Even when we consciously recognize that all is safe. Add the annoying commuter with a splash of signal failure on the line and our internal alarm bells, including our emotions get ramped up!

We may become consciously used to the daily crush, we may zone out on the journey. We may rationalize our experience, as it’s the only way to get to work.

But our unconscious doesn’t get that and at a deeper level is still reacting to the stress of it all.

We get off the train and feel a huge sense of relief. Or we feel agitated and angry with the prospect that we may have had to tell the boss that the train was delayed.  Even if, after all that worry, the facts are that we arrived on time.

And of course, sometimes the opposite occurs and we have to face the boss or our team members. Forgetting that they will probably be late too.  Time to reach for the ritualistic coffee or cigarette – but that’s another story for another time.

All is not lost!  You don’t have to be resigned to fate!

Managing-stress techniques…

What’s inside your control?

Very often it’s a feeling of a loss of control that creates so much stress for us as human beings. So, what alternatives could give you a sense of control and therefore begin to calm down that unconscious emotional arousal

Taking back control!

It could all start the night before!  Firstly, sit down with a piece of paper and make a list in a column on the left of things that cause you stress at the beginning of your day.  What one action could you take to make an improvement.

For example, it could be to make an evening plan on what to prioritize in the new day with a couple of ideas and an adaptable order for actions.

Managing-stress by Breathing:

If you find your breathing has become shallow, or you’re forgetting to breathe whilst crowded in that metal tube – try this 7/11 technique. This activity connects with the ‘para-sympathetic’ nervous system that tells the brain to step off the anxiety accelerator, whist calming down your nervous system.

Managing-stress with decent bed time routines:

That means you could get up earlier and take the opportunity to walk a bit further before getting on the underground.

Managing-stress through exercise:

Exercise encourages endorphins to flow, in preference to the cortisol-stress hormones. Endorphin’s are the body’s natural opiates, producing a positive feeling in the body.

Exit the underground earlier too and take that extra stroll to work.

 Managing-stress means building in fun:

Think ahead to include something which is fun in your day, or just relaxing.  That could be as simple as making a lunch time promise to yourself  for a 20-minute walk in the local park.

Managing-stress through distraction:

So, you’re on the underground and a seat has become available! Read a book, or meditate. Have plenty of water to sip.

Acts of kindness.

What could you do to make the journey better for your fellow commuters? And notice the positive things that people do for others too. Not everyone is grumpy…

You may like to give some of these tips a go because every little bit helps when we’re seeking healthier outcomes from our daily traveling routines.

If travel is becoming or has always been more of a problem producing heightened anxiety or panic attacks then this could be time to get some professional therapy.  It’s never too late to seek help when wanting positive changes.

For appointments in my office, or via Skype or alternative on-line meeting links.

Contact Maria

Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Maria Richards Hypnotherapist

It’s bad enough most of us spend an hour a day getting to and from work, but spare a thought for those extreme commuters who travel for more than 10, or even 15, hours a week. “TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady Source:

Source: BBC Radio 4 – News/weather report for 21st June 2017

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Worrying too much?


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worrying too much

Escape the worry cage

Text Version here:   Worrying too much?

…when I was younger and out of a true concern for my welfare – my Mum was always saying to me, “stop worrying too much!”

So I began to believe that as part of my identity it was normal for me to have cycling persistent worries – always trying to think one step ahead. “Just how could I deal with any negative outcomes that might befall me.”

It wasn’t until many years later that I came to understand that when we consistently  hear or persistently think of a negative possibility as being a probability, then not only is it exhausting but it can reinforce the uncomfortable feelings of those message.

Flexibility and the ability to live with uncertainty  sadly becomes  alien.

Now I’m not saying that it’s not a good thing to think about things through planning ahead in a more constructive light but…

Let’s attempt to switch perspective for a moment. 

What if there is a difference between being a worrier versus being a person full of curiosity?  Think about it.

Does that mean we’d be more likely to be able to think more clearly about a given situation? Is it more likely that we could reach out for help to find useful solutions and get the emotional support we need?

Notice if becoming curious holds a different internal feeling for you. Or maybe it strikes a chord which creates changes in how you’re thinking.  What’s the difference to your inner experience?

