Celebrating A Decade of Helping People With Anxiety, Stress, Worry & Fear:

It's official! November 2020 marks ten years since I first set up business in Ely and started helping people with anxiety, stress, worry and fear. A decade of helping people!

It's hard to think back and remember what life was exactly like when I made the decision, following redundancy, to set up practice in Ely. I do know that back then my eldest daughter was still in nappies and my youngest was yet to even enter our lives. 

Having struggled myself with anxiety and low self esteem for many, many years, and having found a way to overcome these issues, I do know that I was inspired to set up by my desire to help as many others as I possibly could to make similar positive changes to overcome limitations, challenges and unwanted thoughts and feelings that can stop you enjoying your life. 

So much has happened in the last decade as a hypnotherapist. I've helped thousands of people to overcome anxiety, stress, worry and fear, and to boost their confidence and self-esteem. I've worked internationally, appeared in local and national press, been published, created several hypnosis downloads that people tell me really help and I now have dozens of positive written and video reviews from people with whom I've worked. I've been blessed to have met many wonderful people along the way. 

So as I look forward to the next decade of helping people with metal health issues to feel better, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me, worked with me, trusted in me and believed in me and my approach. Thank you so much!

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Protecting Your Mental Health During The Second Lockdown:

The second  covid-19 lockdown is upon us following the recent announcement by the Government about the need to take action to try and curtail infection rates and the spread of coronavirus. And whether you believe it is the right course of action or not, or the timing is right, or even if you think the whole Covid thing is not a thing (and some people do), the fact remains that lockdown two is happening and will impact on all of us.

In many ways this Covid-19 lockdown is a whole different affair to the first lockdown back in March. Back then no-one really understood the disease or much about it, and there was a general sense of uncertainty and fear as the numbers hospitalised and those sadly dying rapidly increased. Whilst none of us knew when things would improve and how long lockdown would last back then, this time we have a time limited (at least that's what they are saying right now!!) lockdown. The daily number suggests more and more people are being admitted to hospital and once again an increasing number of people are sadly losing their lives to Covid-related deaths.

To help protect the NHS form being overwhelmed, to try and reduce Covid-19 transmissions and to hopefully save lives, I believe that moving all of my sessions to Zoom or Skype for four weeks is the right thing to do (not only that but I've had legal advice that it is the only thing to do!). Whilst rates in the East of England have been comparably lower than elsewhere in the UK, any steps that reduce contact for a short period means that your safety and well-being is prioritised.

In fact, it saddens me that so many businesses seem to have decided to continue working as they have been before lockdown. I've seen social media posts by many businesses of all types justifying continuing despite the pandemic. We all need to make money to pay the bills but if everyone keeps interacting in the way they have been up until now (including going from home to home working on non-urgent matters) then we may well find that the Coronavirus doesn't ever get far away and the risk of even stronger restrictions over a longer period continues.  

But hey that's just my two pennies' worth; we all have to make our own calls here and it's cool if you think differently (in a reasoned, objective kind of way). And so back to the topic of this article, which is about doing what you can during this second Covid-19 lockdown to protect and preserve your mental health.

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Lockdown 2 Hypnotherapy Update:

As you'll know, England is about to enter a second coronavirus lockdown that will last until Wednesday 2nd December.

During the lockdown (from Thursday 5th November) I will only be able to offer online appointments (via Skype or Zoom) rather than my usual face to face appointments for hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket.  However, fingers crossed that four weeks will be enough and very soon I'll be back behind my desk in my office. I'm already taking bookings into December so contact me now to book your appointment.

I don't think anyone (certainly not small business owners!) want a lockdown but if it saves lives and means the NHS can cope this winter then, rather than argue over something that can't be changed anyway, we can all be proactive in taking care of ourselves and each other. During the last lockdown there were many wonderful acts of kindness within the community and I hope that spirit continues and grows.  

There are many, many things that we can all do to support our physical health and mental health. I wrote about many of these things last time around so do check out those articles. I'll be adding more help soon too.

During the last lockdown I know many people found my hypnosis downloads a great support for their mental health and well-being, so do check those out if you need help and support. 

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 Covid-19 Anxiety, Stress and Negative Body Image:

I've been talking and writing for many months now about the mental health impacts from the coronavirus pandemic and everything that goes with it, such as social restrictions and worry about potential future consequences.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics (October 2020) found that more than three quarters of adults were very or somewhat worried about the effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their life right now.  That level of worry has been increasing over recent months as the pandemic endures.  Levels of anxiety remained at their highest since the start of April, and life satisfaction has fallen.

