AfSFH Blog

Welcome to the AfSFH blog page!

Our blogs are designed to further the aims of the AfSFH, which are to increase public awareness about Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and its benefits, and to support our therapists and their clients.

AfSFH members can send in their blogs for publication to it@afsfh.com, with their name, contact details, and website information (so readers can contact you should they wish to do so).

For members of the public, welcome to the fascinating world of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy!

Don’t forget to join us on Social Media - simply click on the Facebook or Twitter icons below!

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 02 Aug 2020 12:03 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    As a solution-focused hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, I’ve been hearing more-and-more people mention that they have been feeling lonely lately. If that applies to you, you are not alone.

    It’s clear that a more-than-usual number of people have been feeling very lonely during their period in lockdown. For some people, like many elderly people, it was because they were on their own for many weeks. For others, there may have been people around them, but they weren’t the ‘right’ people or doing the ‘right’ things. Some people may miss one particular person, such as a spouse, sibling, or best friend. And others may simply wish to be part of a wider social network that they could interact with.

    Photo by Inzmam Khan from PexelsBut how common is loneliness generally? A 2018 report from the Office for National Statistics found that:

    • In 2016 to 2017, there were 5% of adults in England who reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.
    • Younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.
    • Women reported feeling lonely more often than men.
    • Those single or widowed were at particular risk of experiencing loneliness more often.
    • People in poor health or who have conditions they describe as ‘limiting’ were also at particular risk of feeling lonely more often.

    It works out that there are more than 900,000 people aged 65 and over in the UK reporting feeling lonely all, or most of the time.
    According to de Jong-Gierveld and Raadschelders (1982), Duck (1992), and others, there are two levels of loneliness: chronic and transient. For people who are chronically lonely, their experience of loneliness is persistent, often extending to many years, and doesn’t change with what the person is doing. It looks like the cause of the feelings is internal. They may feel the intensity of the loneliness vary over time, but it is always there. Transient loneliness, as its name suggests, is experienced for short periods of time, and is usually the result of a specific situation.

    Courtney and Meyer (2020) published in the journal JNeurosci their findings that loneliness alters how the brain represents relationships. They suggested that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) (near the very front of the skull) maintains a structured map of a person’s social circles, based on closeness. People that struggle with loneliness often perceive a gap between themselves and others. This gap is reflected by the activity patterns of the mPFC. Courtney and Meyer used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine people’s brain activity while they thought about themself, close friends, acquaintances, and celebrities. Thinking about someone from each category corresponded to a different activity pattern in the mPFC. There was a different pattern for the self, for the social network (both friends and acquaintances), and for celebrities. The closer the relationship, the more the pattern resembled the pattern seen when a person is thinking about themself. These brain patterns differed for lonelier individuals. Activity related to thinking about the self was more different from activity related to thinking about others, while the activity when thinking about others was more similar across social categories. In other words, lonelier people have a ‘lonelier’ neural representation of their relationships.

    Loneliness is definitely not good for you. For example, social isolation and loneliness:

    • Have a negative effect on the activities of daily living of older peoples, including a person’s ability to perform the normal daily activities that are required to meet their basic needs, fulfil their usual roles, and maintain their health and wellbeing.
    • Impact on health-related physiology, eg blood pressure and reduced immune functioning.
    • Lead to poorer sleep quality.
    • Are associated with a greater risk of a person being physically inactive and smoking (both health-risk behaviours).
    • Lead to lower self-esteem and limited use of active coping mechanisms.

    Loneliness and social isolation affect physical health. For example, loneliness:

    • Increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 percent.
    • Has the same effect on mortality as the impact of obesity, and cigarette smoking and substance-dependency.
    • Increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
    • Increases the risk of high blood pressure.
    • Is a risk factors for the progression of frailty.

    In terms of mental health, loneliness:

    • Puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
    • Increases an individual’s risk of depression.
    • Is predictive of suicide (in older age) or self-harm.
    • Is associated with poorer cognitive function among older adults.

    Studies have shown that adolescents who are lonely may be more likely to use drugs or alcohol and become sexually active at an earlier age than their peers. Lonely teenagers are also more likely to engage in risky and unsafe sex or exhibit aggressive behaviour.

    Things that can lead to feelings of loneliness include:

    • The loss of a loved one
    • A sudden breakup
    • Single parenthood
    • Retirement
    • Moving to a new area or going away for college
    • Health problems that limit a person’s ability to socialize
    • Surviving abuse.

    The distress associated with loneliness can be significant and may lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. People who are shy, experience social anxiety, or are reluctant to take social risks, and they may be more likely to describe themselves as lonely and may have difficulty forming lasting and satisfying relationships.

    It should be remembered, that while many people who feel lonely are physically alone, not everyone who is alone feels lonely. Some people simply choose to have few social connections. If a person chooses to be alone, they may well enjoy and welcome the solitude.

    One of the issues with loneliness is that many people are reluctant to admit it – they feel that it is a sign of weakness. The obvious solution to feelings of loneliness is go to out and meet people, but that can be hard. Obviously, during lockdown that was very difficult!

    So, what can people do to stop feeling lonely? The charity Mind offers some suggestions:

    • Take it slowly – go somewhere where there are other people, but you’re not expected to interact.
    • Make new connections – join a class or volunteer.
    • Try peer support – try a befriender service or join an online community, eg Elefriends (https://www.elefriends.org.uk/).
    • Try to open up – reach out to someone or share a post on social media.
    • Try talking therapies – like hypnotherapy or CBT.
    • Social care – The Care Act 2014 places general obligations on local authorities to promote wellbeing and to prevent social care needs from arising.
    • Be careful when comparing yourself to others – people only post on social media and tell you about the high points in their life. It may not be like that.
    • Look after yourself – get enough sleep, eat healthily, get some exercise, get outside, spend time with animals. And avoid drugs or alcohol.

    When you visit a solution-focused hypnotherapist, we can help with any issues associated with loneliness such as depression, anxiety, or anger issues. We can help people to sleep better. We can help you to relax. And we can suggest that you treat any attempts to socialize as experiments. If an attempt at socializing, eg joining a badminton club, doesn’t work, then the information you get from the result of that experiment can simply help you when you plan your next experiment, eg join a bridge club (or whatever). The result doesn’t reflect in any way on you personally. And the very fact that you are able to share your inner thoughts with your hypnotherapist, may very well make it easier for you to talk to any new people you meet.

    Loneliness is a big problem, and it, in many ways, is a hidden problem. The good news is that solution-focused hypnotherapy can help.

    Trevor Eddolls
    iTech-Ed Hypnotherapy
    Chippenham, Wilts SN14 0TL
    p: 01249 443256
    e: trevor@ihypno.biz
    w: ihypno.biz
    t: @iHypno2004
    i: ihypno2004
    f: fb.com/iHypno2004/

  • 01 Jul 2020 8:27 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    I always endeavour to keep my knowledge up to date, to evolve my methods, and to grow my skills as a therapist. My background as a nurse leads me to evidence-based practice, with the aim of improving client outcomes. Over the last year, I have been developing my skills with a key focus on the solution focused approach and have completed training in Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) with Brief. Brief is the world’s leading centre for Solution Focused practice in therapy and counselling.

    As the name implies, Solution Focused Brief Therapy is an approach to therapy that is brief and effective. Research shows that it brings about lasting change in less than 5 sessions on average, and is effective in up to 83% of cases.

    The therapy has two key elements:

    • Future-focused
    • Strength- based

    With this therapy we look to the future. No dwelling on the past. And we use the client’s own strengths to help them move forward quickly.

    Photo by Ron Smith from Unsplash Hope – A Key Part of My New Solution Focused Brief Therapy
    Brief therapy uses the word ‘hope’ quite specifically. Their choice of the word ‘hope’ is based on a sense of possibility. Rather than ‘wishes’ or ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, which can be anything. We can only hope for that which is possible.

    Therapists can help to foster hope in their clients. Many clients come to therapy with some of their hope diminished. Things are not going the way that they wish in their lives and their normal coping mechanisms have failed them. A major reason for coming to therapy is to increase one’s sense of hope and to expect change (Reiter, 2010.)

    Water The Flowers Not The Weeds!
    Nurture the hopeful signs and ignore the rest!

    The essence of Solution Focused Brief Therapy is to have a hope-filled conversation and to explore in detail a client’s preferred future. A future where their hopes have been achieved. We work together to identify the possible resources and strengths they have to attain that future.

    Identifying what the client wants from the therapy will always be the forefront of the conversation.

