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Fear of flying: hypnotherapy could be the answer

fear of flying

Fancy heading off somewhere nice on holiday, but held back by a fear of flying? This phobia keeps many people going where want or need to be. It’s something that can afflict someone for years, with often no rhyme or reason to it. It is simply a mental block that keeps people from thinking rationally about travelling by plane.

Fear of flying: don’t let it hold you back

This can be a particular problem for people working in international companies, as flying is often an unavoidable aspect of that world. Perhaps you have family or friends abroad who you want to visit. Or perhaps you just want to travel for the sheer pleasure of seeing the world. Whatever the case may be, a fear of flying shouldn’t hold you back.

Fear of flying is common – in fact, many people feel anxiety about travelling by plane. But the problem occurs when that turns into such anxiety that it’s impossible to function normally while in a plane. You might even decide to back out and stay at home. This anxiety can be readily fixed; it just takes a change in thinking to banish the fear of flying.

How can hypnotherapy help?

A change in mindset about flying and planes is something that can be achieved through hypnotherapy. As a hypnotherapist, I help people overcome different mentally-based problems. Fears and phobias can be treated effectively with hypnotherapy, including fear of flying. Why not give it a try with this download right now?

Hypnotherapy enables you to replace unhelpful thoughts and feelings with positive ones. It creates a state of deep relaxation and taps into the power of the subconscious mind to make these changes, and this has lasting effects. If you are struggling with fear of flying, then do consider hypnotherapy. I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in coaching clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see what I can do for you. So spread your wings! Where will you go next?

Lose weight for summer

woman with tape measure around waist

Being overweight in the summer heat is no fun. In fact, for people carrying excess weight, summer can be a time of great discomfort and embarrassment. So let’s look at some effective weight loss strategies to make summer a happier experience.

But first, a warning….

The summer weight loss trap

One guaranteed way to fail is to look for a ‘short cut’ weight loss method, like the type of programme that promises ‘a fast effortless way to reduce weight’. In my experience, crash diets don’t work. Also, the medical evidence is quite clear: the maximum rate of sustainable weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, perhaps a little more if you are obese. So don’t waste time and money on weight loss methods that make extravagant promises of rapid weight loss.

A three-month summer weight loss plan

You can’t lose much weight in a week or two. It takes about three months to see significant changes in your body shape. Remember, the human body is interested in survival, not cosmetic appearances. And since rapid weight loss is a prima facie symptom of disease, not good health, the only guaranteed way to improve your body shape is to adopt a gradual approach of healthy eating and increased exercise. In three months, you can lose about 26 pounds – more than enough for most people to experience noticeable health improvements as well as a leaner body. And by reducing your weight gradually in this manner, you have far less chance of weight regain. So you can continue losing more weight, if you choose, with less danger of hitting a weight loss plateau or other obstacle.

You need a motive

If you want to change your eating and exercise habits, you need a strong motive; something to keep you on course and focused. Whatever motive you choose, it must be something more powerful than the urge to eat high calorie foods in front of the TV! Anything that commits you in advance to achieving your weight loss goal makes a great motive. So be bold. Book a beach holiday, or buy some gorgeous clothes to fit the body you want to have at the end of your weight loss programme. These investments require you to succeed, and therefore provide constant motivation along the way.

Be positive about short term sacrifices

Whether your goal is weight loss or any other achievement, an important piece of the motivational jigsaw is the ability to be positive about making short term sacrifices. The choice is fairly simple. You can focus on the “deprivation” aspect of giving up certain foods, or you can focus on the benefits of not eating these foods. If you focus on feeling deprived, you will see your weight loss programme as a burden, which makes you more likely to quit. If you want to succeed, avoid this trap and remind yourself frequently of the longer term benefits from making short-term adjustments to your lifestyle.

The good news about improving your diet

Many of our tastes, food cravings, and general attitudes to food are strongly influenced by what we eat and drink. And the average modern diet is loaded with sugar, fat and sodium, all of which condition us to want more of these items. If you can reduce your intake of these ingredients even for 2-3 weeks, you’ll notice a difference in your tastes.

