Saturday, 19 August 2017

The dreaded team meeting

His hands were sweaty. His heart was racing, as it had been since they had all filed into the meeting room. He could feel his face was bright red. He was fidgeting with the pen in his hand, trying to calm himself down, not listening to the words any of his colleagues were saying, while simultaneously painfully aware of whose turn it was to speak. Three more people, then it was Pete's turn to give his update to the group.

He hated the weekly team meeting. He knew it was ridiculous, but speaking to the group filled Pete with anxiety, which was getting worse over time. Usually one of the most dedicated and conscientious members of staff, he had pulled a sicky two weeks ago when he was scheduled to chair the meeting. Panic not pride had accompanied his boss's recent suggestion that he go for a promotion.

Although Pete is a fictional character, this story is one I see all the time as a hypnotherapist.

Situations such as:
  • speaking up in team meetings,
  • giving presentations and
  • having conversations with your boss
are very intimidating for many of us.

Unfortunately, as well as being a horrible way to feel, it can really hold you back in your career. Time and time again I meet people who avoided promotions because they didn't want to present to groups.

Thankfully this is treatable. A very beneficial technique is Systematic Desensitization.

You can do this yourself as follows:
  1. Get yourself into a lovely relaxed state by lying on your bed, closing your eyes and breathing slowly and deeply.
  2. When you are very relaxed, imagine yourself in your team meeting. Really imagine it as vividly as possible, engaging all of your senses.
  3. As you imagine yourself coping in a very calm, relaxed way, hold onto that level of physical relaxation.
  4. Imagine confidently delivering your talk.
  5. As you continue to focus on maintaining that relaxation, imagine through to the end of the meeting, when you all leave the room.
  6. Repeat as often as possible.
This techniques works by making a new association in your mind between relaxation and team meetings. You can't be very relaxed and very anxious at the same time. It's physically impossible due to the neurotransmitters which are released in each state. So by pairing the team meeting situation with relaxation, you remove the anxiety.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

5 Public Speaking Tips

What is the biggest limiting factor in your career progression?
For a huge number of people, the one thing that hinders them, is a fear of public speaking.

A recent client of mine was offered a promotion. Already the manager of a small team, the promotion involved managing an entire department. Although she was more than capable of doing the work, she turned the promotion down, because the new job required her to deliver presentations. Unfortunately this story is very common. Whether it's delivering big presentation, speaking to the MD or having regular team meetings, public speaking fear drastically holds back your career.

Here are five simple ways to be more confident.

1) Positive self-talk.

Notice the way you talk to yourself in your own mind. Do you say things to yourself such as,
"I'm terrible at presenting,"
"I always go bright red,"
"I'm boring,"
"People will think I'm stupid."

Even the most confident speakers would feel anxious if their inner monologue was this negative before a talk. Imagine someone you care about. Perhaps a best friend or sibling. Would you ever tell them they looked stupid? Or that they were terrible at presenting? No, of course you wouldn't. So don't say it to yourself. Talk to yourself in your own mind in an encouraging way, as if you are motivating a best friend.

2) Challenge yourself

We all have a comfort circle around us. The problem is, when we fear certain situations, we tend to avoid them. The result is our circle of comfort gets smaller. To become more confident you need to challenge yourself instead of avoiding situations. Challenge yourself to speak to a senior colleague, speak up in a team meeting or ask a question during a presentation.

3) Toastmasters

Toastmasters are a wonderful organization, with meetings all over the world, whose aim is to teach people how to present well. It doesn't matter if you can speak comfortably to a room full of people for ten minutes or are too nervous to introduce yourself, Toastmasters can accommodate you. It is a great way to build confidence and skill at public speaking.

4) Imagine through to the end.

When we think about something we fear, we tend to imagine the worst part. When you imagine future presentations or ones you have done in the past, you probably imagine the part when you first stand up and everyone looks at you. Our minds then get stuck in the most fear inducing part of the experience. Change the way you think. Imagine presentations through to the end. Whether it is remembering past presentations or thinking about future ones, imagine through to the end when you thank your audience, receive a round of applause and return to your seat. This teaches your mind that you are ok in that situation and it does end.

