Anxiety and Avoidance

The classic behaviour that goes with anxiety is avoidance. Those anxious thoughts and feelings are so strong and uncomfortable that you make excuses, cancel plans or say and do whatever it takes to avoid going into that feared situation or environment. And if you can't avoid it altogether, your anxiety will certainly lead to you escaping from there as soon as you practically can.

When I struggled with social anxiety, making excuses and avoiding things were common occurences. I might have been looking forward to that night out when it was days away, yet the closer it came, the more I would worry about things going badly, about how I might look or saying the wrong thing (or having nothing interesting to say at all). The more anxious and filled with dread I would become, and the more it would play on my mind as I tried to think of a believable excuse I could use to bail out of the plans.  There were times when even if I was at a social event, I would feel so uncomfortable from anxiety that I would make my escape and head home.

Of course, sometimes a few drinks might relax me enough to enjoy myself but that's not a reliable, healthy or always acceptable strategy for tackling anxiety. And it can easily lead to overdoing it, feeling sick and losing the next day with a hangover (as well as those thoughts of what other people might have thought about what you were saying and doing). When it came to something like public speaking, I would try and get out of it any way I could, even to the point of faking sickness.

The problem with avoidance or escape because of anxiety is that it brings you relief when you do it. You dodge or get away from your anxious thoughts and feelings and then feel better as a result. But that short term relief only re-enforces your anxiety and makes feeling anxious and avoidance all the more likely the next time.

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My Birthday Learnings and Mental Health - Hypnotherapy in Ely

So just the other day was my birthday and, as my kids like to remind me, I'm getting even older every year! My kids, of course, are still at those ages where every birthday (like every Christmas) is a very big deal indeed and how old someone is remains a key piece of information to discover and remember.

It was a lovely sunny day (like the day I was born, according to my Mum) and, despite the ongoing restrictions from the covid-19 pandemic, we had a lovely day spending time together. We went out for a walk in nature, grabbed a first coffee shop coffee for thirteen or so weeks and then played some games together. And around all that I managed to do a workout and play on my guitar too. A great day all round!

Now I don't know about you but I'm a bit of a thinker. I like to contemplate things and run them over in my mind a while. And one thing I aim to do every day, and that I suggest my clients do too, is to start the day thinking of three things they are looking forward to that day, and then reflect back last thing on three highlights or positives from the day. It's a great habit that helps you think more positively and recognise progress, rather than going through each day focused on the negative, being mentally on auto-pilot or being so busy thinking of the next thing that you neglect to notice how far you've come.

And there were three things in particular that are related to mental health that I noticed and appreciated and that are a useful reminder to me to make more of, and not just on birthdays.

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Ely Office Has Now Reopened! Hypnotherapy in Ely!

It's been thirteen (or so) weeks since the covid-19 lockdown was introduced and I'm delighted to say that my Ely hypnotherapy office is now back open for business!

Whilst I've continued to work with people online via Skype and Zoom, particularly for anxiety, worry and stress, it's fantastic that I can now welcome you to my hypnotherapy in Ely office for face to face appointments once again. 

As you would expect, there are a few covid-19 adjustments to how things are organised now, to minimise risks and to keep you safe. You can find all the details here: Covid-19 Safety 

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The Anxiety Equation - Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket:

Many people come to hypnotherapy thinking that the thing they are anxious about causes their anxiety. And in many ways this is quite natural because for you that thing is associated with anxiety, worry and dread.

Whether it's public speaking that makes you anxious, or flying, or driving on motorways, social situations, swimming in open water or something else, in those places, situations or circumstances, the anxiety can be overwhelming. There are the thoughts and feelings beforehand and when you think of that anxiety filled thing, the increased anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations when in the situation, as well as any analysis or self-criticism as you think back upon it afterwards.

Yet there is an additional element in your anxiety. We know this because not everyone struggles with catastrophising thoughts and anxious feelings about those things. Some people love flying, socialising or public speaking and those other things you try and avoid.

The fact there is more to it is good news, because it means that rather than being stuck wtih those thoughts and feelings, you can do something about them that can help you feel better.

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Hypnosis and Control - Who's In Control Really?

One of the issues that tends to come up time and time again in any discussion around hypnosis, is that of control. Perhaps due to movies featuring hypnosis or some of those old stage routines, there's an ongoing misconception that hypnosis involves you being controlled in some way.

And when it gets mentioned to me I can't help but have a wry smile, because why would I spend so many hours helping people with mental health issues like anxiety if I could make you all do my evil bidding (cue evil laughter!!). And I'd definitely also get myself a cape and some spinning hypnotic eyes like that snake in the Jungle book too.

But seriously, hypnosis has nothing to do with being under my control or being controlled in some way. In fact, it's very far from that.

It's all about helping you to learn how to be in control of your own mind.

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Sports Psychology & Performance: Hypnosis For Peak Performance

Today I'm talking some more about the evidence for incorporating sports hypnosis into your sports psychology techniques if you want to maximise and optimise your performance.

