Seasonal Affective Disorder – Got the winter blues?

Does winter leave you feeling SAD? Perhaps you have Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the days get colder and darker many people start to feel a little down and depressed.  Leaving your warm, toasty bed for a cold commute, or emerging from the office into 5 p.m. blackness, having not managed to see the sun for the entire day can feel like too much to bear. 

Although it’s common for people to joke that they feel like hibernating during the winter, people who actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) experience depressive symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life, just like the symptoms experienced by people with major depression, wreaking havoc with their mood, motivation and relationships.  Typically peaking in January and February – the darkest and coldest months – SAD is characterised by feelings of depression, guilt, irritability, low energy and apathy.  You may also experience changes in appetite such as intense carbohydrate cravings and sleep changes. 

The reduced sunlight in autumn and winter triggers changes in hormone production including melatonin and serotonin which lead to these changes in mood.  This means that light therapy is quite effective in alleviating SAD symptoms, as is supplementation with Vitamin D. So make sure that you’re maximising natural light; if it’s a nice day, soak up the sun. Walk around the block exposing as much skin as you can comfortably handle or grab the window seat on the bus. If you can’t get outside while it’s light, fake it: Use artificial light, such as a commercial light box and you’ll likely notice a positive improvement in your mood.

For those that find it a little more challenging to pull themselves out of the SAD funk, hypnotherapy can help.  Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has around 1,800 qualified therapists across the UK who can provide effective treatment.  By targeting negative and unhelpful thinking patterns and learning skills around resilience depression can start to lift and life can feel better again.

The NCH says that after sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you. They report that many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily.

Click here to access the NCH directory to find a qualified and insured therapist near you.

Festive stress: The myth of a ‘perfect Christmas’.

Are you experiencing festive stress?

Are you feeling those tell-tale signs of stress?  Perhaps you’ve got a headache or your jaw is tight?  Maybe you’re not sleeping as well as you might… these are all signs of what American experts are labelling ‘festive stress’.  This stress usually starts around early December and then builds and builds until it peaks on Christmas Day, right around the time the family sits down to Christmas Dinner.  It’s not just the mammoth list of things that need to get done; it’s the expectations of having a ‘perfect Christmas’ that drive this stress.

In fact, over 2/3 of people polled in an Irish survey said that they found the Christmas period to be stressful. The top worries focused on money and family, with respondents saying that they worried about how to afford gifts for their families.  Arguments and conflict were also commonly cited as causes of stress throughout the holiday period. 

To keep pace with the frenzy of activity that the Christmas season brings many people turn to caffeine and sugar to cope.  This often leads to feelings of guilt and the inevitable post-sugar slump and crankiness.  25% of people surveyed said that the idea of gaining holiday weight made them anxious, while 34% said that they managed their stress by tucking into holiday treats. 

There are many practical steps you can take to help you cope better with holiday stress including seeking out and building supportive relationships in your family and wider community, making sure you are eating and sleeping well and exercising regularly. If these steps are not enough to alleviate your stress, the National Council for Hypnotherapy is well-placed to assist with over 1,800 registered hypnotherapists who can teach you tools and help you work through your problem.

Can you imagine how different Christmas would be without the stress?  Hypnotherapy for stress management can help you gain a completely different perspective on life, not just for the holidays.  Clinical hypnotherapy helps assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship. Working collaboratively, the therapist and client will set goals and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns and create routines for healthy stress management, helping create a happy and positive frame of mind.

Give yourself and your family a gift this Christmas by finding a therapistnear you.

Celebs turn to hypnotherapy for quick and effective relief.

Celebs are turning to hypnotherapy for fast and effective relief from their issues.

Hypnotherapy has been making headlines in the show biz world in the last few months.  Celebs from both sides of the Atlantic have been lining up for treatment for issues as varied as smoking cessation, stage fright and depression.

Keira Knightly, who rose to stardom at the age of 17 with her role in Bend it like Bekham has revealed that she used hypnotherapy to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being stalked and harassed by paparazzi wanting to get ‘exclusive’ pictures of her.  She credits her sessions of hypnotherapy as enabling her to walk the red carpet at the BAFTA awards in 2008 feeling calm and confident.

