Tag Archives for " Stress "

Did You Get A Good Nights Sleep Last Night?

sleep, insomnia, stress

We all suffer from sleep deprivation at some time or the other. This can be due to air travel, anxiety, stress, medical issues or other interruptions in your sleep routine. Sleep problems can cause tiredness in your daily routine; and if it’s a regular occurrence and can lead to physical and mental issues.

This can manifest itself as weight gain, stress, memory problems, low mood, irregular blood pressure, loss of energy and a compromised immune system.

Sleep Disorders and Insomnia

How do you know whether your insomnia is big problem, an annoying issue or medical problem? Read through the following list and see whether or not you do these things:

  • Fall asleep on your desk at work
  • Are irritable and grumpy in the day time
  • Fall asleep early evening when watching TV
  • Find it difficult to concentrate
  • Look tired and other people mention this
  • Feel angry for no reason and cannot control your emotions
  • Take a nap in the day
  • Drink lots of coffee or caffeinated drinks

If any of the above answers are yes then you do suffer from a sleep disorder. We all have an internal clock that regulates our sleep patterns know as circadian rhythms. When it becomes dark our brain releases a hormone called melatonin that makes us feel sleepy and we go to sleep. But when it is light (a cue) in the daytime sends a message to our brain that its time to wake up influencing your circadian rhythms. These rhythms are linked to the sleeping problems, which when not in sync, can lead to anxiety, depression and winter blues or seasonal affective disorder.

How To Get A Good Nights Sleep

What are the things you can do to get a good nights sleep, overcome sleep issues and learn to deal with them effectively:

  1. Identify the signs and symptoms that causes you sleep problems
  2. What is your bedtime routine that causes you sleeplessness?
  3. Keep a diary of your sleep patterns
  4. What are the things you eat or drink before bed time – alcohol, hot chocolate (caffeine), chocolate biscuits, liquids and what time have you taken them?
  5. How long are you awake for and what were you doing?
  6. Did you feel relaxed before bed time or you were stressed, anxious or unhappy?
  7. Are you on any prescriptive medicines?

By identifying the factors that could be affecting your sleep you can take steps to avoid them, or work on these issues. For example if you are feeling stressed you can try relaxation techniques, or you may want to get professional help such as clinical hypnosis with cognitive behaviour therapy to address the underlying issues that are causing your stressed state.

Things you can do for yourself to improve your sleep patterns:

  • Be consistent about your bedtime routine including weekends (regular night-time schedule) – time you go to bed,
  • Regular exercise regime in the daytime and not too close to bedtime,
  • Don’t nap in the daytime and if you have to have a nap, limit it to power naps of 30 minutes,
  • Don’t consume caffeinated drinks, alcohol or stimulants,
  • Don’t eat your supper too late as rich meals or spicy meals can cause you to have heartburn and then you will find it difficult to fall asleep,
  • Your will find it easy to sleep when your bedroom is dark, cool and not noisy,
  • Turn off all screens (TV’s, Facebook, computers, iPads) an hour before you go to bed in order to let your brain relax and not get over stimulated,
  • Instead listen to some calming music, practice mindfulness, read a book, listen to an audiobook,
  • Don’t drink too much water or drinks as you might want to use the toilet at night and that can keep you up,
  • Listen to relaxing music or try a mindfulness exercise so that you drop of to sleep,
  • Keep a pad by the bedside to write a list of the things that are bothering you and postpone the brainstorming till the next day.

If stress from work, family, relationships or your career or school is causing you sleepless nights, learning to cope with your stress, anxiety and maintain a calm, relaxed outlook that can help you get a good nights sleep is important.

If you think you could benefit from some professional help, take advantage of my free 30 minute consultation to discuss your options and get advice and strategies to sleep better at night.

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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.

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]

Quitting Smoking When You’ve Tried Unsuccessfully Before

quitting smoking with hypnotherapy, hypnosis, stop smoking

In my experience, by the time clients seek help to quit smoking using hypnotherapy they’ve already tried a number of other ways to stop – unsuccessfully. In this post, I’m going to share how one client who had smoked for many years and had tried to quit smoking several times, finally kicked the habit. If you are struggling to stop smoking, I hope that this will inspire you to try again.

