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anxiety hypnosis, panic attacks, hypnotherapy surrey, holidays, cool, calm

How To Stay Cool, Calm And Collected During The Holidays!

Christmas

The difference between getting stressed and staying cool, calm and collected during the holidays is self-caring. With the Christmas upon us, presents to buy and wrap, dinners to cook, families to entertain, and the cold and flu season too, many of us feel so tired that we cannot enjoy the Christmas season like we should.

You feel tired from all the racing around, stressed with the endless ‘to do’ list and are exhausted mentally and physically. During this time stress-related visits to the GP’s increases, and by January you are ready to collapse in a heap and need another break from it all – but have to go back to work.

Self-Care Helps Your Wellbeing And Others

Instead of resigning yourself to feeling stressed at this time of year, how about practicing self-care and still get through your ‘to do’ list?

By looking after your wellbeing you will increase your energy levels, find it much easier to deal with all the stress that Christmas inadvertently throws at us, and also have time to look after others.

Here are some self-care tips to help you:

  1. Don’t forgo your normal exercise routine over the holiday. Try to keep your normal exercise routine (or if you haven’t got one, now is a good time to introduce some regular exercise). Don’t allow that list of jobs put exercise on the back seat. Exercise will boost your energy, improve your mood and make you feel healthier. If you have children and they’re on holiday, encourage them to get out with you: it will elevate boredom, and make them feel better too.
  2. Practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques. It’s such a busy time of year with shopping, preparing your home for Christmas, entertaining, driving around the country to visit people or to collect family members from the airport. No wonder you feel stressed. Maybe it’s the first time you are attempting a festive meal for the whole family, or your mother-in-law is coming to Xmas dinner and you want everything to be perfect. Stay in the moment to stop your mind going in different directions and focus on relieving stress with breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques.
  3. Don’t be a superhero! If you get stuck – ask for help from friends and family. Make a list of all the things that need to get done for the Christmas festive season and delegate to all the member of your family. Kids can write the Xmas cards, tidy the garden, decorate the house ready for the festive season etc.. Your partner can help with buying some presents for his / her family so you can take that stress out of the equation. Learning how to delegate is one self-care practice that will last you a long time in the future.
  4. Watch what you eat and drink. Try not to indulge in too many treats or cakes, drinking too much or other sweet treats that you would not have any other times of the year. It is okay to indulge but in moderation which will be great for self-care. If you indulge in too much sugar, you will begin to feel tired and irritable with the ‘sugar rush’. So balance this by eating well and drink plenty of water during this festive season.
  5. Learn to say ‘no’. Try to schedule your time so you are getting enough rest. If you agree to attend 4 different parties, plan to host a big new year’s party, or agree to bake cakes for a friend’s children’s Xmas party, your stress levels will increase as you have taken more on that you can cope with. Don’t worry about missing out or turning people down. Yes, it can be difficult to say ‘no’ but it is also empowering! Say no when you want quiet days in with your family, or want to have a relaxing bath instead of partying, or have a night in with a glass of wine.

If you still feel like you need to do everything or there’s no time to fit it all in, think about how your stress levels will affect other people. Do your friends really want to spend time with someone who someone who is frazzled and can’t relax? Is it really that important to make your own mince pies if it means you stay up half the night and can’t keep your eyes open the following day?

By practicing self-care you will also ensure that everyone around you gets the benefit of the cool, calm and collected you! I’m sure they will all enjoy this version much more than the stressed one.

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety or overwhelm, hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for a free 30-minute consultation to explore more.

coping with Christmas, holiday depression, feeling sad, anxious hypnosis, hypnotherapy surrey

Coping With Christmas: Is It All Too Much?

coping with Christmas, holiday depression, feeling sad, anxious hypnosis, hypnotherapy surrey

Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many people. It can put a strain on relationships, bring old grudges and problems to the fore, and also be a very sad and lonely time for some people.

