Special Gift To You For May and June
Everyone who books a hypnotherapy appointment with Andrew McDonald Hypnotherapy in the months of May and June 2021 will receive a 10% discount at Angel on a Broomstick on Mill Street in Thomastown!
Black and White Thinking
Anybody who feels anxious or depressed will be familiar with the concept of black and white thinking. This is when have a distorted view of the reality of our situations. I’m not talking about hallucinating but simply the habit of perceiving everything in the extremes of black and white, total success and complete failure.
Most people live pretty mundane lives, and yes I include myself in that. A bit of drama every so often but for the most part we don’t eek out soap operatic existences. The peculiar thing about anxiety and depression is that they actually make our days far more dramatic than they really are.
Let’s look at a simple example; you are studying for an exam and are targetting an A. After the test, you get the result and it’s a B. Your anxious or depressed mind perceives this as a disaster. Is that a realistic interpretation of what has happened? What about all those other people who got Bs, or even those who got Cs? Have they also failed? Rational thinking would suggest not.
Imagine another scenario. You’re going for a promotion. You don’t get it. Has your world fallen apart? If you’re suffering with anxiety or depression, the chances are you feel like it has. The reality is though that you still have a job, a roof over your head and food in your stomach.
I recently read the following post on Facebook: “the job you hate is the dream of the unemployed, the home you want to move from is the fantasy of the homeless and your family and friends who irritate you are the utopia of the lonely”.
A pragmatic and effective activity when you feel yourself wrapped up in a circle of “complete success or total failure” is to think of your concern. Then on a piece of paper, sketch out three circles side-by-side.
In the first circle, note down the absolute worst case scenario.
In the third circle, write the best situation you can think of related to that worry.
In the second circle (and it is important that you do the second circle last), scribe the mid-point between those two extremes.
So for example, say I was fretting about paying an electricity bill.
In the first circle I write “I won’t be able to pay and they will cut off my electricity”.
In the third circle I write “I will win the lottery and have so much money I won’t need to worry about anything ever again”.
In the second circle I write “the electricity bill takes a chunk of my money but I will have the finances to pay it”.
Then I look for evidence to prove each situation. For example, “I have always been able to pay the electricity bill before”.
Once this is all done, quiz yourself on which scenario is most likely.
Using this technique you will be able to judge for yourself what is most likely to happen and back it up with proof.
Have a go and see does it give you relief from black and white thinking!
Coping With Lockdown
PEOPLE are really feeling this particular lockdown. It is very noticeable how many are struggling this time around. Previous periods of restriction were challenging but this one seems to be causing the most distress. Restriction fatigue is definitely raising its head.
This is probably also the most difficult time of year we’ve had to face limitations on our lifestyles. The first Covid lockdown came during spring and summer when the weather was warm and even if we couldn’t go very far, it was at least possible to enjoy our gardens. This was certainly the case for many in counties like Kilkenny where most of us have a green space outside our homes. In February its far more appealing to stay cooped up indoors. Particularly with the cold spell we’ve had recently!
The second period of increased regulations occurred during late autumn, early winter. The weather wasn’t a great deal different to now. However, we had Christmas to look forward to. Even if spending time with extended family and friends was sure to be limited, we had the excitement that the festive period brings to help get us over the hump. No such luck in February. It’s still dark for much of our waking day. It’s also damp and it’s certainly cold. Despite the fact that March is around the corner with its promise of natural life being reborn and longer periods of light, it’s easy to get lost in a winter gloom.
So what can we do to get us through this period with our mental health intact?
A good night’s sleep has to be a main priority! At the moment, the days seem to merge into one another and this means it’s easy to neglect our need for eight hours a day. Going to bed at irregular times frequently leads to sleeping poorly, not getting enough sleep or waking up late in the day and feeling lethargic. Sleep is fundamental to both our physical and mental wellbeing. It also helps to give a routine to our lives. Vital if we want to feel ok!
Another mood-lifting activity is to practise mindfulness and gratefulness. It might not seem simple at the moment but looking for the good, rather than fixating on the bad, and expressing, even internally, our gratitude for it helps to keep us feeling good. Meditation is another easy-to-do practice which helps lift feelings of stress and tension. Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath and see the difference it makes.