Stop Smoking With Hypnotherapy A Case Study

Harry had tried many times over the past 5 years to quit smoking but always started up again when he felt his addiction to cigarettes return. He regularly said to himself ‘I have done damage to myself already so why should I quit smoking now, I won’t be able to cope with the cravings and anxiety I feel when I am not smoking’. But then he had a bout of pneumonia and the doctor warned him that if he continued to smoke he would seriously damage his health. He also has high blood pressure and gastric problems and a combination of these health issues motivated him to take action.

Harry had warnings about his health before but could not keep the cravings at bay and kept going back to his smoking habit. Harry smoked roll-up cigarettes for 25 years since he was 14 years old and as the years went by he was smoking more and more without realising how many he smoked in the day. Due to his addiction to smoking, his wife had started smoking too. He had a dedicated a room outside as his office, in reality, it was his smoking room. He has 3 children and the thing that made him contact me was a small sentence that his 10-year-old son said to him on the way to football practice. He said ‘dad you won’t be there will you when I grow up’ This made him stop and think and he contacted me in desperation as he really wanted to see his son grow up and become an adult.

Harry knew that if he did not change his smoking behaviour he would not be around for his kids, he has 2 younger children as well. He had tried vaping, nicotine patches and gum but none of them worked for him. He spoke about his struggles to a close friend who told about how he had quit using cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnosis. When Harry finally made that call, he had decided that it was the time he changed his habits and behaviours and make a life-changing decision to give up smoking for good. He wanted to get to the root cause of his smoking behaviour long-term and get back in control of his life.

After the first session, Harry was able to throw away all the roll-up cigarettes he had. He cleared his house, turned his ‘office’ into a playroom for his kids and started to spend time with his family that he had not ever done before. He also took an interest in the little odd jobs around the house that had piled up and started to tackle them one by one. He spent the first weekend in years attending to his family needs and having fun.

Making The Decision To Quit

When Harry came to our first session, he smoked 40-50 roll-up cigarettes a day, not noticing how many he was smoking in a day. When he realised what he was doing to his body and health, he made the life-changing decision to stop. His ‘aha’ moment came when his son said ‘you won’t be there dad when I grow up’ this struck a chord with him and he was shocked and surprised about.

After 5 sessions Harry was:

  • Not smoking, and had removed all cigarettes and evidence of smoking from his house and car
  • Was spending more time with his family, and encouraging his wife to stop smoking too
  • Joined a gym and working on getting his health back on track
  • Saving money – by not smoking he was able to book a holiday in the Autumn so he and his family could have some quality time together

“When I met Andrea my goal was to reduce my cigarette smoking as it relieved my stress but with her sessions I learned to cope with my stress and when I was under pressure and focused on quitting for good.” Harry

CBT focuses on the here and now – not what has happened in the past but how you are feeling today. Harry identified his negative thoughts and developed a new way of thinking about his life. He identified his distorted thought patterns and learned to deal with the stress that caused him to smoke. He was able to:

  • Build his self-confidence in his abilities at work
  • Motivate himself to quit smoking for good and never touch another cigarette again
  • Identify the triggers that caused him to smoke and using the techniques I taught him to respond differently in those situations
  • He learned to stay calm, relaxed and resisted the urge to smoke in times of stress
  • He changed his negative thoughts from ‘why am I trying to quit when I never will quit or what’s the point of quitting’ to ‘I feel good that I have quit smoking and I am happier and healthier than before, I will be there for my kids when they grow up’
  • He also replaced negative and destructive thought patterns with positive and healthy thoughts
  • He used the skills and techniques I taught to build a positive self-image without cigarettes
  • He learnt strategies like breathing exercises, mindfulness and importance of healthy eating habits, exercising of mind and body.

Harry said,

“I felt at the end of my tether when I came to Andrea and frustrated as I could not move forward with my life. I felt stuck and thought that if I don’t make changes now I will lose my family. I now feel fantastic. I have quit smoking permanently, choosing a healthy way of living. Identifying what causing me to smoke and keep smoking was the key to my success, it has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I will continue to use the techniques that Andrea has given me and am working on long-term goals.”

I have designed an online ‘Stop Smoking Course’ that can help you quit like Harry, click here for more details. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to me about giving up smoking and the options you have available, please contact me on 0796 715 1790 or email [email protected]

Why Do Men Find It Easier To Give Up Smoking Than Women?

Why Do Men Find It Easier To Give Up Smoking Than Women?Samantha says, ‘I have been trying to give up smoking for years. I have managed 3 times for a short time but always find myself starting again. I have tried really hard but find myself hopelessly addicted. My husband was trying to quit the same time as me and has given up for 3 weeks now.’

