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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Anxiety and Imagination - The Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival:

This past weekend was spent at the fabulous Dickensian Christmas Festival, down in Rochester in Kent. I wrote recently about how we can use the message of a Christmas Carol with Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future to help us take action and make decisions right now that will cause us to live the life we want to live (go and check that article out if you haven't already).

In this article I'm mainly talking about anxiety and how our imagination and thinking can intensify those unwanted anxiety-filled thoughts, feelings, behaviours and emotions.

One thing I love about the work of Dickens is how he took experiences from his own life and the people and places around him and incorporated those into his stories to bring them to life. You only have to stroll down the main street in Rochester to notice all the plaques on the buildings describing how that place appeared in a certain novel of his. Rather than just creating everything from a blank canvas, Dickens took real life and wove it into the fabric of his work. It's certainly one of the ways that he brought his work to life and gave it that essence of being realistic and believable to us readers.

And if you are struggling with anxiety you may very well be able to relate to that process. Anxiety has a way of taking the people, places and situations around you and starting to distort them in your imagination into all sorts of worst case scenarios. And just like a good Dickens novel, the more you get absorbed in them, the more they come to life in your mind and the more your anxiety escalates.

All those 'what if this happens?' type of thoughts can grow and grow until everything seems like a disaster waiting to happen that will lead to bad outcomes, negative consequences and you feeling even worse. Your mind goes into overdrive seeking out those possible future threats so that you can prepare for them or avoid them, yet because most of it is anxiety-fuelled distortion and perception, you may find there is no escape from your own thinking.

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Dickens, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future:

Shops have started playing Christmas songs and the kids have started opening their advent calendars and that can only mean one thing: that we are on the ever-escalating countdown to Christmas.

This past weekend I took the family down to Rochester in Kent for our first visit to the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival. It was a far cry weather wise from the summer Dickens' Festival we went to and this time we spent more time trying to keep warm and dry rather than trying to find shade from the summer's blazing heat.

There were street entertainers doing short plays, magic and music, a chance to have a go at bell ringing (which my daughter got told she is a natural at!) and as many people dressed in Dickensian clothes or as characters from Dickens' novels as you want to spare the time to look at. There was also an absolutely ram-packed Christmas market and the kids loved going on the rides (except the scary ride which was over before it began for my two). And let's not forget the candle light procession and the 'guaranteed snow' (pumping out from machines around the town) that created a wonderful wintry atmosphere.. 

Now I love all this kind of stuff: the characters, the street entertainment and so forth. There is so much to watch and do that it takes all of your focus and you find yourself very much in the present mentally and free from all the other day to day stuff that can so often be there the rest of the time.

One particular street play I stopped to watch was a very well put together and funny rendition of a Christmas Carol, where Scrooge is visited by three ghosts (or four if you count Jacob Marley) who represent the ghosts of past, present and future. And it always reminds me of a particular hypnotherapy technique that can be useful where someone is seeking motivation or isn't doing something that they know they really need or ought to be doing.

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Ely Festive 5k - Santa boosted Mental Health:

This weekend marked the annual Ely Festive 5k, where a few hundred people (mostly) dress up in their finest festive gear and walk, jog and run around the streets of Ely. 

And, in what is fast becoming a family tradition, I dusted off my white beard and red hat, reminded my daughter that yes, she really had said she wanted to do the Ely run again this year, and headed to the start line alongside the fabulous Ely Cathedral. 

It's always a fun occasion and there is always a lot of friendly chat and encouragement from fellow runners on the way around. All of which helped me to cope with over thirty minutes of continuous moaning from my daughter about how a) every part of her ached b) she couldn't breathe and c) how she was never, ever, going to do this again (all of which are also fast becoming part of the annual tradition!!). But bless here she finished it and even managed a sprint finish over the last 50 metres AND she did it quicker than in any of the previous years. 

I think the awesome chocolate orange brownie she tucked into at the end helped to ease some of the 'suffering' and her next day muscle soreness will soon pass too (although not before a rather achy PE lesson at school!). And, of course, she felt better after having done the run and a sense of satisfaction in telling others of her endeavours.