As I've written about before, more and more evidence demonstrates that this Covid-19 pandemic is impacting on mental health for many, many people. As well as fears about contracting the virus, there are worries about the future, impacts on meeting and interacting with others, difficulties planning, impacts on work and education, and many other factors that lead to these high levels of Covid-19 anxiety and stress.

And whilst I've written about these mental health impacts and what you can do about them, a new piece of research has been published that suggests that Covid-19 anxiety and stress may also be having an impact on body image.

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Stress, Anxiety, Alcohol and Coronavirus:

Covid-19 and the impacts from it have impacted upon all us in many ways. With lockdowns and local restrictions (such as the three tier approach), all of us have had to adapt and make changes to our behaviours. There are some things that we are prohibited from doing, some that are allowed but are now set up differently to how they used to be, and all of us need to be vigilant and mindful of social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing.

As I've written about before, there is a wealth of evidence about how coronavirus has impacted upon our mental health, particularly anxiety, stress and worry. As well as the general fears and anxiety about jobs, money, education, restricted social interaction and so on, there is also the fear of contracting the coronavirus and the potential health and other consequences that could come from this (coronaphobia).

One thing that many clients, particularly those with anxiety, have told me about is their increase in alcohol drinking. Of course, many people use alcohol to unwind and relax and over the last ten years I've helped many people who struggled with binge drinking or excessive drinking to take back control over their alcohol use. Yet it does seem that many people, through this coronavirus pandemic, may have been drinking more to help them to deal with things and to try and physically and mentally escape and relax.

Whilst in my younger (not so long ago...!) days I used to drink a bit, but these days I rarely have any alcohol. I find it makes me feel rough and lethargic the next day, and it's not nice trying to get up at 5.30am for bootcamp or a run as it is!

So beyond the number of people telling me of their anxiety and alcohol use during the coronavirus pandemic, what does the science tell us about it?

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Kindness

A super short blog today about kindness. In reality, it's more of a plea for us all to be nicer and kinder towards each other.

In recent weeks my wife has been on the end of some pretty distasteful treatment from someone, behaviour that I would say is close to the mark of sex discrimination and harassment. There was no need for it but there you go, sometimes you can only hope that other people engage their minds a bit. It was only the other month that we watched the TV programme, 'It Was Alright in the 1970s' and I think some of the attitudes and stuff experienced could have walked right out of the screen and slap bang into 2020! As I've said in previous articles, we don't all have to share the same opinions and agree on everything (and you can do that and still get on fine) but bullying, discrimination and harassing go way beyond what I think is acceptable.

Which brings me back to my plea for us all to be kinder to one another as much as we can. Youu never know what someone else is experiencing, how things are for them, so I think we all want to be nicer, kinder and more understanding, even if we don't always see eye to eye on every aspect of life.

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Can You Trust Your Gut Feelings and Intuition?

I've often had people tell me that they always trust their gut instinct. And certainly if you look online or on You Tube there are dozens of people, images and articles which claim that you should always trust your gut instinct or intuition. 

Many of these articles and so on talk about your gut instinct being your immediate understanding of something,  a moment of innate understanding or knowing that you should just act upon or make decisions upon without further thought or investigation. There are many quotes along the lines of always trusting your gut instinct and intuition because it knows what your brain hasn't yet figured out, or that if you have a certain gut feeling you should always trust it without exception.

But is that right? Can you always trust your gut feeling or intuition and act upon it in confidence that it is always right?

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Client running around the world to raise money for mental health

Someone I worked with during the pandemic has put his trainers on to raise money for the mental health charity, Mind. 

Chris Tromans is running  around the world in 80 days and wants his long distance virtual running to raise exactly £17,895 for the mental health charity (use the links below to learn why he has chosen that figure and why it is so important to him). 

As he mentions in his Ely Standard article and Just Giving page, Chris had a mental health issue at the start of lockdown and used the Mind website to understnad more about it. He also worked with me to help him with his anxiety and found that the sessions helped him.   

Quoted in the Ely Standard, Chris said: “I’m much better now, thanks to information on Mind’s website. I arranged for video sessions during lockdown with Dan Regan, a local hypnotherapist. He provided me with tools to help overcome the problem.”