5) Fear Of Public Speaking Hypnosis MP3

Download a great hypnosis MP3, to easily overcome this fear here.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

10 Ways To Feel Happy

Want an easy way to lift your mood and feel great? Here are 10 simple things you can do today to feel instantly better.

1) Take some gentle exercise, preferably outside. Exercise gets our blood flowing, which gets rid of that lethargic feeling we sometimes have when we're feeling down. We also feel a sense of accomplishment when we exercise and of course, there are the obvious health benefits. You don't have to run a marathon to get these benefits, a walk outside will provide many of the same mood lifting properties. If you can get some exercise outside, this is even better as sunlight is good for our mood.

2) Do something for yourself every day. Often, if we are feeling low, and particularly if we have low self-esteem, we have a tendency to put everyone else's needs before our own. So, perhaps you make sure your boss, children, friends, parents etc. are all happy each day, leaving no energy for yourself. Each time we do this we are subconsciously telling ourselves,
"I'm not important. My needs are not as important as other people's."
Each time we send this subconscious message to ourselves, our self-esteem takes another knock. To feel good, take some time everyday to do something that is just for you. This isn't something you should do or need to do. It's not a chore or obligation. It's something you want to do. For me, it is taking time to have a nice coffee and read a travel magazine, in a beautiful location. Even if it is just for ten minutes per day, for those ten minutes you are subconsciously telling yourself,
"I'm important. My needs are important and I deserve to be happy."

3) Accept compliments with a thank you. When we are feeling low we have a tendency to deflect compliments. For example,
"You look lovely in that dress."
"Oh this old thing. Nah, I've had it for ages and it makes my arse look huge."
Sound familiar?
Accept compliments with a thank you is a great way to boost self-confidence. It's also more polite to the person giving you the compliment.

4) Write down three good things about yourself each day. This is another great way to boost self-confidence, which in turn helps you to feel better in every area of your life. These could be things you like about your physical appearance, talents you have, things you've done well that day, being a good friend etc. It's important to write these down, not just think them, as seeing them in written form imprints them into your mind more effectively.

5) Write down three good things about the day. When we are feeling a bit sad or depressed, our perception of the world changes. We notice the things that go wrong each day. We dwell on the negative and filter out the positive. This distorted view of the world makes our mood even worse and exacerbates the problem. A good way to break this negative cycle is to write down at least three good things about each day. If you struggle with this, start small. For example:
  • The Spring flowers are out in the garden.
  • I'm lucky enough to have enough money to feed my family every day
  • I heard a song I really like on the radio.
6) Watch some comedy. They say laughter is the best medicine and there is certainly some truth in this statement. When you're feeling a bit low, watch some stand up comedy on TV or a comedy film. It's a great way to lift your mood.

7) Spend time with people who make you feel good. We are social animals and we need human interaction. Choose the people you associate with wisely. We all have those people in our lives who make us feel a bit crap. It could be that they are criticize us, are confrontational or are very negative.When you need to lift your mood, make a conscious effort to spend time with people who are upbeat, kind and make you feel good.

8) Set yourself up to win. In modern life we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We want to have a thriving career, be the perfect parent, have a busy social life and look fantastic. Often when we achieve a goal, such as a promotion, we immediately start focussing on the next target. This creates a feeling that we are constantly failing. Create ways you can win each day. When you are setting goals for the day, have some small, achievable ones on there. If you have a To Do list make sure this includes some smaller items. These small wins create a feeling of success, which keeps you motivated and happy.

9) Focus on the here and now. We can focus on the past, the present or the future. Of course, we need to allocate some time to each, to function normally. However, when people dwell excessively on the past, it can lead to depression. On the other hand, when people focus excessively on the future, it can lead to feelings of anxiety. Focus on the here and now, what is going on today, what you can see, hear and experience around you right now, what makes you happy today. This is a great way to boost your happiness.

10) Download my Boost Confidence Hypnosis MP3 below.

Monday, 7 November 2016

How To Overcome Insomnia

Insomnia is a very common problem and can have a huge negative impact on your quality of life. Sometimes insomnia can be a life long problem, sometimes it starts during periods of stress or sometimes it starts for no apparent reason.

There are a few simple strategies which can help to improve your sleep. Avoiding caffeine late in the day will help. Aim to do more exercise. Throughout the day our bodies produce a hormone called adenosine. The levels of adenosine increase throughout the day as we do more activity. The higher the level the sleepier we feel. Doing regular exercise further increases the level of adenosine.

