Latest hypnotherapy testimonials - overcoming anxiety:

It's always a lovely thing to receive a hypnotherapy testimonial from a happy client. As my clients know, I invest a huge amount of energy, time and focus into helping them make progress and achieve their goals.

And having suffered and overcome anxiety in my life, the knowledge of how overwhelming all those anxious thoughts and feelings can be inspired me even more to help those who seek my help. Of course, effective hypnotherapy is a joint effort. My clients have to be motivated to change, adopt a positive mind-set and take structured action outside of our sessions too in order to reap the results. And of course it's a fantastic moment for me, both personally and professionally, to help so many people overcome anxiety, increase confidence and succeed in many other ways.

I know many people take the bold step to seek my help having themselves been inspired and motivated by learning of other people's success. And the more we all talk about how we can improve our mental health the better. Yet increasing our mental health is more than just talking and talking about problems and issues; it's about taking action to change such things as our thoughts, cognitions, imagination, beliefs, mind-set and perspective.

Recently I've received some wonderful feedback from people who have literally changed their lives through our hypnotherapy sessions and I want to share these inspiring stories with you here in the hope that if you are struggling with a mental health issue, you too will take that first step to successfully overcoming it.

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Weight Loss - Does Britain need to eat less?

This week Public Health England announced steps to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024 to tackle childhood obesity. 

As they put it, 'Too many children and most adults are overweight or obese, suffering consequences from bullying and low self-esteem in childhood, to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers as adults. An obese parent is more likely to have an obese child, who in turn is more likely to grow up into an obese adult.' The aim is to help people achieve weight loss and be healthier by cutting the calories consumed by eating less.

Public Health England's challenge to the food industry is to reduce calories in their products, such as pizzas, ready meals and savoury snacks by changing recipes, reducing portion sizes and encouraging people to buy lower calorie products.

All very worthy stuff isn't it? And no doubt the food industry, sensing the direction of policy and keen to continue healthy sales will produce products to meet this weight loss demand. Anything that makes life simpler wlll help although actually, such products already exist for those who choose to take them. 

Personally I aim to eat relatively sensibly most of the time - having been 'the fat kid' at school, there is no way I want to go back to being overweight. I hated it. It impacted on my self esteem massively and created a negative spiral in that because I was unhappy I would eat more and being unfit I would avoid  the embarrassment of exercise as much as possible. Which meant that I ate more and moved less and got bigger. 

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Hypnotherapy on TV...Let's All Let Out A Collective Sigh:

I'm sure it's the same in many professions like paramedics watching hospital programmes and teachers watching school based programmes. You sit there and cringe wondering what on earth is going on. And it's certainly true (or at least should be for the well trained) for hypnotherapists watching hypnosis being portrayed on TV. As soon as a character in a drama mentions the possiblity of going to a hypnotherapist I let out a little sigh...

And soo it was with ITV's latest episode of Marcella. If you haven't seen it, Marcella is a detective drama starring Anna Friel. I think it's an excellent drama with a gripping plot and great actors and it's a firm fixture in my weekly viewing. But then they go and do that sloppy thing that dramas do and introduce a hypnotist to move the plot along.

You see, the main character (Friel) suffers with violent black outs in moments of extreme stress and has no recollection of them afterwards. So, having been given a contact number by her ex-husband's girlfriend, she goes to a hypnotist to help to deal with these black outs.

Let's remember that it is a drama and not a documentary but still...we get to see Marcella sat there, visibly distressed, before a hypnotherapist apparently induces hypnosis and takes her back to the time it all started, a particularly traumatic memory that generates huge amounts of distress and frustration for the detective client. To end it all, the therapist, to her very visibly distraught client, says something along the lines of "we'll leave it there for today then". Seriously? 

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Mental Health & Pets - How Pets Can Benefit Your Mental Health:

A recent review has suggested that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions. That's right: having a pet can help you if you have a mental health issue.