    ‘What are your best hopes from us working together?’

    This initial question invites the client to immediately focus on the outcome they desire, rather than trying to fix or understand the problem they arrived with.

    People come to therapy because they want to achieve something. It makes perfect sense to focus the conversation on what is desired, instead of what’s wrong.

    Beginning with the end in mind
    Solution Focused Brief Therapy has evolved from Solution Focused Therapy. Solution Focused Brief Therapy creates a hope-filled conversation. In this conversation we use language to describe things as they would be when the best hope was present. This subtly changes the nature of the client and therapist relationship. The client is now trusted. They are the expert and they know how best to help themselves. The therapist facilitates this process by co-constructing with the client the idea of ‘hopefulness’.

    I have noticed how clients start to thinking differently. It can be a new experience to be asked to think about what they hope for, instead of their problems. Once they see what is happening, the co-constructive conversation really begins to flow. This makes the process very positive and amazing to be a part of.

    And solution focused hypnotherapy adds the power of hypnotherapy to this very positive approach to helping clients.

    Sarah Stanley
    Sarah Stanley Hypnotherapy
    https://www.sstanley.co.uk/
    sarah@sstanley.co.uk
    07850 995 869
    https://www.facebook.com/sstanleyhypno
    https://twitter.com/StanHypno
    https://www.instagram.com/sarahstanleyhypnotherapy/

  • 01 Jun 2020 11:58 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    “Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realise they were the big things,” Robert Brault.

    Photo by Giftpundits.com from PexelsI write this in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic and everywhere around us, the news is unsettling. Life continues to be very difficult for many of us. Things we used to take for granted are not there. Schools are closed, we can’t see our friends and family, we have to work from home or, even worse, suddenly find ourselves unemployed. All in the effort to stay well. To stay alive.

    It may seem crazy in this situation to be talking about feeling grateful. But in fact the practice of gratitude can really help us work through difficult times.

    One striking example of this our action of clapping every Thursday night to show our gratitude to NHS staff. It’s impossible to put into words how grateful we are to them, but this action is deeply symbolic and uplifting.

    Research conducted over the past thirty years has shown how the practice of gratitude can lead to surprising improvements in one’s sense of wellbeing.

    A study of Indonesian earthquake victims discovered that gratitude had a positive impact on their health and their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This suggests that feeling grateful aids our recovery from traumatic experiences (Lies et al, 2014). Equally, a study of survivors of 9/11 showed that gratitude helped to improve their resilience (Fredrickson et al, 2003; Kashdan et al, 2006).

    What is Gratitude?
    Gratitude is a very powerful human emotion. It’s the way we acknowledge the good things in our lives. Psychologists define gratitude as:

    “A positive emotional response that we perceive on giving or receiving a benefit from someone” (Emmons & McCullough, 2004).

    There are so many good things about feeling gratitude! The brain reacts in a positive way when we are feeling grateful. So, we can use gratitude to become a happier person!

    Gratitude can lead to:

    Less Anxiety
    Gratitude regulates the sympathetic nervous system that activates our anxiety responses. At the psychological level, it conditions the brain to filter out negative thoughts and instead to focus on the positive ones.

    Better Sleep
    Gratitude also activates the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus plays a crucial role in many of the body’s key functions, including sleep.
    The University of Manchester (2009), looked at how gratitude might affect people’s sleep. The outcome suggested that practising gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts, and fewer negative ones, at bedtime. This was associated with getting to sleep easier and better quality sleep, and having the positive outcome of waking up refreshed and full of energy.

    Reduced Stress Levels
    Studies indicate people who felt grateful showed a marked reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Feelings of gratitude and appreciation have been shown to result in a significant increase in levels of immunoglobulin A, which serves as the body’s first line of defence against viruses.

    Increased Resilience
    Gratitude may also benefit people with various medical and psychological challenges. For example, one study found that more grateful cardiac patients reported better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. Several studies have found that more grateful people experience less depression and are more resilient following traumatic events.

    A Happier You!
    Expressing gratitude not only to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness. By producing feelings of pleasure and contentment, gratitude impacts on our overall health and well-being as well.

    Be Grateful!
    When we express gratitude, and when we receive it, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for the emotions that make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately.

    By consciously practising gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to becomes stronger. And ultimately to create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.

    4 Ways to Practise Gratitude

    1. Practise grateful self-talk: appreciate yourself – your past achievements, your present efforts, your talents, your skills and strengths
    2. Keep a Gratitude Journal – there is power in written words. A gratitude journal is your personal space to write down all the things you are grateful for in your life. Small things and big things.
    3. Show gratitude to others – we all have someone whose unconditional support and love matters to us. Tell them! Write it down send them a note, exchange some good memories or offer your support to them.
    4. Enjoy your happiness. Sometimes we worry, when we are happy or things are going well(!) that it won’t last, that we don’t deserve it. Enjoy it. Being grateful for your happiness and celebrating it will make you stronger.

    The world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert A Emmons, PhD, describes it as a choice. We can choose to create gratitude at virtually any moment in our lives. And the more we do that, the more it becomes an automatic response. Helping to rewire our brains in a lasting way.

    We all have the ability and the opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Being thankful for the good things in your life makes you feel happier and builds your resilience.

    Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve your overall happiness and health.

    Sarah Stanley
    Sarah Stanley Hypnotherapy
    https://www.sstanley.co.uk/
    sarah@sstanley.co.uk
    07850 995 869
    https://www.facebook.com/sstanleyhypno
    https://twitter.com/StanHypno
    https://www.instagram.com/sarahstanleyhypnotherapy/

  • 18 May 2020 8:50 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    Since the Coronavirus pandemic started, hypnotherapists have moved to online working only – this means using things like Zoom or WhatsApp for video calls or simply talking on the phone. The worry that many potential customers (for this kind of therapy) have is whether online hypnotherapy works as well as actually sitting in the same room as your therapist. Will it work if you can’t look into the eyes of the hypnotist? Will you really be able to stop smoking – or whatever change they envisage – if all you’re doing is sitting in your dining room looking at a computer screen or your phone for a couple of hours?

    The good news is that the answer is ‘yes’.

    Image by Junjira Konsang from PixabayOn the down side, you will need to have a reliable Internet connection. And you will need to have somewhere quiet where you can speak freely and relax without interruption.

    On the plus side, you save time by not needing to travel to see the therapist and get home afterwards. You also save on the cost of travel – whether that’s petrol or bus fares. And you don’t need to find somewhere to park and pay for parking. If you have mobility issues, this is a big plus. Of course, if you live in a remote area, then online therapy at any time makes life so much easier. Also, if you are worried about going outside – whether that’s because you want to continue self-isolating for a while or because you have agoraphobia – your worries disappear. It also works well for people who find it difficult to accommodate visiting a therapist into their busy lives, such as key workers on shift, parents, and full-time carers. And there’s no chance of getting someone else’s germs. So, it’s ideal for people who feel more safe-and-secure being at home rather than going out to a clinic.

    Another big plus is that you can work with a therapist anywhere in the country. You’re not restricted to local therapists. So, if you wanted a solution-focused hypnotherapist because you like the idea of working that way, you can choose anyone who is qualified and on the AfSFH register (https://afsfh.com/find-a-therapist) – no matter where they are based. Certainly, it is always worth choosing a therapist who belongs to an accredited organization, like the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, and who is also a member of the the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The CNHC is the UK regulatory body that provides a voluntary register of complementary, rather than alternative medicine, therapists.

    These days, people shop online – whether that’s Amazon, their local supermarket, and much else. They play online games. They ‘google’ plumbers and gardeners, etc. They book holidays online. So much of life is online that seeing a hypnotherapist is not that much different.

    Certainly, any hypnotherapist will tell you that the number of people asking about online hypnotherapy is growing

    Enquiries for online hypnotherapy sessions are growing in popularity. And online hypnotherapy can be very easy to access, even for people who previously might have described themselves as not very IT savvy. The technology, using Zoom and similar products, makes it all very straightforward and nothing to worry about. Most of the online meeting technologies are encrypted, so the communication and the whole session remain private and confidential.

    You also need to ensure that the technology works at your end, ie there is a high-speed broadband link, and the camera and speakers on your laptop or phone will work in a therapy situation. Your therapist will probably test this before the first session. In the event of something going wrong, eg a power cut, the phone line being disrupted, or anything else, it’s a good idea to have a phone near you that the therapist can call. But if you don’t have these things, then you can simply talk on the phone. For online/phone sessions, payment must usually be made before each session starts. You will be given bank details in plenty of time to transfer the payment.