Which brings me to healthy eating…

Think healthy eating, not weight loss

One of the most effective weight loss strategies is to focus on healthy eating. It’s important to enjoy your food and feel good about your change of eating habits. And any diet you hate is guaranteed to fail, no matter how much weight you lose, because as soon as you achieve your goal, you will revert to your old eating habits.

The top 10 healthy eating habits

In a nutshell, a healthy diet involves:

  1. More home-cooked food, less eating out.
  2. More fresh fruit as snacks.
  3. More fresh vegetables as snacks and with meals.
  4. More beans as sides or in stews.
  5. More dense chewy bread, less refined white breads and bread snacks.
  6. Less red meat. A vegetarian or vegan diet has none of the growth hormones or antibiotics injected into factory farmed animals.
  7. Smaller servings of meat if you eat it, larger servings of vegetables.
  8. Eating low fat dairy foods, if you eat them. There are many tasty non-dairy alternatives.
  9. Adding less fat in the form of butter, mayo, sour cream, to the food on your plate. This is a huge source of excessive calories.
  10. Stocking up with healthy snack foods to keep hunger at bay. If you fill up with healthy nutritious calories, you won’t want the junk foods that hunger makes you eat. As far as weight management goes, hunger remains Public Enemy Number One.
Exercise provides great indirect benefits

Exercise burns calories and therefore helps to widen your calorie deficit. But its direct effect on weight loss is typically quite small. In fact, it’s not uncommon to gain weight when you start exercising, as muscle increases. The real weight loss benefits of exercise are indirect ones. It raises the metabolic rate, helping you burn calories faster. It also improves mood, which can reduce comfort eating. However, don’t overdo your exercise workouts. Ideally, start with 45 minutes a day of any physical activity you can easily manage, and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Listen to your body at all times, and be sure to warm up beforehand and warm down afterwards.

See yourself as you want to be

If your goal is a waistline you can proudly display in the sun, then don’t wait until it happens to “see” it. Visualise it from the moment you start your weight loss programme. Visualise yourself walking along a beach, or lying by the pool, looking leaner and healthier. Whatever your ambition for your weight or body, get used to visualising it in the greatest possible detail. Because “seeing it” is the first step to making it come true.

Very overweight? Visualise the benefits

If you’re very overweight, you may feel that losing a couple of stone in three months isn’t much of a goal. If so, ask yourself: what’s the alternative? Whatever method you choose, you won’t lose weight any faster. So it’s really a question of when you start and how long it’s going to take. If you were looking to lose, say, 7 stone (about 45 kg or 100 pounds), this would take about a year. This is nothing. Just visualise yourself walking down the street (or strolling along the beach) 100 pounds lighter, and ask yourself if eating healthily for a year is too high a price to pay for such a wonderful prospect.

Your first priority: get support

If you’re serious about a weight loss programme for the summer and beyond, your first priority is to find support. When difficulties arise, the support of real people can make all the difference. You might consider joining a support group, a fitness class or walking group, or online forums. Losing weight on your own is perfectly possible, providing things go well and your scales keep saying nice things – and if you want to continue down this road, you might find this download helpful.

I have had fantastic success using hypnotherapy for weight loss with my clients – see my ‘success stories’ for one recent testimonial. Why not see how hypnotherapy can help you? It’s very effective in breaking old habits, create new ones, and improving motivation, and a proven success for weight loss. I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation to answer your questions, so feel free to give me a call on 07947 475721.

How hypnosis can cure social anxiety

man sitting alone in crowd

Why do we have emotions? Wouldn’t life be simpler without them? No, like everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive, and able to thrive. Contained in the word “emotion” is the word “motion”. And emotions get us to move, either towards something or away from it. OK, but what does this have to do social anxiety?

