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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Top 10 Blogs of 2018 from Dan Regan Hypnotherapy:

As another year starts to draw to a close I always like to take a quick look back on some of the highlights and successes over the last 12 months.

This year I've once again been able to help many scores of people to overcome their anxiety, worry and fear, as well as making many, many other positive changes. You can read the feedback of some of my clients this year in the What People Say section of this website. I've also been able to revamp my hypnosis download shop and expand the number of titles and I've received a ton of good feedback from people benefitting from these audios.

And over the course of the year I've written over eighty articles about subjects such as improving your mental health, extinguishing anxiety and ways to interrupt negative thinking and overthinking. Thank you for reading them!

In this article I've sifted through the stats and have the top ten most read blogs of 2018 for you to read and enjoy (for those of us old enough to remember the Top of the Pops chart countdown, I can't help but have the music they used in my head as I write this!).  

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Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Future and Increasing Motivation:

The Christmas countdown is in full swing in the Regan household as the big day continues to rush towards us all. The advert calendars are into single figures, Santa has been seen during his pre-Christmas tour and I've managed to wrap a whole load of presents a whole week early (wrapping has got to be THE dullest thing ever!). 

Yesterday the kids and I decided to check whether my wife was on the good list (and so would get lots of nice presents), or the naughty list (which would save me a lot of money!). We wrapped two presents and labelled them A and B and she had to choose one of them without touching either. After much deliberation she went for present A, which was a bag of potatoes and means she has failed to make Santa's good list this year!! 

Speaking of getting into the Christmas spirit, the kids have been endlessly practicing their Christmas songs ready for their school concert and I've just finished reading 'A Christmas Carol' after realising to my shame that I've never actually read the book before and have up until now only seen the film versions.

And it's that story of Scrooge and his redemption that has inspired my latest hypnotherapy vlog which you can watch below.

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Anxiety & Your Imagination - Hypnotherapy Vlog and New Research:

In my last article I wrote about anxiety and how your imagination interacts with it, following my trip to the Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival. Anxiety driven imagination leads to thoughts about things going wrong or badly in some way. Your mind seeks to interpret the cause of the anxiety and it flows into all those unwanted scenarios that can fill you with dread, fear and worry.

Anxiety fuelled imagination strengthens that cycle of anxious thoughts and feelings and can lead to avoidance behaviours and that sensation that something bad is going to happen.

I've recorded a brand new hypnotherapy vlog for you about this very subject - anxiety and your imagination - and you can watch that further down the page.

And interestingly, not long after I recorded it, a new piece of research came out on this very subject which talks about how you can use your imagination to extinguish anxiety and fears.

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