Time To Talk Day 2020 - Talking About Mental Health

Time To Talk Day 2020 was on February 6th 2020 and is an annual event designed to encourage people to get talking about mental health issues as part of ending mental health discrimination. The organisers want everyone to be more open about mental health and to talk and listen about all things mental health.

I'm sure we all agree it's a worthwhile aim to challenge the stigma that can still pervade around mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. And certainly your mental health should be up there on a par with your physical health, in terms of both keeping healthy and seeking help when things are tougher.

And whilst I hear from clients many stories of supportive employers, partners, families and friends, there are those who still don't get it when it comes to mental health issues and the impact they can have on you.

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Can Anyone Call Themselves A Therapist?

It's hard to believe that we are already a month into 2020 and sometimes it seems time passes by quicker and quicker somehow. I've continued to be massively busy with hypnotherapy clients and, as always, anxiety and fear form a large part of the issues I've been helping them with. As I mentioned last time, I've also been busy in the studio adding to the hypnosis downloads I have available for you.

Combined with chasing the kids around, it can sometimes feel like there isn't a moment to pause (and I seem to have been learning a lot of geographical and musical terms and definitions in recent weeks while I've been testing my daughter for her tests). In fact the only downside recently seems to be the achillies injury I picked up running and that has curtailed my usual fitness routine. I'm banned from running, jumping and lunging for the next few weeks! 

Which was probably how I had a bit of time to scroll over the BBC website the other morning while eating my breakfast. And there, sitting on the News home page was a link to a video called, 'Can anyone call themself a therapist or counsellor?' which naturally piqued my professional curiousity (the video may or may not still be there by the time you are reading this!)

So, what is the answer? Can anyone call themselves a therapist here in the UK?

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New Hypnosis Downloads - Worry, Confidence and Loving Kindness:

It's been a hectic start to the year helping people with issues such as anxiety, worry, low self-esteem and overcoming fears (as well as settling back into the routine after the festive break). Amongst all that I have managed to get back into the recording studio to create some new hypnosis downloads for you.

Based upon the positive feedback I've received on my existing hypnosis downloads (have a look at them here: Hypnosis Downloads), I think you are going to love these new titles.

As well as my existing hypnosis downloads for issues such as anxiety and confidence, I've recorded a special morning calmness hypnosis download, as well as a morning confidence hypnosis one. These two can really help you to start your day in the best possible mind-set, knowing that you can handle whatever comes your way during the day.

There's also an audio to help you let go of unnecessary worry, and another to help you start being kinder to yourself and liking yourself more (which can help reduce self-criticism, anxiety and depression, as well as helping you feel better in yourself). 

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My Most Popular Blogs From 2019:

This is my final blog article of 2019 before the Christmas holidays, when I'll be taking some time off to spend with my family (and to do some extra running no doubt!). 

It's been another busy year and I'm grateful to anyone who has been to see me for hypnotherapy sessions, purchased my hypnosis audios, left me a testimonial, read my blogs, watched my videos or who has supported me in any way. Thank you!

Before I power off and head off, I'd like to share the most read blogs from my website over the year. There have been over sixty articles added this year (with over fourteen thousand views...blimey!) so I hope you've found them (or at least some of them!!) helpful and beneficial. 

So which were the most popular articles?

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A Christmas Carol and Happy Christmas From Me!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas as I write this post and I'm getting used to the daily updates from my kids about how many sleeps are left until Santa comes. 

Apart from the traditional watching of 'It's a Wonderful Life', most of the other Christmas activities (apart from the bootcamp Christmas jumper workout) have already taken place and been a lot of fun. In my last post I wrote about the Ely Festive 5k I ran with my daughter (along with writing about all the research about why you should get running and exercising). We've been up to Birmingham for their Christmas market, Santa has called around our street in his sleigh (pulled by a car because the reindeer are resting) and the other night my wife and I went to watch 'A Christmas Carol' being performed at Ely Cathedral. It's a fun and busy time of year!

The main purpose of this post is to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I'm grateful to all of you who have supported me and worked with me this year and I wish you all the very happiest for 2020. 

And, with the performance fresh in my mind, and always liking a bit of atmospheric Dickens at this time of year, I thought I'd also mention a few things we can all be mindful of from good old Mr Scrooge and company.

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Ely Festive 5k 2019 and Why You Should Get Running For Your Mental Health:

The other weekend my daughter and I once again took part in the Ely Festive 5k, which is organised to support the amazing work of the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. Despite her protestations after last year's event that she was never, ever (EVER!) going to take part in it again, Sunday morning at 9am found us both at the start line dressed up in our best Christmas gear (ok, so I had to bribe her to take part with chocolate but let's pretend she really did want to take part with me!).

