Tag Archives: anxiety

Debt at Christmas

The financial squeeze on your purse.

Audio duration 05:40   Reading duration 7:00 average.

Before we launch into debt at Christmas time. Yesterday we took a look at Christmas overindulgence and keeping a handle on your choices and portions of food and alcohol, without living to regret it.

I also mentioned the benefits of ensuring you get an adequate amount of restful sleep on the lead up to the Christmas festivities.In my final blog, I’m taking a look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations – and yesterday I left you to mull over a few questions.

I wondered what you would consider doing differently this year if your personal experience of Christmas debt had left you wishing that you’d planned better financially for this holiday period. Or just to do things differently by starting those conversations now with those you share gifts with, and setting some financial parameters.

What happens if you splash the cash?

Debt at Christmas

Financial panic creates significant stress!

You may say that Fear of Debt at Christmas time is not an easy feeling to tackle. Especially if the ‘cash-cow has already bolted!’

If it’s not too late, then some considerations right now would be putting on the sensible hat and creating a budget. It may also mean having those conversations where you can discuss what is reasonable with a partner, friends or family members.

And that can include the children’s presents too!

Ideas!

Now keeping in mind that I’m not a financial advisor, and just like you could, I’ve been reading sources that give advice and overall it seems that,

Common sense dictates that we would:

  • Set a budget, and decide not to follow the trends or those sneaky advertising campaigns.  Work out who you need to buy for and stick to that list.
  • Have an agreed spending budget with your partner, so neither of you ends up with debt as a result of ‘showing your love.’
  • Avoid impulse buying by planning your visit to the shopping centre during quieter periods. There’s a positive psychological bias to shopping during quiet periods.
  • If you’re using a credit card keep all purchases on the one card, don’t spread out the charges. That way you can keep tabs on what you’re actually spending.
  • Don’t go wild on toy purchases, stick to one or two that you know will retain the children’s interest once the emotion of Christmas Day has passed. Usually an hour or two after getting out of bed!

‘A promise to myself.’

Make a promise to yourself by setting aside funds which means you won’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off. Choose gifts that are meaningful and purposeful for those you love, rather than expensive and financially debilitating.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach like gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’ 

Personalised gifts you make yourself. 

Have a peek by clicking here at Pinterest for ideas

Debt at Christmas

I made this myself!

Secret Santa exchange of gifts can be agreed amongst family it doesn’t only have to be for work colleagues.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach to gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source  – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’

Seek financial advice from a reputable source.

If you do find yourself running into financial difficulty over the Holiday festivities, then it could be time to seek help.  Do seek advice sooner rather than later when you are at your wits end worrying about how you are going to manage to pay the bills.

You could use your Google or another web search engine to find a list of ‘Non-Profit Credit Counselling Services’ for your country. 

In the UK we many options, including the more well-known Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Click here for debt solution and advisory services Citizens Advice UK

Click here for government UK National debt advisory service on debt consolidation 

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs looking at what could help you and those you love have a happier and stress-free Christmas and New Year.

You may find that applying one or two of these tips from across my countdown to Christmas series very helpful at keeping you on track. With the stamina to get through the holiday period, enjoy time either doing things for yourself or with family and friends.  And that could make a significant difference to your enjoyment and your wallet too.

Even if you focus on just one or two things, the overall effect could be a brilliant Christmas experience with far less stress, compared to those of the past.

The overall message starts from blog 1 in My Christmas Countdown series (click here to revisit)

Click on the links below if you would like to download any of my free resources. And where you can find the documents that accompanied this series:

Good luck and happy holidays!

And thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page

Christmas overindulgence

How to get ahead of Christmas overindulgence

Day 5 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 07:30   Reading duration 9:00   average.

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

The story so far in the first four blogs in this six-episode series has included:

  • Expectation and experience
  • Loneliness and initiatives to make it a better day
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Christmas Fun – perfection!

Today’s blog discovers how we can control Christmas overindulgence.

Christmas overindulgence

Yummy! Just how much means too much?

Never mind the day itself – the lead up to Christmas can have people over-committing to pre-Christmas events, reaching for the alcohol and stuffing themselves with food.  It’s a de-stress, comfort thing! Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

While it’s okay to take a break from moderating our eating or drinking, there is still some wisdom in resisting the urge to overindulge massively.

There’s nothing worse than waking up with the dreaded hangover, whereas excessive bingeing can lead to sickness – not to forget unwanted weight gain.

