How’s your holiday spirit?

Pile of gifts in front of a door.There is a lot of pressure to get into the holiday spirit, but the festive season isn’t a happy time for everyone.  There are many members in the community who spend the holidays feeling alone and isolated or worrying about money as they feel the pressure to buy gifts for their extended family. The international movement of Buy Nothing Day encourages us to switch the focus from commercialism towards community.

Buy Nothing Day was started in 1992 as a backlash against the annual Black Friday sales that happen in America the day after Thanksgiving (this year it’s the 29th of November) when retailers slash the prices of goods and shoppers embark upon a frenzy of spending.  This ‘tradition’ has migrated to the UK after Amazon introduced it to their online sales in 2010.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) notes that 1 in 7 people will be struggling with heightened levels of stress and anxiety at any time, and the UK mental health charity Mind reports that it is even more common to struggle during the festive season for a wide range of reasons.

The challenge laid down by the Buy Nothing movement to ‘stop shopping, start living’ can be exactly what you need if you’re feeling stressed, isolated or disconnected by the start of Christmas festivities. It doesn’t really matter why you’re in a funk over the festive season, by taking the advice of ‘start living’ you can make changes that will help you change the way you’re feeling.  What you choose to do will of course vary depending on your personal circumstances or interests but a good place to start could be investigating local volunteering opportunities. Articles discussing the day note that “[d]oing good for others is going to make you feel a whole lot better in the long run than buying stuff just because it’s on sale.”

Did you know that volunteering can boost both your mental and physical health?

Last year the Trussel Trust, Britain’s largest food bank, released figures showing that demand for their services was increasing year by year with December being the busiest month for requests for food supplies. With this increased demand for services they also have a greater need for volunteers to help sort and deliver donations.  Many other community organisations also need more volunteers over the Christmas period as they step up their community services.

Some people will benefit from additional support throughout the holiday season to help them manage their anxiety, stress and feelings of isolation.  Talking therapies have been proven to help relieve anxieties, stress and depression and the NCH has around 1,800 qualified therapists across the UK who can provide the right treatment.




Lack of sleep leads to heightened anxiety

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Sleep.  Most of us struggle to get enough of it.  For years, scientists have been studying the purpose of sleep and its lack has been linked to poorer physical health outcomes such as heart disease, strokes, obesity and inflammation.  The functions of sleep are still not fully understood but it’s becoming clear that good sleep is absolutely vital to our well-being.

Did you know that a sleepless night can also increase anxiety by up to 30%?  A study published earlier this year by UC Berkeley researchers has found that non-REM sleep helps decrease anxiety by reorganising neural connections in the brain. Even subtle changes in sleep were linked to changes in anxiety levels exhibited by participants in the study.

This study is of interest as anxiety levels globally continue to rise.  The researchers suggest that there is a causal relationship between the erosion of sleep and the ‘marked escalation in anxiety disorders’.

According to the Sleep Council the average Brit only gets 6.5 hours sleep a night. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) recognises that insomnia has long been thought of as a symptom of anxiety and recommends a holistic approach be taken when treating anxiety disorders.

Working with a hypnotherapist you can receive a personalised treatment that helps you become aware of your sleeping patterns and teaches you self-management techniques which can improve both the length and the quality of your sleep. By uncovering and addressing the areas of stress and tension in your life you remove the causes of the insomnia or trouble sleeping.  When you work with a hypnotherapist they may teach you self-hypnosis or meditation techniques to use before going to bed, or while in bed.

An often cited fact by Dr Michael Moseley is that an increase in income of around £50,000 would have less of an impact on a person’s overall well-being and happiness than them gaining an extra hour of sleep every night.

Want to improve your overall well-being and get more sleep? Find a hypnotherapist near you by using the NCH’s directory.

How do you manage your stress?

This week is International Stress Awareness Week (ISAW, November 4th – 8th).  The week was created to raise awareness about stress prevention.  Did you know that stress not only makes us feel awful emotionally, it can also cause chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, depression and asthma?