Liam Payne from One Direction has consulted a hypnotherapist for help quitting smoking.  He quit smoking when his son was born but has reportedly struggled to stay off the cigarettes, but according to a source close to him he feels confident that he’s now kicked the habit. 

Singer Adele has seen several hypnotherapists over the years.  After losing her voice in 2011, which lead to cancelling shows and undergoing surgery, she was told by doctors to quit smoking or face the end of her career. It took some years and failed attempts but she successfully used hypnotherapy to free herself from the addiction. In 2013 she also consulted a hypnotherapist for assistance to overcome stage fright when she became very nervous about performing at the Oscars with a full orchestra behind her. 

Yazmin Oukhellou recently took a break from filming TOWIE after explosive rows with some of her castmates.  A source close to her has reported that she is undergoing hypnotherapy to help her deal with depression and anxiety

It’s clear that hypnotherapy works to resolve issues quickly and effectively.  After a session you may feel relaxed and uplifted, with changes happening within a very short period of time.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy has a register of qualified and insured hypnotherapists who work throughout the UK.  Find one near you and start feeling feeling better today!

Hypnobirthing in the news again with royal pregnancy.

Last month Kensington Palace confirmed the news that “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.” They also confirmed that “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”

Since the announcement, rumours have been rife that Meghan is expecting twins and  Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is also reported to be pregnant with her 4th child.  As always with royal pregnancies there is a great deal of interest and speculation about what techniques will be used to bring the babies into the world.

Kate reportedly used hypnobirthing in each of her three deliveries which has sparked a surge in the popularity of the technique both in the UK and internationally.  In August this year Harry Kane announced that his wife used hypnobirthing for the delivery of their daughter, sparking a debate about the use of pain relief in childbirth. Many NHS trusts now offer courses for expecting mothers and some midwives are being trained in hypnotherapy techniques which aid fertility and ease the birthing process.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says that modern hypnobirthing practices help overcome fear and anxiety around conception, parenting and birth. Hypnobirthing teaches the mother specific pain control techniques along with relaxation exercises which leading to significantly faster births with fewer medical interventions and faster recoveries; this type of birth experience is believed by many to reduce the risk of post-natal depression. 

Partners who are involved with the hypnobirthing training also report a significant reduction in stress and anxiety surrounding becoming a parent. The NCH offers research that shows babies born to mums who have practiced hypnosis and deep relaxation techniques during labour may also be calmer, sleep better and feed better.

To find a qualified and insured hypnobirthing practitioner near you, click here to access the directory of NCH accredited therapists.

Fears or phobias? Hypnotherapy can help

Are fears or phobias limiting your enjoyment in life?

Halloween is a season where we deliberately aim to scare ourselves silly.  Ghouls and zombies parade around the streets and we revel in tricks and terrors; in fact an article published by Popular Science illustrated a horror house with the most common phobias for their Halloween edition. As the pumpkins start to disappear from our streets, spare a thought for the people among us who spend their entire year battling anxiety and phobias to function.

A phobia is an intense fear of an event or a specific object.  They can range from the common – spiders, snakes and sharks – animals that actually could kill us if they wanted to the unusual – cotton wool, buttons and pigeons.  Sometimes just the thought that perhaps the object of the phobia could possibly be nearby is enough to trigger intense anxiety in people who have severe phobias.

It’s estimated that over a million people in the UK suffer from a phobia which affects their quality of life.  When phobias become severe they can generalise from one thing to other situations.  An example of this is fear of flying following a turbulent flight which can turn into flying phobia and then generalise into fear of travelling on the tube. 

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, and the mental health charity Mind says it can be difficult to know when to seek treatment for a phobia. “If avoidance of the object, activity or situation that triggers your phobia does interfere with your everyday life, or keeps you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy, it may be time to seek help,” they say.

Because phobias usually occur after traumatic experiences rational approaches to eradicate them can be ineffective. Often phobias can be treated in just one session with hypnotherapy, depending on the willingness of the client to embrace the change, says the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH). There are different types of hypnotherapy and skilled hypnotherapists may combine different forms or use hypnosis in conjunction with other treatments depending on the needs of their client.

