Using Music to Help With Anxiety and Stress - Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

Can music help you to be able to better handle, deal and cope with your anxiety and stress? We all encounter music of some kind every day, whether it's on TV, a film soundtrack, listening to the radio, playing your playlist, hearing someone sing, overhearing someone else's music, or some other form of music that you encounter during your day.

Several days a week my day starts with exercise and listening to the accompanying music selected by the trainer (much of which is of a dubious quality in my opinion!). I use music through the day to support the hypnosis work I do with people and there will probably be some sort of music going on when I get home, whether that's from the TV or one of my children singing.

As it happens, only recently one of my girls was part of a choir that put on a celebratory musical performance at a local theatre. I love the way that kids just sing with a smile of their faces and a real sense of positivity and enjoyment. Throughout the various acts and songs at the show you could sense the fun, energy and excitement coming from each and every person involved, which added to the enjoyment of us watching them. Certainly my daughter is always buzzing from the experience afterwards. One of the songs they performed was 'Happy Together' by the Turtles, and now if anyone in our house says the word 'imagine' (the first word in the song) they can expect to person they are talking to to break out into a rendition of the song.

Before the performance started there was a video on loop showing interviews with some of the kids where they described how important music was to them. And one of the key themes was about how music can help you to deal with stress, to feel better after a bad day and how it can help lift your mood. I know from my own music listening, as well as playing the guitar, that when you get engrossed in music then you are often just there in that moment and other thoughts and other mental noise fades away and can diminish. 

When someone is anxious, stressed or depressed they often describe to me how they have lost their love of music or have stopped listening to the things they used to enjoy. They are focused on the negative and unwanted thoughts and feelings, and in doing so, often get caught in an increasing spiral of worry and negativity. And sometimes if we do listen to music then we match it to our mood so that when you are happy then you will likely play happy, upbeat tracks and when you feel sad you play slower, sadder songs. Again, this can magnify, reinforce and amplify how you are feeling (helpfully or less helpfully).

So what is the impact of music if you want to alleviate your symptoms of stress and anxiety?

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Health Anxiety and Online Health Information Seeking - Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

Health anxiety has always been a common type of anxiety that I help people with. In these days where things like heart issues and cancer are likely to have affected someone you know, and where our media is full of warnings about symptoms and requests for donations from health charities describing their work, someone with health anxiety can find that their worries and fears are never far from the forefront of their mind.

People with health anxiety describe to me how any physical symptom can start an anxious spiral that takes over and leads to excessive anxiety and worry about their health, along with fears about the impacts that would be there if they couldn't work or needed care, or about how their family and others would cope if they died. That health anxiety can attach to any ache or pain, can be fired off by hearing of someone else's health condition, or can be a sense of fear of dread about what if something was to happen.

And, of course, the physical symptoms you experience from health anxiety and worry can lead to heart palpitations, aches from being tense, a tight chest and other anxious symptoms. These physical sensations then in turn add more fuel to your anxiety as you worry that these are the signs of something being seriously wrong with you. That can then lead to you feeling even more anxious, experiencing even more anxious overthinking and feeling even worse.

The excessive worry from health anxiety can be about the likelihood of possibility of illness or a negative health issue, a heightened awareness and worry about bodily sensations and a sense of catastrophising that a physical sensation (even a normal bodily sensation) is something threatening and dangerous. 

The pandemic with all of it's warnings, uncertainty, fear and information (as well as mis-information) certainly exacerbated health anxiety for many people. Particularly in the early days when everything was unclear and there were pictures of hospital beds full of sick people and daily reports of high levels of illness and death. Now, of course, there can still be worry about covid and long covid, what could happen if you got ill and a worry about any physical symptoms you may notice. And alongside this, there are the ever present risks and dread of cancer, heart disease, heart attacks and so on that for someone with health anxiety can surface and be triggered by anything health related.

