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."

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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.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

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.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Improve Your Golf Game While Sitting On the Couch. The Golf Mind Set Series – Issue 3

Golf is one of those sports, in which success depends as much on your mind set, as it does on your physical ability. This series teaches you how to strengthen your mind set to fulfill your potential on the golf course.

This is the third blog in the Golf Mind Set Series. They can all be read independently but if you would like to find out more about improving your game, read Issue 1 and Issue 2.

We all have an inner monologue, happening all the time. We use self-talk almost every moment of every day, often without even being consciously aware of it. Unfortunately, sometimes we can speak to ourselves in a very negative way, which of course affects our mood and performance. Self-talk is very powerful. If a world class golfer had a little voice on his shoulder, for just one day, saying,
"You're going to screw it up,"
"It's going to be so embarrassing to miss that shot,"
even the world's best golfers are going to be affected by that and probably have a poor game, and that's just if they had negative self-talk for one day. If you are using negative self-talk a significant percentage of the time you step on to the course, of course you are going to mess things up.

Start to notice the way you talk to yourself in your own mind, both before the game and during it.

If you notice overly negative or critical statements, start to change them. Imagine you are a coach. What would you say to your client? Would you say these critical things to them? Or would you use more positive, motivational statements. Start to talk to yourself in your own mind as if you were your own coach, someone who has your best interests at heart.

It sounds simple, but changing the way we speak to ourselves in our own minds has a massive impact. Talking positively to yourself calms your nerves and puts you into a positive state of mind, and as you well know, so much of golf is about your state of mind.

Your state at any given moment will also affect your performance. When we refer to state we are talking about how you are in the present moment. How is your mind set? How are you using your body? How is your mood? You know sometimes you have been in a really wonderful state, you have felt on top of the world and your golf game has reflected this. Other times you have had a terrible week at work, stress at home and been in a tense state. Again, this will be reflected in your golf game. You might think that your state is beyond your control and you are a victim to your circumstances. However, this is not the case. You can learn to access a positive, resourceful state whenever you need to.

The first step is to become more aware of the differences between a good state, when you feel on top of the world and play a brilliant game, and a bad state when you fell tense, nervous and convinced you will fail. They way to become aware of these differences is to use a technique called Mindfulness. You can do this as follows:
  1. Close your eyes and take some deep slow breaths
  2. Start to count your breaths, one on your inhalation, two on your exhalation and so on up to ten. When you reach ten start again. 
  3. Pay attention to the physical sensations of your breathing. Notice where you feel the breathing. 
  4. Scan through your body and notice all the different physical sensations. 
  5. Now become aware of the sounds around you.
  6. Then become aware of your thoughts. Don't try to stop or control your thoughts. Just notice how they flit in and out of your mind. 
  7. Notice your mood and how you feel emotionally in this preset moment. Again you are not trying to stop or change it, just noticing your mood.
  8. Remember a time when you were at your peak, playing your best game of golf. Remember it as vividly as you can and use all your senses to really immerse yourself in the memory.
  9. Become aware of the following in your best game of golf:
    • How you were breathing
    • How you were speaking to yourself in your mind
    • What was your posture
    • What were you thinking about as you took the shot
    • What were your eyes focusing on
    • What speed did you swing
  10. Now imagine using all the same methods in a future game and see yourself playing the perfect game. 
This exercise helps you to become more aware of the difference between different states. Once you can identify how you do things in a peak state, you can adopt these strategies into all of your games. If your would like an audio file to guide you through this process, please get in touch here.

Please do let me know if you found this article useful and what else you would like to see included in the Golf Mind Set Series.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Monday, 11 January 2016

The History of Hypnosis

Many of my clients are interested in the origins of hypnotherapy. This post explains the evolution of hypnotherapy and how hypnotherapy fits in with general trends in the field of psychology, over the years.

It's quite a technical, heavy blog but great for those of you with an interest in psychology.

Hypnotherapy and hypnosis is continually evolving and changing. How and why it changes is dependent on what is popular at the time, new research and scientific discoveries and how it is portrayed in the media, among other things.

Hypnosis as a phenomena has been around for centuries, and there is evidence of it having been used as far back as the ancient Egyptian times, where it was used in sleep temples, which were used for healing. Throughout the dark ages hypnotic phenomena and processes were often associated with exorcisms. 
Magnetic healing and the field of magnetism as a healing process also became popular throughout the 16th and 17th century. Mesmer (1734-1815) took the ideas of magnetism and developed mesmerism which was similar to the stage hypnosis we are familiar with these days. Mesmerism became very popular and Mesmer would hold parties where large tubs would be filled with water and iron filings which Mesmer would then apparently magnetize. The individual at these gatherings would have all sorts of reactions such as hysteria, crying, fainting and convulsing. Following Mesmer and mesmerism other proponents of mesmerism such as Marquis De Puysegur (1751-1825) and Abbe de Faria (1756-1819) developed the field further and introduced concepts such as artificial somnambulism, animal magnetism and lucid sleep.
James Braid (1795-1860) is often considered the father of modern hypnosis. James Braid was an optometrist. He was interested in the field of mesmerism and how it worked, although he did not generally believe the theories. Braid coined the term hypnosis and also developed the eye fixation induction which is still popular among hypnotherapists and hypnotists today.