Perhaps most important of all, stay connected! We can’t always see loved ones in person at the moment and that is difficult. However, we live in an age where there is a plethora of technologies that means we can meet virtually and we can do it for free! Keep in mind that this has a double benefit. Not only are you certain to feel better by spending a few moments talking to family and friends but the people you contact will also be perked up!
There are so many other things we can do to lift our moods during these problematic times. Over the forthcoming weeks we will look at more but, until then, try one or two of those we’ve looked at above. And one final thing… it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Try it! Even something as simple as this can make a huge difference to how we feel.
Aiming For The Perfect Meditation Is Bad Meditation
I’m going to set you a couple of tasks.
First, I want you to iron your clothes but deliberately press creases into them.
Secondly, I want you to hoover your home but deliberately vacuum around the dust.
Thirdly, I want you to cook something greasy, for example a fry or a curry, then clean the pots and pans with cold water – no soap allowed either!
I can almost read your minds right now (actually this is something hypnotherapists can’t do despite what certain urban myths tell you): “Has he gone mad?” “Is he stupid?” “Is he trying to be funny?”
The third one is definitely not true. The other two are more for other people to answer than for me. Hopefully though those who know me would respond no to those two questions but you’ll have to ask them.
The three tasks I set you are essentially what you are doing when you try to make your meditation perfect. This certainly doesn’t mean you’re mad, stupid or trying to be funny. Traditional education and society in general programmes us to aim for perfection. They tend to neglect one aspect of perfection though. Perfection is stressful!
Now if I asked you your reasons for meditating, very high up there would be to reduce stress. So by trying to meditate perfectly, you’re filling the activity you hope will relax you with an abundance of stress.
Many think they can’t meditate correctly. They assume that because their minds wandered and they couldn’t fixate on a mystical nothingness for a specific period of time, they fail at meditation.
Try this activity. Get a countdown timer (there’s probably one on your phone). Set it for three minutes. Now before starting it, there is a single instruction. Whatever you do for the three minutes, do not think of a strawberry pizza. Under no circumstances think of a strawberry pizza. Now start the timer and remember, don’t think of that strawberry pizza! Come back to this article when the three minutes are up.
A simple question; what did you think of during the three minutes? In all honesty, can you say you didn’t think of that strawberry pizza?
If you didn’t, congratulations, you really have a rare ability! I’m guessing most of you thought of precisely what I asked you not to. I’m also going to guess that a lot of you think that means you failed. If you believe that, you’re wrong. The reason? You have a human brain and the human brain works in precisely the way yours just did. Simply, if you try not to think of anything, you will think of something. That is human nature.
So the question is, why do you think you fail when you can’t completely zone out and focus on nothing for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes or longer?
The secret to meditation isn’t focusing on nothing. Neither is it absolutely zoning in on one thing in particular and never wavering in your attention. A good meditation is choosing one thing to train your mind on and when you lose track of it, gently bringing yourself back to it.
Your focal point can be your breath, a particular sound, smell, something you can touch, an item you can see (you can meditate with your eyes open too!) or emotion (Buddhists, who are amongst the most frequent meditators, believe we have a sixth sense, our minds). Choose what you want to zone in on and gently bring your attention to it. If your mind wanders, that’s perfectly normal and natural. Simply, and without judging yourself or your experience, refocus your mind back on whatever it is you chose to concentrate on. That’s it! That’s the secret of good meditation. Try it and don’t try it “perfect”!
Home Schooling Stress
Parents are in limbo over when schools will reopen. We know there are more weeks of homeschooling to come. How many, at this stage, is anybody’s guess. If that has left you with a sinking feeling, you’re not alone. According to a survey on Good Housekeeping magazine’s website, 87% of parents are finding filling in for their child’s teacher a struggle.
There are ways you can help both yourself and darling daughter or son to overcome the daily battle of doing school work at home.
First, be kind to yourself and your child! There are going to be good days and not so good ones. If you have been given five exercises to complete, it’s not failure if you only complete two or three. If it were, no teacher could consider themselves successful. Kids learn at different paces and their learning can differ greatly from day to day. Every lesson at school sees some children finish everything whilst others take more time on a few exercises. You might find one day is slower and another one faster! Aim for small wins instead of one huge goal!
Have a routine. It’s important to make space for both school work and family time! Don’t lose sight of what you and your child love doing together! This can make all the difference!