And these days, someone with health anxiety is likely to head over to the internet to search out information about what they are feeling and experiencing. Now the internet can be a fantastic resource for finding out about all sorts of things, yet, as anyone who has ever done it knows, relying on 'Dr Google' and trying to self diagnose online can easily become problematic and counter productive.   

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Could A Social Media Break Help Your Mental Health, Depression and Anxiety? Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

Now I don't know about you, but in our house the most powerful threat of punishment I can call upon with my kids is to threaten to take away their screens and to switch off the wi-fi. There is nothing else that is as guaranteed to bring an expression of horror and fear upon their faces and to get them moving and doing whatever it is they are meant to be doing!

Screen time and social media use are things that have risen massively in recent times. At least in our house, I can usually reliably find my wife and kids engaged in something on their screen and pretty oblivious to the world around them. And, at least in the case of my kids, some of the stuff I've seen them watch on Tik Tok and the like just seems to me to be pure mind numbing nonsense (although that may be cause I'm old and out of touch, as they like to often remind me!). 

Now, of course, not all online social media use is of this type. There's much on it that can be informative, amusing and worthwhile. It can help in communicating, understanding, keeping up to date and sharing news. I use social media to find out things, to share work and life posts and photos and to keep in touch with people. It's a tool for enhancing life, communication and productivity.

Yet it seems clear that, for some people at least, social media can have a detrimental impact upon their well-being and mental health.

Social media can help you with finding support and encouraging talking about how you feel, yet all too often people start to feel their life isn't as good as others, and that they have less shiny things and fun and happiness and the like. Everyone likes to show the good stuff (real or otherwise) on social media, and those aspects of their lives that aren't as good get papered over and are kept from view.  Negative comparisons, a sense of not being as good, a feeling of lacking and too much unproductive, sedentary time can lead to negative thinking, feeling low, anxiety and have a negative impact upon your well-being and mental health.  

With so much time now spent with faces buried in screens, the question moves to whether taking a break from social media could have benefits for your mental health and help with you with the symptoms of anxiety and depression?  

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Hypnotherapy in Ely Video Review - Dan Regan Hypnotherapy

I always regard it as a massive honour when someone takes the time and trouble to leave some positive feedback about how their hypnotherapy sessions have had a beneficial impact upon their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They continue to inspire me and I know that it gives many other people the hope and belief that they need to take active steps to seek help for their own mental health, rather than continuing to struggle and battle with how they feel. 

Recently, Ian very kindly took a couple of minutes to record his hypnotherapy review following on from our sessions together. You can take a look at what he had to say in his review video further down this page. It really is worth a watch.

And if you want an even greater positivity fix then you can find all of the video hypnotherapy reviews from my clients over on this website page (there are nearly sixty review videos there): Hypnotherapy Review Videos

Or, if you want to have a look at all of the feedback from clients about their hypnotherapy sessions, then take a look at these (nearly three hundred) positive reviews: Hypnotherapy Testimonials 

I'm always massively grateful when you take the time and effort to leave a review, so thank you to all of you! 

And now, on to my newest feedback review and Ian's video... 

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Pregnancy Related Anxiety - Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

Life can be funny when you're a parent. One minute they are on the way, and then they arrive and the life is full of ups and downs, and laughter and telling offs and getting stuff done (and then even more needing to get things done!). In no time at all, old photos are popping up on social media memories and you realise how much has gone on and is still to happen in their lives (and your own too).

Recently my youngest had her birthday and, amongst all the fun, we talked about some of early memories of her. There where the moments when we first met her at the hospital, when her sister excitedly saw her for the first time, the laughs, the chats and the other little quirks that we love so much and that happened along the way. A friend brought her little baby around to our house and you suddenly remember there was actually a time before they could even answer you back! 

And pregnancy and babies seems to have been very much the theme at home recently, with my wife currently training to be a doula (which I think she'll be fab at) so that she can provide guidance and support to new mum's, especially during those early days when everything goes haywire and the level of demands and challenges massively magnify.

