Category: stress

Spring Clean Your Mind

Spring Clean Your Mind

Spring is definitely here. I have even packed away my winter woollies and snow boots and dug out all my t-shirts! It is at this time of the year that we often spring clean our houses and clear the clutter. However, what about our minds and emotions? Aren’t they also due for a good clear out? April is Stress Awareness Month, here are a just few ways you can clear the clutter from your mind and reduce your stress levels at the same time.

Forgive and Forget

Are you holding onto anger or upset from a past relationship? Maybe you just cannot forgive someone for something they said or did. Have you ever thought about who you are hurting most, though? Holding onto resentment can leave us feeling stressed. Anger is a very negative emotion and effects our bodies in all sorts of ways, leading to headaches, digestion problems, insomnia, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems, even heart attacks and strokes. So, maybe it is time you let it go for your own sake.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that you are condoning the other person’s behaviour, you are just looking after yourself by not carrying that pain around any longer. So, make a list of those that have hurt you and be the better person. Decide today on ways you can show forgiveness and start clearing out that negativity.

Buddha, hypnotherapy, relaxation, anger, forgiveness

 “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha

Let Go of Stress

Make a list of all that negative clutter. What is worrying you? What is making you anxious? Split that list into two; those that you can change and those that you can’t. If you have no control over it, there is no point in worrying. Have faith that things will turn out for the best, whatever that might be. Be comfortable with the unknown and let life take its course. Burn or shred that list of worries that cannot be controlled and LET IT GO!

Now look at the list of things that you could do something about. Prioritise it and start working your way through it, crossing them off one by one. Even if you just tackle one a day, you will feel as though you are taking control and getting those anxieties out of your mind. Now that it is on paper, put it to one side as you don’t need to carry it around with you day after day.

It is also worth spending some time each day on relaxing both physically and mentally. Listen to the free mp3 on my website (sign up here) to give both your mind and body that time it needs each day to wind down.

yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, visualisation, relaxation, stress relief

Focus on Future Goals

What were your resolutions in January? Have you managed to stick to them? If not, don’t worry. Spring is a time of regrowth and renewal and a great time to start again. Tomorrow is a new day; a new start.

Spend some time relaxing and visualising yourself achieving all those things that you planned for the future, whatever that might be. It could be health related, such as giving up smoking. If so, see yourself as the non-smoker you want to become and set that goal firmly in your mind. Maybe you want to lose weight? If so, visualise yourself as the slimmer version of you, wearing the clothes that you dream of wearing. How will you move? How will you feel?

Perhaps your goal is work-related? Are you starting your own business or hoping for that great promotion? See it in your mind and act as though it will happen. Maybe write a page on the person you will be by the end of this year. Write it as though you are in December, looking back on 2017. Where are you? How did you get here? What steps did you take to achieve your dream?

writing, write a list, planning, ambition, goals

Whatever your goal, see yourself achieving it and do this daily as a great meditation exercise.

Mind Massage

If you would like any extra help with relaxation, please think about coming to one of my mind massage sessions. It is a great way to experience hypnotherapy for the first time and give your mind a little mini-holiday while de-cluttering and putting everything back into perspective.

calm, hypnotherapy, mind massage, Laura Culley Hypnotherapy, directions, sign post

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PTSD

PTSD

What is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)?

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition that can occur following the experience or witnessing of  life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, around 30% of people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, feel detached from real life and unable to communicate with friends and family.  These symptoms can be severe enough to significantly impair the sufferer’s daily life.

Who suffers from PTSD?

Anyone who has witnessed a severe trauma could be susceptible to PTSD and it is estimated that up to one in 10 individuals may be affected by the condition at some stage during their lives.

However, some individuals who work within certain professions, and some individuals who exhibit certain risk factors may be more prone to develop the condition than others.

According to some studies the condition is present in approximately one in two female rape victims, one in three teenagers who have survived a car accident, two in three prisoners of war and one in five fire-fighters.