Another hormone which plays an important role in sleep is melatonin. Our eyes detect the light levels in our environment. As it gets darker, our eyes detect the decreasing light levels and release a hormone called melatonin, in response to this. Melatonin causes us to feel drowsy. One of the problems with modern life is that we look at a lot of light emitting screens, such as computers, TVs and phones. When we do this in the evening, it tricks our brain into thinking it is still day time and the body does not produce enough melatonin.
If you are struggling with insomnia, avoid light emitting screens in the evening. Switch to reading a paper book or magazine instead.

Often, we have thoughts running through our head when we are trying to sleep. This could be things we have to do tomorrow. They could be worries and stresses. These intrusive thoughts can keep us awake at night. A good solution is to keep a notebook by your bed. You can write down these thoughts in your notebook and park them for the night. This is particularly useful if you are thinking about things you have to get done the next day.

Insomnia is often linked to stress. When we are chronically stressed, one of our biological systems, called the sympathetic nervous system, stimulates the fight or flight response. When we are chronically in this fight or flight mode, it plays havoc with our sleep patterns. Take stress seriously and take steps to manage it. Perhaps you could start meditation, ask for more help from friends and family or speak to your boss about reducing your work load.

Hypnotherapy is very effective for treating both stress and insomnia so please do get in touch to find out more.

Here are some of the lovely things my previous clients have said about how hypnotherapy helped with insomnia.

"Having gone down many routes in the past to try and rectify my debilitating sleep problem, I went to see Catherine.  After only two sessions, I found to my surprise, regular sleep patterns started to return.  The CD that was supplied was extremely helpful in enabling me to relax and not dwell on the problems that were causing my sleep deprivation.  I would recommend Catherine to anyone with a similar problem."

"Thank you for your help. I still wake up but am now able to go back to sleep again which is amazing! This morning I woke at 7:30, which is a first for me!"

"I have been making great progress with CDs and techniques you have shown me to get a better nights sleep. I'm happy to say its working and I'm waking up much less than before, and more often than not sleeping through the night. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help, you really have made a difference."

Friday, 16 September 2016

Boost Self-Confidence - 3 Week Online Course

The perfect solution if you:
  • lack self-esteem
  • doubt yourself or worry about not being good enough
  • suffer from social anxiety
  • find it difficult to speak up at work
  • find big groups of people intimidating
While one to one, personalised hypnotherapy sessions are undoubtedly the best way to overcome self-confidence issues, sometimes money can be tight and it can be difficult to commit to a course of therapy in my clinic.

This digital course is the perfect, affordable alternative.

The Boost Self-Confidence course is set over three weeks. Each week you will receive an audio recording of a session, a hypnosis MP3 and homework tasks to complete.

The full course is £99 in total.

Please note that I send the courses out manually so there will be a delay between purchasing the course and receiving it.

Here are some of the lovely things people have said about how hypnotherapy has helped with self-esteem issues.

"I felt much calmer and less anxious.  Catherine gave me a few tips to help with my thought process and I've found myself thinking clearer and I'm able to think positively rather than thinking negatively by focusing on what may happen.  I've really enjoyed the MP3's and can honestly see a big improvement in how I feel.  Thank you"

"Since the course of hypnotherapy my daughter presents herself with a new found confidence – even to people she knew before.  She speaks to lecturers at College if she needs to question anything, although this might be waiting until the rest of the class has left, but she would never have done this before.  I would highly recommend Catherine for anyone having an issue with confidence, especially young people as she certainly makes them feel at ease and improves their outlook on life. "

"You have truly been a miracle worker for us. We both feel so much more relaxed, confident and positive and now looking forward to the future and not just existing anymore. I would and will recommend you to anyone who has any issues they want to treat with hypnotherapy."

Monday, 22 August 2016

How To Overcome Social Anxiety

As a hypnotherapist, one of the most common issues I treat, is social anxiety. This issue can manifest in a number of different ways, from avoiding nights out, to not speaking up in groups, to wanting to plan every detail of the event.

As well as social situations, this type of anxiety is very commonly experienced in the work place. Lots of people find team meetings very intimidating or get very nervous when speaking to their boss.

