Overcoming a Food Related Fear and Phobia:

Thoughts and feelings around food can cause all sorts of issues and problems that people come to me for help with. 

For example, for some people their anxiety / social anxiety is so overwhelming that they struggle to eat in front of others. The anxiety and stress makes their mouth go dry, their throat feel like it's closed up so they can't swallow and their stomach is in knots. It can easily cause all sorts of problems in areas of their life such as socially and in relationships. 

I've also worked with people who struggle to eat certain foods, often fruit and vegetables, and can get panicky when thinking about or trying to eat these. Some people struggle with the sounds of eating and the anxiety, anger and stress of chewing and swallowing noises may mean they have to eat alone. And there are also those who are so worried about being sick and vomiting that they avoid certain foods or, at the peak of the panic, may struggle to eat very much at all.

Recently I worked with someone who would get panicky and anxious around even the thought of seeds and nuts, let alone being near them or eating them (like she used to).

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Ely Hero Awards Nomination:

I am delighted and grateful to have found out today that I've been nominated by a client of mine for this year's Ely Hero Awards.

My nomination is in the 'Most Amazing Professional' category of the awards.

Feeling very honoured and thankful right now! Thank you!

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Fear of Flying Course covered by the Ely Standard:

My new fear of flying course is now fully open and up and running. The course, which is a joint venture with Flight Simulator Instructor Serena from Sim2do (www.sim2do) includes many research backed elements that can help you to overcome your fear of flying.

We've been getting lots of interest about the course - particularly with peak holiday season fast approaching!

And I was really happy to have the Ely Standard cover the fear of flying course on their website this week (check it out here: Fear of Flying Course launched with hypnotherapist Dan Regan

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Could writing about your anxiety help reduce it? Journaling for Anxiety Relief:

Using journals seems to have become very much a thing these days. Just a quick search on Amazon shows results including claims that using the journal can help you believe in yourself more, become happier, increase personal wellbeing, deal with your past, have a more meaningful life, soothe stress, eliminate anxiety and achieve your goals (amongst many other advertised benefits).

So could journaling and writing about your anxiety, stress and mental health really help you to reduce anxiety and feel better?

Certainly writing down the things on their minds is something I've used with my kids at times over the years. Sometimes they may not want to talk about what is troubling them or struggle to put it into words or perhaps there isn't enough privacy to do so at that time (what with the four of us hustling and bustling about the place). Somehow writing it down has made it easier for them to think through what it is that is on their mind and making them anxious and to be able to get it out of their head and onto paper.

As a parent it really is helpful to have an idea of what they may be overthinking about, and to understand where that anxiety fits in the grand scheme of things. At one time my eldest would use one of those 'worry eater' soft toys to help her to handle challenges she was facing.

Writing down the anxious thoughts and feelings we are experiencing has been associated with improvements in mental health yet how can we make the best use of journaling and writing about anxiety related experience?

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Using Nature To Reduce Stress and Boost Mental Health:

Exposure to nature has great benefits, particularly towards our sense of mental well-being and mental health. Yet until some research published this month, the duration of time required to benefit from being around nature was less clear.

This was the first study to employ long term, repeated assessment and, rather than being prescriptive, participants were able to choose the time of day, duration and the place of their nature experience based upon personal preference and changing daily schedules. In this way, it was much more like 'real-life' than a laboratory controlled experiment to assess the impact of a nature experience on stress (using two physiological saliva biomarkers).

Now I don't know about you but I love those moments where you can find a peaceful spot in nature away from all the usual hustle and bustle, noise and demands of everyday life. About forty minutes down the road from me there is an RSPB nature reserve which is a wonderful place to find that sense of tranquility and peace, even if like me, bird watching is not high up on your list. 

As a family we've recently rejoined the National Trust and although these sorts of places can get crowded sometimes, there is usually some woodland of secluded natural space to wander around and explore. The other weekend we headed over to Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds to grab some family time in nature away from screens and shops.

Now, as it happens peace and quiet weren't quite the order of that day because there was a Napoleonic Way re-enactment going on (think cannons, soldiers and guns!). That said, it was a great experience to stand, watch and enjoy the re-enactment. Certainly it was a lovely mental escape to just be present, watch and enjoy without a million other distractions and thoughts going on (a different form of being present and mindful!). I think you've got to be impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of all involved (particularly as they camped out in the wind, cold and rain all weekend to put their passion into practice).