I guess some people would say what the heck, those extra Christmas pounds can be worked off in the new year. It is, after all, a personal choice how much to consume.

Overindulgence of alcohol though can have some nastier effects not only on oneself but those around you.  That’s why it’s a good idea to learn what is okay to have in moderation and of course don’t drink and drive if consuming any alcohol.

For information on alcohol units, and to help you be more drink aware, please click here. 

Ideas!

Agree with yourself as to how you’ll put the brakes on eating an entire Christmas cake or guzzling a whole bottle wine or ‘mothers ruin’ (in the UK this refers gin!). You could even consider making yourself accountable with timely reminders on your phone, or announce there will be no Christmas overindulgence for you by writing it down and sticking it on – THE FRIDGE OR CUPBOARD DOOR, in your purse or pocket.  Or is that little over-the-top? If so how could you make yourself more accountable for keeping your promise not to overindulge this Christmas?

We can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Anyone out there old enough to remember the Filofax or Leefax?  It was a way to write down your daily schedule and ensure no clashes in the planning.

People with these leather-bound organisers (me being one), would very often be heard to say, “I’ll just see if I have a window in my diary!” These days most people pop their commitments into their phone, or into a diary like Outlook or Google. Reminders pop-up and then we look in horror at the clashes of back to back meetings we are expected to attend.

Keeping track of what your priorities are.

So, if Christmas overindulgence also means trying to ‘frantically’ fit in every invitation then you may need to learn the art of saying ‘no thanks I’m not available then.’ Or words to that effect.

Not always easy if it’s the bosses party and you are expected to attend the Friday before Christmas day when mayhem and last-minute preparation is calling.

Whatever pre-Christmas events demand, late nights rolling home worse for wear can also mean that the next day’s plans get dashed too.  So, what activities would you prioritise as a ‘must attend?’ If travel is involved what amongst your ‘must-dos,’ do you prioritise and ensure you get them done first?

It’s all down to planning.

And if you’ve had a problem with planning in the past, then it’s time to either start early or team up with someone who is good at it.

The main message being, to watch out for over-committing yourself with additional responsibilities. Get organised create a plan and stick to your comfort zone. That way the unexpected invitations can be more instantly accepted or rejected because you’ll have assigned your time and you’ll be sticking to it.

Saying no thank you for any additional invitations to prevent that Christmas overindulgence isn’t always easy. It gets better with practice because you’re more authentic than the person who says yes and nods ‘oh no!’.

Step back and notice how much better you’ll feel if things are less chaotic.  Unless of course, you enjoy the chaos of Christmas overindulgence! Whatever your decision at least you’ll know that your actions are your own choices.

From previous experience what else has been overwhelming at Christmas time?

Time to get a handle on that before it happens again. If it’s appropriate, you could discuss your needs and concerns with others who may choose to help out by taking on a few of the tasks.

Alcohol and food choices.

Consider what better and healthier coping strategies you could bring in as a way of reducing the temptation and alleviating stress?

Ask yourself these questions:

Christmas overindulgence

Acting wisely will also save lives.

How would you take action to help you to not overeat or drink at the holiday celebrations?

What steps are you willing to take which will help keep any excess pounds off your waistline?

Keeping in mind if you feel that in moderation it’s okay to enjoy that extra slice of Christmas cake or glass of vino in preference to a whole bottle.

  • What else could you be doing to help keep those stress levels down? (see previous blogs for ideas)
  • What have you done before which worked and allowed you to manage your emotions better?

Getting a good night’s sleep

Make it a priority to ensure you’re getting to bed and not staying up till all hours every night before Christmas. The advantage of getting restful sleep will aid in keeping you healthy (fewer colds and flu) and enable you to think more clearly over the holiday period.

Sign up here to collect a free list of ideas for healthier coping strategies and some tried and tested tips on how to get a good night sleep in preparation for the holiday events.

Financial worries:

In my final blog, we look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations. The pressure of the media and specific brands to buy, buy, buy!   All those things, alongside youngsters or adult expectations, can ramp up those stress hormones and risk you going into debt.

  • If that was your story last year, then I wonder what you would consider doing differently this year?
  • What conversations could you have with loved ones to ensure everyone stays within their financial means?

Although I sincerely hope this won’t describe your circumstances:

  • What possible avenues are out there to help reduce your stress levels in the financial outlay before Christmas, and potential debt worries after Christmas.  Especially if finances have spiralled and you feel out of control.