Those who have previously suffered from a mental health condition or who have a family history of mental health concerns are also considered to be at a ‘high risk’ of developing PTSD after being exposed to a harrowing event. It is estimated that up to four in five PTSD sufferers are affected by other mental health problems

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

In some individuals the symptoms will develop very shortly after the event, but for others the onset may be delayed by a number of months, or even years after the trauma first occurred. People with PTSD usually experience three main kinds of symptoms:

1. Reliving the Trauma

The sufferer may feel as though they are reliving the trauma in some way. There are a number of ways in which people may relive a trauma. They may have upsetting memories of the traumatic event which can come back at any time, day or night, completely out of the blue. At other times the memories may be triggered by a traumatic reminder. Examples of this may be when a soldier who has returned from combat hears a car backfire, a motor vehicle accident victim drives by a car accident or a rape victim sees a news report of a recent sexual assault. These memories can cause both emotional and physical reactions. Sometimes these memories can feel so real it is as if the event is actually happening again. This is called a “flashback.” Reliving the event may cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the feelings they had when the event took place. Many sufferers of PTSD suffer extreme nightmares or night-terrors.

2. Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms

Individuals with PTSD may try to avoid situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. They may avoid going near places where the trauma occurred or seeing TV programmes or news reports about similar events. They may avoid other sights, sounds, smells, or people that are reminders of the traumatic event. Some people find that they try to distract themselves as a way to avoid thinking about the trauma.

Numbing symptoms are another way to avoid the traumatic event. People with PTSD may find it difficult to be in touch with their feelings or express emotions towards other people. For example, they may feel emotionally “numb” and may isolate from others. They may be less interested in activities they once enjoyed. Some people forget, or are unable to talk about, important parts of the event.

3. Arousal Symptoms

People with PTSD may feel constantly alert and anxious after the traumatic event. This is known as increased emotional arousal, and it can cause difficulty sleeping, outbursts of anger or irritability, and difficulty concentrating. They may find that they are constantly ‘on guard’ and on the lookout for signs of danger. They may also find that they get startled very easily. Often, close friends or family members may notice a change in the individual’s personality.

PTSD is complicated by the fact that you may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.

Complex PTSD

Complex PTSD occurs after a person has suffered years of trauma, rather than a one-off event. For example, a child who has spent years being abused by a parent or carer may end up suffering with complex PTSD.

How Does Hypnotherapy Help?

Hypnotherapy is an extremely kind, gentle and respectful method of treating PTSD as the client is relaxed and can observe themselves from a distant or dissociated perspective via a TV screen in their mind. There is absolutely no need for them to give details of the trauma or abuse if they don’t want to and they will NOT be asked to relive the traumatic event.

I use ‘The Rewind Technique’ to help PTSD sufferers as I believe it is the kindest, quickest  and most effective treatment. You can read more about The Rewind Technique HERE.

How Many Sessions will I Need?

This depends on the complexity and severity of your case as everyone is different. Some people can be treated in just one session, for others, it may take four to five, spread over weekly or fortnightly visits. We will work together to decide how many sessions you need and take things at a pace that suits you. However, you should start feeling better after just one visit.

If you think I may be able to help you with your PTSD symptoms, please contact me today and arrange an appointment.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Children Suffering from Anxiety

Children Suffering from Anxiety

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week. Our children seem to be under more and more pressure so, not surprisingly, anxiety is at a high level among children in the UK with 66% of year 6 primary pupils feeling that they worry “all the time”.

At the end of last year, the mental-health charity Place2Be surveyed children in the top primary year at 20 schools across England, Scotland and Wales and found that concerns about family and friends and fear of failing at school are the top causes of anxiety.

Of the 700 children surveyed, 54% worried about the well-being of their family, 48% had concerns over the well-being of friends and 41% felt anxious about school work.

In addition, 40% felt their worries got in the way of school work, almost 30% said that once they started worrying they could not stop and 21% said they did not know what to do when worried.

There was a gender divide, with 36% of girls worrying about being bullied, compared with 22% of boys.

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More girls (28%) worried about their looks than boys (18%) but 24% of boys worried about being angry compared to 16% of girls.

The most common coping strategies were talking to family members (72%) or to friends (65%), while 65% of boys calmed themselves by playing computer games compared with 39% of girls.

How Can We Help?

More than 80% of the children surveyed said the best way for adults to help was to listen sympathetically and pupils said it was important to be kind to anxious classmates. .

“I give them a hug and tell them not to worry and everything is OK,” said one 10-year-old.

The charity’s chief executive, Catherine Roche, said primary school was often characterised as innocent and happy.

“But in reality we know that young children can worry about a lot of things, whether it’s something going on at home, with their friends, or even about bad things happening in the world.

“It’s perfectly normal to worry from time to time, but if these worries become more serious or persistent, it’s important that children know where they can turn for help.”