Yet, in the absence of a full scale mock war, how can you use the latest research to improve your own mental health and well-being and to reduce stress in your daily life?

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Anxiety and The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health:

Recently the Royal College of Psychiatrists advised their members to consider the impact of social media on all children they assess for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

To be honest I like to think that most psychiatrists, like other mental health professionals, were already doing this with both children and adults, because these days social media use, apps and other online sources form part of most people's everyday lifestyle in some way. So if you are doing a thorough job of discussing with someone when they experience their anxiety, what triggers it, what exacerbates it and what can ease it, technology is probably going to be in there somewhere.

That's not to say that all social media and online stuff is necessarily harmful to mental health, yet it makes sense to consider whether it is either a negative or a positive thing for you.

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Hypnotherapy - Ownership, Collaboration and The Abusive Client:

This morning started off beautifully. The sun was shining, I'd had a good night's sleep and I was looking forward to getting up and out to bootcamp (in the daylight and in the sunshine...double win!).

I had a few minutes so I took a quick look at my e-mails in case there was anything from clients I would be seeing later that day. Amongst all the nice messages and positive results was one from someone I worked with many months ago. It's not uncommon to hear from clients many months later yet upon opening this it became clear it was pretty unpleasant.

Over the last eight years or so and having worked with a couple of thousand people, I can probably list the number of unpleasant or abusive e-mails I've received on one hand. Yet as someone who prides himself on his professionalism and the amount of time, energy and effort put into every client and every session, it does make me smart a bit.  

Yet I do think there are some useful points we can take from the abusive e-mail (and I should mention that I have no idea what promoted the e-mail and whether there has been anything going on over past months. Given the way it was written I suspect there may have been alcohol involved).

Thankfully, the vast, vast majority of people I work with are lovely people who are motivated to make changes and committed to the hypnotherapy process. Many of them have kindly gone on to give written and video feedback (at the time of writing there are over twenty pages on this website). 

So what can we learn from this angry person about hypnotherapy to benefit us all in making positive changes?

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The Continuing Rise of Anti-Depressant Prescriptions:

The BBC reported recently about the increase in the number of anti-depressant prescriptions dispensed in England in 2018. In fact, the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants in England has nearly doubled in the last decade (2008-18).

NHS Digital figures showed that the number of prescriptions for these medicines, which are a common medicinal treatment for anxiety and depression issues, had jumped from 67.5 million in 2017 to 70.9 million in 2018.

Based upon these figures, it seems the continuing rise in prescribing anti-depressants is likely to continue to grow and grow.

Putting aside the cost upon the NHS, should we be worried by this continuing upward trend in prescriptions?

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Is Sedentary Behaviour Affecting your physical and mental health?

I've written many times before about the value of exercise and getting moving to boost your physical and mental health. In my own life my exercise is now a central part of how I prioritise my physical and mental health and I can really notice the difference if I miss my training for a while.

Yet it isn't just because I enjoy it that I promote getting moving; it's because research upon research demonstrates that getting active brings benefits physically and mentally. Getting moving and exercise improve our mental health, boost our mood, can reduce symptoms of depression and help reduce anxiety. 

As if that wasn't enough a recently published report looked at the impact of sedentary behaviour in the UK and, in looking at the cost burden on the NHS of sedentary lifestyles, once again highlighted the negative impacts on health.

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Hypnotherapy, The Unconscious Mind & The Fear of Losing Control:

People often ask me how it is that, despite the thousands of research papers and positive results achieved through hypnotherapy, hypnosis is still not available through the NHS in the UK.

And I believe that the answer comes down to the money to develop and provide it and train staff and so on, and misunderstanding about what hypnosis actually is and what it involves.

A few months back I was talking to a prominent mental health advocate who told me that, although he felt he needed therapeutic help with an issue that hypnotherapy is well suited for, he was worried about being 'out of control' during the hypnosis. Now this is a mental health advocate who speaks at schools and other organisations yet who was unaware that the science and practice of hypnotherapy is, in fact, the opposite of his perception. You learn how to take back control over your thoughts and feelings and 'mind' rather than seemingly having to just live with anxiety, stress and worry. 

And if those within the mental health profession don't get it then no wonder hypnotherapy is where it is (despite all the positive scientific evidence in its favour and despite the research that shows that hypnosis tends to increase the results of cognitive behavioural therapy). Although interestingly I've worked with many doctors, some of whom have even sent their patients and their kids to work with me, so perhaps there is a growing understanding of the role that hypnotherapy can play in improving our mental health.

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