Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket: Update on Restarting Face-to-Face Sessions

With the pandemic having lasted over a year now, and lockdown three itself having entered its third month, it's great that things are finally looking more positive as we move through the year. My daughters are both back at school and doing well, bootcamp has restarted, we can now meet members of another household outdoors and finally (FINALLY!) the return of face to face sessions in Ely and Newmarket is on the near horizon.

It's been a busy period for online hypnotherapy sessions and I've been busy helping people with issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, self-esteem, phobias, weight loss, confidence and much more. Hypnotherapy sessions by Zoom have continued to work effectively and my clients have enjoyed some outstanding results (for more on online hypnotherapy sessions read this previous article: The Effectiveness of Online Hypnotherapy: Skype and Zoom Hypnotherapy Sessions). Zoom hypnotherapy sessions continue to be an option if you live too far to travel to my office or if you just prefer it now that we've all got used to do much more online.

In accordance with the Government's lockdown easing roadmap, face to face sessions can resume in Ely and Newmarket from 12th April 2021. I'll be contacting anyone who carried over sessions from before the lockdown to arrange a new time to resume appointments. And if you are seeking successful face to face hypnotherapy sessions in Ely or Newmarket then get in touch and ask to arrange your free initial consultation so we can have a chat about working together to help you overcome your issues and feel better. 

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Teenager Anxiety and Mental Health During the Pandemic

With the ongoing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted upon us all, I've been helping loads of people who have been struggling with anxiety and other aspects of their mental health. 

With the stop start nature of school and college, the lack of social interaction, the rise of screen time and the other limitations, one group who really need help are young people (and their parents who see them struggling and want to help). As well as pandemic-related anxiety, depression and stress, many adolescents may have found that issues such as low self-esteem, low confidence and overthinking have been exacerbated.

Now everyone is of course different, some young people will worry more than others, some will be more comfortable expressing how they feel, some will be more prone to overthinking and anxious tendencies, many may use distraction to get some respite from mental health issues and sometimes it can be hard to open up about how you feel and that you are struggling. And for parents seeing their kids struggle and wanting to help them, it can often be a challenge to know how much to intervene or gently push, what to suggest that will work, and how to be there for them in a meaningful way. 

I've worked with adolescents from pretty much every school and college in this area for issues such as anxiety, lowness, self-esteem, confidence and stress (pandemic-related or otherwise). In this article I've covered a few things that can often help to alleviate symptoms and to help start feeling better. 

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How To Live A Fulfilling Life Free of Regret

As Frank Sinatra sang, 'Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention..." Just like Frank, we can all have some regrets in life. We can think back on different decisions and choices we could have made and wonder how things could have been different. 

Although, of course, we have to remember that we can all be a little guilty of romanticising things turning out better and of colouring our imagined past with more positivity than might be realistic. Yes, we can all have some regrets, things we put up with for too long, the path we didn't take, the courage we lacked, or the other choices along the path of our lives. There can also be many, many positives throughout our lives and things we are glad about or pleased in how we've lived and what we've stood for up to now.

If I find myself regretting some past thing ("if only I...."), I deliberately remind myself that I did the best I could at that time, and that I made the choices and decisions that seemed best or right based on who I was then (or I wouldn't have made them). I remind myself that I'm thinking back in a distorted way and that there is no benefit in second guessing myself or living in the past, and that I know more now with hindsight than I did back then. And then I remind myself of all the good things that may not have happened or that I might have missed had I travelled a different path up to now.

Even if we forgive ourselves and accept what has happened, that doesn't mean we can't benefit from pausing and taking stock of our lives for the future. All too often we get stuck on the busy treadmill of life, moving from one task to another, forgetting the bigger picture and longer term within the mass of responsibilities, tasks and distractions. Rather than waiting until many years from now, when it may be too late to do anything but regret, you want to know that you've lived a life that's full, that you've travelled each and every highway to live a fulfilling life and much more than that, that you did it your way (yes, I've ripped a bit off Frank in that last sentence). 

