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How do I improve my confidence?

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I had a message from a client today who told me that she was doing something that she had not been able to do for a long time, thanks to some work that we had done together. I was thrilled for her, for changing her thinking and freeing herself from an old fear. Then she told me that she still didn’t feel confident and asked ‘How do I improve my confidence?

What a great question!

My first reaction was ‘Fake it ’til you make it’ – Let me explain.

When we start to do something new, we often don’t feel very confident about it. We are learning the rules, how it works (or doesn’t work) and what to do. As we get more accustomed to situations, we become more assured, as we feel like we understand what is expected from us and how we will deal with things if they go wrong. We know the script.

When we ‘Fake it’, we create the illusion of confidence. Part of the illusion we create is our body language.

Here’s a little exercise for you.

Stand up and fake (or act) being nervous or anxious. Notice the shape of your body. Are your shoulders back or hunched over? Is your head up or are you looking down? If you step forward to you take a large or small step? How’s your breathing?

Now, change it up and fake being confident. Notice the same things about your body?

How does each make you feel? How would other people react to the body language you are portraying?

I want to look at each of these separately – first, how does it make you feel?

Our minds and our bodies are in a constant state of biofeedback. That means that what we think affects our body and what our body does, affects what we think. When you get scared about something it affects your body – your heart rate increases, you breath more shallowly and faster and you get butterflies in your stomach. Weirdly, if you create these sensations in your body artificially, say through drug use, you can create anxiety. One affects the other. So, by creating the sort of body language a confident person would demonstrate, we can give our thoughts a confidence boost.

Secondly, how do people react to you? Most people will take you at face value. If you look confident they will assume that you are confident. They will then infer that you are confident because you are a strong capable person who knows how to handle themselves.  If you look anxious they will assume you are anxious and that you have a reason to be anxious. They will treat you accordingly. If they are a kind and generous person they may offer to help you. If they are a bully or an aggressor they may see you as a potential victim. We then receive the feedback from the people around us and that in turn affects our own feelings. If you are constantly being bullied it will impact on your self-confidence in a negative way, just as if you are always the one who people turn to it in a crisis, you will feel your self confidence improve.

Another way you can work on confidence is to understand your own feelings and emotions better. Mindfulness techniques can be incredibly powerful tools to do this.

In the end, the best way to improve your confidence is to repeat whatever it is you are doing until you become really good at it, but to speed the process up, a little bit of faking it can go a long way.

 


If you have ever asked yourself ‘How do I improve my confidence?’ and a bit of ‘fake it ’til you make it’ isn’t cutting it for you, you may want to see a therapist. Don’t get caught in a cycle of fear – take the step and get yourself moving forward in a positive way.

 

 

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What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used a lot at the moment, but do you know what it’s actually all about?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness started out as a practise in India about 2500 years ago. It was created as a type of mediation that allowed the practitioner to be present in the moment and to notice what was happening in their own mind. To notice their thoughts, feelings and emotions and give themselves the time and space to look at them, hear them and to react to them in a non judgemental, balanced way.

There is a direct correlation between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Think about this for a moment..

You wake up in a great mood. ‘Today is going to be a good day’ you think to yourself. You get up, go through your morning routine and leave the house. When you get to work you see a parking space and get ready to move into it. Just as you are about to take the space someone else grabs it. How do you feel? What do you do?

Now, go through the same scenario but with you waking up in a terrible mood, convinced that today is going to be a nightmare. Now how do you feel? What do you do?

Did you get the same response each time? If you’re being honest with yourself, probably not. Yet both of the situations were identical apart from the first thoughts and emotions you were feeling. See how they can influence things?

One very effective form of therapy is CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. It uses the same principles of analytically looking at our own thoughts and deciding if they are appropriate or not and then adjusting them accordingly. For instance if someone was suffering from OCD they may have a thought or belief pattern that makes them believe that if they do not carry out a certain action or set of actions then bad things will happen. Using mindfulness and or CBT techniques, they would learn to be able to notice these thoughts and to consider them in a balanced non judgemental way. With practice this can change and alter them into healthier patterns, which in turn, changes their behaviours.