There's no doubt that the mental side of sport is vital, yet often overlooked. Your emotions during training and competition, the self talk (voice in your head) can keep you strong or make you doubt yourself, and your self-belief can dictate whether you achieve your potential or plateau. Getting and spending more time in the zone can certainly influence not only your enjoyment and motivation levels, but also your results.  

I know from my own experience of running marathons that physical training, practice and preparation are key, yet without the mental side and your mindset being right, it can all unravel. Your sports psychology mindset can determine the results you get. Over a marathon distance, your self talk, especially as you get tired, can tell you that you can't do it or can stay strong and encourage you to push on.  

Research has highlighted that hypnosis can be used to enhance the performance of footballers, cricketers, martial artists, badminton players, cyclists, golfers and basketball players. In fact, from a sports psychology perspective, hypnosis can help with successful athletic performance in many sports and disciplines because of the ability to harness thoughts, feelings, expectation, beliefs and perceptions.

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Why Do Some People Break Lockdown Rules?

 The past weekend has seen some of the hottest temperatures of the year here in England. And with that, hundreds of people have headed to the beach and other open areas to enjoy the sunshine. As I write this, gatherings have only today been relaxed a bit so that you can meet up to five other people outdoors, as long as you maintain social distancing. 

Yet throughout lockdown there has been case after case of people not following the lockdown rules and guidance. From high profile people who get 'caught out' publicaly to people you may have seen in your own neighbourhood. Even the figures on the daily briefing sldes suggest that about 20% of people have admitted going out other than for allowed reasons and where I live I would say that the figure is much higher. From street parties to visiiting family, and despite the number of deaths approaching forty thousand, some people have seemingly put their own needs above the interests of us all.

So why is that? Why do some people break lockdown rules?

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Update On Ely Office Reopening For Face To Face Hypnotherapy Sessions:

Well, it's been quite some time since lockdown started hasn't it?! While I've been busy helping people over Zoom and Skype with mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and worry, I've missed seeing clients face to face at the office.

The latest from the Government suggests that it will be mid- to late June before I can safely open up the Ely office. Bear in mind that this timeline very much depends on how things progress with other easings of the lockdown that are happening. Fingers crossed I'll soon be able to welcome you back here to help with all your mental health needs.

I recorded this short video with some details about reopening for face to face hypnotherapy sessions (which is worth watching just for how hard I make it look to put on a face mask!!):

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Emotional Thinking and Anxiety

Emotional thinking comes with anxiety and a whole range of mental health issues, like depression, fear and stress. It's all those black and white, all or nothing thoughts that can mentally escalate and make you feel even worse.

Over recent days, there has been a lot of emotional thinking going on about the Prime Minister's senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, breaching the lockdown rules by heading up to Durham and visiting Barnard Castle (to test his eye sight). Regardless of whether you think he broke the rules, this controversy has led to raising emotions of annoyance, anger and frustration leading to people saying and posting all sorts of comments and accusations.

And, with emotions (and identity and beliefs being challenges) a huge number of things being thought and said boil down to 'I'm right, you're wrong' with people drawing upon some facts and ignoring others, raising unrelated issues to muddy the waters and sometimes just trying to dismiss someone else's opinion with insults or calls to move on. It's quite incredible how many people will not countenance someone having a different view. It's a strange sort of democracy with freedom of speech where someone can't feel comfortable with different views, no matter how strongly held (assuming they aren't threatening harm or violence or being abusive). It comes down to black and white, all or nothing, right or wrong thinking.

But I'm not here to talk about politics or the current shambles (which may - or may not have all blown over by the time you read this). Yet it gives an illustration of where emotional, black and white thinking can end up.

Of course, with anxiety, that emotional thinking is all inside your head. You may even know in your mind that those worst case scenarios and things you ae catastrophising and dreading are irrational. Yet the anxiety keeps those thoughts coming one after another.

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Post Lockdown Anxiety - Hypnotherapy Vlog:

After many weeks of lockdown, it has now been announced that the UK lockdown will be eased further from next month, having already been eased a bit a couple of weeks ago. And, perhaps unsurprisingly given all that has been going on, many people are feeling apprehensive and anxious about the next stage towards things reopening and life getting nearer to some normality (albeit a new normality with social distancing rules). 

Many people are worried about what this next stage may look like and involve. There may be fears about safety and health, education and jobs, amongst other anxieties. And certainly some polls suggest people are worried about getting the covid-19 disease and the impacts and implications of that.

In recent articles I've talked about several ways to look after your mental health and to deal with anxiety and stress, alongside listening to the hypnosis downloads that I've made available over in my hypnosis download shop.

And it's worth keeping in mind that research shows that we are generally quite poor at predicting how we will feel in the future. If challenges come our way we tend to think we will feel and be a lot worse than turns out to be the case. In the same way that you've dealt with, handled and somehow got through all the challenges you've already faced in your life up until now, you will find a way to handle and cope with life after the lockdown. You are more resilient and capable than perhaps you've been giving yourself credit for. 

I covered more about this in a previous article (that you can read here: Are You More Resilient Than You Think? Dealing With Challenges Post Covid-19) and today I've got a video version for you so please do click on the image below and have a watch:

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