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Growth From Adversity: Post Traumatic Growth During The Covid-19 Pandemic

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger..." as Kelly Clarkson sang, and which has now made it impossible for me to say the phrase without singing the song! Although apparently the phrase originates from something Nietzsche wrote.

Be that as it may, it's all about going through difficult and challenging experiences and coming out the other side of it with more strength and resilience because of what you've been through. Going through difficult times can lead to personal growth as we learn what we can withstand and get through and develop more robust coping skills for whatever comes our way next.

Certainly all of the evidence shows us that for many people, the Covid-19 pandemic has been traumatic. Yet whilst there has undoubtedly been an impact in mental health, such as anxiety, stress and depression, there have also been more positive aspects that have been gained. Bad stuff can be painful and it hurts, but we can also gain insight, learning, knowledge of ourselves and psychological resilience for future events (although if you've been affected by a traumatic event, you may benefit form therapeutic help).

Growing from adversity (post traumatic growth) describes the positive changes experienced by people as a result of their efforts to deal with challenging circumstances. There can be elements of personal growth, such as positive, healthy changes to your lifestyle or developing coping skills. Coming through adversity can lead to improved relationships with others and a renewed appreciation of the people in your life. And you may experience a greater appreciation for life, new perspectives and more gratitude for things.

It isn't necessarily from the challenging events that we can gain positives, because many of these things can be painful and stressful, yet we can grow because of and as a result of these things. Through the traumatic events I've had to face in my life, from anxiety and bullying, to illness and bereavement, the result has been greater understanding of myself, the development of resources, a clearer perspective and focus on what's important to me, and more appreciation and gratitude for the things I value in life. The events themselves were painful, hurtful and at times even unbearable, yet there have still more positive aspects that have benefited me and my life.  

So has the pandemic led to any positive outcomes and how can you benefit from growing from any adversity you may face? 

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Hypnosis Enhances Results Of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Updated Science and Evidence

It's always a pretty exiting day when you discover that some hot-off-the-press hypnosis research has just been published (at least it is a good day in my world!!).  As the world of therapy and psychology continues to grow, develop and advance, I believe that it's important that, as far as we are able to, we draw upon scientific knowledge, research and evidence to inform what I do and how I strive to help you. 

It always saddens me when I read hypnotherapy forums and look at hypnotherapist websites, how little knowledge there is of the research and evidence for hypnosis among many therapists. In a world where we are all very aware of fake news and false science (during this Covid-19 pandemic), it's disappointing to find so many therapists who never follow the science or ever read a research paper. But enough of this for now or I may never get around to covering the main point of this article, which is about what happens when you add hypnosis to cognitive behavioural therapy.

The hypnotherapy field (and broader psychological field) has an ever growing amount of scientific research to support it. Hypnosis can help you with issues such as anxiety, depression, fear, pain and stress (amongst many other things!). We now also have even more evidence that supports adding hypnosis to cognitive behavioural therapy to improve the results you get. 

As I cover here, cognitive behavioural therapy with hypnosis leads to better, and more enduring, positive results, than just using cognitive behavioural therapy on it's own. 

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Depression and Employment: How Therapy Can Help You Find Work and Be More Productive At Work

I can remember being faced with redundancy way back before I ever decided to become a hypnotherapist. It's a strange feeling to be faced with the uncertainty and loss of control as you go through the redundancy process. I know a lot of people who have taken redundancy and job loss very personally in their sorts of circumstances and where the anxiety and stress has impacted upon their mental health and well-being.

As it turned out, my role continued after that round, only for the whole thing to restart with another round of redundancy consultations a few months later. This time I decided to be proactive and, as part of dealing with my own anxiety and mental health issues, I started the journey that led to becoming a full-time hypnotherapist here in Ely.

Over recent months I've been helping many people faced with redundancy and job loss due to the impact of the pandemic. There are many ways that hypnotherapy can help in such situations. When faced with redundancy or job loss it's easy to find your mind filling with negative thoughts and worst case scenarios, and so we want to tackle these and ensure your thoughts are balanced, accurate and objective. There's also a lot of scope to switch your thinking to the aspects you can control (rather than being dominated by the hopelessness that can come from waiting for someone else to make a decision). Many of the people I've worked with have taken the opportunity to grow side businesses, to train to do something they've alwayws wanted to do, to take stock and change career or to brush up their CV and interview skills and connect with potential future employers. 