Mindfulness is more than just this though. It is the ability to be in the moment. To fully appreciate what you are experiencing.

How many times have you not enjoyed something because you were worried about something else? Lost yourself in your fears that were totally unnecessary? Many of the clients I see as a Hypnotherapist suffer from social anxiety. This can be crippling and stop people enjoying their life, yet it doesn’t have to be the case. Simply learning and practicing mindfulness can eliminate it entirely.

In some ways Mindfulness is like a work out for your mind. It strengthens it, makes it more flexible and more able to handle things if and when they get tough. It’s like exercise in another way as well – it takes training and practice to get good at it. In this way your mind is like a muscle. You need to exercise it, to make it stronger before you have to do the heavy lifting or the marathon. You start small, get frustrated, keep at it and get better.

So, next time you think about a bit of self-care or self-improvement, you might want to consider getting yourself on a mindfulness course. Start small, practice and get stronger so that you are mentally as well as physically ready for anything life throws at you, and if someone asks you what is mindfulness, you’ll be able to tell them.

 

 

 

 

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Quit Smoking Day 8 March 2017

https://www.talktherapies.co.uk

Hello you beautiful people!

Hands up if you’re a smoker….

Wow, that sucks for you. I know because I was a smoker for 17 years.

Let me list some of the many reasons it sucks…

  1. It’s seriously bad for your health – I mean seriously bad. Not only is it likely to shorten your life significantly, but it will also reduce your quality of life. Reduced blood flow can cause blindness, teeth falling out, amputation and stroke. Lung problems are almost a given and heart disease and cancer are likely. But you knew all of that right – I mean it’s not like you live under a rock.
  2. It’s expensive – now I’m all for spending your money on things you enjoy, but seriously, how much do you enjoy smoking? Work out how much you spend on smoking a week, then multiply that by 52. Chances are you are looking at thousands.
  3. You are constantly restricted. You can’t smoke here, you can’t smoke there. You are always being told where you can and can’t smoke.
  4. If you smoke in public, people are silently judging you all the time.
  5. You will occasionally have to go longer than you are comfortable with without smoking. Maybe it’s at work, maybe a friends home, maybe a flight, but there will be times that you cannot smoke for one reason or another and it will cause you stress, anxiety and discomfort.
  6. You kind of smell bad – all the time.
  7. The people that love you worry about you constantly
  8. If you have kids in your life they are learning from you. You are teaching them that smoking is a positive thing. Even if you tell them constantly that it isn’t they learn from your example far more than what you say. They see you smoke when you are stressed – they learn that smoking is good to calm you down.
  9. You are always thinking about whether you have enough cigarettes/tobacco. Do you need to make another trip to the shops? Will you have enough for the next day?
  10. Your self respect is not where it could be – trust me when I say, I have never felt prouder or more capable than the moment I realised I had quit smoking forever!

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.

Now for the good news – You can be free from this crappy habit.

It is entirely possible for you to decide today that you will never smoke again and do it. It’s literally that simple. You will go through a couple of days of feeling a bit awkward, feel itchy and unconfortable and maybe have a short temper. So what. That might sound a bit tough, but that’s all you need to go through – a couple of days of feeling unconfortable. No pain, No agony, No awful consequences. After 2 days the nicotine will be out of your system and if you decide to never put it back in again, you will slowly but surely feel better and better. It will get easier and easier. Within a couple of weeks you will have got rid of the habit too and will think about it less and less.

Quitting smoking is easy. You just don’t put another cigarette it in you mouth.


I tried to quit smoking for years – unsuccesfully. It wasn’t until I tried hypnosis that it all fell into place. If you want some help getting free of the evil weed, give me a call.

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Addicted to Self Harm

self-harm-awareness

Today is self harm awareness day.

What does self harm mean to you. To me it can mean anything from cutting and burning yourself to smoking, drinking, overeating and promiscuity. I should know – I’ve done all of them at one time or another.