Well, we all have the same basic human needs – warmth, security, love, connection, food and shelter. We also have further needs for status, significance, attention, stimulation, creativity and so on. Some emotions draw us to things we feel will meet these needs, and continue our survival. And other emotions drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would do the opposite.

But sometimes our feelings direct us the wrong way. Our emotions mainly get it right and drive us toward what’s good for us and away from the bad. But not always.

Your basic human needs draw you towards social contact – but social anxiety drives you away 

Someone with social anxiety both wants and doesn’t want social contact. Their feelings are pulling and pushing them in different directions. A socially anxious person instinctively knows, as we all do, that they need social contact, but at the same time they fear and avoid it. We avoid what we fear – but we then start to fear what we avoid.

Furthermore, the more you avoid something, the greater the fear becomes. It’s as if your ’emotional brain’ looks at your behaviour and thinks: “We’re avoiding this situation so much that it must be really dangerous. So I’d better ramp up the fear some more, to quite make sure we keep avoiding it.” So we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.

To complicate matters further, you can fully believe something is good for you but still flee from it. Likewise, you can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but it, or they, continue to attract you. It’s primal emotional conditioning geared towards survival that drives our fears, rather than ‘faulty thinking’. So they don’t respond much to reasoning. It’s more effective instead to access and modify these primitive drivers through hypnosis.

Social anxiety treatment with hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy offers a safe and relaxed way for someone to experience a situation they would normally avoid. For someone with social anxiety, a party would be a typical example.

If you can experience what it would be like to feel relaxed and spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication to your emotional brain that this situation isn’t dangerous. This kind of social event can now be reclassified as one you can go safely towards, it decides – before you’ve even been to an actual party. Likewise, someone who hasn’t left their house for years can, under hypnosis, “experience” going outside before they walk out of the door in real life. The process is under their fully control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body. And when they then leave the house or go to a party for real, it will already feel familiar, and therefore safer.

When I work with someone with social anxiety it’s generally apparent the fears have gone the moment they open their eyes. They know the experience in hypnosis of the feared situation wasn’t “real”, of course. Nonetheless, their subconscious now has a positive new blueprint for responding calmly to social situations in future. And then being socially relaxed becomes the new normal.

Next steps

The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. This is partly to develop and hone social skills during hypnotic rehearsal, and also so people experience hypnotic “safe” social experiences before they go into these situations for real. In this way the being driven away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier drawn towards feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socialising and meeting new people.

I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in coaching clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 if social anxiety affects you or a loved one – I can help.

The importance of self-care

woman in yoga pose on rock above lake

Self-care: you can’t pour from an empty cup

I gave a talk at a local business networking group a couple of weeks ago, and the conversation turned to self-care. Everyone there was running a small businesses – all women, many bringing up children at the same time. Some commented that the brief guided visualisation I conducted as part of the session was the first time they had relaxed in months. Not unusually, some of them felt guilty when they took time out for themselves. I replied that if they didn’t care for themselves, would they be giving the best service possible to their clients?

Unfortunately we live in a culture that fetishises hard work, with predictable consequences. Burn-out is endemic, people spend less time with their loved ones, and everyone suffers. It’s not selfish to take time each day to nurture yourself. By that I mean things like taking time to cook a nutritious meal instead of grabbing a take-away. Or spending quality time with people – preferably with phones off! Maybe taking a walk in nature. Or meditating: there are plenty of guided visualisations on Youtube if you’re not sure where to start. Basically anything that gets you to slow down, breathe, and reconnect with the world around you. Do you ever notice how much calmer you feel around someone who is calm themselves? Well, you can be that person! And you can try for yourself right now, if you like – check out this download and see how refreshed you feel after fifteen minutes.

Self-care: you don’t have to go it alone

If you need some support and encouragement along the way, there are many therapists – including myself of course – ready to help. Therapy centres often run open days so why not try some different therapies and see what feels best for you? Many therapists, again including myself, offer free consultations, so you can decide whether they offer what you need (my contact details if you’d like to get in touch).

