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sleep, insomnia, 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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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.

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]

quitting smoking with hypnotherapy, hypnosis, stop smoking

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?

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.