She’s not alone. Many women have similar stories of finding giving up smoking much harder than their male friends and family. So, why do men find it easier to give up smoking than women?

Generally, men find it easier to quit smoking than women because of the different ways our brains respond to nicotine addiction. Cigarette smoking tends to be a more of an emotional attachment to women, than physical. This is why addressing the emotional satisfaction and associations with the act of smoking, before the physical cravings, is so important for women to successful quit smoking for good.

Nicotine Receptors And Giving Up Smoking

Researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine in the US conducted a study that found that men had more nicotine receptors compared to men that did not smoke. Conversely, women who smoked had an equal number of nicotine receptors to the woman that did not smoke.

“When you look at it by gender, you see this big difference,” said study researcher Kelly Cosgrove, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.

These findings are important because it suggests that addressing nicotine addiction is not as important for women, as for men. While men may benefit from smoking cessation treatments such as nicotine patches and gum, women need to take a different approach. The researchers in the study suggest that women benefit more from cognitive behaviour therapies that help to address the emotional and cultural reasons they smoke. Relaxation and deep breathing exercises may also help more than using nicotine replacement therapies.

Emotional Reasons For Smoking

For women, smoking can often be associated with emotional triggers such as having coffee with a friend, occupying themselves when feeling insecure or the tactile sensation of having a cigarette between their fingers.

Here are some of the reasons why women find it difficult to give up cigarettes:

  1. Women often find when they are stressed and anxious they relapse because they equate smoking with relaxation,
  2. Women may find withdrawal symptoms harder to manage because they are not just fighting their nicotine addiction but also the sensation or act of smoking,
  3. Aids like nicotine replacement – gums and patches are not as effective with women due to how nicotine affects their brain,
  4. Women may also be apprehensive about putting on weight, it’s a popular belief that they replace cigarettes with junk food, and may justify smoking for weight control,
  5. Hormones fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can make quitting harder as women may also have to contend with emotions that cause them fall back into the smoking habit.

How Women Can Increase Their Chances Of Quitting For Good

If you really want to stop smoking you need to learn to cope with difficult feelings or situations. This may mean finding alternative ways of dealing stress.

For many, smoking is seen as a stress reliever (although it actually increases stress) so deep breathing exercises that mimic the habit of cigarette puffing, can really help. In fact, deep breathing exercises can not only provide a substitute for smoking but effectively reduce stress levels, unlike cigarettes.

Motivating and building self-confidence can also play an important role in quit smoking.

  1. Identify triggers to your smoking habit: when are you likely to feel like smoking? Recognise your patterns and understanding what your triggers to smoking are,
  2. Identify the reasons that you keep smoking. What causes you to have low mood and self-esteem, be anxious, get stressed etc.?
  3. Do things differently. Don’t try to do quit using the same approach as your male friends and relatives. Get support from a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist; try mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and ask for support from family and friends and the people closest to you,
  4. Set goals: SMART- simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals: Set a date, time and clear all the cigarettes from your home, desk and car,
  5. Drink plenty of water at least 6-8 glasses per day,
  6. Start a plan to exercise regularly and keep the momentum going,
  7. Avoid situation that will cause you to smoke again – social situations, friends that smoke, going to the pub. Don’t worry it’s only a temporary measure, once you’ve taken control of your smoking you can start to do these things again!
  8. Get a new hobby to replace your addictive habit,
  9. Use positive self-talk that will motivate and distract you from smoking. Many women find that delaying smoking a cigarette is an effective way to reduce the amount you smoke over time. For example, instead of having your first cigarette on the way to work, decide to have it later in the day and gradually extend this period of time. The feeling of empowerment can be very motivating – taking control – in fact, you might then decide to delay that first cigarette for good.
  10. Your nicotine craving will last only for 20 minutes so tell yourself, ‘it will pass, I can get through it.’

Women need to develop the confidence to find the best way to give up smoking for them. Instead of being influenced by what works for other people, particularly men, or what manufacturers of nicotine replacement products advocate, women need to understand what techniques will be effective for them.

In my opinion, the first step is to understand why you smoke. Forget about nicotine addiction, but focus on the emotional reasons you crave cigarettes and address these first.