    Since the lockdown started, many people have enjoyed online hypnotherapy, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of how well it works, but some people are still looking for evidence that an online therapy session is as good as a face-to-face session. The good news is that there is already some clinical evidence of the efficacy on online hypnotherapy. For example, there’s a 2014 study entitled "Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial" and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It found that treating depression using an Internet-based intervention is equally beneficial as regular face-to-face therapy. The study also reported: "However, more long-term efficacy, indicated by continued symptom reduction three months after treatment, could only be found for the online group." Similarly, a 2018 study entitled, "SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment" and published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis said: "This study shows that Skype hypnotherapy is highly effective in refractory IBS".

    So, the anecdotal and the experimental evidence go to show that online hypnotherapy is definitely as good as the face-to-face version, and may, in some cases, be better! If you had concerns about giving it try, join the hundreds of people who are already benefitting from online hypnotherapy and let it help you.

    Trevor Eddolls
    iTech-Ed Hypnotherapy
    Chippenham, Wilts SN14 0TL
    01249 443256
    trevor@ihypno.biz
    ihypno.biz
    @ihypno2004
    fb.com/iHypno2004/

  • 04 May 2020 11:37 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Discover the extraordinary health benefits of sleep, and how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps resolve insomnia and other sleep disorders to improve your health and wellbeing.

    “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer”, writes neuroscientist and sleep expert Mathew Walker in his book “Why We Sleep?”

    Professor Walker’s spoof advert refers to the benefits of sleep. It challenges us to believe that such an efficacious treatment could exist. We barely believe it. However, Walker goes on to explain the dramatic impact regular sleep has on memory, creativity, attractiveness, weight, cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke, colds and flu, diabetes, and just plain happiness.

    Professor Walker’s book ‘Why We Sleep?’ is a collation of all the evidence that proves the benefits of sleep beyond any shadow of doubt.

    First of all, it’s clear that we need eight hours sleep. Collated research shows that any less will have an overwhelmingly negative impact. And too much more is detrimental too.

    I am sure you agree that we all need a good night’s sleep. That’s common sense. But for some of us that’s easier said than done.

    In the UK, restful sleep eludes one in two over the age of 65.

    Insomnia can become very frustrating, stressful, and lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. There are many other sleep disorders that impact on our wellbeing too, and it’s always wise to see your GP to get a referral to a specialist sleep clinic if sleep issues are ongoing and causing you evident problems now. However, for many people, hypnotherapy addresses many of the key issues quickly and effectively.

    So how does hypnotherapy help sleep disorders?
    Hypnotherapy mimics Rapid Eye Movement dream sleep, when we process emotional memories and turn them in to narrative memories. During REM sleep, the brain moves in to the theta state, producing the same brainwaves we see during hypnosis and meditation. Dream sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, allows the experiences of the day to be processed, turning emotional memories and upsets into narrative memories over which you have control.

    Both regular patterns of sleep and hypnotherapy help us resolve anxiety, depression, OCD, stress, and so forth. One of the most powerful and readily-observed phenomena when undertaking a course of hypnotherapy is that sleep patterns become more settled.

    By helping to get your sleep routine into a healthy pattern, Hypnotherapy has a powerful impact on a number of serious health issues, as well as improving your concentration, your performance at work, sex life, relationships, and so much more.

    For people with insomnia, hypnosis help the body and mind to relax enough to get to sleep more easily, and to stay asleep through the night. Hypnosis also helps to deepen sleep increasing the amount of time that you spend in delta wave deep sleep by as much as 80%. Deep sleep is important for learning, healing and memory.

    How common is insomnia

    Just woken up from a great sleep and ready to roll Insurers, Aviva, completed their Aviva Health Check UK following a survey undertaken by Censuswide in September 2017, and drawing from information from the National Sleep Foundation on Sleep Duration Recommendations. The company estimates that as many as 16 million UK adults suffer from sleepless nights. A third (31%) of the survey’s respondents said they have insomnia. In addition.

    • Two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffered from disrupted sleep
    • Nearly a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night
    • Half (48%) of UK adults admit they don’t get the right amount of sleep
    • Improving sleep is the biggest health ambition for a quarter (26%) of UK adults but half (51%) don’t take any measures to help them sleep
    • More than one in ten take sleeping tablets (13%) or drink alcohol (13%) to aid sleep (a bad idea).

    How do we define insomnia?
    Many of us will experience times when our sleep is disrupted for one reason or another. However, insomnia becomes a problem when we experience prolonged periods of sleep deprivation.

    You know if you have insomnia when you are:

    • Finding it hard to fall asleep at night
    • Using medication or alcohol to get to sleep on a regular or frequent basis
    • Waking up in the night and struggling to get back to sleep
    • Experiencing extreme tiredness during the day
    • Irritable and have frequent headaches
    • Finding it hard to concentrate at work
    • Anxious about going to bed or trying to sleep.

    It isn’t always possible to spot the root cause of insomnia, but often it lies in the following. Here are just four of the main reasons we develop sleep issues.

    1. Stress, anxiety, and emotional distress
    Day to day stresses and worries can lead to difficulty sleeping. Thoughts of the past day’s events turn over and over in our minds, or we begin to ruminate on what is to come in the future.

    Obviously emotional concerns are linked to stress and anxiety. As Professor Walker explains, “One of the few times that we stop our persistent informational consumption and inwardly reflect is when our heads hit the pillow”. So, bedtime is the time we start to ruminate on what is wrong in our lives or with our relationships, and what might go wrong. It’s the time our concerns come to the surface and we toss and turn.

    Sometimes insomnia persists even after the stressful event has resolved. The brain has associated going to bed with being unable to sleep and this in turn results in anxiety about sleeping.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is founded on changing the negative habits and programmes embedded in our primitive minds, and on soothing and calming our central nervous system, reducing emotional stress, and increasing our resilience.

    If you listen to a professional hypnotherapy recording each night, you are much less likely to ruminate on things that have happened, or obsess about what might happen. Instead, you will be gently soothed into light to medium trance state, and will more seamlessly slip in to sleep.

    We know a good night’s sleep helps us deal with emotional distress caused by relationships, separation, divorce, or concerns about children. By sleeping well, you will find all your challenges easier to face and manage. However, when we are stuck, the Solution Focused questioning of an experienced SFH practitioner will help you uncover new solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and help you develop the resilience, critical faculties and energy for any challenges that may lie ahead.

    2. Poor sleep hygiene
    Inconsistent bed times, use of electronic equipment running up to bedtime, and limited time to relax naturally prior to going to bed all contribute to insomnia, or poor sleep hygiene. If you want to find out more about sleep hygiene, and for more advice on creating a good pre-sleep routine, see the National Sleep Foundation website.

    Social media is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia in modern times. It’s wise to leave your mobile downstairs and buy a good old-fashioned alarm clock, if this is proving an issue for you.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you break disruptive or negative habits, and equally help you create new healthy habits including breaking your social media addiction, or changing your routine so you get to bed on time. Or apply a parental control app to control your own social media use!

    3. Lifestyle factors
    Excessive caffeine intake, nicotine, eating close to bedtime, recreational drugs, and shift working take their toll. Evidence suggests that alcohol significantly reduces the quality of your sleep, meaning you wake up even more tired and stressed the next day.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is an ideal therapy to help break bad habits like eating late, snacking, surfing the internet late in the evening, or taking occasional recreational drugs. Strong addictions may also need other medical interventions and support too, most particularly addiction support groups.

    Of course, one-off stop smoking hypnotherapy session may be just the ticket to break the smoking habit. You have to be ready to give up of course, and it’s important to sort out any stressful events that might be underpinning the smoking habit. The biggest issue with smoking is that, as we get older, the smoking habit creates anxiety. The longer your smoke, the more the anxiety builds, so, breaking this habit will really help you get your sleep back on track.

    4. Winter blues
    The NHS describes 'Winter Blues' as feeling depressed in the winter, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When the clocks go back, Winter has officially arrived. It means getting up in the dark and heading out in the cold, dark and often rain. November and December might be the best time to escape on a long-haul wellbeing holiday.

    A short series of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions can help you manage seasonal change by keeping your sleep regular. Winter can be a time when we want to hibernate, and we inevitably become deficient in vitamin D quite quickly. So, try to get out and walk in daylight hours, invest in a daylight lamp and explore taking vitamin D supplements or food rich in vitamin. Do your own research on vitamins and minerals that help calm the central nervous system and aid sleep, such as magnesium.