Some people find the potential cost off-putting. Consider it an investment rather than an expense. Besides, a session with someone providing meaningful support costs about the same as a night in the pub. And a good therapist doesn’t just help you work through the issues holding you back. They will also teach you skills and strategies to take away and use to better the rest of your life. Who can put a price on that?

All about mental health

woman alone on bus with distorted reflections in windows

I’ve been focusing strongly on mental health so far this year, including starting a NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems. I also attended a couple of good events that I’d like to discuss.

Before I do, it’s such a positive sign that these discussions are even taking place. People are increasingly open about their mental health struggles. I’m no fan of celebrity culture, but I applauded Mariah Carey’s bravery in revealing her bipolar disorder recently. This – and similar revelations by those in the public eye – will give courage to many who have struggled with the same symptoms but not known what to do. Or not even realised that there was a name for them. For far too long the media has ridiculed sufferers, and ignorant attitudes have prevailed. All too often sufferers are told ‘pull yourself together’, ‘man up’ or ‘move on’. None of which helps those struggling to manage their symptoms, which often result from factors outside their control in the first place.

Mental health in the workplace

It was with interest that I ventured to the recent Minds@Work event – in their own words, ‘a community of like-minded professionals coming together to break the stigma of depression and anxiety in the working world.’ Handily they have put all the talks up on their website, including stories from two gentlemen whose mental health had impacted upon their careers – and how they had overcome this adversity. There was also an excellent demonstration of best practice from insurance firm Legal & General. They not only employ sixty Mental Health First Aiders, but have a great campaign underway called ‘Not A Red Card Offence’, engaging famous sportspeople to help shift the stigma (the power of celebrity again). Impressive!

It’s encouraging to see the business world starting to grasp the nettle. In fact, I’m increasingly seeing executives seeking treatment. People start to buckle under the strain of a culture where being a workaholic is seen as a positive attribute. In reality, it inevitably strains relationships with their families and other loved ones – especially if they resort to coping mechanisms such as drugs, alcohol, or gambling.

Mental health in the music industry

The next event was close to my heart: a Mental Health Workshop run by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). As a professional musician myself, I have seen firsthand the impacts of a lifestyle that’s often over-romanticised. Long days composing, rehearsing, or touring, with longer nights performing, take their toll on health and relationships. The near impossibility of earning any reasonable income from one’s talents doesn’t help. (Did you know a band/artist earns only 0.001p from each play on Spotify, for example?) So this event was intended to provide a taster of skills based on neuroscience and cognitive behavioural psychology to empower musicians as they progress against such unfavourable odds, courtesy of Music for Mental Wealth. It was good to see some of the techniques I use with my own clients gaining wider traction. And I’m optimistic that these sorts of conversations are becoming more common.

Find the help you need

So if you or anyone close to you is feeling the strain of a mental health issue, remember you’re not alone. You can get help from a number of local sources and support groups. Ask your GP for advice in the first instance too. Although medication works for some people, it doesn’t really represent a long-term solution. A qualified therapist can help you get to the root of the issue and teach you coping mechanisms as appropriate. This may entail making some lifestyle and work-life balance changes. But as the old adage says, no-one on their deathbed wishes they’d spent more time at work. If you need to take action on this front immediately, I recommend this download.

Hypnotherapy or coaching might be right for you regarding these (or any other) issues. I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in coaching clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see what I can do for you. And if you work for an employer who runs staff well-being events, I also undertake corporate sessions – feel free to put me in touch with your HR department.

In the meantime, thanks for reading; and let’s do our best to support anyone we know – or suspect – who may be struggling with their mental health.

I’m interviewed on Radio Sydenham!

I did a live radio interview about hypnotherapy on Radio Sydenham today. This is great little community radio station operating from the depths of Sydenham Library. I did some myth-busting about hypnotherapy, and talked about the process and the benefits. You can hear the interview in full here (I’m on at the start of the show, for about 15 minutes).