Which one, worry or curiosity, would give you a glimmer of hope for the future. It’s intriguing, isn’t it? …

Many clients have said that they wish they could be more resilient when the stakes seem high.  I believe they have a good point. Growing an inner resilience to handle life’s challenges doesn’t mean we have to be super-human.

On the contrary growing an inner resilience means gradually gaining a more adaptable outlook. When things aren’t certain we can have more control, by listening to our emotions as a way to be helpful and supportive to our self.

How to –  where to start?

We’re all human, and we’re used to going into a protective mode of thinking which when we’re under stress, can lead to negative over-thinking, and high anxiety.

But being human means that we’re also able to grow strategies that nurture resilience. That means in circumstances where we need to handle the normal and not so usual challenges of everyday life too.

History is full of normal everyday people who have gone on to do extraordinary things, or have overcome challenges to lead a happier life with family, friends, and for themselves.

Sometimes we need help to learn those strategies and that’s okay because in one way or another, we are all fellow strugglers.

Just being…In this moment

Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, worrying about what others are thinking about us, not feeling good enough, loved enough.

Overwhelming factors which lead to fatigue can take the juice out of remembering times when we’re having fun, when we were really pleased with the outcome of something.  Those things can be simple things that can bring us a sense of joy and connection.

Re-edit your personal movie

When life gets tough then people often find themselves replaying fears based on past experience, without taking into account what they have learned or that they have changed.

I wonder what happens if you stop the replaying of the feared expectation, that imaginary snapshot of discomfort by using the imagination to re-edit the journey.

What went well? Who helped? What have you learned that could help you make better choices? What things had the potential to make you feel good?

What’s the first action you can take today towards a better outcome? Does that mean moving on or holding out?  The choice is yours.

Recall those good times too.

From experience, we can recall how feelings of confidence do grow over time, with practice and experience. From the first time riding a bike, to the first time we were in flow with a work task which initially we can recall, months or years ago, was a challenge.

The world didn’t end!

Recognizing that we have choices.  knowing deep inside that it’s really okay to be the best that we can be within each moment, of each day, can help us to feel better and give us hope on the journey.

It’s been said that we’re learning machines!  No one is saying that it has to always be easy to learn.  But why not experiment, by choosing to believe that it’s okay to just give ourselves a fair chance.

I like to think that showing ourselves a bit more self-compassion is preferable to constantly berating ourselves.  It surprising how these switches in perspective can lead to improvements in self-esteem too. Give it a go…

As attitudes to ourselves change for the better, I wonder how that could allow us the space to be kinder to others who may be facing challenges too?

Do you want to change?  We all have to start somewhere..and that could begin by one small step, by giving yourself a break and showing yourself some kindness.

Interested in getting some professional guidance on your journey? One to one therapy at my office or over Skype or an alternative web meeting link is available.

Contact me

Quest registered Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Maria Richards





or if you’d like to see a Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapist closer to where you live…click on the icon below:


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Rewire your thinking brain!

Reading time 2minutes 30.  Listening time 3.00 minutes

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind,

Change the brain from the inside out

Change your perception change your thoughts

I once had a client who came to me believing that she couldn’t change her negative patterns of thinking and behaving.  She believed she had “wonky brain wiring.”  One of the most powerful things she learned was that the ‘beliefs’ that created her thoughts were not necessarily true.

Its really  possible to change the landscape of the brain in its ability to produce more positive, kind, authentic and supportive equations.

It starts with a subtle nudge towards a change in your perspective.

So that over time any unhelpful attitudes you may have learned begin to change. Those limiting beliefs that have been unique to you can transform into a healthier self esteem, self awareness and self confidence.

What difference would such a change bring to your life?

So rather than seeing the world as happening to you and responding accordingly, you shift towards a mindset where you can make different choices.  Building upon those resources you already have within you AND creating new ones.

This shift is called gaining an internal locus of control. It can break old patterns that your brain has been running due to, for example, outdated life scripts and well worn habits.

When we set our intention to make the decision to create change we can be freed to open up new perspectives.  That means creating changes in how we respond towards our self (what we can control) and those things external to us (or outside our control).

What’s not to like about the possibility for updating the way the brain works, if it means creating even better versions of the self?  So that irrespective of what happens in your day you feel a natural freedom to choose the meaning of it and how you respond to it.