I want to start with the first examples I gave. Cutting and burning. To someone who’s never done this, it can seem alien and ridiculous to even think about never mind do.

The best way I could explain it was that it was a way of getting the inside pain out. When I self harmed in this way I was in a pretty dark place mentally. I felt lost, alone and scared. I was socially anxious (thought the people around me probably wouldn’t recognise that) and had real issues about self worth. I didn’t like myself very much and treated myself accordingly. The problem was, these internal wounds couldn’t be seen. Also they couldn’t heal. By turning them into outside wounds, I felt like I was taking some control. I could see them. I could understand them. I could watch them get better. They were not a cry for help. I kept them private and never shared them with anyone. In fact, the first time someone challenged the cuts on my arms, was the last time I did it.

Then came the second phase of my self harm. I self sabotaged. I quit university. I drank, smoked, took drugs and ate rubbish food. All in the name of ‘enjoying myself’. The problem was, it didn’t help. It numbed me a little, which I thought was useful at the time, but it didn’t fix anything.

The big question is – what does help?

For me it was a lot of little things. Working on forgiving myself, accepting that I wasn’t perfect and so shouldn’t hold myself accountable to insanely high standards. Being kinder to myself, becoming my own supporter instead of my personal bully. Accepting that I wasn’t going to feel good all of the time, but that also meant that I wasn’t going to feel bad all of the time too.

These things started to allow me to take care of myself instead of harming myself. I started eating better, quit smoking, stopped drinking (well mostly) and worked on my mental health through Mindfulness and meditation. I became more honest with myself and accepted who I am. I became strong enough to ask for help. And I got help. Help from my partner (who is awesome and amazing), help from my friends and help from people who know about this stuff.

I feel grateful every day that I survived this phase of my life and am now somewhere so much better. I also feel grateful that I went through it. Was it nice? NO! Was it useful? Yes, because it has given me more empathy to that problem than most people will ever have and it has given me the ability to be truly happy and grateful that I don’t feel like that anymore.


If you, or someone you know, is suffering in this way and using self harm as a coping mechanism, start with kindness. Encourage them to get help and support them through this.

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The power of belief

coventry hypnotherapy

Belief is a powerful thing.

We all believe in things.

Some people believe in God who has a hand in their life.

Some people believe that they are lucky.

Some people believe that everything happens for a reason.

Some people believe in fairies.

Some people believe that the sun will come up tomorrow.

Some people believe in themselves.

Sometimes the things we don’t believe in are just as powerful.

What if you don’t believe in yourself?

Do you try anyway?

What if you don’t think you can do it?

Do you give up at the first hurdle because it just proved to you that it was impossible?

What if you don’t believe you’re lucky?

Does every bad thing that happens confirm that you were right?

We all have something called confirmation bias.

That means that we give extra attention and credit to things that confirm what we already think.

For example have you ever noticed that if you don’t like someone, almost everything you do annoys you. yet if a person you really liked did exactly the same thing it probably wouldn’t bother you (well, not as much anyway).

So when we don’t believe in ourselves our confirmation bias just makes it even harder to believe.

As a hypnotherapist, I often work with people who don’t believe that they can do the things they want. Maybe it’s lose weight, maybe give up smoking, maybe be confident in public, maybe its to be unafraid around spiders. Whatever it is, the more they believe that they cannot do it, the more likely it is that they won’t.

Luckily I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

The first thing I have to do is to change their belief set.

Today I was working with a lovely lady who wants to lose weight. She said that she had been overweight since she was a small child. When we first started the session I asked her if she believed she could lose weight and she said ‘no’. When I asked her why she said that, she had never been a healthy weight, so didn’t see how she could be in the future. So, after finding out about her eating habits, how she felt about food and eating, going through her routines and requirements we started with the hypnosis. The first twenty minutes were all about changing her belief patterns – nothing whatsoever about eating, appetite or food. After we had worked on this I asked where she was now – how much did she believe that she could lose weight? She replied ‘90% sure’

So we went from 0 to 90% in 20 minutes.