If you are worried that your child  is suffering from anxiety, it is important to talk to them about it. It is also a good idea to contact their class teacher and find out how they have been coping in school.

Hypnotherapy can really help children learn to relax and deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life. It is also a great tool for boosting self-esteem.

If you would like to know more about how hypnotherapy can help your child with stress and anxiety, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. I am a mobile therapist in the East Devon area, so I can visit you and your child at home in the evenings or at the weekend.

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What is Hypnotherapy?

What is Hypnotherapy?

There is a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding hypnosis which puts a lot of people off. This is a shame as hypnotherapy is such an effective tool for dealing with so many issues. What do you think of when you hear the word “hypnosis”? Do you see a mysterious man waving a pocket watch in front of your face, repeating the phrase, “You are feeling very sleepy!” Maybe your mind turns straight to the stage hypnotists who appear to control the minds of their subjects and get them clucking like chickens every time they hear a bell ring?

So, What is Hypnosis?

There is no question as to whether or not hypnosis works, the problem is that science still can’t decide how it actually works, which makes it very difficult to explain!

The British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis states:

“In therapy, hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist.”

These suggestions are often enough for a person to begin making amazing changes deep within themselves.

The following four extracts are taken from a book by  Dr Hilary Jones’, called “Doctor, What’s the Alternative? He explains hypnotherapy really well, in simple terms that are easy to understand.

Definition of hypnotherapy

“Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep.  It does involve the induction of a trance-like condition, but when in it, the patient is actually in an enhanced state of awareness, concentrating entirely on the hypnotist’s voice.  In this state, the conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind is revealed.

The therapist is able to suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations to the patient, the seeds of which become firmly planted.

The practice of promoting healing or positive development in any way is known as hypnotherapy.  As such, hypnotherapy is a kind of psychotherapy.  Hypnotherapy aims to re-programme patterns of behaviour within the mind, enabling irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome. As the body is released from conscious control during the relaxed trance-like state of hypnosis, breathing becomes slower and deeper, the pulse rate drops and the metabolic rate falls. Similar changes along nervous pathways and hormonal channels enable the sensation of pain to become less acute, and the awareness of unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea or indigestion, to be alleviated.”

How does it work?

“Hypnosis is thought to work by altering our state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert.  The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken.  Since the subconscious mind is a deeper-seated, more instinctive force than the conscious mind, this is the part which has to change for the patient’s behaviour and physical state to alter.

For example, a patient who consciously wants to overcome their fear of spiders may try everything they consciously can to do it, but will still fail as long as their subconscious mind retains this terror and prevents the patient from succeeding.  Progress can only be made by reprogramming the subconscious so that deep-seated instincts and beliefs are abolished or altered.”

What form might the treatment take?

“Firstly, any misconceptions a potential patient may have about hypnosis should be dispelled.  The technique does not involve the patient being put into a deep sleep, and the patient cannot be made to do anything they would not ordinarily do. They remain fully aware of their surroundings and situation, and are not vulnerable to every given command of the therapist.  The important thing is that the patient wants to change some behavioural habit or addiction and is highly motivated to do so.  They have to want the treatment to work and must establish a good clinical rapport with the therapist in order for it to do so.

The readiness and ability of patients to be hypnotised varies considerably and hypnotherapy generally requires several sessions in order to achieve meaningful results.  However the patient can learn the technique of self-hypnosis which can be practiced at home, to reinforce the usefulness of formal sessions with the therapist.  This can help counter distress and anxiety-related conditions.”

What problems can be treated by hypnotherapy?

“Hypnotherapy can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders.  It is used to relieve pain in surgery and dentistry and has proved to be of benefit in obstetrics.  It can shorten the delivery stage of labour and reduce the need for painkillers.  It can ease the suffering of the disabled and those facing terminal illness, and it has been shown to help people to overcome addictions such as smoking and alcoholism, and to help with bulimia.  Children are generally easy to hypnotise and can be helped with nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) and chronic asthma, whilst teenagers can conquer stammering or blushing problems which can otherwise make their lives miserable.

Phobias of all kinds lend themselves well to hypnotherapy, and anyone suffering from panic attacks or obsessional compulsive behaviour, and stress-related problems like insomnia, may benefit.  Conditions exacerbated by tension, such as irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and eczema, and excessive sweating, respond well, and even tinnitus and clicky jaws (tempero-mandibular joint dysfunction) can be treated by these techniques.”