We all know what stress feels like.  All of us have had days where the pressure mounts and we find ourselves constantly feeling the time crunch, or knowing that we have an ever mounting list of things that need to be done.  Perhaps you notice that your heart is beating just a bit faster, your breath feels just that bit more difficult. The daily stresses we face every day are ongoing and chronic, very different from the stresses that we faced in the past.

These ongoing stresses use up our resources and affect our coping skills, so the theme of the ISAW of ‘RESILIENCE – the power to succeed’ is especially pertinent. As many as 74% of people said that they had felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in the last year in a YouGov poll conducted in January.

We need to cultivate skills to help us effectively deal with stressors. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) recognises that it is important to learn techniques to manage stresses, before you feel like life is getting on top of you.  Attending some sessions with a hypnotherapist can help you achieve a different perspective, changing the way you think about different events in your life which can help you to manage stressors more effectively.

Because stress comes from many different areas of life you will work with your chosen therapist to find techniques to help you mitigate those stresses.  For some people this will involve relaxation techniques including self-hypnosis; other people will benefit from learning short and long term goal planning.

After a session the person being treated usually feels more relaxed, calm and confident. Often change is subtle, as the hypnotherapist will be working with the subconscious mind, and a very positive shift in feeling and reaction to certain previously stressful situations can be noticed.  After working with a hypnotherapist you can expect to feel calmer and more confident, more resilient and better able to cope with whatever stress life throws at you.

You can find a hypnotherapist near you by using the NCH directory.

Hypnotherapy supports survivors of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is now the UK’s most common form of cancer, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK. The charity estimates that 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. That’s around 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK, or one woman every 10 minutes. Breast Cancer Awareness month is an international campaign that involves thousands of organisations all seeking to raise awareness, educate and fundraise to support research.

Many UK breast cancer charities now recognise hypnotherapy as a useful adjunct to traditional medical therapy.  Breast Cancer Care, the only national UK charity that supports people affected by breast cancer, recommends hypnotherapy to help support people dealing with a range of emotional and physical problems such as anxiety, hot flushes, nausea and pain.

In 2007 the NHS examined a study which found that women who had a session of hypnotherapy before breast cancer surgery spent less time in surgery and recovered faster than those who had not received hypnotherapy.  While they found some limitations for the study, they wrote the “…positive outcomes from this study are encouraging for patients and doctors who are keen to reduce the side effects of surgery. It is recommended that people interested in investigating this possibility follow the advice given…”

What are the signs of breast cancer?

The first symptom of breast cancer that most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast. Other signs may be a change in the appearance of one or both breasts, discharge from the nipples or swelling in the armpit area. Most lumps (90%) are not cancerous, but it is always best to have them checked by your doctor.  The earlier you notice and act, the better your chances are of catching the cancer before it spreads into other parts of the body.

Hypnotherapy can be a supportive treatment

Hypnotherapy programmes have been recognised and promoted within over 100 NHS breast cancer clinics as a resource for their outpatients. Survivors of breast cancer not only go through physical changes related to both the cancer and the treatment but there are many post-traumatic emotional issues that can arise including anxiety, heightened feelings of vulnerability and isolation and fear of reoccurrence.

Working with a hypnotherapist can help you address the emotional issues, supporting you through the period of diagnosis, treatment and beyond.  The NHS recognises that it often helps to talk about your feelings and other difficulties with a trained counsellor or therapist.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy is the UK’s largest professional association for hypnotherapists with close to 2,000 fully trained and insured hypnotherapists registered as members. To find a therapist near you, use their therapist finder.


Adults struggle years later after bullying at school

In recent years, a steadily increasing volume of data has demonstrated that peer victimisation—the clinical term for bullying — impacts hundreds of millions of children, adolescents and adults throughout the world, with the effects sometimes lasting years and, possibly, decades. The World Health Organization and the United Nations even recognise the problem as a global health challenge.

When we think of bullying we usually think of the repeated and intentional verbal and physical behaviours that seek to intimidate, harm, or marginalise someone perceived as smaller, weaker, or less powerful. Among younger children, common forms of bullying include abusive language and physical harm. This behaviour may become more subtle with age. In adolescence bullying often looks like routinely excluding or insulting their victims.