If you would like to find out more about cognitive behaviour therapy and how this can be used to uncover those emotional triggers and teach you healthier ways to manage these, and give up smoking, contact me for an informal chat.

You may also like to take advantage of a free 30 minute consultation to chat through any issues you currently face.

Insomnia: Why Can’t I Sleep At Night?

Insomnia - Why Can’t I Sleep At Night, insomnia hypnotherapyDo you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock?

Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off. Even if you’re spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.

Read on for my tips for getting to sleep, and getting back to sleep if you wake in the middle of the night…

Stop Insomnia Without Medication

Sleeplessness is a common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, health, and ability to function during the day. Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to sleepless nights. Simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can put a stop to sleeplessness without the need for medication.

Symptoms of not sleeping well include:

  • difficulty in falling asleep despite being tired,
  • having trouble getting back to sleep when waking in the middle of the night,
  • waking up too early in the morning,
  • relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep,
  • feeling tired even after a nights sleep,
  • daytime drowsiness, fatigue or irritability,
  • difficulty concentrating during the day.

8 Tips For Dropping Of To Sleep: 

  1. Wind-down for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed with a warm drink (caffeine free) or by reading a book. Switch off the bright lights and don’t do anything that keeps you alert,
  2. Switch off all your electronic devices like computers and phones as the illuminated screens on these devices can keep you alert and makes it harder for your brain to switch off,
  3. Keep a notepad by your bedside to write a list of things that are going through your mind that is keeping you up at night,
  4. If you go to bed at night and don’t fall asleep for 20- 30 minutes, go to the living room and read or listen to some relaxing music. There is no point lying in bed as it can build an unhealthy connection between your wakefulness and sleeping. Use your bed for sleeping so your brain associates it to going to sleep,
  5. Try to go bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time as well. This creates a routine and it will adjust your body clock accordingly,
  6. Stressful activity like reading a report or trying to sort a work issue can keep you up, so create a routine that you will stop work at a specific time at night,
  7. Try to avoid late meals before going to bed. Foods rich in fat are difficult to digest and spicy or acidic foods can give you heartburn that will keep you awake at night,
  8. Exercising regularly can help with your insomnia symptoms, promoting activity during the day, but not near your bedtime.

5 Tips For Going Back To Sleep When You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night:

  1. Avoid drinking coffee after a certain time at night as it promotes wakefulness,
  2. Get some blackout blinds as that your environment around bedtime is dark and quiet. Block out all sounds that can disturb your sleep routine,
  3. Practice a deep breathing technique,
  4. If you still cannot fall asleep for 20 – 30 minutes, get out of bed and read in another room until you feel tired again and then go to bed,
  5. Write down everything that is worrying you and keeping you awake to deal with in the morning.

Relaxation and mindfulness techniques can harness the body’s natural relaxation response and help when you feel wound up and tense, feeling unable to let go of stress and anxious thoughts at the end of the day. These techniques will help to calm and quieten your mind, relieve your stress and tension in your body. This will help you get to sleep quicker and if you wake up at night you will be able to fall back to sleep.

Try some of these breathing techniques to help with your sleep routine:

  • Abdominal breathing: Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, not only through your chest but also your abdomen, ribcage and lower back. Make sure each breath is slow, breath deeply in through the nose and breath out slowly through the mouth.
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Sit down quietly and focus your attention on your breathing and how you feel at that moment. Allow all your emotions and thoughts to flow naturally without stopping them or judging them and when your attention drifts away to bring your focus back to your breath.
  • Muscle relaxation: Start from the top of your head and progressively tense your muscles to the count of ten and relax to the count of ten, relaxing all your muscles from the head down to the tips of your toes. Do this for all your muscle groups in the body so that you feel relaxed and calm before going to bed.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can also break the cycle of sleeplessness. Regular practice of the above techniques together with CBT can relieve stress and anxiety. This practice becomes a part of your routine and you are able to relax when you go to bed and fall asleep easily, also when you wake up in the middle of the night.

If you would like to explore how hypnotherapy can help you sleep better at night, click here. To speak to me in confidence about any issues that are worrying you, please call 0796 715 1790 or email [email protected]

Giving Up Smoking: Tips For Managing Bad Days

give up smoking, tips for quit smoking, quit smoking hypnosisWe all know that giving up smoking is tough; that your craving won’t go away overnight and even when you’ve quit smoking for a considerable amount of time, that desire for a cigarette, cigar, pipe etc. may suddenly catch you unawares.