With the expectation that you should be enjoying yourself with friends and family, the expense of gifts and nights out, and the huge amount of work it takes to create a wonderful Christmas for your nearest and dearest, it’s no wonder that many people feel overwhelmed.

For those people who are far from home, lost a loved one, or perhaps have separated in the past year, Christmas can trigger anxiety, stress and feelings of loneliness.

This is perfectly normal and understandable. If Christmas is making you feel depressed or stressed, this is not because you are a modern day Scrooge.

Feeling Depressed At Christmas

Due to the commercialism of Christmas, we’re all under a huge amount of pressure to make everything perfect. The Christmas card perfect family, a stack of presents under the tree, your home looking like a cover shoot for an interiors magazine, a table laden with home cooked Christmas food.

If we can’t meet these expectations it’s no wonder that many people feel depressed and stressed. And some people go into the process of self-reflection and thought about the shortages in life and compare themselves to other people. This brings added pressure and they spend a lot more than they should on presents etc. that they don’t have. This can spiral out of control and get them into debt.

Some people deal with loneliness at Christmas due to loss of a loved one, while some deal with family conflicts, as it is the one time that everyone gets together. It may also be your ‘first’ Christmas after a life-changing event – for example, divorce, the loss of a job, or illness.

These factors can all come to a head over the Christmas period. Below are some of the steps that you can take to manage your stress and your finances:

  • Identify the reason that you are stressed: such as financial pressures. Set a budget and plan the things you can do and eliminate the things you cannot. Money saving tips can be saying to your family and friends that this year you will be buying gifts only for the kids. Or suggest a “secret Santa” for adults so to reduce the financial burden on everyone.
  • Research some cost cutting ways that you can have fun. Don’t let money saving spoil your fun. If you want to socialise organise a BBQ or a house party where all the guests bring a plate of food so that costs are shared.

Family Conflicts And How To Deal With Them

Some families struggle with getting on with one another and there is a lot of power play in the mix. Also, divorce among some of the family members means that unresolved conflicts can trigger stress and anxiety.

  • Be realistic about what will occur at the Xmas celebrations – it might not be perfect. Plan how you will deal with the stress and anxiety if it occurs.
  • If there are children from the different families getting together at Xmas time, be considerate and put the conflicts aside. Focus on having fun and making Xmas a special day for everyone.
  • Remember there can be conflicts but try to stay calm, don’t drink more than you have to and don’t use it to cope or take your frustration out on your loved one.
  • Know what your triggers are if your family argues on a certain topic avoid it.
  • Take baby steps when you are communicating with a member of your family that in the past there has been some friction, don’t bring up the past hurts or be sarcastic but try to improve the relationship by sticking to ‘safe’ subjects.
  • Breathe deeply if you get annoyed and something someone says, remember it’s what happens at Xmas and stay calm as it’s a special day.

Ways To Manage Your Loneliness

If you feel isolated if you have been recently divorced or a recent break-up, or have lost a loved one it can be really tough when everyone else appears to be having a good time. Here are some tips to cope:

  • Be honest and acknowledge that it is going to be difficult. Embracing the sadness will help with dealing with the grief. By doing this, being honest will release the sadness and loss, which will reduce long lasting, issues with blocked emotions.
  • Connect with new people, your friends and family. Call family even if they live far away, keep in touch via phone calls, emails. Also be patient if they take a while to respond as many people do get caught up with their own preparations.
  • Help or volunteer at a charity shop or a local shelter. They need help, especially at Xmas time. You will connect with different people and make friends and feel good.
  • Attend events like Xmas lighting ceremonies, Christmas carol singing, markets. Try to get out and be around people and this will help relieve loneliness.
  • Accept invitations for Xmas day and don’t stay in and feel lonely. Plan your whole day, have breakfast, attend the local church for a service, or take a walk and then have a wonderful meal and watch Xmas movies.