Look upon homeschooling as a team effort. You’re not your son or daughter’s teacher. You know this and so does your child. Teachers have a more authoritative role than parents and can demand work is done more easily. That said, school has changed since most parents were there and teachers have to rely more on working with children than instructing them. You may find your child reacts badly to you demanding they complete their work. Make it easier on both of you and make it a sideways effort rather than a top down one.
Mindfulness! Taking time out to go for a walk or do a fun activity together can be like gold. Particularly when you’re both stressed. Leaving a difficult task for a little while and then coming back to it can make it much easier. A fun activity you might like to try with your child is meditation. Simply relax with your child with each of you focusing on your breath for a few minutes. This can bring wonderful relief. And if you want deeper, more fulfilling meditations, there are plenty for children (as well as adults) on YouTube (look for those which have a good likes to dislikes ratio).
It is going to be tough. Nobody can deny that. With a few tweaks you can make it much easier though. On both your child and on you!
New Year Resolutions – How To Make Them Stick
Have you made any New Year resolutions? Every 1st January, around 55-60% of us make promises to ourselves about how we will improve our lives in the 12 months ahead. This number is thought to be even greater this year (the estimate is around 70-75%) as a knock on effect from Covid and people taking stock of their situation.
Health improvements account for around 45% of resolutions followed by about 40% hoping for self improvement.
The bad news?
Only roughly 20% of people will continue their resolutions beyond the middle of February. This is actually quite significant because it means approximately 57 days will have elapsed from making the promise to breaking it. Why is this important? Research shows it normally takes on average 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. This is the time needed for a conscious effort to become part of the subconscious autopilot.
Hypnotherapy can radically change this! Within a one hour session, a hypnotherapist (me!) can move a conscious desire and behaviour into your subconscious mind. You can literally walk away from our session together with this new, positive habit being part of your normal, automatic behaviour. No struggling for 66 days, no having to jump over obstacles. Your New Year resolution will change from being a hopeful promise to a positive change! Lose weight, start an exercise routine, gain confidence, quit smoking, the possibilities are endless. And with hypnotherapy you can transform those possibilities into reality. Easily. Simply. Effectively.
Tips For Dealing With Christmas Stress
Tips for dealing with festive stress
- Acknowledge your feelings:
If you’ve suffered a bereavement this year, particularly of someone close, or if the festive season reminds you of someone important to you who isn’t here anymore, it is absolutely normal to feel sad. Just because Christmas is traditionally supposed to be a time of joy doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to be happy. It is ok to take time to cry or otherwise express your feelings. This is also true if you find yourself separated from loved ones at this time, particularly this year when many of us will be forced to spend Christmas apart.
- Reach out:
If you feel lonely or are struggling with your mental health, reach out. Talk to a family member, a friend, a support group or organisation. There are help organisations which are available even on Christmas Day like the Samaritans on 116 123.
- Be realistic:
Aim to have an enjoyable few days but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by aiming too high. Remember Christmas should be a time of rest, not one to aim for perfection.
- Avoid hot topics:
Christmas is traditionally a time that brings people together. This can inevitably lead to tension as people who might (sometimes purposefully!!!) not see each other from one Yuletide to another meet. Avoid hot topics like politics and issues you know have a tendency to lead to arguments. If they do come up, try to agree to differ.
- Keep to a budget:
The best presents are those which come with thought, not a huge price tag. Decide how much you can afford to spend and stick to it!
Don’t leave everything to the last minute! Especially this year as lockdown is likely to lead to everything being even busier than usual.
- Say no:
Often we agree to things which only put added pressure on us. If this is true for you, say no. Put yourself and your stress levels first and only agree to what you know you can manage.
- Keep up healthy habits:
A little over-indulgence is part of Christmas for most people. Enjoy that but don’t overdo it and waste all the effort you’ve put in over the year building up and maintaining healthy habits.
- Take time out:
Christmas is hectic. Christmas is busy. Christmas is a period full of activity where others put demands on your time. Take time out even if only for 15 to 20 minutes to just sit back and relax. A short meditation can help here. This will help you to cope with the stress of Christmas and chill.
- Seek professional help if you need it:
If you are struggling with your mental health, make sure you seek professional help. A GP is an important first port-of-call if you’re suffering with depression, anxiety or elevated stress. If you’re ready to take the next step towards getting better, call me on 089 972 2991 and we can begin work on freeing you of your feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.
I hope these tips help and I wish you a Merry Christmas whatever that means for you.