When there are things outside of your control, there is nothing more empowering and effective than taking action on what you can do something about. And that means whatever happens with your employment, you have choices and options about next steps and you can hit the ground running.

As it happened, because I'd already started trainig as a therapist, when the opportunity came I chose voluntary redundancy because I wanted to follow my passion of helping people with their mental health. It's a decision I've never had cause to regret.

There's no doubt that your mental health, such as anxiety and depression, has a huge bearing on your employment. That could be finding work or being focussed and productive in your current employment. Let's have a look at some of the evidence about cognitive behavioural therapy, finding work and being productive at work.

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Using Your Hypnotic Running Hero To Improve Your Running Performance

After a pretty cold and icy winter, it finally seems like Spring is here. I love running and training in the Spring; there's something uplifting in the air with the milder mornings, the lighter evenings, the warmth of the sunshine and just that sense of freshness and positivity that comes with it all. 

It's the time of year that I enjoy running the most. After enduring the bleakness, cold and darkness of the winter months, there's more of a spring in my step and a sense of optimism about training and racing. 

My running has been going reasonably well in recent weeks and I'm now up to a steady long run for over ten miles at the weekend, as well as a couple of shorter efforts during the week, and more recently my mind has been continuing to return to thoughts and aspirations about completing another ultra marathon. It's been a long while since I've been in a position to contemplate an ultra, after a long standing hip issue that took quite some time to identify and rectify. But now I'm well and truly invested in increasing my mileage and training over the coming months for an early Autumn ultra.

Perhaps in running, and other sports too, one of the main ways that you learn how to improve your running performance is through watching and learning from other runners, talking to other runners about their experiences and what has or hasn't gone well for them, and then applying that to your own approach, mindset, training and racing. And then, of course, learning more through your own experiences and things that work for you and things that you need to change or amend to suit your own approach and goals.   

There are also many books and blogs by runners out there. I've learnt tons from reading books about marathon training, for example, and following training plans by legends such as Hal Higdon (who's training plans have got me through over a dozen marathon races). You can also learn from watching clips on TV and the internet. There can't be many runners who haven't found the exploits of Paula Radcliffe or Mo Farah uplifting and inspiring, for example, or who haven't marvelled at the determination of the Brownlee Brothers or the speed and eloquence of other athletes who run. 

And, as I'm covering here, you can take that inspiration from your running role models and heroes and apply it to boost your own running performance. Whether it's their mindset, attitude, self-belief, persistence, determination or some other quality you admire and want to benefit from, you can use hypnosis for running to help you. 

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Positive Imagery Relaxation For Anxiety and Stress Relief

As the rain and wind batter my office window, how I wish I could be back in the sunny, relaxing New Forest. Last year, we headed over to the New Forest for a family holiday and it was one of the most calm and relaxing experience that I can remember. To avoid the heat I would rise early, get my trainers on and head out into the forest.

I just loved the quietness and the tranquility of being around nature, watching the wild horses and deer, exploring green paths and being in no hurry to be somewhere else. It was pure bliss (perhaps apart from the time I got lost in the forest for a few hours!!). I think we all love getting away from our usual routines and the demands of everyday life and having some quality time to switch off and unwind.

And let's face it, with the busy lives we all live, where there's always something else that needs doing and where we can feel mentally connected and switched on from the moment we wake, it can be hard to find time to relax well. Whether you want to combat anxiety and stress, curb overthinking, sleep better, perform better cognitively or just feel better physically and mentally, then taking time to relax is important. Yet it often seems like the thing on your to do list that you never get to and that gets sacrificed for other things.

And whilst many of us find time to relax physically, such as watching a good film, our mind is still whirring away and busy with it all. And, of course, you don't want to have to wait until you go away to mentally feel better. You can easily build it into your day and, by making it a priority to take care of yourself, you'll likely find yourself feeling more uplifted in your mood, more calm and relaxed, more able to think clearly and make good decisions and more free of tension and stress.