We then went on to work on changing eating habits and food types and put in place all the things she needed in order to be able to lose weight easily.

The real work was done in the first 20 minutes. She now believes that she CAN lose weight. Her confirmation bias will prove to her every day that it’s possible and if she wants it, she WILL be able to do it. The other stuff was just making it easier for her.

Think about what you believe in and maybe more importantly, what you don’t.

It could change your life!

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Food Phobia – Fussy Eating and it’s causes

Most of the people I see as a Hypnotherapist come to me for something to do with food.

For the vast majority of those people it’s that they would like to not eat so much of it. They want to change their relationship with food so that they are in charge and so that they can easily say no to junk food and eat in a more healthy way.

For some people it’s that they would like to eat more. They either have some obsessive compulsive behaviour around food (separating foods out, liquidising food, not allowing foods to touch, feeling sick at the thought of eating certain foods etc. etc.) Anorexic and bulimic behaviours also fall into this category but are often more complicated and have underlying emotional issues that need to be resolved alongside them.

A lot of people that fall into the ‘eat more’ group have had a negative experience when eating food. Quite often that was a choking incident and it has left them with a fear of eating. Almost all phobias are learned responses. We can learn them from the people around us (you tend to find that kids who have parents who are scared of spiders will continue that phobia themselves), or we can learn them through experience (something scared us, hurt us or upset us in some way). The initial scary event is often referred to as the sensitizing event of the phobia. Normally this is followed up some time later by a confirming event. Let’s say for instance you choked on a piece of steak. That initial choking is the sensitizing event. The next time you go to eat steak, you remember that you choked last time and are a little apprehensive. This causes your mouth to dry up, your throat to tighten slightly and your heart rate to increase. You notice this and it causes increased anxiety which in turn causes the anxiety to kick up a notch. The increase in adrenaline in your system makes you feel a bit queasy – like that sick feeling you get before you go on stage – but you link that churning stomach to the steak.  Now you have a phobia.

One of the common mistakes parents make when they have a child who is a fussy eater is to accept this behaviour. They can start to accommodate the child’s preference for this or that or their dislike of certain foods. By changing the foods that they give the child, they are confirming that they had a reason to refuse it in the first place. This in effect becomes confirming behaviour and leads to food issues. The other common mistake is to fight with the child and attempt to make them eat it. Now the confirming event is that every time the food that they don’t like is put in front of them, there will be stress and confrontation.

So what do you do?

Current thinking is that the best way to deal with a child who is a fussy eater is to continue to give them the foods they dislike if you are having them as part of a family meal. If they choose to leave them, don’t make a big deal of it. They just get less food. If they see their parents and siblings enjoying that food they are much more likely to give it a try and they have no negative associations with it.

If you are an adult who has developed food phobias in the past – get help! The world of food is an enjoyable one. As with any other phobia Hypnotherapy offers great success in getting rid of it for ever – what are you waiting for?

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Slimming for Summer

hypnotherapy in coventry for weight loss

It’s that time of year again.

The weather is getting warmer, the clothes are getting lighter and we’re all starting to think about how we will look in our swimwear in a few months.

Maybe that’s why I’m getting so many call about losing weight with Hypnosis at the moment.

Often when it’s time to start to take control of our diet we end up having an argument with ourselves.

Part of us want to lose weight – it wants to maintain a healthy weight and/or manage our weight to look good.

Part of us wants to keep up the eating habits that got us to put on weight in the first place.

The tricky part is that the part that wants to keep going is the part that’s currently in charge.

That’s why Hypnosis is such a good option.

Whether you go for something like Hypnotic Gastric Band which immediately and dramatically reduces your appetite, or you go for a weight management system that helps you change your eating habits, what you are doing is short circuiting all the problems and going straight to the solution.

Instead of having the constant battle of wanting to be slimmer, but still wanting to maintain your current eating habits, both parts of your mind can be working together to help you to achieve the figure you want.