 If you have a phobia or a fear which is affecting your life, why not try a session with a trained and accredited NCH hypnotherapist? You can use the NCH directory by clicking here to find a therapist near you.

Thinking about drinking.

Have you considered how much alcohol you're drinking?

Did you choose to Go Sober for October?  One of the biggest problems with alcohol is how enmeshed it is into the lives of ordinary Britons.  The statistics are sobering, even if the subject matter isn’t. 8 million people drank over 6 units (for women) or 8 units (for men) on their heaviest drinking day, and 2.5 million people reported drinking over 14 units on their heaviest drinking days (Source).

The latest research, released earlier this year, indicated that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Just one drink a day, increases a person’s risk of health problems, the study found.  There are clearly good reasons to cut down or even stop drinking.  However, it can prove difficult to keep the habits learned through the month-long period of abstinence going once people return to their regular routines.

This leads to most, if not all, of the health benefits experienced by the people who completed the Sober October challenge being undone.  The government favours a long-term moderation approach, promoting the concept of having alcohol-free days every week. Public Health England has reinforced this message with a new drink-free-days campaign, and released an app to help people monitor alcohol intake.

If you find the idea of taking a month off drinking unfathomable or struggle to maintain alcohol-free days regularly you may like to enlist some assistance.  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, “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.  To find a hypnotherapist near you who can help you live life alcohol free visit the NCH’s hypnotherapy directory to find someone near you.

“We all know someone who has been affected by mental health problems”

We all know someone affected - World Mental Health Day

World mental health day was held on October 10, just a few days ago.  As Teresa May said in her speech at the Downing Street reception, “we all know someone who has been affected by mental health problems – whether a family member, colleague of a friend”. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues in the community there is still a stigma around admitting it.

There are still too many people suffering in silence.  There is still not enough recognition within the medical community or enough resources.  People who do ask for treatment do not receive the care that they need in a timely manner.  Despite the prevalence of mental health problems, the average global spending is only 2.8% of a government’s health budget.

The problem is growing; mental health charity MIND say that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year. 1 in 6 people report experiencing at least one common mental health problem (such as stress, anxiety or depression) in any given week.

By 2030, it is estimated that there will be approximately 2 million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than in 2013.

Research has shown repeatedly that the key to positive outcomes for people struggling with mental health issues is early intervention.  The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) states that it’s important to reduce anxiety in one’s life as research shows that prolonged exposure to the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol can cause memory problems, a weakened immune system and many other negative health outcomes.

If you or someone you know is not coping with their stress levels or having other mental health problems it is important to find them someone they can talk to. 

In clinical hypnotherapy, the underlying emotions that feed the anxiety or depression are addressed and effective hypnotherapy can bring fast and effective relief.  The NCH has a register of over 1,800 therapists across the UK.  Use the NCH directory to find a therapist near you.

Stoptober – Are you quitting smoking this month?

Are you taking part in Stoptober?

Stoptober has begun!  How are you faring with your goal to quit smoking?  If you watch TV you might have noticed a new round of grim ads aimed to turn you off smoking and bring more awareness to the damage that cigarettes do. Stoptober is a health initiative run by the NHS, encouraging people to quit smoking for good to feel healthier, save money and protect loved ones from second-hand smoke.

There’s certainly an attitude shift in the general public that makes quitting smoking seem more attractive than ever before, but the messages that are put out there about how to go about it can make it confusing.  How do you know which method is best? 

Public Health England released a statement urging smokers not to try and quit cold turkey because relying on willpower alone isn’t as effective as using a range of aids.  Stoptober supports you to create a personalised plan which will help you quit.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy states that hypnotherapy for smoking is common and has high levels of success.

“The reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with your subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made that support your goals quickly and efficiently.”

Nicotine addiction by itself is reasonably easy to overcome.  Within a matter of days your dependency is completely gone, however our thoughts and habits keep the nicotine addiction going. The mind triggers the urge for a cigarette after dinner, or when you get behind the wheel. It’s the subconscious mind that triggers a pang when you’re under stress, or you’ve poured a glass of wine.

This mental battle also explains why most smoking cessation aids like nicotine replacement therapy have such low success rates. NRT only eliminates the physical cravings – but those mental urges, those subconscious thoughts that tell us to reach for a cigarette, they’re still very much in place.