See you in the New Year.
A useful tool in A3 format. On it you plot your mood, am and pm, every day as well as important activities such as what kind of sleep you’ve had, what you’ve done which may have had a positive or negative effect on you and other things like triggers.
This helps you to note down what affects your mood, in a positive and in a negative way, so you can build up a pattern to help you overcome your anxiety and depression. It also aids in seeing what your triggers are so you can better recognise when you are likely to meet them and how to prepare yourself to cope with them when you do. It gives an organisation to your life which is something many of us lack when we are struggling with our mental health.
The information in the document is intended as an aid and not a substitute for professional assistance.
If you would like the mood monitor in a different size, please feel free to inbox me.
Brought to you by Andrew McDonald Hypnotherapy.
089 972 2991
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” so says the song. For most people though, it is also one of the most stressful periods of the calendar. Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither a Scrooge nor a Grinch, I love Christmas. Like most people though, the build up to Christmas Day can be stressful. Remember to take time out for yourself during this period. Meditating is a great way to bring stress levels down. If you would like free guided meditations for just this purpose, remember there are a number on the free meditations page of my website which you are welcome to use.
Three Ways Hypnotherapy Works For Anxiety and Depression
Hypnotherapy opens up your path to recovery from anxiety or depression by getting in touch with your subconscious mind. It does this via a number of techniques. Here we take a look at three of them.
- Discovering Your Inner Strength
- Often when you suffer from depression or anxiety, your view of yourself is distorted. You think about and talk to yourself in a way you would never allow yourself towards a friend or loved one. This negative self-sabotage becomes a pattern and a vicious circle. Everyone has untapped resources of strength within themselves. Including you! By getting in touch with your subconscious mind, you can discover what your strengths are and begin to realise that you can overcome your problems, you will succeed and that you are worthy of that most important of assets in overcoming depression and anxiety; self-love.
- Parts Therapy
- Everyone has inner conflicts. When you are suffering from depression or anxiety, these inner conflicts can become even louder. Have you ever found that you feel like one part of you wants and feels you deserve to be happy whilst another part of you says you’re only deserving of misery? I certainly did when I suffered with depression and anxiety. In me, it felt like parts of my own brain were in conflict. One part wanted happiness, another craved misery and yet another wanted to swim in that misery. By unlocking your subconscious, you can give all these parts an equal voice, find out exactly what each part of you wants and why it feels the way it does. Then, instead of all these different parts of you feeling like they are in conflict, you can get them to work together, to hear each other out and to help each other to achieve the best version of you! Free from depression or anxiety!
- Is a current situation making your struggle with depression or anxiety worse? Did something which happened in the past cause your depression or anxiety? You’re an intelligent person. You know that in every situation, there are different narratives, different ways of looking at a situation. By taking a step back and accessing your subconscious mind you can look at these different narratives in a feeling of calm and relaxation. You can look for opportunities, chinks of light in the darkness, the silver lining on a situation. Seemingly negative scenarios can play out very differently when you take the time to reanalyse them and look for the positives, however small they may be. Remember, the strongest oak trees grow out of the smallest acorns.
We will look at other ways hypnotherapy opens up paths of recovery from anxiety or depression for you in the future. For now, I’m going to leave you with some links to research which demonstrates the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in working with anxiety and depression to help people live their best lives.
A meta-analysis of hypnosis in the treatment of depressive symptoms: a brief communication.
Hypnosis in the Treatment of Depression: Considerations in Research Design and Methods.
Evidence-Based Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression.
Healing The Past With Your Present – How It Works
Regression therapy works by reassessing memories which get stored in your mind. As you know, both your conscious and subconscious minds are like sponges. If this weren’t so, your behaviour would never change, you would never remember anything, you would never come to know something by heart. In short, your life would be like Lucy Whitmore’s in 50 First Dates. Our mind’s sponge-like quality is a fundamental part of life because it is what enables us to learn. What do we do though when that quality means our lives get adversely affected?
Regression therapy works by giving you the opportunity to reassess past events and their effect on you. Your experience, your feelings and how both are holding you back and preventing you from progressing. Through hypnosis, you get the opportunity to examine the unconscious mind. This enables you to find the conflicts, stresses, hidden pain, self-sabotage and hurdles which are connected to past events and are preventing you from fully enjoying the wonderful opportunities life and the future have in store for you.