I've written many times about the mental health benefits of being active... and I'm sure there must be research that dressing as Santa boosts mental health too! Anyway, before the run we popped into the office to record a short video...although it got overtaken a bit by my daughter experiencing a bit of an issue behind me!! 

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Misophonia - Dealing With Noise Sensitivity & Anxiety:

Some sounds can be just plain irritating and annoying. Sounds such as the high pitch scream of a dentist's drill or someone drilling a hole in a wall can set you on edge and make you want to move away.

Yet with misophonia, which literally means 'the hatred of sound', that noise sensitivity can send you into a rage and fill you with overwhelming stress, anxiety and anger. And it will often be sounds such as chewing, eating and the repetitive clearing of a throat, that is enough to make certain situations unbearable.

With Christmas approaching, and the prospect of sufferers trying to cope with, or avoid, eating with others, misphonia has received some press coverage recently.

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Should you wait until you feel like it? My latest hypnotherapy vlog:

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 5.30am, something that has become much more of a regular occurrence of late. That's the time I need to get up to get ready if I'm going to get to bootcamp on time.  It's one of my least favourite moments of the week and it's repeated up to three times a week. 

As I tentatively opened my eyes to the realisation that it was still pitch black outside, every part of my mind and body was whispering for me to stay under the warm duvet and give it a miss. It was cold out there!

If you asked me in those first minutes if I felt like getting up, getting ready and going out to exercise in the dark and cold, I can promise you that the answer would have been a very clear and very precise 'no way!'

No matter how much I love and enjoy bootcamp, no part of me in that moment feels like running around, doing countless burpees and press ups or lifting some weights.  Yet I still get up and do it because I know how much better I will feel afterwards; I know the positive outcomes that await me.

And it's true even when we look at issues such as anxiety. 

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Some Thoughts On Grief - New Hypnotherapy Vlog:

This weekend marked the Armistice 2018 and a chance to take some time to remember those who served during the First World War, on the centenary of its conclusion, along with paying tribute and remembering those who have served in other conflicts on behalf of their country.

Here in Ely there was a march to lay wreaths at the Memorial and, in the evening, there was a Beacon of Light service that included the playing of the Last Post, a very well observed two minutes' silence and the lighting of the new beacon, along with the ringing out of the Church bells. It really was a very moving and poignant reminder of 100 years since the signing of the Armistice.

I always think it's very important that we all pay tribute and take a few moments on this day and it was very pleasing to hear my kids talking about it from things they had learnt at school.  

As well as paying tribute to those who have served and, in many cases, given the ultimate sacrifice, this past week has marked the fifth anniversary of the death of my father from cancer, which has naturally led to me thinking about grief and the loss of a loved one. I've recorded a short video about some of my thoughts around grief that I share with you below.

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Triathlon Sports Performance - Sports Psychology Video Testimonial:

As I write this I can already feel my legs starting to seize up a bit from this morning's 6.30am bootcamp. As much as I love the feeling after I've completed it (because it's so blinking intensely tough!), sometimes during it I have to dig deep to stay focused and in the right mental space to keep going.

Anyone who takes part in a sport knows that their mind-set is just as important, and often more so, than their physical state. If you want to be able to focus, keep good technique, push through the burn and get the job done. Then there are times when you've really got to be in control of your inner dialogue. If you aren't in control of your mind-set then it's easy to give up or to think you can't do it or to let any other amount of negative mind chatter take over. We've all been there and the more fatigued you get, the more that little negative voice can start to pipe up.

It's something that, along with physical strength, I continually try and work upon in my own exercise, and it's something that I often help others with in sessions. Developing your sports psychology capability can have huge beneficial impacts on your sports performance and getting the most out of yourself when you want or need to.

The other day, Ashley popped into the office to record a short video testimonial about how his sports psychology sessions had helped him with his most recent Ironman triathlon performance. You can check out what he said about his sessions below.

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