Relaxation Training For Anxiety - Could It Help You Ease Your Anxiety?

Like most weeks, this week I have been hugely busy helping many people to manage, reduce and overcome their anxiety. As part of that treatment, I always encourage people to find ways they can mentally, emotionally and physically calm things down a bit. After all, if you are more relaxed and calm for a while then your anxiety has to reduce a few levels doesn't it? 

Perhaps one of the best aspects about learning to feel calmer and more relaxed is that it is something anyone can do. Sure, with all those anxious thoughts and feelings it may take a bit of time and application, yet we are all biologically and naturally able to do so. We just need to learn methods that work for us and that we can incorporate into our daily lives.

And given that when we feel more relaxed we tend to feel better in ourselves and be able to think more clearly and rationally, it seems a little strange that relaxation training is often dismissed as 'just relaxation'. 

Earlier this week my regular bootcamp was cancelled twice in a row; once due to unsafe icy conditions and the other due to the illness of the instructor. Like many others who use exercise for their mental health and physical health I noticed a difference in how I felt without this usual release and focus. And certainly there is nothing I find more relaxing than lying in bed at night with a good book and getting absorbed in the story line (I love those classic crime novels!). I've also been using my Alexa a lot with the kids to play thinking games (like 'fact or fib' or 'escape room') so we all get some time away from the screen and have to use our brains a bit (even if my seven year old seems able to randomly guess the right answer in any true/false quiz and beat me time and time again!).

Finding time to relax certainly does pay dividends in reducing anxiety and helping mental health, yet could actual relaxation training also provide you with feeling better benefits? 

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Hypnosis - How Does It Work & What Are The Benefits? My Latest Good Zing Article:

"From managing anxiety to boosting confidence, a hypnotherapist breaks down how hypnosis works and how it can help you break bad habits." So begins my latest article for the fantastic Good Zing website. 

And as they write on their webiste, 'Good Zing is the best resource for you to find (*and share) all of the best wellbeing and self-care tips for specific issues – from dealing with everyday common physical ailments to emotional and mental health issues.'

My latest article is all about my take on what hypnosis is, how it can help you and with a bit about how hypnosis can help you with your anxiety (something I've also written about for their website in these earlier articles: Can Hypnotherapy Really Help Anxiety? and 5 Simple Ways To Shut Down Your Anxiety)

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Anxiety - How To Deal With Anxious Thoughts:

Phew! It's been a blistering start to the New Year and January is well and truly over already! How did that happen!

Hot on the heels of Christmas came my daughter's eleventh birthday one weekend, and a sleepover involving five over-excited (and then over-tired and over-sugared) ten and eleven year olds for her sleepover party. That was one loooonnnngggg night! And it wasn't helped by my seven year old who had to cram in to bed in between my wife and I, and who decided (in her sleep) that if her elbow hit something hard when she moved (my head) then the best thing was to keep elbowing it until it moved.

Being in the office and helping people to overcome their anxiety and other unwanted and unnecessary thoughts, feelings and behaviours has seemed like a rest compared to that night!!

On top of all that home stuff, and a return to bootcamp after the festive break (oh the muscle soreness!), I've been really busy helping people who have been struggling with anxiety and who want to break free from that ongoing cycle of anxious thoughts.

In this article I'm going to suggest some ways in which you can start to interrupt, challenge and let go of anxious thoughts so that your anxiety reduces and you can find yourself feeling more at ease, more relaxed and just generally feeling better mentally and physically.

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Sports Psychology: The Impact of Hypnosis on Athletic Performance:

As I write this, the weather here in the UK seems to have turned well and truly into a very cold and bitter winter. As I made my way to bootcamp this morning, the car thermometer was trying to kid me that it was one degree, yet clearly my car doesn't allow for the cold Eastern wind that sweeps across the Fens. Roll on Spring! 

Today was a good affair at camp where I felt pretty focused and kept my mind on each set, rather than allowing my thoughts to wander to what the next station entailed. Six minutes non-stop on each of six stations (each with two alternating exercises) certainly does require mental focus and the ability to shut up that nagging inner voice that wants you to slow down, or even better, stop and fall into a heap where you no longer need to carry your own body weight.