The Brainy Science bit:

The brain is ‘plastic’  – or to be more accurate – patterns of thinking can change because of something called Neuro-plasticity within the brain.  (Try saying neuro-plasticity!)

Here’s an interesting snippet from article I came across recently on this point:

“The mainstream view in neuroscience and medicine today is that the living brain is actually “neuroplastic”—meaning that its “circuits” are constantly changing in response to what we actually do out in the world. As we think, perceive, form memories or learn new skills, the connections between brain cells also change and strengthen. Far from being hard-wired, the brain has circuits that very rapidly form, un-form and reform. This capacity is the foundation for the brain’s distinctive way of healing. ” Article Wall Street Journal : Our Amazingly Plastic brains.

*  Neuroplasticity: Any habit molds the very structure of your brain in ways that strengthen your proclivity for that habit.

Scientific article of brain plasticity…source

As a great guy once said,  “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”  Wayne Dyer.




Tricks of the mind – Worry well or worry more…

Oh My God

“OMG” Tips that help reduce stress

Okay so nobody is suggesting that we actually become mates with stress,  unless of course we’re talking about the type of stress that can be our buddy.  I’m thinking of a good exercise workout, resistance training, going for a run were the heart pumps harder, my favourite ‘Zumba’, and as with all these things as the sweat glistens then the body and mind can receive all the benefits of a natural high as we are flooded with the positive hormones called endorphins.  And it’s funny isn’t it how one person moves away from what (s)he perceives as a negative stress, whilst another person will move towards the same stressor because (s)he finds it exhilarating and exciting (think tandem-jumping out of a plane! ) Here it’s  the meaning we give to the event that matters,  our personal perception, and the meaning we give that event in that moment.

So what would change if we could understand a little more about the cause and effect of those not so nice stressors, which lead to persistent worry, stress and anxiety?  I know from my media and corporate worlds that where people experience a high pressurised environment, some may be silently suffering from health aliments including high blood pressure, digestive disorders or insomnia. This is because pressures within those environments based on expectation can cause a build up of a stress hormone called cortisol which can exacerbate those types of maladies.

Just like everyday 21st century modern living; if people struggle with worry because they focus on the negatives of the past, or fears from an imagined future it contributes to triggering within the body a primitive need for survival, otherwise known as the fight, flight or freeze response. The brain searches for explanation and resolution resulting in a cycle of persistent unhelpful thoughts and the body responds. In some cases people talk of irrational behaviour, irritability or anger which then impacts on how they relate to others.  When we lack the understanding of what is a natural process and how we can start to help ourselves, then it  can really stoke the embers of so many personal limiting beliefs. “I can’t cope”… “I’m not good enough”…etc…etc…

And of course, within the context of a life,  every person has a different process in how they experience their problem. That’s where additional help through seeing a Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapist can play a significant role in helping you to get better.

But back to some general self-help tips…

The other day I was taking a look through some of the things in my tool kit which many people have found useful.  Practical tools, or if your willing to use your imagination, tricks within the mind that can influence your ability to combat the effects of debilitating worry as a causation for stress and anxiety. So we know that physical exercise is a great way of reducing bad stress and bringing on the good stuff.  When it comes to the mind, there’s a great opportunity to include a few easy strategies, in order to help calm everything down – lowering stress and giving us the potential for thinking that bit more clearer, helping us find solutions and giving us greater peace of mind.

Here’s a few general tips that people have found helpful:

Set aside ‘worry time’…

It’s interesting that when we are hungry or tired and in a low mood then worries can take on an even darker persona.  Many people have found that jotting their concerns down as they occur, then setting them aside to be reviewed in specific worry time, say 20 minutes only in the day can work magic.  Ensuring that time is after a meal, after a good night’s sleep or after at least 20 minutes of a good exercise workout, helps with clarity of mind in creating a series of solution steps – and the self-promise to take one action a day.

Writing down worries can help people to review them more objectively. Asking yourself questions like:

  • “I am worried about…”
  • “The worst that could happen is…”
  • “The best that could happen is…”
  • “Things I can do now are”…

Create a possibility and probability box  (Trick of the mind)…

If you’re in the habit of turning events that are very unlikely to happen into events that are likely to happen.