I’ll be posting what others have done to prevent or help solve this issue in my last Christmas countdown blog called:

Debt at Christmas, ‘What happens if you Splash the Cash’

Until tomorrow thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

Christmas Fun

Making Christmas Fun – Perfection!

Day 4 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 6.50  Reading duration 8.00 average.

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

Yesterday we took a look at how we deal with difficult people or situations across the holiday period. Specifically, within family dynamics, if your experience of Christmas doesn’t always mean fun. And this can apply to friendship circles too.

I suggested a simple technique to calm down any anger or frustration maybe much more quickly than your previous experiences. And that’s because knowledge is a powerful helper.

Especially if we can all learn how to be more authentic when dealing with others and pre-plan in a ‘grown-up, loving and respectful way.’

Back to today!

Christmas fun? Ditching perfection and letting go of expectation!

“It’s like releasing those caged worry birds so that they can migrate to pastures new.”

My way or the high way! How does that work for you?

Christmas Fun

I’m having Fun aren’t you?

Realistically we aren’t responsible for another person’s behaviour. And to be honest, as we discovered in yesterday’s blog, he or she or even YOU may be fulfilling some old ‘well-worn’ unique patterns of the family or friendship dynamic.

Wanting to be seen as presenting the perfect Christmas for family and friends can lead to lack of sleep, self-loathing and unfair comparisons to others.

We forget that while someone may be acting as if everything is going swimmingly, they may, in fact, be suffering from self-doubt or overwhelm themselves!

A sense of duty!

Visiting particular family members can be attached to a sense of duty.  Or the expectation to attend the office party the Friday before Christmas linked to the boss’s expectations or job politics.

Ideas?

Would you prefer to set time limits?

If this is possible, it means you’ve done your duty, and have an escape route back to something you’re looking forward to experiencing! And if the brain recognises the end game is in sight, then it can continue to calm down.

“Keep in mind that you aren’t caught in a ‘never-to-end’ cycle.”

And with some honest discussion with your loved ones NOW you could work out how to share those responsibilities and relieve some pressure.

Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect Christmas for family and friends. It’s natural for glitches to occur and can be part of the fun of Christmas.

What traditions make this period unique to you?

They may not be the same as another person. So, what if we learned to accept that people like to experience the holiday differently, and within reason allow this. (Teenagers in the house anybody?)

Memories can include laughter when something didn’t quite work out to plan because it becomes attached to the season of forgiveness and compassion.

A switch in attitude towards any bumps along the way may just allow old family tensions to disappear.

Fitting in those Christmas activities that have a significant meaning for each of you means things may not be ‘perfect,’ but everybody has a good time.

Sharing the love! – Delegation?

Christmas fun is more than eatting

Who else is up for the fun of Christmas prep?

If you don’t have to do everything yourself then get some buy-in and delegate.

Being a part of the action as a household team makes it a team effort, and it could be a memorable part of the Christmas fun!

Don’t expect your family or friends to read your mind which means if pre-Christmas tasks are becoming overwhelming it’s okay to ask for help.

For the extroverts amongst you that could include spending time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.

Sharing your “to do” list with others can mean that “a problem shared is a problem halved.” Even if they come home bearing a different brand of the chestnuts you usually buy! Or a 9-foot Christmas tree! (DIY skills next blog! NOT)

Back up planning

Take some time to consider the differences it could make if you also apply some thought to planning contingencies. For example, if traveling by train or on the roads close to Christmas.

 UK live National Rail information tracker here

And make it a year when last minute shopping is not part of the agenda, that could spoil the Christmas fun. and that includes your online shopping too.

So, let’s get planning the how, the when, the where and with who and not to forget for how long.  And we can still:

Learn to relax with uncertainty.

Experiment this year; you could feel better for it. You may even find yourself having FUN.

Remember that:  Things in life don’t always go as planned. If instead we make an effort to live with the uncertainty and have no expectations we may find the anxiety level can drop just that little bit more.

Adopting the attitude that no matter how things go, you’ll make the best of whatever happens, is a reasonable and more balanced way to seek to reduce the annual holiday stress levels.

Living in the moment.

Sometimes we can learn from some of our animal friends, who appear to have a natural way of living in the moment by not dwelling on past emotions or speculating about the future.  (I know they don’t have to do the Christmas shop.)

They can help calm down our human emotions just by watching them having fun! Or in the case of dogs, dragging their human companions out for a Christmas walk!