One of the most effective ways to manage the bad days is to understand what the triggers are that make you want to smoke. While sometimes they may be to do with social situations, the really strong cravings are more likely to be as a result of stress.

What are your triggers to re-start you smoking habit after you have quit smoking for a period of time?

  • Stress?
  • Anxiety?
  • Irritability?
  • Boredom?
  • Tiredness?
  • Anger?

These triggers can be difficult to overcome when you are on this smoking cessation journey. In general, people think that smoking can calm you down in stressful situations, which is why this is the main trigger for so many people.

Smoking Increases Stress

The action of inhaling and exhaling can help reduce your stress levels, it’s not dissimilar to taking a calming breath, and many smokers report feeling calmer once they have a cigarette. However, nicotine has been proven to exacerbate stress, with studies showing that smokers have higher levels of stress than non-smokers, and that smoking only normalises their stress levels temporarily, which then increase in between cigarettes.

Once you understand what factors trigger your craving, you can then start to control them and find alternative ways of managing stress, boredom or anger.

Managing Cravings – Giving Up Smoking For Good

There are tools and techniques you can utilise to be in control of your triggers. This starts with understanding what’s happening to your body and mind and preparing in advance to fight those cravings.

Managing your withdrawal from your nicotine addiction

Physically your body is reacting to withdrawal from chemicals that are present in the brand of cigarettes you have smoked. It is a stressful process and you must be prepared mentally and physically to cope with it. Have an awareness that you will need be strong to deal with some of the discomforts and to manage and cope with your symptoms of withdrawal.

Fortunately, this does not last very long. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms peak at around day 2 or 3, so you should feel better by the end of week 1. However, it can take up to 3 months for the withdrawal symptoms to be completely gone.

Managing your smoking habits and behaviours

Healing yourself from the habits and behaviours that are linked to the smoking is an important aspect as well. This will take shape when you learn to manage your cravings and feelings. Take it one step at a time and allow this recovery process to unravel by being patient about these struggles you will face.

Unfortunately, nicotine withdrawal can cause the type of symptoms that would normally be a trigger to have a cigarette – irritability, anxiety etc. – but if you understand why you’re feeling like this and have prepared for it, you will have a better chance of managing those triggers and cravings.

These thoughts and feelings together with your smoking cravings can be changed by CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) techniques and you will put them into perspective about how smoking will damage your body.

Tips for managing the bad days:

  1. Make healthy choices:
  • Choose healthy choices with your meals daily. By removing the toxins out of your body you will be moving towards a healthy mind and body routine.
  • Drink plenty of water. As the stress of quitting will dehydrate your body and water is the best way you can keep hydrated. This will reduce the cravings and flush any remaining nicotine toxins from your body.
  • Take some vitamins daily. Your body will get a boost from these vitamins you need to get through your withdrawal process faster. The nutrients from your body are also depleted due to cigarette smoking and these vitamins will boost your immune system.
  1. Reduce your caffeine intake: By cutting your intake of caffeine (either coffee or cola) will calm your nerves. This will also help you to sleep at night as caffeine make you feel energised and you need to be relaxed when you go to bed.
  2. Relax in a warm bath: de-stress in a bath with some scented candles and bath salts.
  3. Calm yourself with a massage: this will relax you and get the tension out of your muscles.
  4. Try to get plenty of sleep: Stress can cause your mind to overthink things and worrying about issues that will cause stress. Allowing your body to rest and your energy levels will return.
  5. Choose some form of exercise to do regularly even if it is a 20-minute walk at least 3 times a week. This reduces the edginess you feel when you are stressed and boosts circulation. Your ‘feel great’ hormone endorphin is released when you exercise or go for a quick walk. You will feel refreshed and this is a great way to de-stress.
  6. Imagine being calm and relaxed. Create a picture in your mind of a place where you felt calm and relaxed, focus on that image. Every time you feel stressed think about this place and imagine being there again.
  7. Deep breathing technique: A quick way to relax when you feel stressed and calm your edgy nerves. Breath into a count to three through the nose and by exhaling with your mouth to another count of five. Do this 4 to 5 times and you will your body relax and let the tension drift away.
  8. Taking one day at a time: Focus on each day as it comes you can feel a sense of pride that you have been without cigarettes for today. Let tomorrow be another day and be positive in your ability to give up smoking for good.
  9. Don’t give up, giving up: you might have some bad days where it will be a struggle not to start smoking again and take it one step at a time. Try to keep your mind away from small or big issues that might cause you to have a bad mood. Look after yourself and give yourself a treat or two and be grateful for every day you are smoke-free.