I often work with women during pregnancy where they may be struggling with anxiety and a sense of overwhelm. There may be anxiety about health, about being in hospital and coping with the birthing process, and about how well they think they will cope with having the responsibility of a new born to look after. There is no doubt that there are a lot of demands, challenges and things to learn through pregnancy and into parenthood (as well as a lot of love, happiness and joy, of course!!).   

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Mental Health and The Positive Impact of Pets...And Meet Frank!

I've written before about the positive mental health impact that can come from having a pet. Naturally you need to have a pet that fits with your own individual circumstances, yet, the companionship, emotional support and need for routine can certainly bring you psychological benefits.    

Sadly we lost our lovely rabbit, Nibbles, last year, but now we have a new arrival into the Regan household! So today I'd like to introduce Frank (although I'm not sure if that really is a proper name for a rabbit??!), who will shortly be joined by a companion.

So amongst all the excitement and playing with Frank the major decision right now is what to call his friend when she arrives? My vote goes to Jesse so that we create the namesakes of those famous outlaw brothers (Jesse and Frank James). Or how about Nancy, so that we have the father and daughter Sinatra named rabbits? Although knowing how things generally turn out in our house we'll probably end up with a rabbit called Sparkles or Sniffer!   

So here is the lovely Frank for you to meet...  

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The Physical Sensations of Stress and Anxiety - Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

Back when I used to struggle with anxiety, it was the anxious feelings that used to really trouble me and that used to quickly escalate to the point when they felt overwhelming and uncontrollable. There were times when I would be low, shaky and uncomfortable to the point that I just wanted to be safely back home and in a place where I felt calmer and safer (and then all the anxious thoughts would arrive to remind me of how useless I was for feeling that way). It can be hard to appreciate just how bad anxious feelings can get unless you've experienced it and had it affect your life. The avoidance, the escaping, the gruelling discomfort and the repetition of the unpleasantness can really start to get to you and limit your life.

And it doesn't matter whether the anxiety is about something specific (like driving, flying or public speaking) or more generalised (where there seems to always be something that the anxiety latches onto). When those bodily sensations and feelings strike and get you, it can feel debilitating and crushing. Things you know you can ordinarily do become impossible to you. Every atom of your being seems to be focused upon how anxious you feel, how bad it makes you feel and how, in situations when you feel anxious, it seems inescapable until you flee to somewhere else and away from it all.

One of the issues that people with anxiety know all too well is how you then start to become anxious about the possibility of becoming anxious. Even when you aren't in the anxiety-provoking situation or at the event, you can still feel the dread, the sense of approaching doom and you can still be overwhelmed with the worry. When you get there (in the car, on the plane, about to give your presentation etc.), everything becomes massively ramped up and amplified. The anxiety gets more and more linked, associated and embedded with the situation/event/person/place and so the next time a similar thing is looming, the worry, anxiety, stress and dread grow and repeat with ever increasing vengence.

Yet it is very possible to overcome those anxious thoughts and feelings and to take back control over what is going inside of your mind and body. I've helped hundreds of people to move on from unnecessary anxiety and to learn how to effectively manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 

Yet first, it's important to understand and remove any confusion about exactly what is happening in your mind and body that leads you to experience those physical sensations of stress and anxiety. 

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The Effectiveness of Walking in Nature For Anxiety and Depression - Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

Ah the great British weather! Last week the sun was out and shining bright and, in the warmth, I started to think about whether it was time to dig out my shorts. Then this week it's been cold and wet and windy and I had to search back in the cupboard for my winter coat before heading out anywhere.

Now, whatever the weather, it's always great to get outside, whether that is for exercise or just to take a mind clearing walk. Few things top those moments when you are out walking in nature. Recently we've been for a family walk through the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds and for an explore on our first trip to Audley End House. On top of that I always enjoy my walk through the quiet fields on my way to and from work (especially now that the clocks have changed and it's lighter in the evening). 

