Anxiety Relief And Happy New Year!

A very Happy New Year to you! I hope that you had a great festive period and that you are raring to go now that we are into 2020 and a new decade. If you have been struggling with anxiety, depression or feelings of lowness then I really hope that this is the year that you take back control and start feeling better and happier.

Christmas in our house was its usual mix of craziness, fun and relaxation. By the time both kids were asleep on Christmas morning it was 3 a.m. which meant Santa arrived at 3.01 a.m. and just in time before they woke up at 3.05 a.m.!! And after lots of family time, quizzes, games and the like, here we suddenly are back into the usual routine of daily life (with a very short respite before my daughter's birthday celebrations begin...!!).

Yet if the New Year has found you still weighed down with anxiety and lowness, then the return to normality may bring some relief with a routine and normality, and yet with it, a great load of unease, dread and worry. And whether or not you have made any resolutions or set any goals, there are a few things that you should incorporate into your routine that can make a big difference to how you feel.

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My Most Popular Blogs From 2019:

This is my final blog article of 2019 before the Christmas holidays, when I'll be taking some time off to spend with my family (and to do some extra running no doubt!). 

It's been another busy year and I'm grateful to anyone who has been to see me for hypnotherapy sessions, purchased my hypnosis audios, left me a testimonial, read my blogs, watched my videos or who has supported me in any way. Thank you!

Before I power off and head off, I'd like to share the most read blogs from my website over the year. There have been over sixty articles added this year (with over fourteen thousand views...blimey!) so I hope you've found them (or at least some of them!!) helpful and beneficial. 

So which were the most popular articles?

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A Christmas Carol and Happy Christmas From Me!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas as I write this post and I'm getting used to the daily updates from my kids about how many sleeps are left until Santa comes. 

Apart from the traditional watching of 'It's a Wonderful Life', most of the other Christmas activities (apart from the bootcamp Christmas jumper workout) have already taken place and been a lot of fun. In my last post I wrote about the Ely Festive 5k I ran with my daughter (along with writing about all the research about why you should get running and exercising). We've been up to Birmingham for their Christmas market, Santa has called around our street in his sleigh (pulled by a car because the reindeer are resting) and the other night my wife and I went to watch 'A Christmas Carol' being performed at Ely Cathedral. It's a fun and busy time of year!

The main purpose of this post is to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I'm grateful to all of you who have supported me and worked with me this year and I wish you all the very happiest for 2020. 

And, with the performance fresh in my mind, and always liking a bit of atmospheric Dickens at this time of year, I thought I'd also mention a few things we can all be mindful of from good old Mr Scrooge and company.

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Recent Anxiety Hypnotherapy Testimonials:

As a former anxiety sufferer myself, I'm always delighted to be able to successfully help others to overcome their anxiety too.

Anxiety has a way of creating its own momentum that leads to more and more anxious thoughts and feelings whizzing around inside you, and it can sometimes even feel like a never-ending battle to find some respite. 

For each person, the when, how and where they experience their anxiety can vary, yet those feelings of fear, worry and anxiety, and all those worst case thoughts and that overthinking can have many adverse effects on how you feel and what you can do. And because it can be limiting and debilitating, there are few things better than helping someone to feel calmer, more confident and more in control to do the things they want to do in their life.

You may have already taken a look through the twenty plus pages of reviews and testimonials on my website, that represent a fraction of the people I've worked with, and recently two new anxiety hypnotherapy testimonials have been added.

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Ely Festive 5k 2019 and Why You Should Get Running For Your Mental Health:

The other weekend my daughter and I once again took part in the Ely Festive 5k, which is organised to support the amazing work of the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. Despite her protestations after last year's event that she was never, ever (EVER!) going to take part in it again, Sunday morning at 9am found us both at the start line dressed up in our best Christmas gear (ok, so I had to bribe her to take part with chocolate but let's pretend she really did want to take part with me!).

This was our fourth year in a row taking part together and one of my favourite things about it is all the pre-race stuff as my daughter and I walk to the start line, register, hang about and have some fun before my Santa beard goes on and the race starts. And despite spending the next forty or so minutes with me 'encouraging' her to put some effort in while she protested her legs are hurting (after about quarter of a mile), I'm always happy afterwards that we did it.

Now part of that is that I get to spend some great time with my daughter doing something constructive. But, as anyone who has read my blogs for a while knows, exercise and particularly running have for a long time been my 'thing'. What started as something to get fit grew into 10ks, half marathons, marathons and an ultra before crashing back down to the sort of 10k level I'm at now (after a persistent injury that stopped me running for a couple of years). These days I'm a bit more balanced in my exercise and aim for two runs and four bootcamps a week.

Scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of exercise aside (and there is plenty of it covered below), I find that exercise is one of the most important aspects of what I do to feel good both mentally and physically. The evidence shows that exercise can also help with depression, anxiety and in many other ways for your mental health (and that being inactive can be bad news for both your mental health and physical health).

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Can Mental Health Apps Help Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression?

In my last two articles I wrote a lot about the research into cell phone and smartphone addiction and the potential cognitive impact of your smartphone.