During the early part of the 20th century the work of Freud, popularized the concept of a subconscious mind. Freud's practices, often referred to as psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy, used hypnosis to access the subconscious mind. 

By the 1960s the popularity of psychoanalytic therapy, developed in the earlier part of the 20th century had decreased. By the 1960s hypnotherapy had been endorsed as a treatment by both the British and American medical associations. A particularly prominent figure in the world of hypnosis during the 1960s was Dave Elman. Dave Elman helped to promote the use of hypnosis as a medical tool during the 1960s. Along with the endorsement of hypnotherapy the 1950s and 1960s also saw new ideas about hypnosis which challenged the state theories of hypnosis which had been prevalent since the ideas of mesmerism in previous centuries. State theories propose that hypnosis is a unique state. with specific phenomena which can not be detected in the non-hypnotized state. Non-state theory proposes that hypnosis is not different from general relaxation. Three notable individuals, Sarbin, Spanos and Barber, particularly pioneered the non-state theory of hypnosis. Sarbin put forward the idea of ‘Role Enactment’, Role Enactment suggested that the hypnotherapy client was playing a role of being hypnotized and this is how hypnosis was induced. Spanos rejected the state theory of hypnosis in favour of the theory of Goal Directed Fantasy. Spanos also developed the Carleton Skills Training Program, which showed that hypnotizability can improve with practise. Barber suggested that hypnosis was not a special state and instead was the result of Imaginal Absorption. Barber was a Cognitive-Behavioural Therapist.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s. CBT was based on the Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) developed by Albert Ellis in the mid 1950s (although it was not named RET until the 1990s). Ellis developed RET as an alternative to what he considered to be the ineffectiveness of psychodynamic therapy. Ellis had been influenced by behaviourists, such as John Dollard, Neal Miller, and Joseph Wolpe, and George Kelly. In addition to being born out of the work of Ellis and the behaviourists, CBT was also based on the work of Aaron Beck in the 1960s. Beck developed Cognitive Therapy, which at the time was a breakthrough treatment for depression.
Around this time the work of Milton Erickson was becoming increasingly influential. Erickson’s approach did not fit into any of the existing schools of psychotherapy. It was not psychodynamic, behavioural or cognitive behavioural approaches. He used a lot of hypnotherapy in his work which brought hypnotherapy back into psychotherapy after it had been out of fashion in this field for some time. Erickson’s methods did not seem to follow any set rules and his treatment methods varied from client to client. This help to develop the ideas of a more client centred approach in hypnotherapy. One element of Erickson’s approach which was particularly notable was his use of language. He developed a lot of hypnotic language which is still used a great deal by hypnotherapists today.

The new approaches of non-state hypnosis in the 1960s along with the development of CBT in the 1960s opened the door for new innovations in psychotherapy and personal development throughout the 1970s. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was developed during the 1970s by Bandler and Grinder and continued to evolve right through the 1980s and 1990s. NLP was based on the idea of doing, rather than theorizing and has heavily influenced by the work of Erikson. Bandler and Grinder published Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume I (1975), followed in 1977 by Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume II. NLP sharply moved away from the previously held ideas of behaviourism. During the 1990s attempts were made to consolidate the work within NLP into a more formalized structure. There had been various legal arguments and disputes within NLP which were finally settled in 2001 allowing NLP to be made into a more professional practice.
Irving Kirsch (1943-present) is the biggest contributor to date in terms of research into hypnosis. Kirsch currently splits his time between lecturing at universities in the USA and the UK. He has developed theories relating to the role of expectancy in hypnosis. This theory is called Kirsch’s Response Expectancy Theory and it details the link between the placebo effect and hypnosis. Kirsch has also contributed a lot of research on anti-depressants. This work has helped the field of mental health to look at other forms of therapy as opposed to always using drug therapy, as Kirsch found the drug effect to be surprisingly small.
Throughout the 1990s CBT and NLP remained popular forms of psychotherapy and personal development. Hypnosis, however became increasingly popular as a form of entertainment. Paul McKenna had a very popular show on TV which depicted hypnosis and something to be used as a tool to make others make fools of themselves. Derren Brown, in the first decade of the 21st century continued to use hypnotism as a form of entertainment. 

Throughout the 1990s, 2000s and this decade there was a boom of self-help books. A lot of these were based on the CBT model. Hypnosis CDs also started to be marketed which effectively brought hypnotherapy to the masses. The sorts of issues that are associated with hypnotherapy have also changed recently. The Hypnotic Gastric Band for example, is a very popular procedure now. However, this treatment was unheard of 10 years ago.

Hypnosis continues to be an area which attracts a lot of attention and research. Modern researchers include Martin Orne of the University of Pennsylvania and Graham Wagstaff of Liverpool University who have both published widely on the subject. Technological developments within the last 10 years have allowed us to study hypnosis in greater depth. The use of technology such as EEG scans and PET scans allows us to view the human brain in hypnosis.

The fields of psychology and hypnosis are fascinating and I'm sure will continue to develop dramatically in the next few decades. 

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