I work with a lot of athletes from all sorts of sports and with all sorts of personal goals who tend to have one factor in common: all of them want to perform to their best in their chosen sport. That might mean aiming to win, shooting for a personal best or wanting to improve focus, concentration and confidence. In all these cases, hypnotherapy has many tools that can beneficially aid them.

The other day I came across a wonderful research paper on this very subject of sports psychology and performance. This research set out to evaluate the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy with positive imagination of success during hypnosis on athletic performance. In this article I'll cover their findings.

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Anxiety and Uncertainty...And The Amazing Disappearing Rabbit!!

If you are currently dealing with anxiety, or even if anxious overthinking and worry are your habitual ways of thinking, then anything that involves uncertainty or waiting for something to arrive, like an appointment date, can lead to that anxiety escalating massively. 

In fact it can take over your every thinking moment. 

Those anxious thoughts can be there from the moment you open your eyes and all the way through to when you try to get to sleep at the end of the day (and you can find anxiety impacts on your dreams when you do sleep too, as I wrote about last year in this article, Anxiety and Dreaming - How Your Anxiety Impacts While You Sleep).

And here's the thing; when you are in the midst of some stressful or anxious moment and you can keep active and focused and 'doing stuff' then you probably feel at least a bit better. You may feel you are being productive, getting things done, taking action. You may feel like you are dealing with that anxious or stressful thing and that you are coping. That anxiety can, of course, come back to bite you when things calm down again and are quieter and you have less to occupy you.

Yet sometimes some of the trickiest times for anxiety and your mental health are those moments when there is nothing at all you can do, when you have to just sit back and wait for something to happen and where events are outside your control. What can we do then?

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How NLP can help you to overcome anxiety and depression (including what NLP is and how it can help):

When I first sought help to overcome my own anxiety, I was naturally attracted to the field of NLP, or to give it its full name, 'Neuro-Lingusitic Programming.' It seemed to me to be the way to understand how our brains work and to make changes. 

Having experienced NLP with hypnosis with the hypnotherapist I saw to help me take back control over my thoughts and feelings, I was so inspired that I went on to learn all about it and now incorporate it in my sessions to help others to now manage their anxiety. 

So I was naturally curious and interested when I came across an Evening Standard article published recently by Samuel Fishwick called 'How NLP can help you to overcome anxiety and depression.' As he writes, 'Neuro-linguistic programming can translate anxiety into new ways of thinking'. Which is certainly true in my own experience of helping people with their anxiety and depression.

These days I rarely specifically refer to NLP with clients unless they know something about it already or ask about it specifically. Rather than point to NLP or another method or approach it works well to simply focus on what someone is currently thinking, feeling and doing and what they would rather be experiencing with particular people, places, times, situations and circumstances.

A while back I decided to further my knowledge of how to help people and completed another very thorough and comprehensive hypnotherapy diploma. Part of that course asked me to write about what NLP is and how certain techniques and ideas from NLP can be applied in therapy. So for all of you out there who want to know more about what NLP is, where it came from and how it can help you to overcome anxiety, depression and more, I've included a large part of my answer below.

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Fear of Flying - Calmly Taking To The Air in a Boeing 737

Another busy weekend has passed and I'm back in the office ready for a whole new week helping people to overcome limitations and make progress with their goals. As with most other weeks, Saturday was a trip to boot-camp before a fully booked day of clients, and Sunday was a seven mile run before relaxing with the kids. I even found time to have a little go on my ten year old 'original' x-box because there is nothing like a virtual reality game or Star Wars to mentally switch off from everything else. 

January has been manic with clients seeking to overcome anxiety, over-thinking, fear and worry. And whilst some fears are easier to approach in real life, such as overcoming driving fear by getting behind the wheel, fear of flying is much harder to re-create in real life (not many people have easy access to a plane!). Even though it is possible to overcome that flying fear, it is a little trickier to get the proof of change until the day of the actual flight (although most people notice they feel calmer and more relaxed beforehand).  