A recent BBC article interviewed Ruby Sam Youngz about the long term impacts of being bullied.  She said that the relentless bullying which began at age 10 and continued through secondary school affected all areas of her life, and she took up smoking and drinking in an attempt to cope. Now aged 46, she feels like she is starting to come to terms with the impact the bullying had upon her. “I felt like ‘no one else likes me, so I don’t like me’,” she said.

The trauma stemming from bullying can affect the structure of the brain, according to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data collected by a research team based at King’s College London. These findings build upon previous research, which demonstrated similar changes in children and adults who experienced neglect or abuse by adult caregivers.

“Clinical hypnotherapy has a proven record in treating anxiety, stress, PTSD and other similar issues” says the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH). The aim of hypnotherapy is to unlock stored emotion so that the trauma can be revisited and explored from a different perspective and there are various forms of hypnotherapy a practitioner may use and in order to determine which is the most suitable, says the NCH.

A fully qualified National Council for Hypnotherapy therapist – of which there are almost 2,000 across the UK – can help someone who has experienced bullying understand their current thought patterns so that they can identify those that are harmful and unhelpful.

After sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you,” says the NCH, adding that after a few sessions of hypnotherapy, people tend to be more relaxed and more confident, even in environments which they previously found challenging.

During hypnotherapy sessions, you can learn to come to terms with your experiences and gain a sense of control over fears. By focusing on realistic thoughts, you can avoid falling back into negative thinking patterns whenever you encounter a trigger.

For help recovering from the impact of bullying, use the NCH directory, to find a qualified and insured therapist near you..


Lupus: a hidden killer of young women

Lupus is known as the 'great mimic'Lupus is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues, causing inflammation. It can affect any organ of the body; in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple parts of the body can be affected, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, and brain. Because Lupus can affect so many organs and the symptoms can be so diverse, including fatigue, rashes, allergies, depression and kidney failure it’s called the ‘great mimic’ and is often be misdiagnosed. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor, generally a rheumatologist who will regularly access and manage disease activity.

Studies have shown that lupus affects approximately 1 in 1,000 people in the UK, but the condition is underdiagnosed.  Lupus UK reported last year that there is a delay of over 6 years on average between a person developing symptoms and receiving a diagnosis.  In that time sufferers are routinely told that they have anxiety or other psychological health conditions which exacerbate their physical health conditions.

Hypnotherapy is seen by various UK lupus charities as a useful way of relieving stress, preventing flare ups and slowing down the disease progress, while allowing patients to deal better with pain, anxiety and reducing the amount of medication required on a daily basis.

Image Source: Lupus UK

All ages and sexes can be affected, but like all autoimmune disorders the majority of people affected are young females.  In the case of lupus it especially affects those of African and Asian ancestry.

While the exact cause of lupus is not known it shares a common development pathway with other autoimmune conditions.  Exposure to viruses, prolonged periods of stress, trauma and pregnancy are all known to be triggers for autoimmune conditions. Studies have found that traumatic life events can elevate the risk of developing lupus three-fold.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) states that hypnotherapy offers a variety of tools and techniques that change clients’ mind set and approach to events; giving them resilience to ride out challenging times while enabling them to keep stress hormones to a minimum.  These techniques result in greatly reduced levels of cortisol and adrenaline limiting the likelihood of lupus flare ups and potentially slowing the damaging course of this illness.

Hypnotherapy involves bringing a client into a state a state of focused and attentive concentration where they can make changes to their instinctive thought patterns and habitual behaviours. Hypnotherapy has been studied as a tool for managing a variety of problems including chronic pain syndromes, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

The Hibbs Lupus Trust offers monthly group hypnosis sessions at the Cannock Hospital which range from deep relaxation to more focused and specific interventions for lupus to assist in managing both the physical and mental health impacts of the condition.  By assisting patients with lupus to better manage their mental health they can avoid adding antidepressants, anxiolytics and sedatives to their daily medication cocktail.

To find someone who can support you with your lupus diagnosis, use the NCH directory, which lists therapists near you.

