Anxious Worst Case Scenarios

If you struggle with anxiety then you'll be very familiar with those worst case scenarios that can take over your mind. Your mind fills with all sorts of imagined future situations and circumstances where things go wrong or badly in some way, or where people judge you negatively or you can't handle and cope with things. And you may have noticed how you can go down the 'anxiety rabbit hole' of thinking of that worst case scenario and then what the negative consequences of that would be. In no time at all you can move from something you imagined might or could happen, to overthinking and being mentally absorbed in even more disastrous and anxiety-producing outcomes.

With all that anxious thinking, it's no wonder that you are filled with dread, fear and anxiety. What's more, the more you overthink those possible worst case scenarios, the more anxious and on edge you tend to feel, and the more anxious overthinking you struggle with. It becomes a pattern that exacerbates and increases your anxiety. 

I've talked before about how, with anxiety, avoidance and escape become common behaviours. You avoid or get of that situation or thing that is filling you with dread, or if you are in a situation where you feel anxious, you try and escape and get away. Having escaped or dodged it, you feel relief and a bit better, yet that only negatively re-enforces your anxiety and avoidance in the future.

Overcoming anxiety and dealing with those anxious thoughts is something that I help people with day in and day out. Rather than being controlled by your anxious thoughts, you can learn to challenge them, to take away the anxiety and to take back control over your thinking.

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Positive Feedback - Hypnotherapy in Ely

I'm very fortunate to have received a whole mass of positive feedback over the years from people I have helped with issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, self-esteem and confidence. Whilst helping people move from a place where they are initially unhappy and troubled, to a place where they are calm, confident, happy and in control is rewarding in its own right and it's wonderful to receive hypnotherapy reviews from these people.

As I write this, I'm approaching somewhere in the region of 250 written and video hypnotherapy testimonials and I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to submit a review or record a video. Naturally these reviews help me but they also give hope and belief to others who may be struggling and uncertain what they can do to improve their mental health.

Many, many others prefer not to leave a review, which is absolutely fine, and to rather just tell me how well they are doing. A huge thank you to you too! 

Recently, since reopening after lockdown,  I've received an influx of positive updates from clients. This has included someone I helped to stop smoking and who has now been a non-smoker for a year (happy anniversary!), and someone I helped through a difficult and anxious time a year ago and has told me how his hypnotherapy sessions helped him to cope and helped him get back to his normal self. And another client who struggled with debilitating anxiety for three years also told me how she is now feeling good and getting on with life.

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Anxious Thoughts - Possible versus Probable

If you struggle with anxiety then you'll know how those catastrophising thoughts and worst case scenarios can dominate your mind, leaving you feeling tense, anxious and full of dread. The more vivid and strong those thoughts become, the worse you start to feel.

You may even be very aware that the things you are imagining are illogical or at least unlikely to happen in the way you are thinking, yet those emotions start to take over and that thinking dominates. 

So part of any overcoming anxiety treatment involves calming the anxious feeings and emotions so that they aren't fueling and taking over your thinking. And part of the process of overcoming anxiety is the switch from possibility to probability. Something you think may be possible, but that doesn't make it probable. 

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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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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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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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Covid-19 & Easing Lockdown: A Ticking Mental Health Timebomb?

As the lockdown restrictions here in England begin to get eased, all the focus is now shifting towards returning to work, being out and out about more, starting to be able to meet someone from another household and the possible return of school (at least for some children).

Having spent seven or so weeks being told to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, the message now is shifting towards being able to take the next steps towards the 'new normal' and remaining 'alert' whilst maintaining social distancing. 

And there's no doubting that for many people, covid-19 and the lockdown has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. There has been anxiety, stress and worry about many aspects of life including health, education, employment, finances, being restricted and much more. I know that in the very early days of the pandemic and lockdown I suffered some stress as I adjusted to what it all meant for home, health, work and keeping a roof over our heads.

These sorts of concerns were being echoed all over the country with the ONS (Office For National Statistics) reporting in April, through their Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, that over 4 in 5 adults in Great Britain said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life right then. At that time, just over half of adults said covid-19 was affecting their well-being and nearly half of adults reported high levels of anxiety. Covid-19 and lockdown impacted on our mental health.

Of course, whilst everyone experienced elements of social isolation, lifestyle disruption, impacts on income, employment and education, everyone's individual circumstances will vary, and some who are at higher risk may have had to isolate and restrict their actions even more than some others of us.   

Over recent days there have been a number of commentators and other people beginning to talk about a 'mental health ticking timebomb.' There seems to be a sense that the anxiety and mental health impacts of covid-19 and lockdown will continue even after lockdown eases, and that more and more people will need help to address their coronavirus-induced mental health issues.  

So will the mental health impacts of covid-19 continue in the post lockdown era?

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The Stress Mindset - Shifting Stress From Bad To Good:

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has added to national (and international) stress levels. There's been the financial stress of businesses being closed down, jobs being lost and people waiting for Government support (if they qualify for something). The closing of schools led to many of us parents trying to work out some sort of home schooling routine, and in some subjects (like secondary school maths!) trying to even work out what the kids were being asked to work out. There has been stress from the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen, or when. And many have been struggling with not being able to see friends and family, or to go out much, or for those shielding themselves not going out at all.

From lockdown to now, some seven or so weeks into it, there has been stress, worry and anxiety. This has been captured in survey data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which showed that over 80% of people in the UK are worried about the effect that covid-19 is having on their life and with around half of adults reported high levels of anxiety and stress.

And now with the conversation shifting towards easing the lockdown, many posts from people online reflect that this stress has now shifted to what the 'new normal' of life may be like as we start having more freedom and less restriction.

Yet whilst stress is generally considered to be something bad and unwanted, experiencing stressful events is unavoidable (like this pandemic), so can stress ever be shifted into something more positive and constructive that actually benefits us?

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