If you would like to know more about hypnotherapy, please contact me for your free half-hour consultation.

Beating the Winter Blues

Beating the Winter Blues

Well, winter is most definitely here again and in Honiton we have already had our first snowfall. For many of us, the season brings with it a number of unwelcome thoughts and feelings. Symptoms such as lethargy, depression, overeating, irritability, sleep disorders and generally feeling down and anti-social can all be signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We feel our mood slump as the days get shorter and darker, the cold sets in and all the seasonal bugs start attacking our immune system. However, we don’t have to give into those feelings of depression and despondency. With winter 2016 predicted to be one of the coldest in years, here are my top tips for staying healthy and happy until spring time rolls around again. 

1. Keep warm

warm, fire, cosy room, fireplace
Keep warm and cosy

Feeling cold can make us feel depressed, so make sure you keep your house or work-place heated to a temperature of around 18C to 21C (64F to 70F). Make sure that your home is draught-proof to save on wasted energy. Eat hot food, drink warm drinks, wear lots of light layers and wrap up well when you go out. 

2. Get Outside

winter, snow, dog walk, fresh air
Take a winter walk

Getting out in the fresh air and daylight can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and decrease stress levels. So, wrap up warm and spend as much time as possible outside having fun with the children, walking the dog, playing golf or football, even window shopping in town…it doesn’t matter what you do, just get out there! If you are stuck indoors, try to make your home or work-place as naturally light as possible. Cut back trees and open blinds and curtains to let the light in and sit by the window if you can. If you are redecorating, choose light colours that reflect the natural daylight. 

3. Keep Active

Exercise, stretching, yoga
Keep Active

A great way to keep warm and raise endorphin levels is to exercise. A good walk outside during daylight hours or exercising under bright lights are both great ways to stave off the winter blues. 

4. Listen to Some Upbeat Music

Studies have shown that listening to your favourite “happy” music can really lift your mood. So, put on your favourite CD and sing and dance those winter blues away. 

5. Eat Healthily

healthy eating, salad, lettuce
Eat Healthily

Balance those carb cravings with lots of healthy fruit and vegetables this winter. A healthy diet will boost your immune system, stop you putting on weight, give you more energy and elevate your mood. Of course, chocolate is also known to increase your mood and relieve anxiety, just remember that the higher the coco content, the better it is for you and, as with anything, eat in moderation! Remember, if you are struggling to keep to a healthy diet or would like help with managing your weight, please contact me to discuss how hypnotherapy can help you.  

6. Invest in a SAD Light

If the dark mornings are bringing you down and you are struggling to get out of bed, it may be worth investing in a dawn simulator. This clever little invention comes in the form of a light connected to a digital alarm clock that slowly lights up as your chosen wake-up time approaches. Light therapy via a SAD light may also be a good idea. This is a special light box that mimics sunlight and can help to alleviate the symptoms of SAD. It needs to be powerful enough to have the desired effect and be warned, there are many inferior products posing as SAD lights. It is important that if you are investing in a light box that you always look at the manufacturers website and research thoroughly before making a purchase to ensure the product is a genuine medical treatment device.

7. Plan Your Next Holiday

Maldives, beach, holiday, beach, sea, sun
Dream about your next holiday

If you are longing for those sunny days on the beach, now might be a good time to get online and decide on your next holiday destination. Having something to look forward to can really boost your mood and it will remind you that winter won’t last forever. 

8. Help Others

Check on elderly neighbours and relatives or volunteer to work in a soup kitchen. Helping others is a great way to lift depression. If you are in the UK, take a look at the NCVO website for more information on voluntary jobs https://www.ncvo.org.uk/.

9. Take Up a New Hobby

Find something that interests you and will give you something to look forward to everyday. Learn a new language, take up painting, try a new sport…it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. There are a few websites out there that offer free online courses in a number of different subjects. Take a look at https://www.futurelearn.com/ or https://alison.com/ for some ideas. 

10. Seek Help

If your SAD symptoms are affecting you so badly that you can no longer live a normal life, then please contact your GP as soon as possible. There are things he or she can do for you, such as referring you for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or prescribing anti-depressants.

Hypnotherapy can also be very helpful in alleviating symptoms of SAD. I offer a free half-hour consultation where we can discuss your symptoms and the suitability of hypnotherapy for you. If you live outside of the Honiton area, I can send you a CD or an MP3 download. Please contact me for more details.