Cognitive behaviour therapy helps to recognise behaviours that will contribute to anxiety and stress during the Xmas period. If you are already feeling panicky about Christmas and think that it’s going to be hard, you could get help now.

CBT can help you to think positively, recognise the triggers that can lead to stress and feelings of depression, and act before they overwhelm you.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss how I can help today.

6 Quick Tips To Reduce Depression And Stress:

  1. Evaluate what your expectations are at Christmas so you are making doable plans.
  2. Be present and available when you are around your family – put cell phones and Facebook away and focus on having fun with them.
  3. Get enough sleep and eat healthy meals so it improves your mood and you don’t get irritable at small things. Also, take the time to exercise, it will relieve stress and pent up emotion.
  4. Delegating tasks and will reduce the overwhelm, also it’s a good opportunity to connect and spend time with each other.
  5. Set aside differences with members of your family, it will make the celebrations more fun, and improve relationships long term.
  6. Stay within your budget and do not allow yourself to compete with other people over expensive Christmas presents.

If you are worried about how you will cope emotionally over Christmas, please do get in touch to explore whether CBT and hypnotherapy can help. Call 0796 715 1790 or email [email protected]

treatment for stress and anxiety, stressed out, how to stay calm

Treating Anxiety And Stress: A Case Study

treatment for stress and anxiety, stressed out, how to stay calmstudy I share how hypnosis and cognitive behaviour therapy can be used effectively to treat anxiety and stress. Names have been changed but this is a real case study with one of my clients.

Hypnosis For Anxiety And Stress

Tom is a good looking young man in his early 30’s. He was brought up by an overprotective mother and was told that he had to be careful from a very young age. He was anxious about most things and found social situations difficult. He was shy at secondary school and struggled with making and keeping friends. He later married Maria who he met at university, but she was the only girl he dated. He has two daughters ages 6 and 9 and they go to their local village school.

When Tom first came to see me he was nervous, did not give me eye contact and shyly smiled a hello. As we chatted Tom relaxed noticeably and said, “I have been anxious and nervous all my life, even in junior school and secondary school. I struggled with knowing what to say then and now my wife takes all the responsibility at home and I let her so I don’t have to.”

He then admitted that his wife made the appointment to see me; she made all the appointments – to see the dentist, doctor etc. If the children had parent-teacher meetings at school, his wife Maria went. She made all the social engagements and at parties, she was the one that socialised, while he was quiet and talked only when he was asked a question. Even when they had takeaway meals, Maria made the call, as he was too shy and nervous.

Because of Maria, Tom was able to avoid social situations that made him uncomfortable and awkward. However, this problem was starting to affect his work as he had taken on a bigger role in his job, needed to do presentations, go to conferences, and talk to business colleagues socially. When Tom was younger he worked at a small local family company owned by someone in the village, and he never had to put himself in front of other people. However, when the owner sold the company Tom had to move jobs to a bigger company. Initially, he was still able to hide himself away, but he soon got recognised his talent and expertise and was forced to take a bigger role.

At the last business event, he was very nervous, spent a lot of time before the event in the toilet and when he finally spoke to the other people he was panicky and his voice was shaky. He said, “I was able to talk quickly and not give myself away. When I was asked a question, I struggled to get my words out due to my nervousness, when eventually I got my words out it was so very embarrassing as I stuttered”.

After that embarrassing situation and feeling humiliated, he started to panic, even more, could not even pick up the telephone without feeling panicky and he started to worry more. He asked himself – Why was he like this? – shy, timid and fearful of everything. He must be the only one in the world to feel like this; he just cannot seem to shake this off. After he spent his day at work feeling pressurised and anxious, he would get tired, fatigued and disheartened combined with negative thoughts, he wanted to give up work but could not as he was the main income earner at home.

As his wife was sociable and had a lot of friends, she took a lot of the responsibilities on her shoulders. The more she did, the more he would withdraw and let her take charge. He had no real close friends to speak of and their social life consisted of friends of his wife. Even when they were out with friends or had a party at home he never knew what to say and felt uneasy.