This was our fourth year in a row taking part together and one of my favourite things about it is all the pre-race stuff as my daughter and I walk to the start line, register, hang about and have some fun before my Santa beard goes on and the race starts. And despite spending the next forty or so minutes with me 'encouraging' her to put some effort in while she protested her legs are hurting (after about quarter of a mile), I'm always happy afterwards that we did it.

Now part of that is that I get to spend some great time with my daughter doing something constructive. But, as anyone who has read my blogs for a while knows, exercise and particularly running have for a long time been my 'thing'. What started as something to get fit grew into 10ks, half marathons, marathons and an ultra before crashing back down to the sort of 10k level I'm at now (after a persistent injury that stopped me running for a couple of years). These days I'm a bit more balanced in my exercise and aim for two runs and four bootcamps a week.

Scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of exercise aside (and there is plenty of it covered below), I find that exercise is one of the most important aspects of what I do to feel good both mentally and physically. The evidence shows that exercise can also help with depression, anxiety and in many other ways for your mental health (and that being inactive can be bad news for both your mental health and physical health).

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A Boost Of Happiness - How Sharing Positive Experiences Affects Your Happiness:

The joy of happiness! Who doesn't like being happy, right? In my office, one of the most desired end goals is for someone to feel happier at the end of their hypnotherapy sessions. That may means overcoming anxiety and panic, increasing confidence and self-esteem or any other host of aims and issues, yet within this and as part of this is the desire to feel happier in ourselves and in our lives.

I've written before about the benefits of gratitude for boosting your happiness and self esteem and potentially protecting you from anxiety and depression. Noticing and appreciating the good stuff in your life really can make you happier (perhaps not the shock of the century is it?!). Research really does demonstrate that people who deliberately notice and appreciate positive aspects in their life and their world tend to be happier, more optimistic, have positive self-esteem and are more positive in general.

All great stuff, yet can we derive even more positive feelings, happiness and even life satisfaction from our positive experiences? Could sharing our positive experiences with others give us a boost of positive feelings and emotions? Can we get a boost of happiness by telling others about the positive events in our lives?

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How To Increase Willpower and Self-Control:

Do you struggle to find the willpower and self-control you need to achieve what you want to? It's something I hear a lot from clients, how they lack the willpower they need, whether that's to stop smoking, lose weight, get exercising, study, get to bed earlier or any number of other areas. 

When it comes to taking action and making better decisions, almost all of us struggle at one time of another to act in our own best interests or to forego something that seems more enjoyable or easier right now (especially compared to much longer term goals). 

You know what you ought to be doing yet, even knowing this, you find that your willpower, motivation and self-control quickly evaporate. It may seem like one ever lasting battle with yourself to make better decisions for yourself. All those short term temptations and rewards are irresistible and we give in and promise ourselves we'll do better in the future; for example, in our eating habits where we take the sugary/fattening option in front of us (who has told themselves when it's gone, it's gone and then I'll be healthier?), or quitting smoking (but the habits and stress kicks in so the decision gets pushed to another time) or it could be procrastinating by watching that next episode on Netflix, having a look at one more you Tube video, 'quickly' checking out social media or surfing the net and a whole host of other things that can mean you don't get around to exercising or getting stuff done or getting enough sleep.  

Knowing what we should be doing isn't enough to stop us doing what we want to do in that moment. We struggle to prioritise our long term goals over our more immediate behaviours and choices (and all the while promising ourselves that we will do better in the future).

Willpower and self-control are things we need more and more to make sure we achieve what we want to rather than jumping from one urge and instant reward to another. So how can you increase willpower and self-control so that you actually make stuff happen?. 

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Boosting Your Happiness and Well-Being:

Could you benefit from boosting your levels of happiness and well-being in some area of your life right now? I think we can all take deliberate steps to both increase and maintain the kinds of happiness, well-being and mental health that we want.

Recently I've been working my way through a really good online course from Yale University which is all about the Science of Well-Being. One thing that comes through pretty clearly is that a lot of our thoughts and expectations about what will make us happy are well wide of the mark.  

Another thing that comes through from the research is that increasing your happiness and well-being takes daily, intentional effort over a long period of time. This is something I often cover with my clients. Waiting for change to happen, hoping for the best or waiting until you feel like it, are usually not great strategies if you want to make positive changes in your life.

I'll cover a bit more about well-being and happiness a bit further down this article.

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Celebration of Business 2019 - Ely Cathedral Business Group

I was delighted to take part in the recent Celebration of Business event hosted by the Ely Cathedral Business Group. A great event in a fantastic location.

The event allows over a hundred local businesses, from a diverse range of sectors, to showcase their services and to meet other local businesses. 

It's always a great occasion and a highlight for any local business in the Ely / East Cambridgeshire area.

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