Triggers, such as stress and anger, are one of the biggest reasons that people are unsuccessful in their attempts to give up smoking. How we respond to these triggers and the habits and behaviours we have formed around them, are often very deep-rooted and hard to overcome. This is why a supportive programme of cognitive behaviour therapy is so effective a breaking the cycle of this behaviour and instilling within you new, healthier, ways to manage and cope with stress.

Find out more about my Stop Smoking Course here.

What To Do If You Think Your Partner Is Suffering From Stress

What To Do If You Think Your Partner Is Suffering From Stress, anxiety hypnosisStress caused by issues at work, worries about money, concerns about family members or health problems, can have a big impact on relationships. It can create a disconnection between a couple leading to communication issues; all at a time when a partner needs more support, not less, from their other half.

All of this can be prevented if you are aware of the subtle changes when your partner is stressed. Being vigilant about each other’s mental health as well as physical health is important, but often it can be difficult to address because symptoms of stress are misdiagnosed, or hidden by the person suffering.

Being proactive about supporting your partner when they get stressed can bring you closer to each other and develop a new level of intimacy.

Stress: Supporting Your Partner

What help can you provide to support your partner if they are suffering from stress?

  • Become aware of the signs and symptoms of stress: everyday life is busy and hectic and it’s easy to get wrapped in your own world. If your partner is stressed and not communicating enough about his/her feelings you will miss the signs. So make an effort to recognise these signs early when you see your partner struggling. How are they coping, are they eating healthily, are they sleeping well, what are their mood and energy levels like?
  • Be vigilant: women tend to get more stressed than men but hide their anxiety really well and don’t talk about their feelings. By staying vigilant, talking to your partner, providing love and support so when they are struggling you are present and this will strengthen your partnership.
  • Being compassionate: when you see that your partner is stressed and they withdraw and are agitated, help by showing them kindness. Show them that you care, even if they are difficult to empathise with. Don’t get cross because they feel stressed give them some space, and show compassion for yourself and for them too. In these circumstances, self-care is an important too as you need to be strong to support your partner and anchor your relationship.
  • Get your partner to talk to you: Communicate with your partner by asking them what is wrong. Say “You seem to find things difficult, are you OK? How can I help?” Let your partner know that you are there to talk and listen. They will feel supported when they are stressed, be present without judgements or irritation. This will require you to be patient with them and listen to their worries and concerns.

Understanding Our Differences

If you’re in a heterosexual relationship it is important to understand that your partner’s response to stress will be different to yours. Women and men have distinct reactions when they are stressed.

When a person is stressed the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which bind together. This causes raised blood pressure and higher levels of blood sugar. Then there is a release of oxytocin from the brain opposing the release of adrenalin and cortisol by relaxing the persons’ body.

When men get stressed less oxytocin is released than in women and therefore they react to adrenaline and cortisol more strongly. This results in a ‘flight or fight response’ that may cause them to be angry, or to repress their feelings and become withdrawn. Typically men care more about competing and their performance in the tasks they are involved in. They like being appreciated, are open to new ideas, like to push themselves to the limit and will accept assistance if they need to.

Women on the other hand, because of higher oxytocin levels, handle stress by nurturing their loved ones; this creates a desire to protect their family, particularly young children. Women’s feelings of competency in relationships are closely linked to their self-esteem and individuality. They like to feel wanted, cared for and like their partner to appreciate them and voice these expressions openly so that they feel good.

Getting Help For Stress

So how do you deal with stress that your partner is experiencing?

Every day as a part of daily life we deal with stress. When you are in a relationship, even if both you and your partner are connecting effectively, there will be some situations when one or the other is continuing to work but has no energy left. The love and support are all you both need to keep going. Keep your positive frame of mind even if you find it difficult and produce resources mentally and emotionally to assist your partner.

This will generate a healthy foundation and solid base for your relationship and build on the good feeling and connection between both of you. Create stress reducing habits and set up a system that both of you have to check in if there is anything you need support with. Do an activity together like a new gym class or Pilates to renew your relationship.

As the person closest to them, you’re also the person who might suggest that they need help from an outside source. This could be something you do together, such as taking a course in meditation and deep breathing, or you might want your partner to see a therapist to get one-on-one support.