That's why last week I headed over to a flying simulator centre not far from me to progress our plans to create a course for overcoming fear of flying that combines the best of my psychological help with their knowledge and expertise of plans and flying, along with the opportunity to learn more and experience feeling calm and in control in the cockpit of a Boeing 737. It's a pretty awesome piece of kit and uses virtual reality to fill that gap of overcoming flying fear before your actual flight.

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Using Humour To Tackle Anxiety and Stress - Anxiety Relief with Laughter:

One of the things I'm really enjoying about having an Alexa at home is asking it to tell a joke each day. There's nothing that lifts the mood like a good joke is there? Or to be honest, even a bad joke that makes you grin and moan about how awful it is can lift the mood too.

The other day this was the joke of the day...'What's blue and smells like red paint?..........Blue paint!' That actually made me laugh out loud and I enjoyed it so much I've told it to dozens of people (I got a typical groan from my kids about how it's a 'dad joke'!). Come on: it's funny really!

And yesterday I was talking to a client about how we can use humour and laughter to reduce anxiety and stress. After all, if we are laughing (or even mildly chuckling) it's very hard to be anxious and stressed at the same time. And whether that simply lifts our mood for a while or makes those anxious thoughts seem a bit silly and so we get a change of perspective, making humour part of your coping strategy can really pay beneficial dividends.

Finding humour in things (or in general) can help us get a sense of perspective on our problems and issues as well as physically providing a release for tension and stress. In fact there is even a Coping Humour Scale which seeks to measure and understand how you use humour to handle problems (it asks you to rate on a scale things like: 'I have often found that my problems have been greatly reduced when I try to find something funny in them' and 'It has been my experience that humour is often a very effective way of coping with problems.').

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It's Peculiar People Day so celebrate your individual uniqueness!

Today is Peculiar People Day!! Now I bet you probably didn't know that...and nor did I until an e-mail mentioning it landed in my inbox. Yet it turns out that January 10th every year has indeed been assigned to be Peculiar People Day. So let's celebrate it!

Actually, when I saw the e-mail that mentioned it, I showed it to my wife and told her that they've finally created a day just for her!! I'm hilarious...

I've no idea where the idea came from or who decided that this day every year should be marked in celebration of the strange and unusual. The Days of the Year website describes it like this:

"Peculiar People Day is here to celebrate the leaders of the strange and unusual, those who refuse to succumb to the world’s idea of what is normal and sane. They challenge the status quo and utterly rebuke the concept that that which is out of the ordinary is bad. Whether they simply dress in their own style, or have very clear ideas of what is right and normal, Peculiar People Day is their opportunity to shine."

I'm not sure 'peculiar' is the word I'd use for those who do their own thing and express their own style and thoughts and ways of being. I think it's more about being unique and celebrating being who you are and who you choose to be.

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Hypnotherapy for Anxiety and Depression (and Happy New Year!):

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful festive period and are all set and ready to have a fantastic 2019.

While busy enjoying my Christmas break, I was delighted to read a story in The Times about 'how hypnosis can sooth anxiety and depression'. A wonderful little piece about how effective hypnotherapy for anxiety has been at Southampton University and let's hope that many other universities and education establishments follow suit and get their mental health support in place. More on that story and the results of anxiety hypnosis in a bit.

I've got to say that this Christmas was one of the best I can remember. We had loads of fun playing cards and games, messing about, and trying to get our new Alexa to say funny stuff (my favourite so far is asking 'how much is that doggy in the window?' - and 'is this the way to Amarillo?' was pretty amusing too). Although if my daughter shouts for the Imagine Dragons to be played (again...and again...and again) then I may have to work out how to make it only listen to my voice!

The one thing I miss most over Christmas is boot camp! With all the eating and the lack of routine, I made sure to get to bootcamp on Christmas Eve (in my Christmas jumper) before using some of the spare time away from the office to get out for a few shorts runs. And right after the big day, we all headed off to the Ely Panto which is always a brilliant show and well worth booking in for. There was also time to head over to watch Ely City play Haverhill, a pretty even contest even though Ely ultimately lost.

And now, being back in the office for a few days I've already had the chance to help people to reduce anxiety, end unwanted thoughts, increase self-esteem and tackle their fears. It's all set to be another great year of anxiety-busting and confidence building! 

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