    Some physical and mental conditions worsen in cold, damp weather, most notably arthritis, increasing pain and impacting sleep. Sleep deprivation impacts on how much we feel pain too. Hypnotherapy in general can help reduce the experience of pain, which will aid a good night’s sleep so creating a virtuous circle.

    To help to address these issues, you can’t go too far wrong in following Professor Walker’s advice.

    Professor Walker’s Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

    • https://unsplash.com/@all_who_wander/portfolioGo to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even after a bad night’s sleep or on the weekend.
    • Keep your bedroom temperature cool; about 65 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for cooling your body towards sleep.
    • An hour before bedtime, dim the lights and turn off all screens. Blackout curtains are helpful
    • If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns. Then go back to bed.
    • Avoid caffeine after 1pm. Never go to bed tipsy. Alcohol is a sedative and sedation is not sleep. It blocks your REM dream sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle.

    The central nervous system needs to ramp down towards sleep. Hypnotherapy, meditation, a bath, or soothing music can all help to soothe your central nervous system ready for sleep.

    Introduce soothing smells and soft lighting in the bedroom before bed, and aim to keep your bedroom tidy.

    In addition to the Professor’s advice, Solution Focused Coaching can help you work out new routines and patterns for yourself that help you achieve a regular 8-hours sleep and to identify the very real benefits as you get back in to a healthy routine. Painlessly and quickly. It’s the first stage of changing your life for the better.

    So, if you get your sleep routines sorted, and achieve your 8-hours optimal sleep, what benefits will it bring?

    Benefit 1: Sleep, Memory, and Learning
    Even missing a night of sleep can affect your ability think and plan. In an experiment, 18 men were given a task to complete. The first task was completed after a full night’s sleep. The next task after skipping a night of sleep.

    Researchers suggest that sleep is critical to the process of consolidating the things we consciously learn. In other words, we need proper rest to lock in new information and commit it to memory.

    Brain functions including memory, decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving worsen, along with reaction time and alertness to a significant degree if you are sleep deprived. Many research projects support the observation that regular loss of sleep, even just one or two hours a night, impairs cognitive function (thinking).

    The idea that you need to work harder and longer couldn’t be more wrong. If you don’t get enough sleep, all research confirms, your ability to learn, remember, and function rapidly declines. The ability to solve problems or find solutions also declines.

    If you start a course of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and find your sleep improves, you may also notice how it impacts on your ability to remember, think, plan, make decisions, and solve problems. Many people come to me for one issue, only to find, as their sleep patterns are sorted, their stress is reduced and emotional issues are resolved. They often report other benefits at work and in their relationships.

    Solution Focused Brief Therapy is all about the client finding solutions themselves, making and observing incremental changes, and building on them to create positive thoughts, positive actions and positive interactions. Good sleep habits help to underpin that process.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy also supports learning, memory and study not only by creating regular sleep patterns, but also by helping students to change their study and learning habits, to resolve limiting beliefs and reducing anxiety overall.

    Benefit 2: Immune System
    Losing sleep affects your body’s ability to fight illness. So poor sleep means it’s more likely you will get a cold or flu, and other viruses.

    The National Sleep Foundation states, “Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye. Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond.”

    So, there is a strong link between sleep and your immune system. Again hypnotherapy, by sorting your sleep, improves your immune system. A lack of sleep also affects how quickly you recover from illness. It doesn’t work to have short sleep in the week and try to make it up at the weekend either!

    Benefit 3: A healthy heart
    When we sleep too little (less than five hours a night) or too much (more than 9 hours per night) our heart is affected.

    According to an analysis published in the European Heart Journal, we are more likely to develop heart disease or to have a stroke if we have less than five hours sleep. The impact is exacerbated if those sleep patterns persist over time.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy not only sorts sleep and helps prevent heart disease by doing so, it helps you change your lifestyle. If you have heart disease or have had a stroke, you will be given a great deal of advice and guidance, some of which you may find hard to follow.

    Complementary therapies like hypnotherapy – as well as coaching, counselling, CBT and psychotherapy – can support you to change your lifestyle so you can be as healthy as you can be. But underpinning those healthy lifestyle changes that will make a difference, lies sleep.

    Hypnotherapy, as we know, is one of the most effective therapies for helping you get enough shut-eye.

    Benefit 4: Coping with Serious Illness
    The American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains that sleep is associated with higher rates of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Night shift workers are impacted most. Men and women who sleep 7 hours or more every night have the best mortality rates in the world.

    So, getting your sleep sorted really does become a matter of life and death, although we know that sleep is only one factor among many. Lack of sleep is not a causal factor however, but along with many others, it has been proven to be contributory.

    Of course, serious illnesses can disrupt sleep patterns so Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be a helpful support for anyone chronically or acutely ill, helping manage anxieties and fears, as well as reducing the experience of pain and helping the recovery process or improving patients’ quality of life if the diagnosis is terminal.

    Benefit 5: Better Sex Lives
    Not getting enough sleep could reduce your sex drive. In one study from a trusted source (via Professor Walker), young men who lost sleep over a one-week period showed a decrease in testosterone levels. Sleeping 5 or fewer hours reduced sex hormone levels by as much as 10 to 15 percent. The men also reported that their overall mood and vigour declined with each consecutive night of interrupted rest.

    Professor Walker often shocks his audience of Alpha sleep-deprived men by stating that their penises may be smaller!

    Benefit 6: Weight Loss and Increased Fitness
    Lack of sleep can cause weight gain. A study examined the relationship between sleep and weight in 21,469 adults over the age of 20. Those who slept less than 5 hours each night, over the course of the three-year study, were more likely to gain weight and eventually become obese. Those who slept between 7 and 8 hours fared better on the scale.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is often used to support weight loss, effortlessly and naturally. Solution Focused Brief question process, which elicits a picture of the healthier, slimmer and fitter you, works well with hypnosis, which reduces the anxiety and stress that can lead to weight gain. Over time, habits are permanently changed, and new healthier habits are embedded resulting in healthy weight loss and increased fitness.

    Benefit 7: Preventing Diabetes
    Along with a bigger waistline, people who don’t get enough sleep (or who get too much) increase their risk of developing adult-onset diabetes. Researchers examined 10 separate studies focused on sleep and diabetes. Their findings uncovered that 7 to 8 hours of rest is the optimal range to avoid insulin issues that could lead to diabetes.

    Benefit 8: Safer Driving
    You’re three times more likely to be involved in a car accident if you get 6 or fewer hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The most vulnerable people are shift workers, commercial drivers, business travellers, and anyone else working long or odd hours. Think twice before getting behind the wheel if you’re not sleeping enough.

    Benefit 9: Keep Young and Beautiful

    https://unsplash.com/@kstonematheson/portfolioIn one study, a group of people aged between 30 and 50 were evaluated based on their sleep habits and their skin condition. The results revealed that those with too little sleep had more fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin colour, and marked looseness of the skin. Poor sleepers were also less satisfied with their appearance.

    Before you stay up watching that box set, going to that all-night party, or obsessing over social media until the early hours, think twice. Those 8 hours of sleep each and every night are the key to health and happiness.

    So, there you have it. Sleep is good for you. Who knew?

    Jane is working exclusively online during the coronavirus crisis, through Skype, FaceTime, What’s App, or Zoom.


    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    www.sense-ability.co.uk
    jane@sense-ability.co.uk
    07843 813 883
    fb.com/jane.pendry.9693
    twitter.com/Sense_AbilityUK

    Previously based at The Wellbeing Clinic, 1 Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford



  • 26 Apr 2020 9:39 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Coach, I help people resolve anxiety and traumas. That’s a challenge at the best of times. When there’s an ‘enemy at the gate’, it’s daunting.

    Are you arguing with the cat? Obsessing over the news? Just feeling overwhelmed, tearful, and want to stay in bed?

    You are not going mad.

    Photo by Kelly Sikkema on UnsplashDeep inside our brains, there’s an almond-shaped part called the amygdala. It has evolved to sound the alarm, telling us to fight, run, or hide when we face wild animals, warring tribes, or, indeed, pandemics. The alarm triggers a flood of chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing becomes shallow, we feel shaky and sick. When we finally calm down, we feel mentally and physically drained.

    Once immediate danger is past, your active imagination can keep activating your amygdala, making you feel worse and worse, or it can help you adapt and survive.

    Here are ten ideas to help you stay calm and in control during the coronavirus crisis.  These are just tips and suggestions (not instructions) designed to help you steadily take back control.