It can be difficult to broach the subject of ‘needing help’, but it’s a conversation that you must have if you feel your partner is not able to manage their stress. Research suitable options that your partner is most likely to be receptive to, like cognitive behaviour therapy, and explain why you think they should seek help. Remember to be supportive, loving and share your concerns for their health. Sometimes a ‘do it for me’ approach will allow those people who are trying to hide stress or keep a stiff upper lip, open up and accept help.

Finally, remember to get support for yourself too. It can be very hard living with someone who is suffering from stress or depression, especially when you need to be the ‘strong one’. It may help to talk to trusted friends or just to get some time to yourself by going to the gym or other activities. It may also help to talk to a therapist who can help you look after your mental health, and support your partner at the same time.


If you would like to discuss any of the above with me please get in touch. Contact me on +44 (0)796 715 1790 or email [email protected]

 

Losing weight: Men vs. Women (The Difference Hormones Make)

Weigh Loss Men vs. WomenThe differences between male and female bodies are obvious in one glance. Along with having different body shapes, there are other differences that impact on weight loss, such as men generally enjoying high-protein foods such as meat, while women love to eat carbohydrates. These important differences are often ignored in information about healthy eating and weight loss, but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for men and women, both sexes need a weight loss plan designed just for them.

Generally, when people get into their thirties and then forties, they struggle to keep off the pounds – the middle-aged spread. Women especially have difficulty with weight loss, and this is because of the difference between how men and women store fat – and the hormones that influence this.

Women store their fat in their breasts, thighs and hips. The hormone oestrogen causing the storage of fat in a woman’s thighs and hips and there is an impact on a woman’s breasts due to both the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. Men tend to store fat around the middle of their bodies due to the hormone testosterone and have lean arms and legs. Women have a monthly cycle (menstrual cycle), which fluctuates their hormones and there is an impact on how they function during this phase: how they look, feel and this can cause them to overeat. This then determines their fat storage and whether their bodies lose weight or gain weight.

How Hormones Affect Weight Loss

Hormones – oestrogen and progesterone work in conjunction with each other and influences a woman’s ability to burn fat and the areas that this fat will be taken from. This fat storage is not an intake of calories but a hormonal balance issue.

There is a myth that a diet with low-calorie foods and exercise will cause a woman to lose weight but stress is an important factor too in weight loss. This is due to a high oestrogen level as it increases storage of fat in a woman around thighs and hips. Progesterone combined with oestrogen stops the storage of fat, but if you are in a high-stress situation there is less progesterone action.

Testosterone is an important hormone that helps men with the fat loss, muscle building, bone density and tone of their skin. When men are at their peak they tend to lose weight easily. Many men have to just cut back on what they eat and they tend to gradually drop their weight while women find this process harder. However as the testosterone levels in men decreases, weight loss gets harder and their bone density lowers, this can also impact on mood and may cause feelings of depression.

Weight Loss For Men And Women

Instead of prescribing a diet, exercise plan and weight loss tips for both men and women, we must take into account the unique action of hormones each sex. Here are my individual healthy eating tips for women and men:

Women, you should.

  • Try to eat healthier and smaller portions,
  • Exercise consistently and regularly; include weight training (3 – 5 times a week),
  • Sleep well, eat foods with a good source of protein,
  • Try and cut back on the coffee, carbonated drinks like coke, sprite,
  • Eat green vegetables, increase fibre foods,
  • Take supplements (Vitamin D, fish oil and calcium),
  • Lower intake of dairy and grain foods,
  • Drink plenty of water, green tea.

Men should…

  • An exercise regime designed to strengthen muscle mass and strength. They should do some weight training,
  • Eat plenty of protein rich foods and healthy foods,
  • Reduce their stress levels that increase a hormone cortisol (which is important for fight or flight response) in their system but lowers their testosterone level,
  • Sleep well every night 8 -10 hours,
  • Try to cut back on the alcohol consumption.

Psychological Impact On Weight Loss

Apart from the physiological differences, psychologically men and women are different too. Generally, men don’t see their obesity as a problem and refuse to view themselves as overweight even if they are. They are not dissatisfied by their bodies and weight like women are. They tend not to see their weight issues and assume if they really wanted to they could achieve their desired weight.