  1. Imagine if you had inside your mind a small container the size of a thimble with the word ‘POSSIBILITY’ written on it, and on the right side a large container the size of your living room with ‘PROBABILITY’ written on it.
  2. When you get anxious about something which has a ‘small’ likelihood of happening, then it means that something that should be in the small container has snuck into the large container and your mind is treating it as a probability.
  3. If that happens imagine taking a look in the large container, finding the worrying thought, removing it and shrinking it in size putting it firmly in the small container.
  4. Finally put back in the large container the thought that ‘EVERYTHING WILL TURN OUT OKAY’.

When you find yourself becoming anxious or worrying about an outcome take five minutes looking in the probability container to see if any possibilities have sneaked in there. Find it, shrink it down really small, put it in the possibility container and replace it with the probability of what is likely to happen.

We’re all different in what we can find to be of most help, and it’s an opportunity for you to get creative,  as they say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ – so what have you got to lose by trying?

The Journey ahead…

Sometimes we need professional help and guidance, and this is best served by someone who will treat you with respect and have the capabilities and experience to construct a treatment plan that is unique to your needs. Working with you in an alliance which helps you recover from stress, anxiety or low mood.

Very often people say to me that they just want to be able to lead a normal life,  free of the pain or behaviour caused by worry, unwarranted stress or anxiety.  Whatever the context of your story you could find Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy an alternative that’s right for you.

To arrange for a no-obligation conversation giving you the opportunity to take one single step towards that positive change, it’s now…

just one click away…Bunte Hnde mit Smiley als Hintergrund


Ocean of Thoughts

Anxiety constant worrying

Thoughts are just thoughts





Audio Duration 5:40   Average reading time 6:00

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery!

With your safety in mind.

Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so”… The Bard

Anxiety with constant worrying.

When a client came to me for help, he expressed how the anxiety was made worse by his experience of persistent negative thoughts.

He hoped that Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help him to break that cycle.

It made me wonder about the nature of thought and why it can have such a hold on us?

“If I don’t worry about it then it will get worse…”, I just can’t cope… “I’m afraid to make the wrong decision”…    because, because, because.

For many people who are suffering from anxiety, it can feel as if those unwanted thoughts are tumbling around like old clothes with no escape from a locked spin dryer.

* “Personal well-being provides an important insight into people’s thoughts and feelings about their quality of life.” 

The National Office of Statistics details research in the understanding of how different age groups rate their well-being differently.

By influencing policy makers, it’s hoped to help those specific age groups most in need.

Who or what holds power to release independent anxious thinking?

– what do you need to believe to let the negative consequences you’re imagining, go?

The thing is that the unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is in your reality and what you believe for your future as a consequence of an anxious thought.

“If I screw this up again I’ll lose my job and then…” fill in the imaginary blank”.

These internal emotions bring to mind a set of rules based on fear, not only are they genuinely felt they can leave people in a quagmire of rumination.   Such thoughts have a minimal basis in present reality, but they can disturb sleep, mess with your appetite and cloud any clarity of thought.

The clarity you need which, allows you to be creative because a peaceful mind can very often surprise us with levels of perception and the ability to suss out progressive steps.

Get real!

The thing is if you woke in the morning with the thought “ I don’t want to be thinking that negative thought today” –  oh-oh to late you’ve already considered it.

You see, what we bring to mind, comes to mind and in order not to bring it up in your mind – the brain will hunt for that very thing.  (Here’s an experiment; ’don’t think of a blue tree’ – what just happened?).

Broadly speaking thoughts can be ‘bound’ (literally) by our perception of reality which for some becomes limited by our past experiences.  Once we step outside our ‘safety zone’  the mind may seek to protect us.

So what if we could reduce levels of anxiety by enjoying the thrill of becoming better versions of ourselves.

Lifting the curtain on the magic trick

The thought is an illusion especially if it hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes we need to learn how to let that thought go, and this can begin through acceptance and action of a different kind.

When a client felt burdened by worries at work then he became caught in a cycle of anxiety and depression, he lost sleep, increased his daily amount of alcohol and couldn’t think clearly.

He saw his life as swirling down the plughole while he imagined losing his family.  By looking for the solution to his ‘problems’ through fear it built up his anxiety.