You can read more about Chris and his running challenge in the Ely Standard: Dad-of-two aims to raise precisely £17,895 for Mind - and here’s the reason why he picked that target

And you can join me in supporting Chris and helping him reach his target for Mind, the mental health charity, by heading over to his Just Giving Page: Just Giving Page

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Coronavirus and Mental Health - Sleep Deprivation and Dreaming

As I've covered in several recent articles, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted upon the mental health and well-being of many people.

In their latest release, the Office For National Statistics (ONS), say that there has been a general increase in anxiety levels among the overall population, the most vulnerable in society, such as disabled adults, people with a health condition and who feel unsafe outside the home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, have experienced greater increases in anxiety levels. This builds upon their previous release where just over half of adults said it was affecting their well-being and nearly half of adults reported high levels of anxiety. Coronavirus and lockdown impacted on their mental health.

Whilst some may have found the easing of lockdown has resulted in an equivalent easing in anxiety, there are many, many people still struggling with anxiety, worry and fear associated with the coronavirus. 

I've written before about some of the research and evidence around the link between the coronavirus and mental health (Covid-19 & Easing Lockdown: A Ticking Mental Health Timebomb?). In the earlier days of the pandemic, Shevlin et al (Anxiety, Depression, Traumatic Stress, and COVID-19 Related Anxiety in the UK General Population During the COVID-19 Pandemic, April 2020), investigated the prevalence of COVID-19 related anxiety, generalised anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in a representative sample of the UK population during an early phase of the pandemic. They found that there were higher reported levels of anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms compared to previous population studies, but not dramatically so.  Anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms were predicted by young age, presence of children in the home, and high estimates of personal risk. Anxiety and depression symptoms were also predicted by low income, loss of income, and pre-existing health conditions in self and others.

And, in relation to the USA, Twenge & Joiner (Mental distress among US adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020) concluded that mental distress was considerably higher in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults in late April 2020 compared to a nationally representative sample from 2018, providing "an early indication that serious mental illness has become strikingly more common during the COVID-19 pandemic". And another study from the USA by Adams-Prassl et al (The Impact of the Coronavirus Lockdown on Mental Health. 2020) has suggested that the large negative effect on mental health has been entirely driven by the impact on women's mental health. They suggest that the negative effect on women’s mental health cannot be explained by an increase in financial worries or childcare responsibilities.

I've worked with many people in recent weeks who have found that fears and worries over coronavirus have impacted upon their mental health, with increased anxiety and stress levels and worries about the future (such as catching the virus or losing employment).

Today, I'm covering the impact on your sleep (or sleep deprivation) and upon your dreaming when you do sleep.

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World Mental Health Day - October 2020 - Coronavirus and Mental Health

This year, World Mental Health Day falls on 10th October 2020 and the theme for this year is 'mental health for all.' 

And, of course, mental health help and support should be as available as that which exists for physical health problems. As I've written about before, it's great that there are so many mental health awareness initiatives these days. There should be no stigma around mental health issues and we all need to be aware of our own mental well-being, and that of those around us. If you have a mental health issue you should talk about it if you want to and we can all benefit from help and provide support and empathy to each other.  

Yet whilst there is a plethora of mental health awareness campaigns, conversations, advocates and other sources raising awareness, they can only go so far. Most of these people and initiatives can only offer basic (if any) evidence based psychological support to help you overcome issues like anxiety and depression. After that, you are referred on and that's where the need for mental health for all is really situated. Too many people can only chose between anti-depressants or a waiting list for treatment. Effective mental health services need to be more readily available, accessible and timely.

Of course, many people chose to work with a mental health expert like me to sort their issues, rather than continuing to suffer (and you can learn what many people have said by scrolling through my 'What People Say' pages). Yet particularly in this 'year of the coronavirus' more is needed than just awareness and good intentions. 

Coronavirus has led to many of you feeling anxious and worried. The uncertainty, restrictions and changes to our normal way of doing things can have a profound impact on your mental health and well-being. I wrote recently about the emergence of a definition for coronaphobia, the fear of contracting covid-19 and the implications of this for your health, livelihood and loved ones. Whether you have a predisposition to worry and anxiety, have a tendency to worry about physical symptoms (health anxiety) or your anxiety is more recent and related to the current times, your anxiety can have a huge impact on how you feel and on your life.

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