Time for life changes? Make them a success!

fireworks

Raise the subject of new year’s resolutions in January, and you’re likely to get some mixed reactions – from guilty admissions of falling off the wagon, or finding the prospect too daunting to even try. So how can we tackle making life changes that stick, new year or not? Fortunately, there are some ways we can make getting off the starting blocks easier.

One step at a time

First of all, there’s the bite-size approach, where the elements of a goal are broken down into manageable chunks. Let’s take the example of writing a book. Once you’ve defined the subject or storyline, how will you fill those empty pages? A sensible approach would be to break it down into chapters. Maybe then you might outline each chapter structure. Perhaps then you’d work out how many words a day you can realistically get down. Of course you need to take your other commitments into account. And you might have to sacrifice something else to make time – watch less TV perhaps – to reach your goal. But if your aim is realistic to begin with, once you’ve made a start, you’re well on your way to making the life changes you want!

Which leads me onto the next crucial element: turning something into a habit. Research shows that we are far more likely to succeed at something once we incorporate it into our daily routine. Basically this sidesteps our brain’s tendency to question it. Even if you can only make a little time each day, the important thing is to do it regularly. ‘Little and often’ make the process easier, and helps it become part of the natural rhythm of your life.

Work smarter

And to enhance that natural process, we can use a little extra cleverness. If you’re a morning person, it makes sense to work with your early bird tendencies. So set the alarm half an hour earlier, rather than try and incorporate your new habit later in the day when you may be more tired. And if you really want to give yourself an extra push, take advantage of moments in the day when you can visualise yourself going through elements of your task – and succeeding. Your brain will respond accordingly!

Finally, the best bit: reward yourself. Track your progress, set yourself achievable milestones along the way, and be sure to celebrate once they’re achieved – perhaps with friends or family who are supporting you. For many, sharing their achievements is a magic ingredient of motivation. But if you’re flying solo, give yourself an extra reward for your strength and determination. Above all, cut yourself some slack and don’t give up if you hit a setback. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep your eyes on the prize. And if you need a little motivation boost, I recommend this download.

A qualified hypnotherapist or life coach can help you achieve your desired life changes if you need a little extra support on your journey. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, if you’d like to find out more. Or check my success stories to read about clients who I’ve helped to make changes in their lives. Good luck!

(Published on The Hypnotherapy Directory, 3 January 2018)

Managing stress with hypnotherapy

peaceful woman in nature

Managing stress is arguably one of the greatest challenges facing us as a society in modern times. How can hypnotherapy help with the increasing levels of stress we all face?

It’s important first of all to put in perspective. Stress can be good as a motivating factor. It can help us overcome challenges, keeping us on our toes and ensuring that we meet our responsibilities. After all, it serves an evolutionary purpose – the fight/flight mechanism helped our ancestors survive when encountering predators. However, the human brain hasn’t evolved nearly as fast as our way of living, so the same response is triggered by a traffic jam as by a sabre-toothed tiger! And we need to learn ways of managing this.

Techniques for managing stress

Breathing techniques are the most immediate tools to learn in managing stress. These allow us to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system – the body’s natural calming down mechanism. And we can also practise self-hypnosis. This is important for several reasons. Firstly, it makes us make time to relax. And the more the mind and body practice relaxation, the better they get at it. Our neural networks work in much the same way as our physical bodies do in automatically taking the most familiar route. So make it a good one! You can try out self-hypnosis right now with these stress relieving downloads.

In managing stress, it’s also important to identify any fundamental human needs that may be being neglected. The obvious but often-overlooked ones are sleep, nutrition, exercise, socialising and play (yes, play!) As stress tends to come from different directions it’s not always easy to identify a single cause, but this process can still help people take a step back and look at their life in a fresh perspective.

Hypnotherapy can also help people return to the source of their stress, as it often originates from an early age. Trying to meet the expectations of parents and other significant people in a person’s childhood is a common cause – and these stress responses have magnified in later life with an increase in responsibilities. Identifying patterns formed in childhood can, however, improve abilities in managing stress in the here and now.