Interestingly enough, this review comes just a few weeks after we have expanded the Regan household to include Nibbles the rabbit. She's on her own right now as the other rabbit we were going to adopt fell ill yet soon we will be socialising her to live with a new rabbit friend. It's been pretty great to see how my girls have taken on the responsibility of looking after Nibbles. They are out there first thing in the morning adding hay and food and changing the water. They are out there again after school and before bedtime to make sure she is ok and to have some rabbit time. In fact, I think that the amount of times they spend watching TV and on other screens has probably dropped about 50% or more.

And, combined with a change of school for our eldest, we've really got our daughter back after the issues we had at her old school that were impacting on her mental health and wellbeing. It's been great to see. It's also given me a great excuse to repeatedly sing the classic 80's Chas & Dave song 'Rabbit' which although having nothing to do with actual rabbits, certainly mentions them a lot!

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Exercise & Mental Health - Depression, Stress & Memory:

This past weekend my daughter and I took part in our first ever virtual running race. Now if you are new to virtual running, it's like an organised running event except that instead of turning up to the start line on a specific day and time, you have much more flexibility as to when you do it. Our race was the Magnificent 5km organised by Zoom Virtual Races and we had to complete the run and then send evidence of having done it to the organisers before the end of February. 

As well as the advantage of flexibility, it's a great way for me to spend some healthy, active time with my daughter. If you've been reading my blogs for a while you'll know that we regularly run the Ely Festive 5k each year although, given the cold this weekend, I wish I'd stuck my fake Santa beard on my face to add some extra warmth! It was freezing cold! And for some reason I decided that the best place for us to run was in a muddy field where the strong wind came howling into us around every corner!   

Now I'm a great lover of exercise as I know it benefits my mental health and physical health. My long standing leg injury means I've turned more to bootcamp over the last year (and I love it!) and if nothing else, yesterday was more evidence that my leg injury hasn't yet subsided as much as I'd hoped. But never mind, because there is still much to benefit mental health even where there are some activities that are more challenging than others.

In fact, a lot of research has demonstrated the power of exercise to boost our mental health and I've got a few examples that are worth taking a look at in this article.

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Health Anxiety Help: 

Last week I headed over to an appointment with a physiotherapist about my long standing leg injury that has kept me out of running for about a year now (thank goodness for bootcamp or I think I'd have lost the plot by now without any form of exercise!). 

Anyway, he checked out my movement, flexibility, leg strength and all the usual stuff and has given me some exercises to practice. Interestingly enough I often use the example of a physio when explaining how hypnotherapy works to clients, in that, in order to get results you need to go away and actually apply the strategies and techniques and take some action towards your goals. After all, if would be a bit pointless to go to the physio and then come away, do nothing and hope it changes all by itself - wouldn't it?!

Anyway I digress, because one thing that the physio asked me (that I've never been asked by physios before) was, 'have you googled your injury?' (oh how the times they are a-changing as Dylan might sing!).

Now these days I won't go near Doctor Google with my symptoms, whether it's a running niggle or anything else health related, for the simple reason that it's a sure fire way to drive up health anxiety. It could almost come with a guarantee of increased anxiety. Like many others I learnt this the harder way.

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Negative Thoughts, Mindfulness & Anxiety - The 321 Vlog:

Recently I wrote about a way to interrupt anxious thoughts and negative thoughts using the 3-2-1 technique. This is a very mindfulness based technique that shifts your focus and awareness to the here and now, rather than getting caught up in things from the past or worrying about what might happen in the future.

For those who prefer to get their anxiety relief fix in video form, I've also recorded this vlog about how to use the technique (and yes I did feel the need to talk about the TV show 321 and to do my lame attempt at the way Ted Rogers used to do the finger thing):

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Sports Performance - Mindset, Focus, Motivation, Results:

I can remember several years ago being desperate to complete a 10km race in under forty minutes. I would enter race after race in my attempts to reach the glory of the sub-40 minute time. It filled my thoughts at work and it dominated my conversations with other runners. It was a goal I had set myself and I was determined to get there.

Yet try as I might, for a long time it eluded me. I would cross the finish line one or two seconds over forty minutes - literally one or two seconds from getting it nailed. Over 6.2 miles of running, a couple of seconds is nothing, it's almost meaningless. Yet when the clock stopped, those couple of seconds were pretty much the most frustrating things ever known! 