Social anxiety is one of these issues which has a huge impact on your wellbeing. It is horrible feeling anxious. It also holds you back in life. I've met people who have avoided going to university because they are so worried about meeting new people. I've also encountered people who have been held back in their career because they have been too shy to put their ideas forward or deliberately avoid interviews.

So, how do you overcome social anxiety? How do you become less shy?

The first way is to push your comfort level. We all have a circle of comfort around us. Inside the circle are the things we are comfortable with doing, for example, spending time with close family. Towards the edge of the circle are the things which make us mildly uncomfortable, for example, walking into the cafeteria at work on our own. Outside the circle are the things we avoid, for example, a party where we don't know many people. The problem is, that as we start to avoid the things on the edge of the circle, our circle of comfort gets smaller. So, one way to widen that comfort circle and to decrease anxiety, is to keep challenging yourself to do things, which are just beyond your comfort level. Challenge yourself to do one thing per day, for example:

  • Present an idea to your boss.
  • Volunteer to speak in a team meeting
  • Start a conversation with the cashier in the supermarket
  • Go for a coffee on your own
Each time you do one of these challenges, you prove to yourself that you can do it. You also realise that nothing disastrous happens.

The second way to overcome social anxiety is to notice the way you speak to yourself, in your own mind. We all have an inner monologue, going on inside our own minds, all of the time. Sometimes this inner monologue can be very critical and negative. For example:
  • I'll make an idiot of myself if I speak up
  • I haven't got anything interesting to say
  • Everyone will think I'm boring
  • People might make fun of me
Sometimes this critical inner voice stems from things said to us in our childhood. Sometimes it stems from beliefs we have picked up through our adult lives. However, it can be changed. You do not have to get stuck with this internal criticism.

Whenever you find yourself being negative, stop and think of someone you love very much. Would you say the same thing to them? No, you wouldn't. So don't say it to yourself. It is so important for your general happiness and confidence, that you speak to yourself as if you are your own best friend.

Another great way to boost self-confidence and overcome social anxiety is by using the Confidence Hypnosis MP3, which is available here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Accessing A Positive State Of Mind - The Golf Mind Set Series - Issue 4

A great performance in any sport involves a great deal of mind-body interaction. Golf possibly more than others. As a golfer, you know how your mood can affect your game. You are probably familiar with how challenging it can be to get yourself into the right frame of mind.

This is the forth blog in the Golf Mindset Series. To maximize your golf performance, you can also read Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3.

Getting yourself in to the right frame of mind, or state, is crucial to golfing success. If you believe you will perform badly, then you will. You know how sometimes you feel very confident, as though you could take on anyone and win. Other times you are dreading even starting the round. So what is it that causes these differences? And how can you always be in the good state?

A range of things can cause us to be in a good or bad frame of mind. Often it is external triggers, also called anchors. Common anchors related to golf are:

  • What the weather is like
  • Whether you got caught in traffic on the way to the course
  • Who you're playing with
  • What your work environment was like earlier in the day
All sorts of things affect our mind set and can change our state, putting us into a positive or negative state of mind. 

Anchors exist every day in our day to day lives, not just related to golf. For example, if you hear a song of the radio which reminds you of a good night out, and makes you laugh, the song is the anchor and the state is fun and laughter. Or, if you smell a perfume which reminds you of someone you used to know, and makes you feel nostalgic, the perfume is the anchor and the state is nostalgia. 

The good news is that we can use the phenomenon of anchoring to our advantage. You can create a trigger to instantly get you back into a good positive state of mind for playing golf. 

You do this as follows. Close your eyes and remember your best game. Really engage your imagination. Remember the best bits in clear detail. Use all of your senses to recall what you could see around you, how light it was, what you could hear and smell, how the club felt in your hand and the position of your body. When you are fully back in the memory create a trigger word and say it aloud to yourself. A trigger word could be something like, 'win,' 'play,' 'shot' or anything else which you feel works well for the situation. Repeat this process several times and you will firmly establish a link between the trigger word and the positive state. You can then use this trigger word whenever you want to feel confident about winning. 

Anchoring is a wonderful skill to learn and you can use this skill in many areas of your life.

Have you ever used anchoring? Do you have any other hints for improving your golf game. If so please do add them in the comments below.