You don’t have to have iron willpower, as there is nothing to resist! It’s just the pleasure and excitement you get from achieving your goals.

Here’s a little exercise to help you say no to the food’s you are trying to avoid – I call it Hell NO!

In this exercise I want you to have a really good think about what your life would be like if you gained the body shape you desire. Think about how you would feel, what clothes you would wear, the reactions of other people to the new you.
Importantly at this stage, as you think about that outcome, that goal, that achievement in your life, think about the actions you have to take to accomplish this new fitter, trimmer you.
When you think about those actions you’d have to take, notice and become really tuned in to yourself…
·         What is it that you actually do instead?
·         What feelings and thoughts come up before you get sidetracked?
·         What are the excuses that you come up with to make it ok not to accomplish?
If the excuses do not directly make themselves obvious, perhaps notice how your thoughts redirect you, and what thoughts do actually redirect. We can refer to those thoughts as excuses for the rest of this exercise.

All the time, notice subtle thoughts, images in your mind, feelings that you feel and be very perceptive of this.
You might find that if you attempted to put these feelings or thoughts into words, they possibly sound silly, that’s OK, and in fact it’s great.
They are deep routed rationalisations and excuses that tend to get buried and hidden usually, yet have all the power to keep you off track to achieving that outcome you really do desire

So get as much of an awareness as possible of these excuses, notice how you perceive them if they have sounds to them, any internal dialogue, feelings and so on…

Then when you really have a feel for them, you can carry on with the next part.

Now we want to assess the excuses and see what they are up to…

The best way to ascertain the pattern of your excuses is to ask yourself some questions and trust your unconscious mind’s responses…

·         Is it really just an excuse?

·         Do I want to keep this excuse?

·         How does using the excuse serve me?

·         Is there some way that I gain from using this excuse?
If there is some valid value you receive from this excuse, then you can allow yourself to keep those parts of it, you can maintain them should you wish

With the answers and getting an idea of the purpose of your excuse, move on to the next step.

 Did you ever say the expression “Hell NO!”?? Did you ever deeply refute and refuse something with a strong sense of “NO!” ??
Now is the time to recall a time when you said or felt like saying “Hell No!”

Maybe it was an occasion when you were absolutely disgusted at something, when you totally refuted something, or maybe when something was utterly and completely unacceptable to you. Get in to a state of “Hell No!” and the more disgusted, the more you mean and refute with that sense of “Hell No!” the better!!

Imagine that you spread this state throughout your body. Imagine it as a colour. Imagine the sense of it connecting to every cell in your being.

Spend as much time as you possibly can to ensure you get a very deep rooted sense of “Hell no!” running through every cell of your being.

 Imagine your excuse in front of you.
Tread on it.

That’s right, stamp on itStomp on it. Jump and down viciously on it. Use all the mustered up power of your “hell no” state and bounce up and down on that excuse.

Pick up and throw it to the ground. Tear it in two, cast it to the floor again and stamp ferociously upon it.

Keep stomping. Keep stamping. 

Unleash every ounce of your “hell no” state upon that empty excuse. Make it sorry!

Only move on when you are sure as possible that you have got all that pent up state unleashed on that excuse and it is fully destroyed

 Have a good test to make sure you did this.
Think about your goal, your desired outcome, the body that you want to achieve.

Notice what happens when you imagine taking the actions that move you toward that outcome. Notice what you feel right now, what thoughts you have and what images come into your mind as you think about it.

Get a real sense to see if there are any other excuses lurking in the darkness somewhere. If you get a flavour of any, then return to the earlier steps and run through the process again. Think about how any lingering excuses can interfere with the very enjoyment of your life, how they can be hurdles to your accomplishments and leave your life a lot less satisfying.

When you are sure that you are free of those last remnants of excuses in relation to this outcome, then move on to the next step.