He found that learning things like self-hypnosis and relaxation, plus experiencing other therapeutic techniques, got him to the point where he could switch his focus. Let unhelpful thinking go, and be open to better solutions.

He felt enabled to do more to strengthen his and his families emotional needs.

The Mind/Body connection

For him that meant also getting fitter, healthier, finding a creative hobby and spending quality time in having fun with his wife and children.

This helped him to step out of the old unhelpful cycle. By seeking a progressive way to deal with ‘real’ issues he stepped towards ‘real’ solutions in his present. He even considered a change in his career.

To his surprise, ‘all was not lost ‘just because he decided to relegate any unhelpful thoughts.

He turned more towards growth, and with patience, he learned that

‘thought is harmless unless you believe it’,  it was the attachment to the negative thought that caused his suffering in the first place.”

Gradually realising how a more balanced outlook can lead to improvements in confidence and self-esteem in many delightful ways.

If you were offered a golden key, with the opportunity to release that old pattern of thinking by letting it go, choosing a fresh perspective, would you take it?

Ready to take that first step?

Anxiety worry everything

Contact Maria Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Source: GB Office of National Statistics February 2016 – article source. An analysis of personal well-being data. Search for –

Measuring national well-being ‘At what age is personal well-being at its highest’ Michael Steel

UK study: Collected over a period of 3 years, 2012-1015 with a sample of over 300,000 adults.


…I’d like to stop the stress now please.”

Take control of your stress

Which one do you prefer?

One of the biggest factors behind any presenting issue, at my East London practice, is stress and anxiety. Even if a person arrives on my doorstep seeking help to stop smoking, I’ve found that stress can be one of the reasons why people believe they can’t give up the cigs.  (Actually nicotine is  a cause of stress too but that’s for another blog!)

Of course we’re not talking about ‘good stress’  i.e. that surge of energy known as ‘eustress‘ which helps us to adapt to change, get creative or learn new stuff. Or the stress released when faced with real danger, because it helps to protect us by giving us the ability to escape or save lives.

We’re talking about the type of stress that actually inhibits our ability to function on a daily basis. Many people are no strangers to this type of stress within our fast-paced, demanding society. Countless of us are unlucky enough to endure the effects of it frequently. The good news is that Cognitive Hypnotherapy with its combination of cognitive therapies, NLP and hypnosis can be very helpful in combating and resolving the effects of stress.

 (Some self-help techniques coming up a little later plus a free download!)

Now everybody is different and there are numerous triggers for stress,  be that environmentally or psychologically, but because our responses are unique what affects one person strongly might have no impact on another. I was speaking to a new client the other day who said that she was doing  just fine when ‘boom’, just one small thing tipped that balance and she found herself shaking.  The ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ is a saying used so often in hindsight as the stress regretfully leads to ‘chronic stress’, such as anxiety, panic or  depression. That’s why it’s a good thing to deal with any symptoms quickly.

Hardly any individuals live a completely relaxed life but most of us have a degree of psychological stress we can cope with daily without facing any overwhelming damaging effect on our overall health or well-being.

Indications that you may be struggling to cope with your present level of stress are:

  • being psychologically irrational, getting angry at the slightest thing that annoys or upsets you, being agitated by issues you usually wouldn’t have noticed, feeling restless or jittery, disturbed sleep behaviours, or feeling overwhelmed and not able to focus.

People overcome by stress may also report suffering with physical signs and symptoms such as:

  • stomach issues or finding themselves partaking in unwanted habits more frequently.

Getting help sooner rather than later is paramount if your struggling to cope with the negative effects of stress and before you find that its started to seep into other areas of your life.


Many people find hypnosis very relaxing, and if you are interested in experiencing a relaxation MP3 recorded by me then please accept my invitation to download the MP3 available direct from my website, free of charge.

Some of the key benefits of hypnosis and the techniques I can teach you, is that they help you cope with stress better. Quite a few people find they are able to maintain a peaceful inner self with far more ease. Developing your inner strength and confidence will also reinforce your new belief that you are able to overcome stress more effectively.

If you think that you suffering with stress and you want to do something about it,  you could try out some general self-help tips coming up shortly –  or choose to  contact me and take the first steps towards a more relaxed lifestyle.

The stress response – what’s going on?