His anxiety took over when he was the centre of attention and this became very difficult due to expectations at work. When he knew he had to make important phone calls or do a public presentation his anxiety would overwhelm him and would find an excuse to pass this job to his colleague at work. But he knew that this could not continue, the negative cycle that he was stuck in had to change. It was affecting him both at home and at work, and putting him under a lot of pressure.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy With Hypnosis

Tom started cognitive behaviour therapy with me and used the cognitive strategy sessions to relearn the way he thought and felt about himself. He was ready and willing during therapy and progressed well, did all the homework and practice he was set. He did a number of practical presentations with me and then also went home and practiced with his family.

His family was enthusiastic and supportive because he was talking more, felt happier, and addressed his anxiety during these social and speaking occasions. When he made a mistake or the anxiety took over he was able to inject some humour in the sessions we had together. When he was anxious about his social skills or presentation he saw it for what it was, a chance to try and tell people about the subject he was passionate about.

As he found humour and de-stressed during the situation, he saw his anxiety for what it was, which was not as scary as he thought. He was able to put his fear and anxiety into perspective with my help and developed the chance to build his self-esteem. ‘Everyone makes mistakes so what?’ became his motto.

He started to slowly communicate socially more, taking charge such as speaking on the phone or ordering the family’s takeaway. He realised that in public he was not a centre of attention and he could make mistakes and it was okay. With cognitive behavioural therapy, he felt comfortable speaking at meetings and also started to do be more relaxed at public speaking events. He also took more and more of his own responsibilities at work where before he would shrink away or defer to others, and also at home. His wife Maria is happy and pleased with his metamorphosis, and his marriage is flourishing.

“I am happier and feel confident in myself now”, Tom said. “Whereas in the past I let the anxiety take over and I felt frustrated and angry at myself, I am now enjoying my new found freedom from the stress and negativity. I am giving speeches now and do make mistakes, but laugh at them. I am in control of my life and feel confident in my ability in dealing with any issue as it arises.”

Many people adopt behaviours that help them avoid stressful situations like Tom did by allowing his wife to run the social aspects of their lives. However, you could be missing out on opportunities to enjoy an exciting social life or a rewarding career by letting your anxiety dictate how you live.

Take the first step to getting some support so that you can control your anxiety, nervousness or negative thoughts, and gain confidence in being you. If you would like to speak to me about how cognitive behaviour therapy with hypnosis could help you, please contact me by calling 0796 715 1790 or emailing [email protected]

fear of spiders, overcome phobias, anxious, fear

Frightened Of Spiders? How To Overcome Your Fear Phobia

fear of spiders, overcome phobias, anxious, fearIt’s the beginning of September and the spiders are out in force, coming indoors at this time of the year as the weather changes. Fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia and it is a very common phobia. So how to cope with your spider phobia?

I recently helped Wendy who had a long-term fear of spiders. With just one session of hypnotherapy, we were able to cure this phobia allowing her to deal with these eight-legged creatures in a much more controlled way.

How To Overcome Your Fear Of Spiders

As Wendy says, when faced with a spider her anxiety was so high that she once jumped on the dining table to wait for her husband to come home and deal with it. Her flight or fight response naturally kicked in to help her with her anxiety levels. Her heart rate, breathing rate and adrenaline levels increased.

If you have a similar response to spiders or other phobias you will know that someone telling you to calm down is not very helpful. Instead, a good method is to learn to control your breathing and stay calm, with the understanding that the spider or other fear will not actually hurt you.

Generally, when we are stressed our breathing quickens and when we are relaxed and calm we take deep slow breaths. By reversing your panic and anxiety symptoms when confronted by a spider, reducing hyperventilation and guiding your body towards being calmer, you will be in control. Also by mentally relaxing your mind and slowing your breathing rate, you will feel strong and in control of your fear.