Successfully becoming a non-smoker, therefore, requires smokers to tackle the mental battle head on and that’s where hypnotherapy is so successful.

All you need to do is decide that you’re ready to make the change and then search the database of over 1,800 qualified clinical hypnotherapists to find someone near you.

Quit Smoking for Stoptober.

Stoptober: Are you ready to quit smoking?

By now we all know that smoking is not good for our health, yet some people still choose to smoke and others feel that giving up is too difficult.  Rates of people taking up smoking are declining, but still every year roughly 20% of teenagers experiment.

Because we know how addictive cigarettes can be, young people experimenting with smoking is worrying.  Recent research published in the European Heart Journal found that for British teens drinking and smoking was associated with arterial stiffening and atherosclerosis progression, the beginnings of heart disease.

Stoptober is just around the corner.  It’s a 28 day supported challenge designed to help people quit smoking.  Governments all around the world are introducing programs and legislation designed to encourage people to stop smoking.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement earlier this year that it will eventually reduce the levels of nicotine in all cigarettes and smokable products to levels which are only minimally addictive in a bid to reduce levels of smoking in US citizens. 

Although the decrease in nicotine will not make cigarette smoking any safer, it is believed that it will make it easier for smokers to break their addiction.

About 100,000 people in the UK die each year due to smoking, statistics show with smoking-related deaths mainly due to cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases.

As the body of damning health research mounts and more laws are passed to encourage people to stop smoking, clinical hypnotherapy for smoking cessation is becoming a viable option.  Compared to many other smoking cessation interventions, hypnotherapy has an excellent success rate says the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH).

Some people worry about quitting smoking because they fear they will gain weight or develop other negative consequences. Hypnotherapy can help to remove habits without side effects

 Hypnotherapy can successfully help smokers quit their unwanted habit and lead a healthier life – all the smoker has to do is be committed to changing his habit. It is never too late to stop smoking to greatly benefit one’s health

Are you ready for Stoptober? Take the first step towards being a non-smoker and contact one of the NCH’s qualified clinical hypnotherapists today.

Anxiety: Reclaim your peace of mind

Regain your peace of mind from anxiety by following simple steps.

In August Barnes & Noble (one of the largest book retailer in the USA) announced a huge increase in the sales of books about anxiety; a 25% increase on last year’s figures. Everyone can remember a time when they felt anxious, but what is anxiety, the mental health disorder? And how do you manage when your anxiety feels like it’s getting out of hand?

Anxiety disorders aren’t just about everyday worries that come and go, they can seriously impact your day-to-day life when it comes to school, work, and personal relationships. Anxiety related mental health conditions can feel completely overwhelming and more people are looking for ways to cope. In fact, 8% of people are currently experiencing anxiety and depression, with 75% of young people not receiving treatment.

So what practical steps can you take to better manage your anxiety?  The first step is to change your relationship to it. Everyone experiences anxiety. It is a normal response to stress. Rather than trying to fight it when it shows up (which doesn’t really work, making you feel more overwhelmed), take a moment to see what it is trying to bring to your attention.

Playing safe and avoiding things and situations which make you anxious can make it worse.  Push yourself to do things that are outside of your comfort zone and show yourself that you can feel anxious and still succeed.  Remind yourself that your mind is not always the best advisor. Our minds like to constantly tell stories, analyse, judge, give advice, and criticise. Often these thoughts are unhelpful to us and not true. You get to decide whether the thoughts are worthy of your attention.

Look after yourself.  Make sure that you are maintaining social support and talking to other people to get different points of view.  Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise.  When you give yourself time and attention you improve your resilience and stress management.

Make sure that you build time into your life to relax, rest and switch off.  Sometimes a change of scenery or a relaxation practice can move you away from your anxious thoughts. 

Sometimes anxiety can be difficult to manage without professional help and finding a therapist who you connect with is crucial.  A good fit is someone with whom you feel comfortable and trust who is knowledgeable about the evidence-based treatment of anxiety disorders.

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. A qualified clinical hypnotherapist can assist individuals in learning to better understand anxiety and change their relationship to their anxious thoughts and feelings.

“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.