Think of it being like a siren that goes off when it detects something it believes to be of danger to you. The stress response can be triggered by things that are real OR imagined, the brain doesn’t know the difference! Hence the power of negative thinking.. something that can be explored and helped using Cognitive Hypnotherapy too.

Next it produces changes in the neurochemistry, alerting the production of adrenaline, cortisol and those chemicals that prepare the human body to ‘fight, take flight or freeze’.  Just like our ancestors back in the day would have prepared to escape the sabre tooth tiger.  Unfortunately in our modern fast paced society many people have a learned response to issues, events or worries that can create the same impact on the human nervous system, ergo real, or vividly imagined the siren goes off and signals the release of the very same stress hormones to ‘fight or flight’.  But of course we do neither, instead these hormones can build up in the body resulting in chronic stress, anxiety and for some people depression. These conditions benefit greatly from seeking qualified, professional advice and therapeutic help.

Everyday stressors – self-help guidance:


Is most definitely a great stress buster – as it speeds up the elimination of stress hormones within the blood stream.  Exercise raises levels of serotonin and dopamine which help to bring back a natural, healthy balance.

Some people buy into active gym membership or swimming, running, cycling and that’s great.  But  you don’t need to take up strenuous exercise to make a real difference.

  • What you need to do is get the heart pumping that bit faster and your lungs to breath in the air more deeply.
  • So try by beginning to walk that bit faster for just 15 minutes, (or more), twice a day and begin to notice how this can help you to make a big difference in how you’re feeling. Build on this ‘everyday’ ease-of-exercise by taking the stairs and not the lift, taking the dog for a walk, or getting those more active household or gardening chores done.

You could soon find yourself looking forward to doing more as your stamina increases.

You may be surprised that by having a way to release stress and encourage the build up of good endorphins (though more activity), you are able to overcome stressful triggers much more in your daily routines too.

STOP, THINK TWICE BEFORE…   ‘Treating’ any stress induced symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety, or worries with sedatives, stimulants, nicotine, alcohol or other substances because they can lead to a worsening of the stress symptoms.
Instead…   take a look at seeking professional help and the benefits that hypnotherapy could offer you in taking real long lasting control of your issue with stress.

And breathe… in 5 steps

Below is a simple breathing exercise for you to attain a sense of calm in stressful situations.

Also known as 7/11 breathing, this technique can be used sitting or standing and acts by encouraging the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ to kick in by producing endorphins to enable you to get calm quickly by reducing the heightened adrenaline.

  1. Align your head over your body.
  2. Breathe through the nose naturally, deeply and evenly from the diaphragm (tummy goes in and out).
  3. Breathe in for a count of seven, counting the numbers to yourself in your Hold breath 2 seconds and then…
  4. Breathe out gently for a count of eleven, counting the numbers to yourself in your (allow your shoulders to relax on the out breath as your tummy moves in and you breath out through your nose.)
  5. Continue this for a few minutes. As you continue your body releases relaxing endorphins, dissipating any  previous tension.

If it’s easier you can change the count e.g. 3 counts for the in-breath and 5 counts for the out-breath,  as long as the outward breath has the longer count.

Short term stress – acute…

Hypnotherapy can help treat short term stress efficiently and in a natural way. For example, if you are aware a specific event coming up that will cause you stress, hypnotherapy can assist you prepare for it and learn how to take care of it effectively, so that you may not even notice what once would have bothered you – changing your ability in how you are able to respond.

Long term stress

Hypnotherapy is also a remarkable way to help those battling with long term stress. A person’s life can be ruined if they are struggling to cope due to stress.

By seeking help through Cognitive Hypnotherapy we’ll work together to find the underlying cause of your issue and I can tailor a unique treatment plan to provide you with the skills which will help you overcome the stress.  These techniques are empowering, because not only are you able to discover why these things bother you and the link with the symptoms but most importantly you might learn how to control it and contend with it yourself, giving you a lifelong resource.

…also known as Chronic Stress

Suffering varying levels of stress,  leading to anxiety, panic attacks or mild depression can be because of many different contributing factors.  If this is something you would like to explore and resolve, you can contact me today to set up a no obligation chat via phone call or Skype and let’s see how Cognitive Hypnotherapy could be helping you. Or first…

Check out my therapy options and you’ll find the invite to my free relaxation MP3 at the top of each page.