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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Comparing Yourself To Others & Self-Esteem:

We've probably always done it, yet comparing yourself to others has hit boom time with the rise of social media. I like to think that, had he been alive today, Shakespeare would have changed his sonnet from 'shall I compare thee to a summer's day' to 'shall I compare how I feel and my own self-worth to your instagram and facebook profiles.'  

Now before anyone accuses me of blaming social media for leading us to compare ourselves with others, I'm not, and I should know it's been around longer because it's something I used to do incessantly before I'd ever heard of instagram, twitter, facebook and so on. There were times I could barely force myself out of the front door because of my anxiety-fuelled comparisons with others and worry about what they might think about me (and it was never something good).

Yet there's no denying that these days it's easier than ever to compare our own thoughts, feelings, perceptions and levels of self-esteem with the filtered, published results that someone chooses to portray online. We compare our inner self worth with someone else's carefully selected public profile. And if you are going through a hard time right now, then those images of smiley, happy people enjoying every moment of life can only make you feel a bit worse (after all, how come everyone else is so happy and you're not, right?).

It's something that comes up in my office, and I can reference a recent client where such a thing was adding to her feelings of low self-esteem.

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Quitting Smoking - Cut Down or Stop Completely?

This weekend just gone I spent Sunday with a lovely couple who had travelled over fifty miles to see me for help quitting smoking, having been referred my way by a friend who had also stopped smoking with me. One thing many smokers have tried in their previous quitting attempts is to start cutting down. 

It's perhaps long been assumed by many smokers that cutting down their habit must lead to a proportionate reduction in the risk of harm to their health. That is, if you go from a twenty a day habit down to ten a day, the surely the health risks must also be halved? 

However, recent research published in the British Medical Journal has found that, in the case of cardiovascular disease (the risk of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke),  

As they conclude in their findings, "Smoking only about one cigarette per day carries a risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke much greater than expected: around half that for people who smoke 20 per day. No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease. Smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down to significantly reduce their risk of these two common major disorders."

That's pretty hard hitting stuff if you are currently a smoker and you thought that cutting down was safer in some way, the fact is, it just isn't that much safer with regards to heart disease and stroke risks. And perhaps this is even more alarming when you consider that, as reported by the BBC,  "cardiovascular disease, not cancer, is the greatest mortality risk for smoking, causing about 48% of smoking-related premature deaths".

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Stoic advice for dealing with annoying people - Stress Management Help

Over recent weeks I've become more and more interested in Stoicism, an ancient Greek school of philosophy (and I can tell you outright that philosophy has never been top of my list of things I want to learn more about!). I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a Stoic, yet there is a lot of gold in the writings and approach taken by the Stoics.

And whereas stoicism is often taken to refer to 'the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint' (as a google definition describes it), in fact it more refers to ways and ideas to achieve more inner tranquillity, peace and joy in your life and by seeking an absence of negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and fear.

Which of course has huge overlaps with the goals that people describe when they come to see me for help to overcome these issues and to become more mentally calm and feel more confident in themselves (and thus reducing their anxiety, stress and fear).

So here today I'm drawing upon some of this good stuff to talk about how to deal with annoying people, or more accurately how you can take back control so that they no longer annoy you.

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And Now...For Something To Tackle Overthinking & Negative Thoughts:

It's been another busy weekend in the Regan household and once again we headed through the streets of Ely on a rock hunt (I've written about the benefits of rock hunting in another blog). This time we were out in the snow which fell consistently for a few hours yet didn't stop us finding over a dozen of the painted rocks hidden around the city.    

Of course, whilst we might find a few in close proximity, and there's always a bit of a family buzz about checking out the design painted on the rock and any writing about who created it, there can also be long periods where no matter how closely we are looking, we just don't spot any (and being a slightly competitive person, that just makes me more determined to keep searching for longer!).

During these quieter periods, it's only natural that the kids and I start to become a little disheartened. We start to notice that, in the snow, we feel a bit cold and want to get indoors in the warm and dry, and the kids start to get a bit disinterested and start complaining of being tired or hungry. 

And, just as with anxiety and stress and overthinking, it could be quite easy to fall into an ever increasing cycle of negative thoughts. That is, a negative thought starts to go around and around our minds, we feel anxious, stressed or low, and that leads to even more overthinking and negative thoughts.  

One of the key things in taking control over thinking and negative thoughts is to start to break that cycle. It's that loop where you get more and more stuck in your thinking and it all just seems to go around and around your mind with little or no let up or peace from it.

So here I have one quick technique that I teach to my clients, that I use with my kids (to shift them from feeling negative) and that I use myself. 