I knew I was physically capable of knocking off those couple of seconds but what I didn't appreciate at that time was, no matter how physically ready I was from my training, mentally I was getting in my own way. My mind was filled with pressure, stress, doubts both before and during the race. I might lose focus for half a mile and realise I was off the needed pace to reach my goal. Once in a race, as I approached a corner I saw a sign that said it was 200 metres to the finish line, I looked at my watch, realised I couldn't hit the sub-40 and slowed a little, only to turn the corner, see the finish line was only about 100 metres away and realise in that moment of over thinking and lack of focus, I'd blown what would have been relatively easy to achieve. 

Once I learned some effective sports performance hypnotherapy strategies I went out there and nailed it three races in row. I felt like Robert Bannister when he broke the four minute mile (albeit I was a much slower Roger!).  

And if you've ever seen a golfer miss an easy putt because the pressure got to them, or a striker miss an easy goal because they'd lost confidence, or a driver start to overthink and hesitate because of a previous crash, then you'll know how important your mind-set is to sports performance at any level.

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A Way To Change Negative Thoughts to More Positive Thinking:

Last time out I wrote about a way to interrupt unwanted thoughts using the 3-2-1 technique which can help you to deal with negative thinking or anxious thoughts.

That is, in order to break that cycle of anxious thoughts, stressful thoughts or negative thoughts (and any other unwanted overthinking), you bring your attention back to the here and now by describing to yourself three specific things you can see, three specific sounds you can hear and three specific sensations you can feel right now.  

You then repeat this doing two different sights, sounds and sensations and then one different example of each. You can repeat this pattern as often as is beneficial, always remembering to use different sights, sounds and sensations each time.

This mindfulness type of psychological technique works by having you focus on your experience right now, where thoughts of what might happen or what has happened don't exist. In addition, it moves your focus of attention from inside your own head (where all those thoughts were residing) to what is going on outside and around you. It's a way of taking control over what you are paying attention to and your thinking.

As such, it's a brilliant technique to learn and apply. Yet sometimes we want to have a way to actually direct our thoughts in a direction that we want them to go. We want to change negative thinking not just to this very moment but move towards creating a habit of more positive thinking.

So by extending this 3-2-1 technique we can start to do this very thing.

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Interrupt Negative Thoughts in 3...2..1.. - Anxiety Help:

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get lost in your negative thoughts? Sometimes they just sort of creep up in your mind and before you know it, those anxious, negative thoughts and intrusive thoughts have taken hold and the spiral of anxiety can soon take over. And of course, once you feel anxious, your mind will always find something to attach it to in your imagination so it flows like a river, soaking everything you think.

Further down this article I've described a simple way to switch your negative thoughts so that your thinking and attention comes back to the here and now, rather than getting lost in future anxious thoughts. Anxiety is often described as like having an overactive mind that never switches off and starts to consider everything as a potential threat, and so you get all those what if this bad thing happens type negative thoughts, along with the worst case scenarios. And as anyone who has ever suffered with anxiety knows, most of those things never actually come to happen (but that doesn't stop the anxiety finding something else to worry about).

Yet when we bring our attention and thinking back to the here and now, there is no room for those types of negative thoughts and we can give our brains a bit of time off from all the anxiety.

Of course, one reason I love this 3-2-1 technique is because it reminds me of my younger days spent watching the TV show called '321' on prime time TV (back in the days when we only had three channels to choose from!). If you remember the show, you'll remember how the host, Ted Rogers, did this (seemingly amazing) quick thing with his fingers as he said the words three, two, one. We used to try and copy that on the primary school playground. And who can forget Dusty Bin!  (If you can't remember the quiz show, or are too young to have seen it, then have a look at this video which will help you understand the primitive world of TV in 1982! We thought this was great back then!! And be sure to catch the fastest fingers on TV!).

Anyway, enough of my childhood reminiscing, now back to interrupting negative thoughts in 3-2-1...

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