Kim-Joy breaks free from social anxiety

Source: (@kimjoyskitchen)

Last year social anxiety became a talking point thanks one of the fan favourites from last season’s Great British Bake Off. Kim-Joy was a constantly smiling, cutsey fashionista who was embraced by the British public thanks to her relentless positivity and genuineness. She was loved even more when she started to open up about how surprised she was by all the love and approval she was receiving.

“I always wanted to take part in Bake Off, but I was very nervous, not about the cooking, but how the other contestants would perceive me,” says the 28-year-old who lives near Leeds in an interview with a national paper.

Her contestant profile released to the media contains a quote reading “My friends have always wanted me to apply, but I didn’t feel confident enough to apply until this year”. When Kim-Joy was in school she struggled with selective mutism. She says she didn’t want people to know that she could talk.  This struggle with severe social anxiety lead her to study psychology at university and she ended up working in the NHS as a psychological wellbeing practitioner.

Kim-Joy is using her newly found fame to open up conversations about mental health and the NHS.  While she says that she loves the NHS she has come to realise that the clinical side of mental health isn’t for her.  Professionals need data so they can see who is recovering and she feels that a lot of people make up with answers because they want to sound like they’re feeling better.

Last year a study was released which showed that prescriptions for anti-depressants have almost tripled since 2000, with 64 million NHS prescriptions now doled out annually – compared with 22 million in 2000. UK levels of antidepressant use are now fourth highest among Western countries.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression.  The National Council for Hypnotherapy(NCH) states that clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with mental health conditions; helping to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Rather than using standardised forms and questionnaires, a clinical hypnotherapist can use a range of different interventions to help you resolve whatever the issue is that’s troubling you.

Working with a hypnotherapist may help you feel more confident and more at ease about things which have previously been challenging for you says the NCH.

“Hypnotherapy unlocks the potential you have to break free of negative thought patterns, and to react more positively and more confidently to situations in your life that may have previously made you anxious.”

To contact your nearest NCH-registered therapist and start the process of shedding your anxieties, simply click here.

Are you preparing for Sober October?

Are you confused about what is considered to be a ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption? In the UK and other parts of Europe, no more than one glass of wine or a pint of beer a day is recommended. In the US it is double these levels, and in Mediterranean countries and Chile it’s even more relaxed when it comes to drinking wine. Studies published in the last year warn us that there is no safe level of consumption.

As some of us start preparing ourselves to ‘go sober for October’ it might be useful to pause and consider just how commonplace drinking is in the UK. Metro News regularly runs a column in which people ‘spill’ how much they actually drink in an average week; you may find the columns eye opening.


Preparing for Sober October

One of the most effective things you can do to make Sober October successful is to set yourself a concrete goal.  Spend some time thinking about why achieving this goal is important to you and what it will bring to your life.  Perhaps you’re giving up the pints to save money for travelling or you know that cutting down on wine in the evenings will help your weight.  Or maybe you’ve noticed that your alcohol consumption has crept up to the point where you’re drinking every day and you want a chance to build new and healthier habits.

Know that changing habits can take time and feel uncomfortable at first. You might find that you are struggling with cravings; it can be helpful to find someone to talk to. Hypnotherapy has had proven success in helping clients break unwanted habits or addictions like excessive drinking.

“The good news,” says the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH), “is that you are in control, you can change how you react to certain situations, and you can protect yourself in ways that are healthy and which allow you succeed and grow stronger in body and mind. You just need to know how to change it, and to believe you can.”

Hypnotherapy works rapidly and successfully with bad habits and behaviours because it works directly with the subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made.

Perhaps if you’re taking part in Sober October you’re doing it as a fundraising effort.  This will give you some external accountability and motivation.  If you’re doing the challenge solo, tell your friends and family what your intention is and ask them for support. You’re more likely to achieve your goals when you have people cheering you on.

Plan your social calendar.  Instead of arranging to meet up with friends at the pub, suggest other activities.  Get active and go for a walk or indoor rock climbing or go to see a movie.  Not only will this help reduce the temptation to drink, you’ll bond with your friends in new ways.

Make your Sober October a success and visit the NCH’s hypnotherapy directory to find a qualified and insured hypnotherapist near you who can support you achieving your goals.