Remind yourself of your state of “Hell No” and how you used this with such conviction. Think about a time in your future, ideally the next occasion when you will be tempted to break your resolve – eat that take away, buy those snacks, choose not to exercise…
Just imagine that as you start doing that thing, you smash the last remnants of the old excuse with a massive “Hell NO!” response… Then imagine watching yourself ignoring the fatty food, walking past the snacks in the shop, getting ready to go for a walk.

Enjoy the beautiful feelings you get with knowing that you are in control and have all the tools and resolve to make a change in your life for the better. Notice how wonderful it feels.

Then – and this is important – go and take an action that is undeniably convincing to you that you have gotten rid of all those old excuses and start hatching your plans for a happier, healthier  life.

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What causes Stress? – Environment or how we handle it?

hypnotherapy for stress coventry

Have you ever noticed that some people can get stressed out over the slightest thing, whilst other people can seem to thrive in really high pressure environments?

Yet we still hear people say that they were in a stressful job, or a stressful situation.

Now don’t get me wrong, certain circumstances and issues can be difficult to deal with, but it’s how we deal with them that either gives us stress or doesn’t.

One of the common causes of stress is around control issues.

If you are trying to manage and control every aspect of a situation, and feel responsible for all the outcomes and how it will effect all parties involved you will undoubtedly be feeling the stress. One of the biggest lessons we all have to learn if we want to eliminate stress from our lives, is that we have little, if any, control over what happens.

Let me say that again – we have little, if any, control over what happens.

A lot of people are going to disagree with that statement. so let me add a little more to it.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t prepare/train/practice – of course you should, that’s how you get good at things.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to avoid dangerous risks – of course you should, if you want to live a long and healthy life.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan – of course you should, otherwise you will be met by unexpected problems at every turn.

What I’m saying is, after you’ve practised, planned and assessed your risks, you have to let go.

There is always a certain amount of rolling with the punches, things will go wrong and people will be unpredictable – and that’s OK.

If you’re someone who feels a lot of stress – here are a couple of tips which may help you to manage it better.

1. Plan, prepare, practice.

Get yourself ready for what ever the situation is that you are stressed about.

2. Breathe

Being stressed and uptight will not help you to make good decisions. Take a minute or two to breathe – slowly and steadily, making sure your out breath is always longer than your in breath. Some people like to count to 7 on each in breath and count to 11 on each out breath – personally I prefer to breathe in as normal and then blow the air out slowly through pursed lips to control my breathing. This simple act changes your body chemistry and allows you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

3. Ask yourself – What is the worst that could happen?

Unless you are in very unusual circumstances the situation you are in will not be life and death. If something goes wrong – so what? It may not be ideal, but it’s probably not worth giving yourself a heart attack over! You know what -even if it is life and death, you can still remind yourself that you are doing the best you can – and nobody can ask more of you than that.

4. Imagine it’s a year from now – do you still care about whatever it is you are stressing over?

If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth worrying about now either.

Stress is a killer – avoid it where you can. If you struggle with this on your own, consider seeking some help – it’s definitely worth it!

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Hypnotic Gastric Bands – do they work?

The easy answer to this is – Yes – They do work.

Do they work for everybody? – no – but then neither do actual physical gastric bands. There are ways to cheat on both.

For those of you who are unsure what a hypnotic gastric band is, it is basically where you get put into hypnosis and talked through a gastric band operation.

Obviously, no actual surgery takes place, but your subconscious (which is the part of your brain that lets you know that you’re full, and can stop eating) believes it has, so that it has a similar effect to having the actual operation, but with none of the potential side effects or risks.

I know that can sound silly but think of a phobia. A phobia is an irrational fear. Your logical, conscious mind knows there is nothing to be scared of. However, It’s not your conscious mind that’s in charge. Your subconscious doesn’t care about the logic of the situation – it’s too busy being terrified!

It’s the same with the hypnotic gastric band. Your conscious mind will absolutely know that it hasn’t had a Gastric Band fitted, but it’s your subconscious that’s in charge of your appetite and how full you feel. If you subconscious believes that you have a gastric band in place, it will make you feel full after just a few mouthfuls of food, and leave you satisfied after small, healthy meals.