Deep breathing techniques are powerful and can be used to:

  • To calm anxiety and panic attacks
  • Reduces your breathing when you hyperventilate
  • To calm your emotional arousal when you are in the presence of a spider
  • To relax and be in control of your mind and body

During her hypnotherapy session, I helped Wendy learn how to control her response when she sees a spider, giving her time to use relaxation techniques before her anxiety has a chance to escalate.

Here’s how to teach yourself deep breathing techniques that you can then use when confronted by your fears.

Deep Breathing For Fears And Phobias

Sit in a quiet place on your couch or lie on your bed and make your body comfortable (this might be difficult when you are anxious due to the presence of a spider but try to sit somewhere where you can relax).

Notice where you are tense and anxious and where you hold it in your body – tighten your muscles and relax them. Place both hands on your tummy and take deep long breaths – gently breath in and out, fill your lungs and then let go. You will feel your tummy inflating and falling with each in-breath and out-breath and not your chest. Notice how each in-breath feels and how it feels on the out-breath. Focus on your tummy as you breath out.

To get the best benefit in order to gain control over your overall breathing patterns always practice this at least 4 -5 times a day.

How to cope with your fear of spiders or other phobias: A practical technique:

  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 the most scared) rate, your anxiety or nervousness with regards the fear you feel,
  2. Relax your mind and keep your eyes closed,
  3. Visualise the situation or imagine (first image) what it is like when you see a spider or experience your phobia. See what you see and hear what you would hear when you are in this situation and observe the tension, anxiety, panic and nervousness,
  4. Now imagine another image (second image) inside your first image, but this time virtualise yourself being calm and confident. Create a big image of yourself fighting this fear and winning, use previous experiences of being successful at something to help you recreate how this feels,
  5. Bring in the first image of that fearful situation, looking and hearing what you would when you are faced with seeing the spider, feeling scared and anxious,
  6. Quickly squash this fear your second image – calm and confident, breathing gently notice everything around you and the way you feel and behave,
  7. Focus on the calm image for about five seconds,
  8. Then open and quickly close your eyes,
  9. Now repeat your steps 4 till 8 for another 9 repetitions (repeating it for a total 10 times),
  10. Check if your nervousness and anxiety has come down between on a 0 to 10 scale
  11. If you still feel stressed repeat steps 4 to 8 for another 10 repetitions until you feel comfortable.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) uses systematic desensitisation and exposure therapy involving restructuring the way you think about spiders.

CBT helps by restructuring the way you feel (fear) and think about spiders and your action or behaviour of avoiding spiders. CBT helps by challenging and replacing your automatic thoughts, for example by replacing “I am scared and spiders will hurt me” to “Spiders are ok and are just small animals that run away when approached”.

When you get overwhelmed with your fears and phobias and you consciously scan your environment constantly for possible threats; a way to feel better is to reduce your general anxiety and stress. Generally, if your anxiety is high, perhaps because of other issues such work-related stress, relationship difficulties and low self-confidence, you can start to obsess about certain things. Your underlying anxiety is down to these issues, but it manifests most strongly in your fear of spiders or another phobia.

The benefits of reducing your anxiety will quieten your mind so you don’t obsess about things. By practicing deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, self-hypnosis, meditation and yoga you can achieve a calm and happier lifestyle.

If you have a spider phobia or any other fears that are making you unhappy, please contact me to discuss how cognitive behaviour therapy can help. Call 07967 151790 or email [email protected]

Weight Loss With CBT A Case Study

Weight Loss With CBT: A Case Study

A wake-up call from his doctor warning that he was pre-diabetic and on a slippery slope to becoming morbidly obese; was the catalyst that resulted in him contacting me.

Toby knew that he needed to change his behaviour and habits around food. Slimming products were not having the desired effect as he was overeating and not exercising. Having found out about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and clinical hypnotherapy, he decided that this was the way to turn his life around.