Hypnotherapy is deeply relaxing in itself – some people say afterwards it is the most relaxed they have ever felt in their lives (see my success stories). I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation (07947 475721), and although I am based in London, UK I can work remotely wherever in the world you may be. So please do get in touch if things feel overwhelming for you – I can help.

(First published on Hypnotherapy Directory, 20 October 2017)

Stopping smoking – for good!

Stoptober runs each October, encouraging participants to quit smoking. The concept comes from evidence showing that after stopping smoking for 28 days, smokers are up to five times more likely to quit permanently. With this mass event providing external support, now is the perfect time to explore how hypnotherapy can help.

Stopping smoking by forming new habits

A successful smoking cessation programme tackles the obvious elements such as overcoming cravings and adopting new healthier habits. And it deals with potentially more tricky areas such as managing stress, needing a break from work, or getting a little ‘me time’. For many, smoking forms part of their social identity, which may require some gentle disentangling.

Smoking is not a nicotine addiction; it is a habit. This is why nicotine patches and nicotine gum are successful in less than 10% of those who use them. Helping smokers to stop seeing themselves as slaves to addiction is the first step. Then they are more likely to come up with positive solutions to help themselves break the habit. This can be one of the most transformative moments in a hypnotherapy programme. The former smoker starts to feel their own empowerment, and begins to cut the conscious and unconscious ties to smoking.

Many smokers worry about gaining weight after stopping smoking, and it’s important to address such concerns. Replacement behaviours can be tested and reinforced during a hypnotherapy programme, reassuring the former smoker that they really have stopped for good.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Smokers are rarely short of reasons why they want to give up. A good hypnotherapist will reinforce these motivations whilst giving them the support and practical tools they need to beat the habit. The cost of a smoking cessation programme is small in proportion to the outlay on cigarettes, so those looking to quit now really have nothing to lose – and everything to gain. For those who want to start right away and are happy with a generic programme, I recommend this.

I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in helping clients make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too, whether in stopping smoking or other life changes. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see what I can do for you.

Originally published in Hypnotherapy Directory 

Beating exam stress

girl writing exam paper

It’s coming up to that time of year when teenagers across the country are feeling the heat… and I’m not talking about the eventual arrival of British summer. With endless revision, exam stress, and ‘A* or bust’ expectations, it’s a testing time in every way.

Staying in good mental and physical shape

While there’s a temptation to cram for exams, it has been proved that a ‘spacing’ strategy is considerably more effective for revision. A bite-sized approach works best with the brain’s natural learning capacities. And this has the added benefit of allowing other vital needs to be incorporated into a programme of study, helping reduce exam stress overall.

When students feel they have to study 24/7, regular meals, exercise, and sleep can fall by the wayside. And even more so if they are especially anxious. As students are used to leading timetabled lives, it can help to design home-based study and relaxation timetables together. It will help them remember these basic needs, and to stay mentally balanced and physically healthy throughout this time. This approach also provides a sense of control as the pressure rises and exam time approaches.

How can hypnotherapy help with exam stress?

Anxiety is complex, however. Students may still feel a sudden sense of overwhelm, resulting in ‘brain fade’ – or simply blind panic. This is where hypnotherapy can be incredibly beneficial – and you can try it right now with this download.

Students can learn self-calming techniques to use, and other practical means of coping with anxiety. They can also learn to visualise a calm and confident persona entering and leaving the exam room, which can help them face their fears. Many young people respond well to techniques that use their imaginations. Picturing themselves in new ways starts the process of overcoming limiting beliefs, and feeling more positive about their abilities. Important steps on the road to success in life, with or without A* grades!

I am a qualified hypnotherapist, experienced in helping clients – including young people – deal with anxiety and stress (see my success stories). I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see how I can help.

Article first appeared on the Hypnotherapy Directory  May 2017