I love those moments when you feel connected to nature as you walk along. There are the trees and the brightly coloured flowers and the green grass. There are the insects buzzing around and often a squirrel or two scampering about. I could watch the sights and listen to the sounds of nature in some secluded spot (on a nice day at least!) for hours. One of the reasons I love my office in Ely so much is because I can look out over the fields and catch sight of the deer, or a bird of prey, and even recently a fox walking through the undergrowth.

I often suggest to clients with anxiety, worry and stress that they start taking a daily walk to get the mental health and well-being benefits of moving and exercise, and as a way of seeking to get some time off from unwanted thinking. And there are even better benefits if that walk is in nature, where you feel a sense of connection to nature, as the mental health research clearly supports.  

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Anxiety About Dentists, Doctors and All Things Medical

It's been a hectic start to the year with things now well and truly back in full swing. I've been busy helping people to overcome anxiety, build confidence and to take control over eating habits and it's been fantastic to see so many positive results. Outside work, I've been busy with my exercise and doing a bit of running again, I've been continuing to learn guitar (snapping some strings along the way) and spending fun time with the kids (well, maybe 95% of the time with the kids is fun, the rest is nagging them, cajoling them, reminding them to do things and tidying up after them!).

Many of the people I've been helping recently have come to see me about anxiety and fear to do with medically related things. For some, all medical things create anxiety, and they avoid the doctor and dentist because of the overwhelming uncomfortable feelings the thought of it evokes. Sometimes even talking about medically related things can be enough to create the fear and panic, even where the actual situations and events purely concern other people. There can be fears about needles, injections and blood tests and again, avoidance will be the main way they have of trying to deal with the fear and uncomfortable sensations. 

As with most anxiety and fear, there is a cycle of imagining the worst case (e.g. needing a blood test and passing out), which creates anxious feelings and leads to avoidance and struggling.    

Yet, however your fear and anxiety affects you right now, it is possible to take back control over your thoughts and feelings so that, like other people seem to do with ease, you can calmly go and do whatever medical things you may need to do.

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Health Anxiety - Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

Recently a client with health anxiety was telling me how he couldn't even put the TV on listen to the radio without coming across several mentions of health-related issues.  There's an almost constant stream of adverts and stories about illness, heart disease, cancer and other health issues. And, of course, over the last couple of years, all the mention of COVID-19, long covid and death from the pandemic has presented a challenge to anyone who struggles with health anxiety.

When I work with health-anxiety clients, they often tell me how any slight physical sensation or niggle gets magnified and amplified inside their imagination. Rather than being able to calmly consider and assess that slight pain, discomfort or niggle, their health-anxiety quickly escalates to a worst-case scenario where it is something serious like cancer (and then there are the fearful thoughts about everything that would come with that from impacts on them and their loved ones, to uncomfortable treatment, anxiety and the panic over their potential death).

Whilst the internet is a wonderful thing, with health-anxiety it can become a source of vague information that always points to a serious health condition (just about any physical symptoms can probably be directed towards something catastrophic like cancer).

And, of course, anxiety itself can cause physical sensations, for example in your stomach, chest or muscles, which adds more fear and anxiety to an already racing mind. Your health anxiety can lead to more sensations and aches, tension and pains, which then only adds to your worries about your health and maintains the things you are feeling in your body.

Now, of course, we shouldn't just ignore every physical sensation and put it all down to anxiety. Yet, like my clients, you can develop the ability to calmly assess what you are feeling, to consider what may have caused it and to decide upon and calmly take any actions that may be needed to treat it. And, of course, the calmer you are able to be, the more clearly you can think, the better your decision-making processes will be and the easier it will be to consider what you are experiencing (without anxiety creating or exacerbating it). And so rather than thinking that twinge in your chest is a sign of a heart issue, you can calmly recognise that you probably strained a muscle exercising. 

COVID-19 and the pandemic have certainly added to the health-anxiety levels of many people, whether from a rise in stress or anxiety about catching the virus and being seriously affected. And health-anxiety and the fear of contracting COVID-19 is something I'm covering here today. 

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