In just 6 sessions Toby was able to:

  • Gain control over his excessive eating and take control over what he eats,
  • Start an exercise regimen to suit his schedule and has now been going to the gym for the last two months,
  • Lose his target weight of 1 and a half stone in the 2 months since he has been to therapy with me.

Overweight And Miserable

When Toby came to me he was 42, four stone overweight, and living with his mother. He was increasingly finding that his weight was affecting his health, he found it difficult to get around and a blood test had shown his blood sugar levels were too high. His doctor had spelt out the prognosis, ‘lose the weight or you’ll become diabetic’ – diabetes and obesity can lead to other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

As well as the impact on his physical health he was also feeling unhappy, self-conscious, anxious and lacked self-confidence because of his weight. This meant that he didn’t socialise and spent most of his free time playing computer games and watching old movies with his mum.

Bad Habits

When he first contacted me Toby said, ‘I snack a lot after my main meals, eating bread, chocolate, fatty foods and fizzy drinks. My mum cooks huge meals and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I eat even when I am not hungry. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and eating makes me feel better, but that has meant I’ve withdrawn from the outside world and I’ve been hiding at home with mum’.

As his weight has increased Toby has found exercising difficult. He’s self-conscious of his body fat and his low mood has prevented him from feeling motivated and strong enough to go to the gym or to the pool for a swim.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy And Clinical Hypnotherapy

‘From the minute I met Andrea I know that she understood exactly how I felt and she immediately put me at ease. The sessions were relaxed, informative and I learnt calming and relaxation techniques that I will take away for the rest of my life’.

The warning from his doctor came at the right time and Toby decided it was the time he took charge of his weight and life too. He thought clinical hypnotherapy would give him the motivation to change his thoughts and feelings about his image, and also his behaviour towards food. He wanted to eat less and exercise more. He wanted to start eating healthy meals, cut back on the snacks and find the motivation to exercise to tone his body. As a result, he would feel confident to go out with a few people at work and make friends. He thought that this would also give him the courage to move out and then start to cook and look after his own dietary needs. He was right!

I worked with Toby over 6 sessions and during this time he made some significant changes.

Initially, we worked on his self-esteem and his negative and self-critical feelings – ‘I am useless, worthless, unattractive, not worth loving’. We also changed his focus on food and the thoughts he had around eating – ‘if I start eating I cannot stop – I am really out of control’.

Instead, we found a new focus revolving around exercise, healthy eating and mindfulness. Taking control over his diet and food consumption has radically changed the negative emotions he had around food, and this has improved his self-esteem.

At the same time, Toby has made some changes at home and in his social life. He now cooks his own meals to ensure that they are healthy and for portion control, and he has started to socialise with a few people at work. As well as swimming once a week, he has also renewed an old hobby (bowling), which also gives him an opportunity to meet new people.

The stand out feature of this therapy was that it has changed him and his eating habits for good. He felt better that he had ever felt in his life. He also felt confident and asked his boss for a promotion and started doing a course on weekends and online so he could work towards this. CBT and clinical hypnotherapy has given him a new lease of life, and one new friendship he has made has the potential to become more serious.

‘After 6 sessions I was able to change my habits and behaviours with CBT’.

Now two months on from starting CBT and clinical hypnotherapy, he no longer has any sessions but is continuing to achieve his goals.

Toby now exercises four times a week and has lost 1 and a half stone. He feels confident that he now has the right mindset to continue this good work and lose the rest of the weight in a healthy and sensible way.

He has also moved into his own home.

Toby says, ‘In my opinion, CBT and clinical hypnotherapy is a healthier way to lose weight as it has dealt with the negative emotions and behaviours I had about food and my body image. Andrea has gently guided me towards a healthier way of living, giving me the tools to continue working towards my goals.’


If you would like to talk in confidence about your relationship with food, weight loss, body image, anxiety or any other issue that Toby’s story highlights, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. You can call 07967 151 790, email [email protected] or book a consultation here.