Even better, relaxation is a skill that you get better at through deliberate practice. So whatever your starting point, you will get better at being mentally calm and physically relaxed and those positive benefits will reverberate into every aspect of your life. 

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Running Hypnosis: Run Faster By Unleashing Your Inner Cheetah

This weekend I was out as usual for my long slow run. For one reason and another it's been a while but I'm now back over the ten mile mark and pretty pleased with that, especially given the freezing weather and strong winds we've been faced with for many weeks. Roll on spring and some warmer times and sunshine!

During my long runs I employ all sorts of psychological running strategies to help me keep going and complete my scheduled distances. I call upon everything from really associating with what I am doing, to dissociating and letting my mind wander, thinking about specific challenges, setting and imagining goals, breaking it down into each individual mile, calculating how much of my run I've completed and a whole host of other techniques depending on how I am running and what is the most useful at the time.

As long runs get longer, and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and fatigue become things, I've always found it important to be able to manage that little voice in my head that comes out and can start to plant some negative seeds in my mind if left unabated.

Throughout my running over the last twenty years or more, I don't think I've ever particularly regarded myself as a speed merchant (although I'm happy to share my sprint finish victory story and how fast I ran when chased by a chicken). My style of running and my body seem to be more suited to slower, longer stuff. That said, I've hit some faster milestones that I'm pleased with for myself, such as a sub-20 minute 5km, sub 40 minute 10k and sub 90 minute half marathon. I'm pretty pleased with those personal bests.

Running fast is a personal thing. It isn't necessarily about being faster than everyone else; it's about running harder and faster (in a safe fashion) to reach what you personally are capable of. It requires effort, persistence and the right mindset to push on (even when it gets uncomfortable). 

In this article I'm covering a sports psychology strategy involving mental imagery that has been used by a world champion. It's something I've used myself when I need a hard, fast burst, like when we run at bootcamp and there's an element of competition. There will always be plenty who can run faster than me (and plenty I can run faster than, for that matter), yet it's about doing the best with where you are and what you've got, to achieve that and run faster. As well as taking care of the physical aspects of running and training, you also need to  work on the mindset and psychological side if you want to achieve your best. 

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Your Confident Self: Increasing Confidence, Self-Esteem and Self-Belief

Over the last few months I've been busy learning how to play the guitar. Having not even picked up a guitar for over twenty five years, I've pretty much been learning all the notes and chords from scratch. And over the many weeks of practicing with online lessons from Fender, I kind of got to an ok level (think advanced beginner not Hendrix!).

At the end of last year I decided to start some online live guitar lessons with a great guy called Chris. Let me tell you, Chris can really play! Whilst I had a fairly ok level of confidence playing on my own to myself, that first lesson with someone who knows their stuff took me way outside my comfort one. In fact, in that first lesson with a pair of eyes watching me, I struggled to get my hands and fingers to co-ordinate in any sort of reasonable fashion.

Yet by the next lesson, and beyond, I've found myself able to play more confidently and to be ok with the inevitable mistakes that I make as I learn new things, and to feel good about the bits that go well and improve.

It can happen in any area of your life: you start something new, it takes you into a bit of discomfort outside your comfort zone, and then you adjust, adapt, learn and get better from perseverance. You learn that you can trust in your abilities, have faith in yourself and make some good progress.

It's the same whether you train for your first race, meet someone knew, learn a new skill or do anything else new, different or potentially more challenging.

Yet sometimes, people struggle to have faith in their abilities and in who they are. They think they aren't good enough or worthy in some way. They think they don't deserve whatever it is. They dwell on mistakes and failures and things that didn't go well and convince themselves it will always be like that. Their confidence, self-esteem and self-belief isn't where it needs to be, or should be. 

Your self-image, confidence and self-esteem can be shaped and molded by life experiences, people, places and a whole range of other factors. But of course your self-confidence and self-esteem are ultimately down to the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs you have about yourself, your own self-perception and view of yourself. And whilst your confidence and self-esteem may not be where you want them to be, it is definitly possible to grow in confidence, to have faith in yourself, to feel good being you, to back yourself and believe in yourself and to feel comfortable in your own skin. 

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