    If you are under medical or psychiatric care, please take the advice of your medically-qualified practitioner over any generalised advice here or elsewhere aimed at a broad audience.

    1.     Keep to a routine:
    Aim to create a routine of work, mealtimes, rest, exercise, and, above all, sleep. Work towards waking up and going to bed at the same time. Get dressed every morning. Make your bed. The more of a routine you have, in general, the more you stay calm, relaxed, and in control.

    2.     Accept what you can’t control and take control of small things:
    Tidy a cupboard, sort your sock drawer, scrub your kitchen floor, wear your favourite dress, cook a good meal, call a friend. Small positive actions bring back a sense of being in control, give us focus and purpose, and move us gently into the problem-solving part of the mind.

    3.     Develop a good sleep routine:
    A regular 8 hours of sleep positively impacts our hearts, immune system, and mental health; but sleep can elude us when we are anxious. Avoid coffee and tea in the afternoons, or switch to decaffeinated. Avoid horror films, disturbing thrillers, and social media in the evenings. If you have been comfort eating, start cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, which also cause insomnia. Several studies indicate that chamomile tea really does help you get to sleep.

    4.     Focus on what’s good now: 
    Most of us have a roof over our head, a phone or computer, hot water, and even the luxury of pasta and toilet rolls! Focusing on what is good or working well will help you move out of your anxious primitive mind. You might jot down things you are grateful for every day and add them to a Gratitude Jar. When you or your family feel overly anxious, the contents can help you shift into a positive frame of mind.

    5.     Breathe:
    Breathing into the abdomen calms the central nervous system. Simple daily breathing exercises can help you stay calm and in control. Here’s a simple exercise to add to your daily routine.

    Sit in a chair upright. Make sure you are warm and comfortable. Let your arms be loose or rest on the chair arms. Place your feet hip width apart. Aim to breathe through your nose and out through your mouth.

    • Observe your breathing, letting it flow into your stomach naturally.
    • Breathe in gently, counting steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
    • Don’t pause or hold breath, let it flow out gently through your mouth, counting to 5 again.
    • Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

    You will feel your anxiety ease, leaving you feeling calmer and more grounded.

    6.     Stay in the moment: 
    Being in a crisis increases our awareness. We wash our hands with focus; we are mindful of others in new ways. Mindful awareness can also calm the mind. This simple exercise will help you stay focused and calm in the moment.

    Sit quietly at home or in the garden. What can you see, hear, feel, smell, touch? Aim to notice five things. In the spring there is so much to appreciate: the warmth of the sun, nodding yellow daffodils or the soft touch of a breeze. Notice how your heart and breathing slow, your mind clears, and tranquillity sweeps over you.

    7.     Absorbing Stories:
    Since Beowulf, the original ‘overcoming the monster’ story, we have processed our fears through stories. Plan your day to include absorbing books, films, and audio books that rest your mind and resolve anxieties. Don’t be ashamed of watching unchallenging TV. Your subconscious mind needs soothing. Miss Marple can be a tonic.

    8.     Exercise:
    Run, cycle, or walk every day to raise mood-boosting endorphins and to help you remain mentally resilient. Just 10 minutes of gentle daily exercise will boost your mood. There are many fabulous online resources. For exercise designed by and for older people see https://10today.co.uk.

    9.     Ration the News:
    Decide when you are going to catch up on the news, ideally before 7pm. Catching up on essential news only once stops us obsessing throughout the evening, allowing us to ease down to bed time. Avoid the temptation to look at your phone before you go to bed too.

    10. Social Connections:
    We need to connect with others and to encourage and reassure each other. Luckily, there are so many ways we can stay in touch. You’ll find others feel just like you do; and that you are coping better than you think. If you need to, contact local volunteer services, remember they may need you as much as you need them.

    Anxiety, withdrawal, and exhaustion in a crisis is a normal human response. Staying mentally healthy doesn’t mean not feeling. It means experiencing your emotions, accepting them fully, and finding ways to process them and get them in perspective. I hope some of these ideas help you to stay safe and well, physically and mentally, during the coronavirus crisis.

    Jane is working exclusively online during the coronavirus crisis, through Skype, FaceTime, What’s App, or Zoom.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    www.sense-ability.co.uk
    jane@sense-ability.co.uk
    07843 813 883
    fb.com/jane.pendry.9693
    twitter.com/Sense_AbilityUK

    Previously based at The Wellbeing Clinic, 1 Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford

  • 01 Apr 2020 11:42 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Elizabeth Newton
    As a Psychotherapist, one of the areas of brain science I get most excited about is that of Neuroplasticity. This daunting word is actually the concept of the brains' ability to change, and it is fantastically inspiring stuff! This organ has such a propensity for growth and survival, that even following significant brain trauma, where large areas of the brain have been severely damaged, it can regenerate itself to a point.

    Until about 15 years ago, Scientists largely believed that the brain and personality was pretty much fixed and stable, and Personality Theory was, in my opinion, overly emphasised in Psychology Degree courses, categorising and labelling ‘personality types’. But relatively recent advances in Neuroscience have shown that the brain is adaptable, like plasticine, and it can change throughout our life.

    An everyday example of Neuroplasticity is learning a new skill. Remember that first driving lesson? Certainly, for me there was almost too much to take in, the clutch, the steering wheel, changing gear, let alone navigating busy London roads. In that first lesson, I remember thinking it impossible I’d ever be able to do all of it at once. Yet here I am, many years later, tootling the kids around in the middle of rush hour, debating with both of them about whether the song on the radio is ‘cool’ or not whilst simultaneously thinking about what we’re having for dinner, whether my youngest has brought home their reading book, and keeping an eye on the cyclist 200 meters ahead. I am NOT thinking about what my feet and my hands are doing. That’s automatic now. I have wired in pathways in my brain related to that skill which is ‘driving’. But it took practice, repetition and time to establish those pathways. It also helped that I wanted to learn in the first place.

    neuronsIt’s the same with most of the ways we think and many of our behaviours and decisions. The more we do a specific ‘something’, we create a pathway for that ‘something’ in the brain. Whether it be snacking when we feel stressed and worried, biting our nails when we’re concentrating on a task, or perhaps thinking about what we feel confident and willing to do. As the chemicals in our brain travel down a familiar route, they flow across the same synaptic gaps in between brain cells as they did last time and the gates at the end of the brain cell open more readily in response to those chemicals. Quite literally, a structural path is formed which gets stronger and more resilient the more we repeat it. So much so, that its’ difficult, inconceivable even, to act or think in a different way. Essentially the brain repeats what is familiar and follows the path of least resistance and, tah dah, a habit is formed. Imagine pouring water down a brick wall. The water flows down grooves in the brickwork it has carved out over many rainy days.

    keep calmThe good news is that we really can make Neuroplasticity work in our favour to achieve something new. Even if this something new is to go to the gym more often, make a cup of tea rather than open a bottle of wine, or simply be kinder to ourselves or others. The second piece of good news is it’s never too late to do so. Whilst children and teens have an enviously plastic brain, we can still influence the connectivity of our grey matter well into late adulthood. In fact, my oldest client in her early nineties surprised herself by discovering she’s a great watercolour artist! Not only that, but she CAN be assertive and self-confident, much to the amusement and support of her family and friends.

    This, self-directed Neuroplasticity is why people chose my approach as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. We use our sessions to create the optimal environment for breaking down old unhelpful pathways and building new, albeit fledgling, helpful ones. Indeed, we can even generate new brain cells if clients are up for the challenge! With intent, repetition, practice, and time for nature to do its physiological thing, it really is possible to rewire your brain!

    Elizabeth Newton
    Clinical Hypnotherapist
    Fresh Leaf Hypnotherapy
    Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AA
    Tel: 07951 776608
    Web: freshleafhypnotherapy.co.uk
    Email: elizabeth@freshleafhypnotherapy.co.uk
    Twitter: @freshleafhypno
    Facebook:  fb.com/eagreasley/

  • 02 Mar 2020 11:45 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Nicholas Shatti
    At the heart of it, weight is determined by the balance between how much we eat and how much we exercise. Food is energy and if we don’t use that energy, either because we’re consuming too much food or we simply aren’t getting enough exercise, the body will store the excess as fat, ready to be used when needed.

    Yet, if it’s really as simple as eating less and exercising more, why do people ignore this and do the opposite, especially when the benefits of a healthier weight are widely known? What is it that’s happening within us that’s contributing to weight gain and to problems losing weight? We can then ask, “does hypnosis work for weight loss?” To answer these questions, we need, first of all, to look at the role of one of the most primitive survival mechanisms of all: stress.