School Refusal: What to do when your child refuses to go to school

It’s not uncommon for a child to have a day when they simply don’t want to go to school.  They aren’t sick, aren’t being bullied or dislike school in any way, they just don’t want to go on that particular day.  Perhaps as preparations begin to go back to school in September there may be a bit of complaining that it’s not fair, that they don’t want to change their routine from the one they’ve adopted over the summer months. However, for some children the issue runs deeper than not wanting to give up their time playing in the park or watching videos and it can escalate into something the experts call ‘school refusal’.

School refusal was first recognised in the 1930s when psychologists noticed there were two distinct groups of children who were regularly absent from school.  There was a group who were rebellious, performed poorly academically and often were found to be engaged in anti-social behaviour, and there was a group who were quiet, obedient in class and performed well academically.

Children and teens who start to show habitual patterns of avoiding going to school may be dealing with suspected or diagnosed special educational needs, anxiety, depression, family crises or other traumatic life events such as bullying. School refusal often peaks at times of transitions such as moving to a new school or beginning high school as these are periods of higher stress and upheaval than normal.

While problems may be centred around school or home life, the end result is the same – children can’t cope and withdraw from school. They need the education system to recognise that anxiety that interferes with their day-to-day living is a debilitating mental health condition requiring support and reasonable adjustments” says Fran Morgan, an expert on school refusal and the founder of Square Peg.

So how do you support your child who is having difficulties attending school?  They are often highly anxious and need emotional support. It’s important to recognise that the child in question is not behaving wilfully, they are struggling with a set of circumstances that make their attendance more difficult than other children. One way of supporting your child who is experiencing significant anxiety about returning to school is to reach out to a professional therapist.  This can help them gain the support and skills that they need to successfully overcome their fears and learn coping skills.

Clinical hypnotherapy can be a successful way to deal with stress and anxiety, the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says that Hypnotherapy can help a child deal with the issues that they are facing helping a child move on with their school career without the potential harmful side effects of medication.

During hypnotherapy sessions the therapist can help the student set goals for how they would like to feel, identify the root causes and work with the student to create strategies for getting them back to school feeling calm and confident.

Many of the nearly 2,000 trained, insured and registered hypnotherapists on the NCH therapist finder specialise in working with children and adolescents.  You’re sure to find help close by.

Use the NCH directory to find a therapist near you.


Reducing the headache for migraine sufferers

It is estimated that there are 190,000 migraine attacks experienced every day in England and between 6 – 8 million people suffer from regular migraines in the UK. Migraines are not just bad headaches; the World Health Organisation has rated it among the most disabling lifetime conditions. They involve intense symptoms such as visual changes, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.  For around 90% of sufferers the symptoms stop them from engaging fully in their work, personal and social lives on a regular basis.  At their worst a migraine can leave a person incapacitated for 24 hours. An estimated 86 million days are lost from work or school every year because of migraines. Sufferers often report they have to lie down in a darkened room for two or three hours. Unsurprisingly, many of them turn to medication to help them manage their condition.

Bringing awareness to a painful condition

September 1st is the start of Migraine Awareness Week; an annual campaign to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of the condition.  The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) writes that migraines are a condition that usually responds well to sessions of hypnotherapy.

Migraines affect three-times as many women as men, with this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven. However, physical conditions such as migraines can be exacerbated by underlying stress or anxiety. People who suffer with migraines are substantially more likely to report struggling with anxiety and depression according to the Migraine Trust.

Working with a hypnotherapist could help you feel more confident and more at ease about the stress and worry of living with migraines.  A qualified clinical hypnotherapist can work with you to assist you in better understanding your migraine triggers. This can change your relationship to depressed or anxious thoughts and feelings. During hypnotherapy sessions you may be taught relaxation exercises or explore the mind-body connection. This can help you to recognise the triggers for your migraines and learn new ways of experiencing the sensations.

Of course, as this is a serious medical issue, it is vitally important that you are assessed by your GP before seeking treatment with a hypnotherapist.

To contact your nearest NCH-registered therapist and enjoy your life, headache free simply click here.