You may never have given yourself opportunity to work through these past events which have a huge effect on your present. To reassure yourself that things will and have worked out ok and that you are a bigger, stronger person now. Regression therapy can be your opportunity to unlock your full potential by resolving what happened in the past.
In essence, regression therapy, and hypnotherapy in general, is your gift to yourself. Your opportunity to start enjoying your present knowing you are stronger for your past. Your opportunity to resolve your past and not let it hold you back. To reassess that past from the viewpoint of your bigger, stronger present self. Your opportunity to prepare yourself now for the great adventures that lie ahead of you by working through past events to free yourself of their burden and live in your present moment without looking over your shoulder. In short, the key to your new and best life.
One important thing to note is the controversy surrounding regression therapy. Most of this is the result of irresponsible therapists and the way they used it in the past. There are, like with all therapies and indeed the wider health field, issues which can be highly effectively treated using this technique and other situations where it should never be used. An ethical and professional hypnotherapist will assess your suitability long before she or he uses hypnosis on you. Should you be a suitable candidate, great. If not, such a therapist will inform you of this and why. Not only this but a therapist with respect for his or her profession, its ethics and above all for you the client will advise you of other options which are more suitable for your situation. This is what I do and anyone who doesn’t is doing a disservice to their field and most importantly to their clients. In a nutshell, our most important responsibility as therapists is to ensure your safety in therapy.
Something which a good therapist is equally attentive to is the experience of the client. At no stage should any client feel as though they are reliving the traumatic experience. The purpose is not to re-experience what happened but to reassess what happened and its post-event effects with a view to being able to move on and enjoy life fully. A skilled and most importantly professional and ethical hypnotherapist knows how to react to a client telling him or her words to the effect of “I feel as though it is happening all over again”. As with all health treatments, you should ensure you trust your therapist before even agreeing to therapy. Again, a professional and ethical therapist will be open with you and only too willing to answer any questions and ensure you feel secure and comfortable long before you actually agree to therapy. As I previously said, any therapist, not just a hypnotherapist, who is unwilling to do this is not a good therapist and is doing their field a gross disservice.
With a good, professional and ethical therapist, regression therapy can be your opportunity to start living the best version of you. Particularly if you suffer with anxiety or depression because of past events, regression therapy through hypnotherapy can unlock your present and future in a way few other therapies can. Start living your life to the full!
Healing The Past With Your Present
Sometimes the only way to move forward is by stepping back. Anxiety and depression are, as we have already discussed, very often linked to the flight-fight-freeze response. Often they are the subconscious way of dealing with perceived danger.
We’ve all done it. Altered a walking or jogging route because we were confronted by an angry dog along that path one evening. Stopped crossing a road at a certain point because a lorry nearly ran us over when we were halfway across once. Avoided a particular roundabout because of a very close scrape on one occasion.
It doesn’t matter that we perhaps previously walked or ran along that route, crossed the road at that particular point or used that roundabout 100, maybe 1000 times before and nothing untoward happened. Our behaviour adjusts because of that negative experience. Quite often we don’t even notice we have made that change. Our subconscious alters what we do without evening thinking. We don’t stop to question the logic. We just do it.
So why, when we go through a particularly traumatic period in our lives, do we question our changed behaviour to situations which make us feel like we’re in danger of experiencing that trauma again? It’s our brain’s way of keeping us safe, pre-empting danger.
That can be seriously life altering though when putting ourselves in those kinds of situations again is unavoidable. For example, a traumatic divorce is undeniably painful. That trauma can be enough to put us off relationships for a very long time. Even when that could mean we never get to enjoy life with a better match. Relationship anxiety is very real and very painful for a great many people. So are the symptoms of depression and anxiety which can be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It isn’t only soldiers returning from a war zone or emergency service staff who have witnessed the aftermath of a particularly bad and harrowing car accident or house fire who suffer with PTSD. Losing a relationship, a job, a loved one dying in pain and a myriad of other situations can cause real lasting and debilitating effects from the trauma endured.
Sometimes all the guided breathing activities, meditations and similar exercises in the world will only give temporary relief of symptoms. What you might need is to go back, in your subconscious mind, to the moment when that trauma occurred to talk to yourself at that moment and reassure you that everything will be ok. To give your former self the gift of the coping skills to get through that moment so that you can relieve your subconscious of the burden of the trauma. This is called regression therapy and it allows you to move on from what happened. Not to forget but to reframe those events and recognise that you are stronger as a result of them. This is healing the past with your present and we will look at how and why it works in more detail next week. If you can’t wait until then, you are welcome to request a free, no sales pitch, no pressure discovery call on 089 972 2991.