I couldn’t decide between kittens or puppies! I must admit to going via Google preferences on this choice. However, there are lots of ace puppies in the snow videos out there too. Have fun!  Next week and blog five is all about overindulgence, and I don’t just mean with food and alcohol! While in my final blog we take a look at taking back financial control or avenue’s you can choose if it’s spiralled out of control. Until then – thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

 

Post Traumatic Stress: PTSD-help to recover

Also known as PTSD – just how common is it? 

Audio duration 09:30  Reading time 9:00

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

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.

Hypnotherapy

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 Patient.info

UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy and therapy finder for your area.

Worrying too much?

 

Audio listening duration: 5:20 : Reading duration 7:00 average

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,

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:

QCHPA

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Changes…New Ways of Being.

 

Challenge and changes

Running in the Changes

We are officially through the first 14 days of 2016 –  HAPPY NEW DAY to all my visitors.  Two weeks on and I wonder what it felt like for you to cross the threshold into this New Year?  If ‘ringing in the changes’ for the New Year , was just like slipping into a known and familiar place and you’re really happy with that – great. If, instead, this marks a time of transition into new ways of thinking, tempting you to try out new things, overcome fears or any challenges with work, in your relationships, or maybe your own self-belief, then this could be a very dynamic year for you.

Making changes in your life…

Approaching changes, we could be feeling excited about the possibilities for the future, or just downright nervous and on edge due to life circumstances and fear of the unknown.

If there was a way to feel more in balance, a way to guide yourself forward so there was hardly anything holding you back would it be worthwhile?

As I sat contemplating my next steps for what feels like an unpredictable year, I found my mind leaping forward with worry and concern over the ‘what ifs…’, What if this happens..what if this doesn’t happen”…”What if I can’t…What if I can…”, know what I mean?

As I caught myself doing this I ‘paused’ and dragged myself back to the present, into ‘right now’ and took stock of my surroundings.  What truly mattered in the moment was that everything without over-speculating for the future was fine.

NOW I know changes aren’t always easy, but for me it was interesting to find that when I remembered to allow myself to rest within this very moment, I could find a calm respite.  So with my eyes closed as I followed my breathing, then I could settle into a space where worrying dissipated, because unnecessary worry  just leads to a misuse of the imagination. Getting stuck over things that haven’t happened and may never happen isn’t very productive. So, learning how to create a space that moved me away from that distraction, allowed me to calm everything down.   (Bonus PDF guide for help on the relaxation response follows this blog…)

So I wonder, if you find yourself overly speculating in a negative way, what would be better and work for you?

Peace from the inside out…

Finding some respite from within, where there is a safe place to experience some peace. And wouldn’t that be great?  Any stress that’s being produced can pause, reduce as the body and the mind takes a natural route to the relaxation response, resting in this moment.   New ideas or solutions get a chance to form and breathe when we learn how to access a calmer state.

Some people turn to meditation, others to more creative or active physical pursuits or hobbies.  It’s about finding your groove and if you’re unsure, well there’s always professional guidance to help you let go of your limiting beliefs.  A plug for me or one of my associates as Cognitive Hypnotherapist’s of course 😉

The Power Of Now… by Eckhart Tolle

…is a 191 page turner “intended to be a  guide for day-to-day living, and emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future.” This was one of first books I read that continued to grow my awareness of different ways of being in this present moment. The book attracted me because it represented a universal message of hope during difficult times.

It’s really okay to just play with seeing things differently – for the better.  Where small steps are allowed along-side self compassion, self-acceptance, whilst developing the unconscious ability to direct  life towards better solutions on the outside – BECAUSE YOUR WORTH IT.

In the fluctuations of life, remembering to come back to the NOW isn’t always easy.  We’re only human!  

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”… Anaïs Nin

…whatever brings you peace of mind or a sense of achievement can help as a resource in other parts of one’s life too.

It’s amazing how slowly building more resilience, by doing the simplest of things,  can really help us get through major events which life challenges us to.

* 7/11 breathing is a proven method for bringing the body back to balance by encouraging the natural relaxation response, free document bonus below.

Knowledge is Powerful …connecting to new perspectives at a deeper level creates choices.

Part of the adventure of life could be in finding that space that refuels those resources to reach towards what brings a sense of worth, of being loved and finding joy.

But it’s not just about knowledge, making the connection through meeting our emotional needs is just as important. Something that a lot of us could probably get better at.