Now, if you want to lose weight, then eating less is a really good start, but it’s not the whole story.

If you are on a restricted diet, you also need to make sure you are eating the right things for you to be able to get all the essential vitamins and minerals. You need to be eating protein and fibre to keep your body working properly.

If you go to a hypnotherapist who is skilled, they should be able to take you through the hypnotic gastric band procedure without any issues, but you should also be making sure that they are working on changing the types of foods you eat as well as reducing your appetite.

One of the most important things the hypnotherapist can do is to understand your particular eating habits. Every overweight person has their own tale to tell. Maybe they’re emotional eaters, maybe it’s about snacking. Maybe they just eat too much or maybe it’s the wrong type of food. A good therapist will get a thorough understanding of the individuals issues and tailor the session to best meet the needs of their client. For example, if someone is an emotional eater, work needs to be done in other areas as well as just reducing appetite. The chance are that an emotional or stress eater doesn’t just eat when they are hungry, so you can reduce the appetite as much as you want, it won’t change the fact that they are eating too much and not managing their weight.

Obviously I’m a little biased about the benefits of hypnotherapy – I can honestly say from personal and professional experience that it is an amazingly powerful tool for change – but if you have trouble managing your weight you should seriously think about making a difference in your life today.

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5 ways to stop a panic attack

Panic attacks are horrible.

They can be terrifying, debilitating and disabling.

They can also be treated.

There are drugs that doctors can prescribe to help manage them, but there are also less invasive solutions that can be even more effective, like hypnotherapy.

Panic attacks are created in your brain. I like to think of them as a mental allergic reaction.

Think about an allergy such as hayfever.

Your body sees the pollen as a threatening alien invader and goes into defence mode. It makes your eyes itch, your throat get scratchy and sets off your bodies immune system as though it’s under a full blown attack. The truth is, the pollen is harmless and the only unpleasant thing is your own bodies response to it.

The same happens mentally with a panic attack. Things are floating around your brain, thought, ideas, scenarios. Your subconscious feels threatened by something and goes into defence mode. it makes you hyper alert, increases your senses and dumps a load of adrenaline into your system in case you need to run. This makes your heart beat faster, increases your blood pressure, makes you breath faster and that in turn can make you feel light headed and dizzy. Your palms may sweat and your mouth becomes dry. All of these symptoms inly increase the anxiety and the cycle starts making it worse and worse.

So, how do you stop them.

1. Educate yourself.

Research what panic attacks are. Understand them. If you know why you are feeling this way it can take lots of the fear out of it and stop you entering the panic cycle.

2. Be aware of your triggers.

Try to notice where you are, what you are doing, what you are thinking about, who you are with, what you are feeling etc when you have a panic attack. By being aware of your triggers you can start to work out what it is that you are uncomfortable about and try different things to manage that. I do not advocate changing your life to never come across a trigger, but I do advocate knowing what your triggers are and working with a therapist to find better ways of managing those feelings.

3.Train yourself.

If you have regular panic attack you have begun to train yourself to follow a pattern. A follows B follows C.

for example – I notice that my chest feels a bit tight, then I can’t get my breath, then my heart starts beating really fast, then my fingers start to tingle.

When you are relaxed and calm think about the first symptom of a panic attack – bring it to mind, feel it in your body. If you can bring it on them you can let it go too. Train yourself to feel that feeling and then let it go.

4. Breath.

One of the common symptoms of panic attacks is a feeling of breathlessness and hyperventilating. Just learning to control your breathing and making sure that you breath out slowly with each breath can stop a panic attack in it’s tracks.

5. Get help.

If all of these steps don’t work for you, it’s time to get some help. There are plenty of therapists who can help you be free of these awful experiences forever. There is no shame in getting some support to get rid of them. If you had persistent headaches it would be a good idea to consult a doctor. If you get persistent panic attacks, it’s a good idea to consult a therapist.

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