The Power of Your Breath
Did you know one of the most powerful things you possess is your breath? No, I’m not telling you to stop eating garlic or onions! I’m talking about the fact your breath is quite literally one of the best tools you have for easing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is also always with you and entirely free. Oh, and good luck trying to live without it!
I want you to do something. It will only take a moment. Focus your mind on your breath. What part of the breathing process does your mind get drawn to? Out of curiosity, what is your breathing habit? Do you breathe in shallowly or deeply. If the latter, you’re already onto a good thing. If the former, don’t worry, you can learn. It’s easy.
Now I want to take you through a short breathing exercise. Try to follow these instructions as closely as possible but don’t worry if your mind wanders. This is perfectly normal. When you notice your thoughts have wandered off from your breath, just gently bring it back to your breathing.
I want you to simply focus on the cool air entering your nostrils and the warm air exiting. Can you notice the slight change in temperature? There might even be a little tingling now you’re focusing on it.
Now I want you to see if you can notice your breath entering and exiting your throat. Then into your lungs and out again.
Finally, I want you to concentrate on your in-breath making your stomach rise and the out-breath letting it fall. Try to breathe in to fully expand your stomach and breathe out to let it fall down completely. It can help to leave your hand on your stomach whilst you do this. Do five more full in and out breaths.
Now return to focusing generally on your breath. Do you notice any change in your breathing style? Is it shallower or deeper than before? Is it quicker or slower? You probably answered the latter in both cases. So how do you feel now? How is your anxiety? Your depression? Did you get temporary relief from your symptoms?
In last week’s blog post, I spoke about the flight or fight response. When you are suffering anxiety or depression, or more generally stressed, this is usually the mode the body is in. With one addition. Your freeze response. Flight-fight-freeze is based in the amygdala which we also looked at last week. The freeze part is your body getting ready to make its next move. It’s also known as reactive immobility or attentive immobility. You’re not moving, or you’re reacting more slowly but your brain is still abuzz surveying the territory or the situation you are in. This is one of the reasons you might feel numb and with a low desire to do anything when you’re in this situation.
One of the main ways the body prepares for flight-fight-freeze is by breathing quickly and shallowly. This enables more oxygen to be taken in so that your muscles are in the optimum condition to respond. This is useful if you’re in a confrontation, less so if you’re at home or work just trying to get on with your day. It’s positively hellish if you’re trying to get to sleep or enjoy an activity.
Your subconscious also knows that shallow, quick breathing means you’re likely in a flight-fight-freeze situation meaning your brain is on high alert. It is also the main reason why a simple breathing exercise like the one above designed to calm, slow down and deepen your breath is so effective in relaxing you, however temporarily. Your subconscious is then being sent a different message, that the imminent danger has passed. Even a temporary break though can feel like complete bliss to us when we’re in the middle of anxiety or depression. Trust me, I know this only too well from my own experience.
Now, a simple breathing exercise on its own isn’t going to get rid of your symptoms of anxiety and depression permanently. Over time though, this, and other techniques, can make a massive difference as your subconscious brain starts to create new pathways which deal better with stress-inducing situations. It also means you start to build up a skill set and a different viewpoint and philosophy towards stress. It takes work but that’s why I’m here, to help make your path back to wellness and mental health easier and quicker. The symptoms are based in your subconscious and it is the subconscious that hypnotherapy is so effective at working with. It is literally the field hypnotherapists operate in. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get you back to enjoying your life again!
If you want help with practising a breathing technique like the one described above, visit the free meditations section of my website. The first video is two breathing exercises. Try it and see for yourself the calming effect of your own breath. If you want more information or are ready to regain your mental health and wellness free from the symptoms of anxiety and depression contact me on 089 972 2991 for a free no-pressure, no-sales pitch consultation.
Dealing With Difficult Emotions
You know the cycle. Something triggers a negative emotion in your mind and you start to fixate on the issue. No matter what you do, the situation keeps coming back into your brain like a mindworm (ok, this word doesn’t exist; I’m borrowing from earworm). It keeps finding a hole to wiggle through to take over your thoughts again and again. You start to fret about the problem and it just seems to grow bigger and bigger.