“Imagination is as powerful as our present reality”

So if we bring ourselves back to what matters right now, then imagine building a template for the future which is more nurturing and encouraging, in the actions we choose to take from today we find a new and powerful way to encourage changes.  Within Cognitive Hypnotherapy this is know as ‘positive future pacing’.

“When we change the way we look at things the things we look at change”  Wayne Dyer.

Adobe_PDF_file_icon_32x32Free guide for reducing anxiety

Here’s a previous blog on happiness and cultivating resilience

Maria  

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

 

Happiness!

Raising the default level of happiness in your life:

Flower of happiness_photo by MRichards

Find your creative-self

Theories abound about what it is that brings us true happiness.  Like for example,  “60% of our happiness is determined by genetics and our environment and that the other 40% is up to us”.  What’s for sure is that happiness can be something different for each and every one of us. Research within the field of positive psychology has shown that the pursuit of ‘pleasure’ in itself, does not necessarily have any contribution to lasting fulfilment and happiness.  Rather ‘pleasure’ is the icing on the cake for those of us leading satisfactory lives which have meaning,  and were we have a sense of engagement by being in-flow with what we are doing.

Yes really… this is possible to do.  In the rush of our lives it’s sometimes too easy to overlook those things that could make a difference in raising our own personal perceptions and happiness levels.

Here’s are few tips from those who practice happiness within their daily lives.

Surrounding yourself with other happy people:

Well who really needs to be brought down by other peoples negative attitudes and behaviours?  If we are constantly surrounded by people behaving or thinking  in a certain way it’s so easy to take on the same way of thinking and being.  Make a change and find people who are more joyous and playful – that too is just as contagious.

Cultivate resilience:

Okay so something you’ve tried out may not be successful at first.  To succeed we have to be willing to fail, then we can start coming up with the golden moments.  Take small steps towards what it is you want to do and remember to look out and celebrate the smaller victories too.

Appreciate simple pleasures:

At the end of your day, and just before you go to sleep, there is a ‘positive psychology’ tactic you can try out.  Take a moment to allow your unconscious to bring forward 1 to 3 positive gifts from the day. For example, it could be help from a stranger, the beauty of the sky, or a flower,  a piece of music, something you did to help another, whatever it is that would be a good thing to have happened because of, or while you were present.  Choosing to tune into optimism has many health benefits including reducing stress.

Learning ‘mindfulness’ or ‘meditation:

Giving you a chance to put to one side the cares of the day. Switch off technology and find a place to be at peace, just for 10 to 20 minutes  once or twice a day, using mindfulness or meditation techniques can lower your stress levels, recharge your brain functions and increase your resilience.

Connect with your environment in a new way:

By tapping into different habits you could make a difference to your day, or your week. Learning to make choices in how we interact with ourselves and the world around us in a more positive way. For example some people help themselves by creating a better experience of their day by choosing a different route through the park or a new street, opening up their awareness to the amazing things that surround us.

For many more tips and the route to background studies and research, I’d like to share with you this excellent blog from the Huffington post:

The Habits of Extremely Happy people

To your good health,

Maria

Cognitive Hypnotherapy offers a range of techniques and hypnotic downloads which can help you to relax or release you from the strains of stress and anxiety.  If stress or anxiety are causing you a problem please contact me and let’s see how we can help you take back control and create a much better experience in your life. 

You may also be interested in a previous blog on mindfulness – the spin cycle of stress – a small change can really help.

Stress?

…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.

Relaxation

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:

Exercise

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.

The Spin Cycle of stress…a small change can really help

Letting go of stress through mindfulness

spin cycleEver experienced going on holiday where you arrive at your destination and as you exit the plane, train, or motorcar you’re engulfed by the change from our usual seasonal weather conditions, you face less familiar sights and sounds, and you’re greeted by a strong whiff of unusual aromas?

In that moment our senses tingle with the awareness of a new external environment. A place where we give ourselves permission to let go of our concerns and worries, which as we do, we also recognise as a cue for our body and mind to relax, get ready for enjoyment or maybe get excited about a new adventure.

It may take a few days to settle and to shed the stress of the life we’ve left at home. The pace may slow down or become more exhilarating, but ultimately we end that holiday more refreshed, relaxed – with our batteries topped up we rejoin our daily lives.