On the other hand, women turn to food for comfort and eat due to emotional reasons. They have cravings and their mood with stress triggers them to overeat. If a woman is happy about her shape and size/weight she will feel confident about herself and achieve her goals. A woman will plan a healthy eating programme, shop according to that and will be strict with her weight loss and exercise regularly.

One of the most common reasons that men and woman are different is a woman needs a lot of support from friends and family (social support) and psychological support. While men don’t seem to need the same kind of support, they have a simple plan and will stay on the weight loss programme longer than a woman.

If you are a woman of 40 years and want help with your goals to lose the weight you are struggling with Download my free: 10 Simple Steps To Weight Loss Success.

I also offer a free 30 min free consultation to identify the barriers you have to lose the weight you desire. Contact me on +44 (0)796 715 1790 or email [email protected]

Anxiety Symptoms: Is Your Partner Or Friend Suffering?

anxiety symptoms, partner stress, feeling anxious

Anxiety symptoms are the body’s fight or flight response kicking into action as a reaction to stress. It’s how our instinctive survival system copes with real, imagined or believed danger.

So, if you’ve noticed a difference in a loved one’s behaviour – perhaps they seem edgy, nervous, extremely alert, agitated or overly worried – it may be because they’re under pressure and stressed.

Spot The Anxiety Symptoms

If you know your friend or partner is under pressure, for example, if they’re going through a difficult time at work or in their private life, it’s a good idea to watch out for the following anxiety symptoms. This way you can help monitor how well they’re doing and offer support when needed. However, if you’ve noticed some changes in a loved one and don’t know the reasons why see if any of the following sound familiar:

  • Feeling tense, breathing fast, racing heart,
  • Staying in bed and not venturing outside,
  • Sweating and feeling light-headed,
  • Avoiding places, events or people,
  • Feeling tired all the time and unable to relax,
  • Either sleeping all the time or not sleeping at all,
  • Either eating the wrong foods or not eating at all,
  • They have lost interests in the things they love normally,
  • Unable to concentrate on everyday activities.

Most of us feel some anxiety during out everyday lives, it helps us focus and be alert on what we are doing and the jobs we have to do. However, excess anxiety and constant stress damage our lives and everyday connections with people.

Helping People Cope With Stress And Anxiety

Providing your friend or family member with your support, helping them in recognising their symptoms, and pointing them in the direction of professional services are all steps you can take to help them manage their stress. Here are 7 ways you can help:

  1. Listen and encourage them to tell you what is wrong,
  2. Don’t judge but accept them as they are,
  3. Plan a small outing so they feel comfortable and learn to enjoy these events again,
  4. Encourage them to join an exercise class or go for a walk or jog,
  5. Encourage them to eat a healthy balanced diet
  6. Ask them to make a list of their fears or distressing events that cause them anxiety and write them in the order of importance of how anxious they make your feel (10 –very anxious to 1 – little anxious),
  7. Ask your partner/friend these questions about what they are reacting to and to write it down.

The following are coping strategies that will help your partner/ friend deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  1. Deep breathing techniques or mindful calm breathing – helping you to challenge the awkward thoughts and use positive affirmations;
  2. Note down these following: what are you reacting to, what will happen if you are faced with that situation, is it a fact, or you think the worst will happen, what is the worst that can happen if you are faced with that situation, are you thinking the worst of the situation or are you putting things in proportion and will this effect you in six months time. When you see these answers in written word you will be able to recognise your fears and what is causing your anxiety;
  3. When you feel that anxiety or panic sensation coming on Stop and take a deep breath before you let yourself react automatically. Observe what your mind is reacting to and why are you a feeling anxious at the moment and do something else;
  4. Pull back and question your automatic feelings and thoughts and check for yourself if it’s a fact or opinion;
  5. Imagine coping with that anxiety situation in your mind and take baby steps to do the things that make you uncomfortable.

Listening to and supporting your partner or friend as much as possible is a positive step towards them managing their anxiety and coping with stress. However, if you think that your partner or friend could do with some additional support there are therapies available that can help them change their response to stress and their long-term mental and physical health.

Cognitive behaviour hypnotherapy can help them understand the triggers that cause anxiety and change their unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviour. If anxiety attacks are damaging their relationships, work or enjoyment of life, cognitive behaviour hypnotherapy can be a very positive step to take control of their thoughts and behaviours and learn to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way.

If you are worried about someone close to you and would like to discuss what treatments are available, please get in touch in confidence – 0796 715 1790 or [email protected]