This is because the problem has triggered your fight or flight response. This instinctive behaviour is controlled by the amygdala, the section of the brain known as the reptilian zone. Now, compare yourself with a frog, a snake or a tortoise. You’re clearly more intelligent. Your flight or fight response isn’t though. It comes from a time when humans were hunters and hunted in equal measure. In terms of time, that isn’t really all that long ago. Humans have been on Earth for around six million years. We haven’t regularly had to deal with being prey for a few thousand. So this part of our brain hasn’t evolved out of existence yet. Actually we probably never want it to be. Although the chances of a saber-toothed cat chasing us down the Parade in Kilkenny is pretty slim these days, we still need a danger signal. Otherwise, when we are crossing the road and a car suddenly appears driving too fast, we wouldn’t react by quickly getting out of the way.
However, most of the time, this response isn’t useful. In fact it can be very unuseful and actually make our lives a misery. Anyone who suffers, or has suffered, like myself, with anxiety will know our flight or fight response is triggered constantly. It’s a miserable existence as we are always on edge. So what we need to do is learn how to deal with that. The typical reply to flight or fight is for us to tense up and fight the emotion. The trouble is the emotion wants to fight. It is called the fight or flight response after all! So try accepting the emotion. Don’t judge it. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Just let the emotion be. Don’t question it. Don’t get wrapped up in the story of it. Allow the emotion to rest. See if you can pinpoint where in the body you feel the emotion. It might be a tightening of the shoulders, a headache, your stomach might feel like it is churning. It could be something different. Allow that physical sensation to just be. Again, don’t fight it, just accept it. Very gently try to breathe into it. Try to soften the edges of the body sensation. Don’t try to get rid of it, just smooth the edges of it. Strangely, by not fighting the negative emotion, the negative emotion often meanders on its way again and leaves you feeling more relaxed. This is because, by accepting it, you trigger the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, the rational zone, the part of the brain which separates you from the frog, the snake and the tortoise we discussed earlier.
If you need help with accepting the negative emotion and letting it be, head over to the meditations section of my website. The first two meditations are for dealing with anxiety, the second of which is specifically for dealing with difficult emotions.
Finally, if you’re ready to deal with your anxiety once and for all and get that prefrontal cortext working to best help you get back to enjoying life again, give me a call for a free consultation on 089 972 2991.
Lockdown Level 5 Part 2 – Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
So it’s back. Lockdown level 5. Already this evening for many people tension levels will have risen with depression setting back in and anxiety niggling away at already threadbare mental wellness.
So rather than look at the gloominess of the situation let’s look for the positive.
Here are a few tips for things to help you feel better during the weeks ahead.
1. Take up a new hobby which you’ve long planned to start but never gotten around to. Painting, reading and meditating are three examples of pastimes people find great relaxation in. There are many others.
2. Develop a healthy exercise practice. Gyms are shut but this isn’t the only way to get fit. Running is a great way to feel better in both body and mind. Couch to 5k apps are plentiful for smartphones. If technology isn’t your thing, a watch and a couch to 5k plan in text format are great.
3. Find a new radio station. Personally I listen to Classic FM a lot (cheeky hint: Classic FM’s website asks you for a postcode if you’re outside the UK, google one and enter that and you’re in). I find it helps me unwind. Particularly at times when I’m feeling anxious or depressed, classical music really uplifts me. Whatever your relaxing radio station style is, you’re bound to find one which suits you (the Radio Garden app is a fun way of doing this as you can literally search the globe from Kilkenny to as far away as Tonga, Haiti and Singapore). Failing that, the trusty old wireless is a timeless companion.
4. Keep in touch with friends and family. This needn’t even cost a cent. WhatsApp, Skype and other apps are great for this and once you have a WiFi connection, can be used for free. Even if you don’t have a phone which can use these suggestions, a quick call just to say hello to a loved one needn’t cost the Earth. You’re also sure to make the people you keep in contact with feel special and help them through lockdown level 5 part 2 too.
5. Avoid excessive news coverage and use reliable sources. There will be a lot of scaremongering in the weeks ahead by self-proclaimed amateur experts who frankly don’t really know what they’re talking about. Ignore them and get your updates from old reliables like RTÉ, Virgin, Newstalk etc.