    STRESS – WHAT IS IT?
    Stress is the body’s primitive defence mechanism, which is activated as a response to situations the brain perceives to be dangerous. When we feel stressed, our heart may race, our thinking may become distorted, our palms may get sweaty, and our breathing may become faster and shallower. Some people may experience stomach pains, others may feel sick, while some may feel the urge to use the toilet.

    The stressed feeling is a result of the brain flooding the body with stress chemicals, notably adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline. In more primitive times, these would have provided us with the energy we needed to fight or flee a particular threat. However, the stresses of the modern world do not match those of the past: we aren’t fleeing danger, we don’t have to worry when we will eat our next meal, and we aren’t continually fighting with other people for resources. Instead, the stresses of today involve traffic jams, missed appointments, a sick parent, an exam, or a bill that needs to be paid. Yet the body’s response to a perceived threat remains the same.

    HOW DOES OUR STRESS LEVEL INCREASE?
    Negative self perception, pressure to lose weight, idealisation of the perfect body, as well as our own day-to-day worries are major contributors to stress. In neurological terms, the brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined, and that can be a problem for us because our thoughts play a significant role in our stress level. Every negative thought we have increases our level of anxiety, and the more anxiety we have, the more likely we are to fire the stress response.

    So, if we’re thinking we’ll never lose weight, worrying about future, thinking we’ll never be in a relationship, thinking about how much we don’t like our manager, thinking we don’t have the perfect body or whatever our thoughts might be, our anxiety goes up. The more negative our thoughts, the stronger the stress response.

    Over time, this can have a significant effect on our health as we become vulnerable to high blood pressure, heart disease, reduced immunity, decreased feelings of self-worth, sexual dysfunction, poor sleep, gastrointestinal problems, and weight gain.

    ARE WEIGHT LOSS ATTEMPTS CAUSING EVEN MORE STRESS?
    If we make a decision to lose weight, we will need to change something about our behaviour: we might choose a particular diet, perhaps we join a gym, maybe we buy a healthy-eating cook book, or we might follow a weight loss expert on social media. Sometimes, however, our aim is to achieve a lot in a very short space of time and our own expectations may be unrealistic. If we don’t see results as quickly as we would like or, perhaps, we’ve missed a day or two of our diet, we might feel discouraged from continuing with our efforts and give up on achieving our goals.

    There is also no shortage of pictures of people with tiny waists, perfect breasts, ripped abs, and chiselled physiques on TV, in magazines, and on social media feeds, which might lead us to think that to be healthy, that’s how we need to be. Yet often what we see isn’t what’s best for us and attempting to achieve such a body can lead to disappointment, further increasing our anxiety.

    Advertisers of weight loss products often relate a slimmer waistline to a happier self. While achieving a goal of losing weight may make us feel better about ourselves, if we’re having difficulty becoming that slimmer self, we might begin to believe that we can’t be happy or that happiness will only result when we’ve lost weight.

    SO, HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT OUR WEIGHT?
    There are five main ways in which stress can have an effect on our weight and our attempts at weight loss. We might think of this as the stress/food cycle:

    1. When our stress level increases, so too can our appetite.
      The role of stress chemicals is to prepare the body and provide it with the energy it needs to deal with a threatening or dangerous situation. In the short term, the stress chemicals can shut down the appetite, temporarily putting eating on hold. However, once we begin to calm down and the stress chemical levels have begun to reduce, cortisol remains in the system to ensure we replenish the energy store. The body thinks we’ve used the calories to deal with stress, so we are encouraged to eat more to replenish the calories, even though they haven’t been used.
    2. Stress can lead to fat storage, which can lead to further stress.
      If the level of cortisol remains elevated in the body over a long period of time, instead of providing energy, it will favour fat storage. Cortisol appears to promote the formation of fat in the abdominal areas, which contains more cortisol receptors, meaning we produce even more stress. The more stressed we are, the greater the fat storage.
    3. Stress can increase the appetite for fatty and sugary foods.
      When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring there is enough energy available. The fuel our muscles require is sugar and, as a consequence, our appetite for fatty and sugary foods can increase, since it is these foods that provide the energy. If elevated cortisol levels become chronic, then we can continue to crave these foods, further adding to weight gain if consumption remains high.
    4. Stress can lead to comfort eating.
      Eating sugary and fatty foods can dampen down the feeling of stress because eating them causes an increase in dopamine levels. This promotes pleasant feelings and reduces tension, which is part of the brain’s reward system. The behavioural response is, then, to eat these foods whenever the body reaches a certain stress level. Over time the amount of dopamine released when eating these foods decreases, so that we require more food to gain the same feel-good response.
    5. Stress can lead to a feeling of helplessness.
      Stress can make us feel we aren’t in control of our own feelings, especially when we overreact to situations or see others dealing with similar situations in an outwardly calm way. If we don’t feel in control, we might begin to feel helpless in changing our situation and perhaps even give up trying to improve ourselves. Engaging in physical activity will almost certainly not be a priority at this point. Limited physical activity means fewer feel-good chemicals are released in the body, which can exacerbate the stress eating cycle. If we aren’t motivated to engage in physical activity, we won’t be burning the calories from stress eating.

    IS STRESS MANAGEMENT LINKED TO WEIGHT LOSS?
    Because stress can be a major factor in both weight gain and weight loss, stress management has a critical role in helping to regulate our weight. Anything that is really going to help us must be targeted towards how we feel about ourselves, so that we are using the resources of the mind for us, rather than against us. If we only focus on losing weight, then we disregard stress as an underlying cause of weight gain and in difficulties in losing weight.

    HOW DOES HYPNOSIS WORK FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
    Perhaps it is better not to ask ‘how does hypnosis work for weight loss?’ but instead ‘how does hypnosis work for stress reduction?’, since if weight gain is influenced by stress, then we must consider what we can do to reduce the effects of stress in our life.

    Rationally, we know what we have to do to lose weight, so it isn’t the rational, thinking part of the brain that hypnosis is directed toward. We are instead concerned with the stress centre, where survival templates are stored, which can sometimes cause us problems rather than being of help. Stress is a survival technique and each of us will have individual survival templates ready to be accessed when in the presence of a perceived threat. Our aim, then, is to reduce the incidence of the stress response firing up, so that we can remain in control of our thoughts and actions.

    To do this, we have to replace our negative thinking with more positive thoughts, so that we can begin to create less anxiety and significantly lower the level of stress hormones in the body. Rather than think about how difficult it might be to lose weight, or think about past attempts at weight loss, or imagine a future in which we haven’t lost weight, our attention is instead directed toward achieving our weight loss goals and seeing the difference that will make to our life.

    SO, HOW DO WE USE HYPNOSIS FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
    By focusing on how we will feel when we’ve lost weight and differences that will make, we create a powerful picture in our mind of what we want to achieve. This is where hypnosis for weight loss is such a powerful tool. We can use it to help us visualise:

    • a life in which we are no longer overweight
    • how we will feel physically and mentally when the weight is gone
    • how we will feel having achieved our goal, which will further motivate us to achieve other goals we set ourself
    • what we will be able to do having lost the weight
    • any other differences losing weight will make to our life.

    If we can create as clear a picture as possible in our minds of what success is to us, then it becomes a motivational force and the brain will work hard to ensure the picture we have becomes reality. We can then develop healthier behavioural templates for situations that might have previously seemed stressful, thereby creating new neural pathways in the brain, so that we no longer default to the sabotaging behaviour of the past.

    Suggestion techniques can also be used in hypnosis to encourage us to develop a positive relationship with food and exercise which is key to a healthy diet and long-term weight management.

    WHAT RESULTS CAN WE EXPECT?
    If we consider weight loss as one of the consequences of reduced stress in our lives and we use hypnosis to help reduce that stress, as well as for enhancing our efficacy of visualising success, then we can begin to:

    • think more clearly and make better choices about the food we eat
    • feel motived to include more physical exercise into our daily routine
    • reduce our reliance on food for the production of the body’s feel-good chemicals
    • sleep better, which will help to naturally reduce stress chemicals
    • feel in control of our lives and better understand what we can do to create change so that we make the necessary lifestyle changes,

    BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
    Ultimately, eating fewer calories and burning more of those calories will result in weight loss. However, as we have seen, a sole focus on eating less and exercising more might not be the solution. When we’re feeling better about ourselves, when we’re focused on what we want, rather than what we don’t want, and when we’re starting to take part in activities that make us feel good, then we reduce the harmful effects of stress. If we are less stressed and feeling more in control, then we open up the possibility of making the necessary lifestyle and behavioural changes needed for weight loss.