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Helping your child with bullying at school:

It's been a tough old week or so in the Regan household as we discovered that one of the girls was being bullied at school. Of course, we'd noticed that something was going on as there were changes in behaviours at home such as being tearful and anxious, becoming more attached, withdrawing from activities that were enjoyable before and a huge drop in appetite. 

And as many other parents experience when their child is anxious and upset (whether caused by bullying or something else), it isn't always the easiest to get to the root of what is going on - especially when it all happens when they aren't around you so all you see are the knock on effects. I've got to say it's tough seeing your girl so unhappy and not knowing what to do to help her because she doesn't want to open up to you or anyone.  

Thankfully, using some of the ideas below we have been able to break the bullying behaviours that were going on at school, put things back on track and we now have our usual happy girl once again. One thing I often get asked about by other parents if how they can help their children to manage anxiety and what they can do to help them so I've included in this article some of these ideas, with the caveat that I don't know your particular situation and circumstances so I can't guarantee how well they will work for you - they certainly helped us to resolve this bullying issue so I hope that they can help you too. 

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Rock-tastic Mindfulness! Why I'm Loving The Current Ely Rocks Mania!

This weekend was a big one in the Regan household as we went family rock-hunting for the first time around the streets of Ely. That's right, rock-hunting! 

Here in Ely, a growing number of people are drawing, painting and decorating rocks and hiding them around Ely for others to search for and find. There's a Facebook group with over 1200 members so that when you find a rock, you take a photo of it, post it in the group and then rehide it for someone else to discover. And as the Facebook photos show, there are some pretty talented artists out there of all ages. In fact, a quick scroll through the page shows I've come to this at least a couple of months late but hey, what does that matter now I'm here!

Now I don't actually know who started this idea or whether it's bigger than just Ely and the surrounding area, yet what I do know is that it's pretty addictively fun stuff! After finding my first rock on my walk to work the other day, I've found myself eagerly walking around my usual Ely routes yet with my eyes peeled to spot more amazing rock finds (ok, ok so my eyes are actually checking out every possible corner and hiding place along the way...and yes I have actually altered my route a bit to go past places where I'm sure there must be some rocks hidden...I mean they are just awesome places to put a painted rock...come on rockers, please someone put some more rocks out on my route!!).

And having taken my rock finds home to show my kids, they were very excited about the weekend and having a chance to get out there and find some rocks themselves. It's great family fun! 

Along with being lots of fun, here are some other reasons why I think no matter where you live, you should get rocking...

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How hypnotherapy can help you ease symptoms of anxiety:

I'm delighted to have once again been published on the Good Zing website, this time talking about hypnotherapy for anxiety and how it can help you.

If you haven't discovered the Good Zing website yet, it's a place where you can find everyday health and wellness tips on a wide range of issues and topics. If you are heading over that way, why not start by taking a look at some of my tips and advice for dealing with anxiety or my article about 5 Simple Ways to Shut Down Your Anxiety.

In my article I talk about how hypnotherapy can help you take back control over your thoughts and feelings, rather than being seemingly controlled by them. Why not click on the link below, have a read and then let me know what you think?

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Increasing Focus and Productivity in 2018:

Wowzers! It's the end of the first working week of 2018 already! How did that pass by so quickly? (Ok, I know that for most of us here in the UK it was a shorter week because of the Bank Holiday on Monday, but still....)

This week has been crazy busy with clients and I've been helping people with, amongst other things, overcoming anxiety (including a client who hadn't left the house for weeks and after our session was able to go to a packed-out event in London!), quitting smoking (I had a great update form a client who came just before Christmas and is now well on the way to three weeks as a non-smoker), ending exam anxiety, ending insomnia and many clients who want to increase their confidence and self belief.  

Outside of that it's been hectic with the kids going back to school and trying to resurrect the old getting up and ready on time routine and I've survived back-to-back bootcamps for the first time after a couple of weeks' break from them over the holidays.

So many people I've spoken to tell me how 2017 seemed to fly by for them in one big blur, and I can resonate with that as while overall I had a great year, it often seemed to whizz by, divided into my three main priorities of family, work and exercise. 

And because our time is so limited, I'm determined to get even more focused and productive at work this year so that I can enjoy more time with my kids (and throwing a tyre around at bootcamp). 

Yet if you are a bit like me then this first week has not been your most productive. Sure I've got the essentials done but with getting used to getting up in the morning and trying to get back in the groove with work processes and systems, it's seemed more of a lumpy journey than a seemless one.

So with these first few days out of the way, I'm getting back on track right now! Here are three things I'm putting in place to increase my focus and productivity:

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