Depending on where we’ve been we may sometimes experience jet lag and a real culture shock on our return. We arrive and step onto home ground feeling different but being aware of the old familiar place we’re returning to. ‘There’s no place like home’ some people say as the pace of the big city, or just re-engaging with our daily tasks, concerns and endeavours, kick in.

Pretty soon, for some, it can feel like they’ve never been away at all. Laying down our intention to set aside space for activities which will help us to sustain our energy levels and enjoyment of life; which help us cope with the expectations that others have of us, or that we ourselves know to be important. Oh, if only we had more time!

And of course what’s interesting is that whilst we gear up and become entrenched in our own daily lives there are other people arriving to holiday in our environment. Opening up to the possibilities that a different culture has to offer them, and all those things we take for granted. Be that the roll of the hills and dales or our historic buildings and frenetic cities,  and they leave refreshed or invigorated by what was a new cultural experience for them!

PerspectiveIt’s all about perspective

So I was thinking about how easy it is to become bogged down in what can seem like the spin cycle of everyday life. What things some people do to enhance their connectivity with the people and their world around them, and the things we don’t do which if we did could allow us brief moments to let go and bathe in an inner sense of calm and joy, by connecting more to the miracle of life and creativity that surrounds us.

How do you do it?

Some people choose regular exercise which brings up the heart rate, gives strength and endurance in aerobic activity, or healthy muscles in resistance exercise that makes them feel alive and connected.

I’m also a great advocate of meditation techniques, and as a cognitive hypnotherapist, a great believer in the use of self-hypnosis as a constructive way to take control in a variety of situations, as well as easing frustrations, inducing relaxation and washing away tiredness and stress.

It’s true that memories can be very evocative too – reaching for photos, finding that we still have grains of sand in our luggage or mementoes that anchor us to those feelings or thoughts we experienced whilst we were on holiday.

Norwegian FjordsA friend of mine mentally replays a holiday travelling through the Norwegian fjords every night before going to sleep – like watching a DVD she replays in her mind her real life experience, seeing stunning scenery, almost touching towering peaks, hearing the crashing waterfalls, pointing out the incredible wildlife …she is immersed in  sheer tranquillity as she recalls the smell of the sea and her body relaxes, drifting off to a peaceful slumber.

I wondered if by finding a method of ‘reflective attentiveness’ in the midst of our everyday lives we could help ourselves to create a link which is calming to our nervous system or exciting in  a positive way, by acknowledging that we can tune in to the vibrancy of our familiar surroundings. This could mean suspending our beliefs for a moment of how we are perceiving the world around us, by taking a fresh look.

Initially I noticed that we are bombarded by modern day technology – where natural sounds are consumed or replaced by the ring of mobile phones, repetitive sounds from computer games, motorised engines and appliances – whilst the eye is distracted by visual feasts of advertising and new ways to access film or TV via tablet technology. Even a visit to the countryside can be high-jacked by the bubble of the car we are in and the sound of the music player!

Start to help yourself create a better experience of your day.

SunriseSo maybe ‘reflective attentiveness’ could also be about taking a moment to connect with our natural or urban environment in a different way. By suspending just for a moment our beliefs and what it is that usually corrals our attention, we could become more open to different ways of seeing, hearing or thinking which means just placing our attention on what’s behind the noise, viewing what’s growing or changing as the season rumbles through, how we’re hearing the sound of the wind and noticing the playfulness of any wildlife around us. Making a choice to take action by trying an alternative route, whether through a park or different street, that engages our senses and opens our awareness in new directions … noticing others taking part in n the cycle of life, highlighting our observations only on the kindness of strangers – where everything including ourselves become ultimately connected.

When we look ahead, around or up, what is it we admire? How the sun reflects on glass, or the rain bounces off the pavement, the ingenuity of architecture or how nature interacts and lives within it – the aromas in the air, the change of wind direction, the flight of birds, the taste of our food, all and everything, down to the feeling of the clothes on our body, the breath and sensation as it enters our lungs and what happens if we allow ourselves to relax with a long, slow, steady release , re-oxygenating our amazing bodies which sustain us.

If we want to then we can take an excursion in our daily lives; just by choosing to refocus our attention for a few moments each day or night, on how we are perceiving those things around us, those things within us and by reaching towards an oasis which is nurturing by connecting to more positive emotions – whatever and wherever we may be.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy offers a range of techniques and hypnotic downloads which can help you to relax or release you from the strains of stress and anxiety. If stress or anxiety are causing you a problem please contact me and let’s see how we can help you take back control and create a much better experience in your life.