    Nick Shatti
    Hypnotherapy with Nick
    The Clifton Practice, 8-10 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PD
    0117 901 2282
    nick@hypno.co.uk
    www.hypno.co.uk/
    fb.com/hypnotherapywithnick
    twitter.com/hypnowithnick

  • 03 Feb 2020 9:53 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Caroline Evans
    Don’t worry if your memory is not what it used to be, sometimes forgetfulness is essential for a healthy brain.

    When a name, face, appointment, or memory escapes us, it can cause embarrassment and frustration. But understand, these lapses are completely normal. In fact, they are often a sign that our brain is in perfect working order.

    memoriesModern life and mobile phones mean that we are exposed to a barrage of information throughout the day. Not only is it normal for our brain to discard most of it, it’s also desirable. If it didn’t, our system would be overloaded. Not holding onto all the information is the brain’s way of tidying up and working functionally.

    Our memories are formed by the action of neurotransmitters and the connections of neurons in our brain. When we pay attention to an emotional experience, the neurons fire together and then, wire together and store the memory into our hippocampus. This is the area of our brain that stores our memories, emotions, and behavioural patterns. Our hippocampus chooses what is deemed important to us and the rest of the information is lost. It’s like a screening service.

    keysSo, if you can’t remember where you’ve put your keys, don’t be too cross with yourself. Putting our keys down is a mundane activity that doesn’t require concentration. If you’re not aware of what you’re doing, the information can’t enter your long-term memory.

    After all, if we didn’t forget the unremarkable, it would be harder to notice and retain important information. Our hippocampus tends to keep the specific and special or things that stand out and are different, and this takes a lot of resources. So, our brain has to prioritise.

    Our memory holds onto events that frighten us to avoid us repeating them, and our emotion can work as a glue. It glues the experience into our brain so that we may learn from them. That’s why we remember dramatic and negative stuff so well.

    The real risk to memory can be an unhealthy lifestyle, and worrying is one of the enemies of memory. We fill up our working memory with negative thoughts about the future, the present, and the past and then our stress levels remain high.

    Also, poor sleep has a negative effect. A lot of memory consolidation goes on while we sleep. Memories are being laid down, rearranged, and put into the right place or in perspective. Therefore, a lack of a good night’s sleep can cause memory problems.

    Evolution does not strive to make our memory the perfect hard drive, it’s not the functional way of adapting to the environment. The past is mostly forgotten – all the little details of every single day.

    So, what can we do to help our memory?
    Hypnotherapy can help by accessing the memories in our hippocampus to help process them and move them into perspective. By using pieces of information from the past, we can construct simulations of our preferred future. We can use our memories to guide us and help us to plan.

    Hypnotherapy can also help us to get a good night’s sleep because it helps the mind to relax and let go of the anxieties that are triggering our flight or fight survival responses. It allows our parasympathetic system to rest and relax our bodies, and allows our mind to empty our metaphorical stress bucket.

    So, if you have to use Google to look things up when in the past you could remember them, don’t despair, it’s just your brain cleverly adapting to the aids at its disposal.

    If you feel your memory is deteriorating more rapidly than it should be, or your loved ones or friends are becoming concerned, then it’s always advisable to see your GP.

    Caroline Evans DSFH HPD
    Chamberlain House
    10-11 High Street
    Bagshot GU19 5AE
    07765 692 072
    info@carolineevanshypnotherapy.co.uk
    carolineevanshypnotherapy.co.uk
    fb.com/mindbodyradio/
    twitter.com/cevanshypno

  • 02 Jan 2020 2:20 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Accepting you have an addiction problem is the first step towards resolving it.

    If you are reading this for yourself, you are facing up to the problem of addiction. You are on your way to recovery and a new and better life.
    Overcoming addiction can be very challenging. Keeping the secret from your family, fearing you might lose your job, and the strain of living in denial all create stress and take their toll. You may need a network of support to help you through.

    If you suspect you have an addiction problem, your GP may be a good starting point. Your doctor can advise you and refer you to local addiction services which will support you on your journey to sobriety.

    You may also choose to contact a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist through www.AfSFH.com, or another accredited hypnotherapist for complementary support and therapy (If you live in Oxford, do get in touch with me directly to find out more).

    There are mixed emotions linked to addiction - shame, despair, anger, frustration, and deep sadness. A qualified and accredited Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will never judge you. They are there to support you, to believe in you and your recovery, and to acknowledge your bravery in asking for support.

    The main difference with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, compared to other forms of hypnotherapy, is that Solution Focused questioning enables you can create a powerful vision of a better future that pulls you forward towards your goal. This is considerably more motivating than the negative motivation of moving away from something harmful and will really help you maintain your resolve by creating a rich and vivid vision of a richer, more vibrant future.

    Smoking and Vaping
    Smoking and vaping are fairly easy addictions to break. The key is to make sure you are not under extreme stress when you aim to give up – going through a divorce, moving house, or going through the break up of a relationship. In that circumstance, I would work on reducing your stress and anxiety levels before undertaking the two-hour Stop Smoking Session. For most people, however, the one session is sufficient. It works, in essence, by convincing your subconscious that you are a non smoker.

    smoking My client Alan (not his real name) reported not only giving up compulsive vaping after one session, but alcohol with absolute ease. They were clearly associated in his mind so breaking one compulsion impacted the other bad habit. A few months later, Alan was still free of nicotine and just had the occasional drink. He was enjoying a new level of fitness and improved family relationships.

    In the Grip of Addiction
    If you have a more serious addiction problem, however, such as alcohol, prescribed opiates, or gambling, you may consider joining an appropriate support groups, such as Alcholics or Gamblers Anonymous. There is a list at the end of the blog.

    Some addictions lead to serious health issues, debt and marriage break-ups so if your addiction is seriously impacting you now, do seek professional medical support or contact one the relevant addiction agencies.

    gamblingSolution Focused Hypnotherapy can ease your passage through to sobriety, strengthen your resolve, reduce cravings, and help you combat the seductive messages of your addiction. The chemistry of your brain will have changed throughout your addiction, and so we need to help you rewire the brain and that can take time. It’s important that you see Solution Focused Hypnotherapy as a support mechanism and not an instant resolution by some trick or magic.

    Some addictions have less of a powerful effect on the mind so it’s important we have a full and frank discussion in the initial consultation to determine that you have a genuine desire to give up your addiction, that you have decided to give up yourself (and are not being coerced or pushed to do so by a third party), and that you are happy with the level of support you have.

    In our initial consultation we can discuss the nature of your issue, and decide together the level of support you need and whether this is an issue that can be stopped overnight, whether Solution Focused hypnotherapy alone over several sessions, or whether hypnotherapy is just one intervention among others.

    How do you know you have a problem?
    When an obsessive habit or behaviour is impacting on daily life, you may be addicted.

    There’s an episode of Doc Martin, where Martin says to his receptionist, Pauline, “Are you in control of your gambling, or is your betting in control of you?”  Often the first sign you have a problem is when others point it out to you. Even though you may initially resist it or deny there’s a problem.

    Many of us experience obsessive, uncontrollable and sometimes harmful attachment to substances or activities. You may be addicted to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, food; or gambling, the internet, sex, work, and even computer games.

    According to the NHS about two million people in the UK struggle with addiction.

    When we think of an addict, we may picture a heroin addict living rough on the streets; and that requires a very special kind of intervention. But addiction is all around us and very common. You or someone close to you may be drinking half a bottle of wine or more a night, smoking twenty a day, or compulsively buying scratch cards.

    Someone may appear to be functioning well, while their negative and compulsive behaviours are simultaneously dramatically and negatively impacting their lives and the lives of those close to them.

    What’s the impact of addiction?
    If you are concerned you might have an addiction problem, but you aren’t sure, stand in the shoes of your closest family member and ask, “Are they concerned about me? Is my behaviour affecting them?” If the answer is yes to either or both questions, then you have your answer.

    In Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, I begin all sessions with an explanation of how the mind works, and, in this instance, how addiction is created and embedded. We then work from your Best Hopes for overcoming your addiction. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists ask open questions to help you imagine how your relationships might change, how your work-life could improve, and how good you would feel when you are back in control. This vivid picture acts as an anchor to keep you focused on the ‘prize’, which in turn helps you deal with withdrawal symptoms.

    Through hypnosis, we can help you create new more positive patterns of behaviour, reduce general stress, counter withdrawals, and keep you feeling positive and motivated.