Those two articles looked more at the costs of our smartphone dependence yet there is no doubt that there are many positives and benefits in what our smartphones are capable of doing. One such potential benefit is the ability to download all sorts of apps for all sorts of things, from games to productivity to communication. In fact, some statistics suggest that right now in 2019 there are well over two million apps you can choose from. 

Apps can add to enjoyment and help us organise our lives and, naturally enough given the prevalence of issues, there are many, many apps that promise to help you improve your mental health. Yet aside from anecdotal suggestions and online reviews, it can be difficult to know how reliable any particular app actually is. Can you trust the content on your mental health apps? Are they based on solid science and evidence?

Recently (October 2019), a review was published assessing the inclusion of evidence based content on popular smartphone apps for depression and anxiety. So what did it say about these apps for depression and anxiety?

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Smartphone Addiction: The Impact Of Your Phone On Your Focus, Attention and Performance:

In my last article I wrote about the existence of cell phone addiction and smartphone addiction and about how their use can be problem that is tightly linked to technological developments which can impact on your daily life (have a read of that one here: Is Cell Phone Addiction a Thing? Smartphone Use, Sleep, Anxiety & Depression).

These can include problems such as their use in dangerous situations or prohibited contexts, a loss of interest in other activities, repeated interruptions, periods of insomnia and sleep disturbance, and feelings of irritability, anxiety and loneliness if you are separated from your phone or unable to immediately send or receive messages. And I didn't even mention other related problems such as online bullying and abuse, hackers and fraudsters.

I also covered a study that found that depression and anxiety scores were higher in a high smartphone use group than in a low smartphone use group. Those researchers concluded that depression, anxiety and sleep quality may be associated with smartphone overuse and that such overuse may lead to depression and/or anxiety, which can in turn result in sleep problems.

And yes our cell phones and smartphones have lots of cool stuff that makes life easier, give us information at our fingertips and mean we can communicate with others wherever and whenever we like. It isn't all doom and gloom! Yet how we use our smartphones and mobiles can impact on us and we may be blissfully unaware it is happening or even be in denial, such is our reliance upon these devices.

In this article I'm moving on to look at the impact your cell phone / smartphone can have on your thinking, focus, attention and performance in ways you may not have even yet considered.

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Is Cell Phone Addiction a Thing? Smartphone Use, Sleep, Anxiety & Depression

Is there such a thing as cell phone addiction? Many people often describe themselves as being 'addicted' to their smartphone but is this an accurate description or just a way we have of describing how our mobile phones have become more and more integrated into our daily living?

My wife has said to me in the past that she thinks I'm addicted to my cell phone as I may have a quick check quite a few times, especially if there are some live football or rugby scores to be checked. Yet when she has that screen five inches from her face for a long period she's much more likely to consider that she is being practical by responding to work messages. And my eldest daughter is rarely more than one metre away from her smartphone (or 30 minutes away from her next Facetime) and can seemingly start to get a bit edgy if her battery starts falling much below 20%.

Are we all addicted or are we just all making use of technology in a way that suits us individually? As technology continues to develop, is any of it really a problem?  

The research seems to suggest that cell phone addiction is certainly a thing and that there are outcomes and consequences from how we utilise cell phones that can impact on our sleep, anxiety and depression levels, as well as our cognitive processing and task performance. 

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Fear of Flying - How Safe Are You Up In The Air?

Recently I ran another great Fear of Flying course with the awesome Serena at Sim2Do Flight Simulator Centre in Mildenhall.

On this particular fear of flying course there were a lot of questions about how safe flying actually is. Sure, we are all told that flying is the safest form of transport and so any fears around flying aren't really rational or logical, yet what are those things in place that mean flying is so safe?

After all, isn't it just a piece of metal somehow moving through the nothingness of air at the control of some pilot or other in the cockpit??!!

And haven't we all read the news stories of plane accidents and crashes. If flying is so safe, how come these scary stories seem to keep popping up in news feeds?

Research estimates that anywhere up to 40% of people experience a fear of flying, the experience of an unreasonable amount of anxiety regarding flying and causing it to be avoided or endured with intense anxiety. 

On our fear of flying course, we not only include hypnosis and coping mechanisms to reduce anxiety and put you more in control of your thoughts and feelings around the flying process, we also cover anything and everything to do with air safety, how planes work and what exactly goes on behind the scenes to keep you safe.

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From Feeling Low To Feeling Good - Hypnotherapy Testimonial Video:

Sometimes when we are going through a difficult period or there has been some sort of change in life, it can be hard to think clearly and to access your usual ways of thinking, feeling and doing things.

You may find yourself overthinking about things, feeling emotional and struggling to mentally 'switch off'. It can impact on your sleep and eating. All your usual calmness, strength and confidence may seem like it has evaporated.

And whilst in the midst of that distress and lowness it may feel like things can and never will ever change and improve, the good news is that it is possible to find a way to deal and cope with things and move forward in your life. In fact, in the hypnotherapy testimonial below, one client describes how he went from feeling low following the end of his marriage, to now feeling good and being positive about the future.

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