If you still find everything too much and are struggling, give me a call on 089 972 2991 for a free, no pressure, no sales pitch consultation and let’s talk. Just because we can’t meet in person doesn’t mean I’m not here to help you.
James Braid – The Real Father of Modern Hypnotherapy
There is a strong chance you have heard of Franz Mesmer. The Swabian doctor and astronomer is frequently referred to as the inventor of modern hypnotherapy. However, this is historically inaccurate. What Mesmer created was mesmerism which, although a term used today as a synonym for hypnosis, is not the same thing as hypnotherapy. Although mesmerism was used for therapeutic purposes by Mesmer during the 1700s, it was tied up in a mystical belief that there was an energy inherent in all objects, animate and inanimate, which could be transferred and that this energy could be used to cure ills.
James Braid was more practical and less concerned with mysticism and magic. He was a surgeon. Braid became familiar with animal magnetism, a synonym for mesmerism, but was unconvinced by the idea that it was the result of transferable energy. He was able to determine that sensory perception was heightened when a patient was hypnotised and that control over certain bodily functions, for example heart rate, was enhanced. He was able to use these conditions successfully to resolve physical ills in his patients which conventional medicine of the time had failed to correct.
Of course, operating in the 1800s, Braid’s ideas and practices have been abandoned in many cases and adapted in others. A statement which is true of all medical practice. Some of the techniques Braid used would be considered highly dubious today. Milton Ericksen’s work in the 1900s is closer to what would be considered modern hypnotherapy today. However, hypnosis as a tool for helping people in a wide variety of areas of life started with James Braid. For that fact, he can be considered the father of modern hypnotherapy.
The True Founder of Modern Hypnotherapy
A quick question. Who is considered the founder of modern psychology?
The chances are you responded “Sigmund Freud” pretty much without thinking! Actually, if you did, you experienced hypnosis, even for that very brief moment. You answered without using your conscious mind. The subconscious part of your brain did the work for you. That is, in a nutshell, hypnosis.
Of course, there is a little more to hypnotherapy than that. Using your subconscious though is where this particular therapeutic field operates.
Now another question (I promise it is the last!). Who is considered the founder of modern hypnotherapy?
Some of you may have answered Franz Mesmer. Whether you did or not, unless you have studied hypnotherapy to some degree, it’s likely you had to think about it for a moment. You used your conscious mind. You had to actively use your brain to find a response. Not hypnosis.
Out of interest, which felt easier, less stressful or less difficult? Almost certainly the first answer you had to give. This is because your subconscious mind is approximately 30,000 times more powerful than the conscious part of your brain. This is where we will be working in a hypnotherapy session which will help you to discover the best version of you!
And the correct answer as to who is the true founder of modern hypnotherapy?
James Braid. More about him next week.
I’m A Hypnotherapist. Not a Magician. I Can’t Control You. Oh And My Eyes Don’t Magically Become Transfixing, Specklessly White Balls.
Svengali. That name is enough to conjure up fear and misconception in those unfamiliar with the medical science of hypnotherapy.
Fortunately, society has moved on since 1931 when John Barrymore performed an anti-Semitic trope of a character. The film still has its fans, as its current rating of 6.8/10 on IMDB testifies. However, the anti-Jewish characteristics of Svengali not to mention the language used by the other protagonists towards him are rightfully far from acceptable today. This is not the same as saying it does not exist, but that bigotry is not tolerated by the majority of society.
However, there is another stigma which came from the film. That of the hypnotist who can control people’s minds and physical actions simply by mesmerising them with hypnotic eyes. Sometimes I wish I had this power. When my wife is complaining, understandably so, about my not picking my socks up from beside the bed, it would be easier. Suddenly turning my eyes into white, speckless globes and taking control of her thoughts and actions in that moment would arguably make life very much easier. For me, at least. Sorry to smash any illusions but that’s fiction. I can’t do that.
If you come for a hypnotherapy session with me, or any other hypnotherapist for that matter, you remain in control. Total control. For the full session. We relax you sufficiently to allow you to connect with your sub-conscious and make you more susceptible to suggestions. Your suggestions, not ours. We can’t put our suggestions into your mind. Your brain is far cleverer than that and would reject them. It is simply a process of moving your conscious ideas to your sub-conscious brain which is much more powerful. It is in doing this that we, as hypnotherapists, can help you to live your fullest life.
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