    The ultimate motivator is believing that you have a better future without your addiction, and I can help you strengthen the visualisation of your goals, aspirations, and hopes.

    We ask questions like, “What parts of your life are working well? What can you build on? Who is supporting you? How will giving up your addiction improve your family life, work life, and health? What or who is standing in your way? How can you manage any obstacles?”

    Hypnosis also helps to keep the flow of serotonin steady, which will help you fight any cravings as you move forward. Each session helps to strengthen your resolve or helps you overcome set-backs.

    Don’t give up on giving up
    It is natural to have mixed feelings about giving up your addiction. The addiction may have served a purpose for you once - got through a difficult time, numbed pain, or drowned sorrows - but now it’s a problem. The reality is a hard reality to face.

    Wanting to give up your addiction
    It is very important to really want to give up your addiction; and to believe you can do it. It’s important your therapist is right beside you, believing you can overcome it too. It’s also important you are realistic.

    One client, I will call him Frank, came to me with a serious gambling addiction. He wanted an overnight cure and indeed, after one session he did stop gambling instantly and dramatically. However, I explained to him the huge chemical changes that have taken place in his mind and the need to join a support group to counter all those persuasive and equally hypnotic suggestions in adverts and outside betting shops.

    Three weeks later Frank started gambling. He then understood the need to commit to a series of sessions, the value of signing up to Gamblers Anonymous and an appreciation of the time it takes to embed new healthy patterns of behaviour in his addicted mind.

    Identify the Problem
    Addiction is about loss of control. What might begin as a habit, a pattern of behaviour that is frequent but not damaging, can, over time, turn in to a powerful compulsion. Habits can be positive or negative. But any habit or behaviour that is impulsive and compulsive is likely to be a significant problem.

    What is the pattern or behaviour you think you have a problem with?  We will call this The Problem.

    Here’s the Sense-Ability Addiction Checklist – answer yes or no

    1. Do you feel in control of the Problem? Have you stopped the Problem before?
    2. Does the Problem override your feelings and emotions?
    3. Does the Problem distract you from day-to-day responsibilities?
    4. Have you abandoned other activities you used to enjoy because of the Problem?
    5. Does the Problem feel like a compulsion that you can’t stop?
    6. Do other people get upset about the Problem?
    7. Have you let down people you love because of the Problem?
    8. Do you have financial difficulties as a result of the Problem?
    9. Has a relationship broken up because of the Problem?
    10. Does the Problem currently impact on intimate relationships, friendships, or family relationships?
    11. Are you having nightmares or sleep issues because of the Problem?
    12. Has the Problem escalated over time?
    13. Was the Problem once an enjoyable activity you felt in control of, but now overwhelms you?
    14. Do you hate the Problem and want to be rid of it?
    15. Does the problem impact on your mood and sense of self worth?
    16. Does the problem impact on your physical or mental health and well-being
    17. Is the Problem underpinned by stress and anxiety?
    18. Is the Problem causing the stress and anxiety?
    19. Is the Problem related to chemicals or alcohol.
    20. Is the Problem related to behaviour such as compulsive working, gambling, or exercise?

    If you scored 5 or more, that’s an indicator a problem is brewing. A score of 10 and you need support to break the patterns and get help now. More than 10, and you may need a series of interventions to help you.

    Note this isn’t a scientific questionnaire, but just an indicator that helps you determine whether you identify the Problem as something that needs to be addressed.

    The stages of addiction

    • Trying something new, which has the potential to be addictive. Many people drink, smoke occasionally, or are occasional drug users, or they love exercise, or work or sex, but they never become addicted. But addiction always starts with an activity linked to pleasure.
    • Experimentation. There is curiosity to try a substance or behaviour that could lead to addiction.
    • Regular use. The original experience was pleasurable and either helped to dull pain and anxiety, or created an unusual high, and there is an impulse to try it again. At this stage, overall quality of life and wellbeing is not affected.
    • Increased use. The temporary form of relief or pleasure is often repeated. At this stage, there may be warning signs, risky behaviour, impact on work (being late for example) and relationships (unreliability, impact on finances) but it is still possible to stop the behaviour for periods. This is a good time to seek an intervention like Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to stop the issue developing in to the Problem.
    • Dependence. The behaviour or habit becomes a need. Users can no longer function normally or happily without taking the particular substance or carrying out the activity. Withdrawal symptoms are strong, mental health begins to be impacted, other people are affected and, despite the negative consequences, the user cannot give up. You have the Problem, and you may need a series of interventions and a network of support.

    Factors that can impact on Addictions
    Certain behavioural traits, influenced by genetic or environmental factors, can increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to activities or substances. These include:

    • Trauma. A history of traumatic experiences, attachment disorders, or neglect can increase the risk of addictive behaviour.
    • Genetics. Some genetic traits could delay the impact on how an addiction develops, and how much support you might need to overcome your addiction.
    • Mental health. There is evidence that people who are anxious and nervous are more vulnerable to addiction. Individuals struggling with stress, or dealing with narcissistic abuse may lean towards addictive behaviour patterns or substances to cope.
    • Chemical Factors. Some addictions create a chemical dependency which is rather more difficult to resolve. Nicotine is mildly addictive, but is relatively easy to give up.

    The Chemistry of Addiction
    With the advent of MRI scans, neuroscientists have observed the impact of addictive substances and activities on the pleasure centres of the brain.
    An addictive behaviour triggers the creation of dopamine, an neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, or a mental high. The brain remembers the experience and wants to repeat it. You can imagine how those people who use substances or habits such as gambling to escape uncomfortable feelings like anxiety or depression, may be particularly susceptible to seeking pleasure and escape.

    Take gambling for example, which is an addiction that is not substance related. This BBC Video, Inside the Brain of a Gambling Addict, illustrates just how powerful an addiction can be, and why not being able to give up alone is not a sign of weakness. Habit centres and parts of the brain are switched on by gambling, and once you are addicted, you need support to give up and to stay gambling free.

    The problem with seeking a pleasure high is that taking a substance regularly, or undertaking a habit frequently, can create a high level of tolerance. Even eating chocolate creates a dopamine high at first, but frequently eating chocolate dampens the high over time. So some people want to eat more-and-more to experience the original high, which eludes them. As tolerance to a substance such as alcohol or drugs increases, withdrawal symptoms become severe which in turn increases the likelihood of addiction.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy - Complementary SUPPORT
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy doesn’t involve analysis nor does it seek to find the underlying cause of the addiction. Instead, we focus on how you want to feel, what you want to overcome, and what wonderful things you will be doing once you have faced your addiction and overcome it. This creative process uses a different part of your brain to help you focus on creating your Preferred Future, and then helps you keep that future picture firmly in the front and centre of your mind.

    Some addictions are not hard to break. Smoking is a case in point. Smoking is just an unwanted habit and usually one two hour session can stop you smoking for good.

    Other addictions are deeply psychological, or involve a chemical dependency and they are harder to resolve.

    The key is to understand and believe that addiction is something you can control and overcome.

    Help and support for Addictions in Oxfordshire and the UK
    If your addiction is serious and you need help straight away here are some more sources of help and support:
    Oxfordshire City Council Alcohol and Drugs
    Addiction Services near Oxford
    Alcoholics Anonymous
    For families impacted by addiction
    Gamblers Anonymous
    NHS Young People’s Gambling Addiction Support
    Supportline: Listing many sites for addiction issues
    Healthline: Exercise Addiction support.

    Other sources of help and support
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a complementary healthcare. I do not diagnose nor claim to cure. I never claim to perform miracles, although some of my clients do.

    There are many factors involved in managing and overcoming addiction and we recommend in the case of serious addictions that you contact your doctor or a dedicated support group.

    However, Solution Focused Hypnotherapists can support you, and reduce your anxiety and withdrawal symptoms by helping you change your thinking about your unwanted habit.

    You may respond very quickly to hypnotherapy and find you can overcome your addiction quickly, or you may need to commit to a series of sessions to support you, alongside other interventions, as you work to change your behaviours, habits, and the chemical responses in your mind

    Any Solution Focused Hypnotherapist can help. Contact me if you live near Oxford and would like to chat through the options, or to find out how I can help you.

    Jane Pendry
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    www.sense-ability.co.uk
    jane@sense-ability.co.uk
    07843 813 883
    fb.com/jane.pendry.9693
    twitter.com/Sense_AbilityUK


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 

Registered Office:
8-10 Whiteladies Road Bristol BS8 1PD

  


The Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) is a not-for-profit organisation
Company Registration no. 7412098 © AfSFH
All rights reserved