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.

Fibromyalgia: Relief from chronic pain

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common pain disorders in the world.  Sufferers struggle to live normal lives.

Imagine feeling like your nerves are on fire, the pressure of simply sitting being too painful to bear.  Then imagine living like this every day, for years; that’s what living with fibromyalgia can feel like. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 3 – 6% of people suffer from fibromyalgia, making it one of the most common chronic pain disorders in the world. It is estimated that around 800,000 people in the UK may suffer from it and 75-90% of people with the syndrome are women.

While the exact cause is not known it is thought that the condition can be triggered by stressful events, either physical or emotional such as illness, trauma or bereavement.  There appears to be a genetic predisposition to the illness and certain environmental factors are known to be triggers.  Fibromyalgia often coexists with other illnesses, especially autoimmune health conditions as these create prolonged levels of stress and inflammation in the body.

There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, however symptoms of the condition can be eased with treatment. According to the NHS, treatment often consists of a mixture of medication and lifestyle changes.  Sleep disturbances are one of the more common complaints of fibromyalgia sufferers, recent research has shown that repeatedly disturbing healthy volunteers sleep lead to them developing symptoms of muscle and joint pains and aches similar to fibromyalgia. 

The National Council for Hypnotherapy says hypnotherapy can be ‘highly effective in dealing with pain management’ including long term, chronic pain.

Further to this, it is becoming more widely recognised that the mind plays a role in the experience of pain.  Learning skills to change habitual thought patterns around chronic pain can significantly reduce a person’s distress and improve their quality of life.  Negative emotions can amplify the experience of pain, and a positive outlook can ease it.

Self hypnosis can help.  Hypnosis techniques can be taught to clients by an NCH therapist to help them manage chronic pain.  Patients suffering from a range of conditions including fibromyalgia, back disorders and pain from trauma such as car accidents or workplace injuries can learn to control their pain through practicing self-hypnosis.

When seeing a therapist for chronic pain, it is essential that the pain is checked out by a GP first for a formal diagnosis.  After you’ve had an assessment contact a hypnotherapist near you by using the NCH directory.

School refusal: help your child back to school

Child anxiously hiding to avoid going to school

As summer draws to a close the start of the new school year approaches bringing with it many different emotions.  For some the thought of a new school year, a new classroom, a new teacher and even new classmates can be a source of excitement for weeks leading up to the first day of school. For other children, however, back to school time isn’t so easy.

Although some level of trepidation and nerves about school can be completely normal, for some children their anxiety surrounding attendance at school can be so bad they can’t attend at all. Feelings of anxiety and distress occur at the very thought of returning to school, leading to weeks and sometimes months of absenteeism. 

Mental health professionals say these students’ have a condition called “school refusal” that may be triggered by anxiety, depression, family crises and other traumatic life events such as bullying. Times of transition such as moving schools or beginning high school tend to carry more stress and have higher rates of school refusal.  

In 2016 research showed that children in England are among the unhappiest in the world, with more than a third reporting they had been bullied in school, and half had felt excluded. The report showed there were higher levels of anxiety and unhappiness among teenage girls, compared with five years ago, so it’s little wonder that levels of school refusal are also rising.

Children with school refusal are often highly anxious and need emotional support; if you suspect that your child may be experiencing significant anxiety about returning to school it may be a wise idea to reach out to a professional therapist to help them gain the support and skills that they need to successfully navigate their fears.

One successful way to deal with stress and anxiety is clinical hypnotherapy and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 qualified and highly-trained therapists across the UK. School refusal can stem from from a wide variety of distressing feelings such as panic attacks, anxiety, guilt or inadequacy. Whatever the problem feeling, clinical hypnotherapy can deal with it more specifically than any drug – and without harmful side effects.

“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,” says the NCH.

In assessing the anxiety, a hypnotherapist can identify the root of stress or anxiety and then work with the student to set a goal for how they would like to feel and then work towards reaching the goals using a range of different techniques.

Use the NCH directory to find a therapist near you.

Antepartum depression rising: hypnotherapy is a safe and effective treatment.

Silhouette of a pregnant lady holding her stomach

Depression in pregnancy, known as antepartum depression, is becoming extremely common with the World Health Organisation stating that as many as 1 in 10 parents-to-be are affected.  A recent study conducted in Bristol found that the number of pregnant women suffering from anxiety and depression during pregnancy has risen by half within a single generation.

In the first generation of women studied in the 90s 17% of young pregnant women in the study reported depressive symptoms severe enough to meet clinical criteria. This worrying (any much higher than the WHO reported rates) figure increased to 25% of respondents from the second generation of the study. 

It was found that women who experienced antepartum depression were significantly more likely to have daughters who also experienced depression during pregnancy.  Experts believe the spike has been at least partly caused by the rise of social media, financial pressures and worsening support from health services.

Research has shown repeatedly that in-utero stress can affect the growth of a baby’s brain as well as lead to significantly poorer health outcomes with higher pre-natal stress and depression leading to higher levels of asthma, anxiety and ADHD in children. 

A mother struggling with anxiety and depression is also less likely to form a strong bond with their baby, which can lead to further behavioural, cognitive and emotional developmental delays; the need to identify and implement effective treatment is clear.

So, how do you manage pregnancy anxiety and depression? Both pre-natal and post-natal issues can be alleviated through hypnotherapy says the National Council for Hypnotherapy.  The NCH says hypnosis can ‘help overcome fear and anxiety around conception, parenting or birth itself. It can reduce stress and anxiety, boost confidence to be a parent and give mothers a feeling of control’.

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, with participants report a significant reduction in stress and anxiety surrounding becoming a parent.

With over 1,800 therapists around the UK in its directory, the National Council for Hypnotherapy is an excellent resource for finding a qualified hypnobirthing practitioner.  Search now to find  practitioner near you.

Links found between stress and autoimmune conditions.

Pretty much everyone will experience severe stress or a major trauma at some point in their life. Going through a divorce, experiencing the death of a loved one, being in a serious accident or witnessing violence or abuse are all life stressors which can have a significant impact.

Many people manage to recover from such deep hurtful experiences. But some develop stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or ongoing chronic anxiety disorders. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says it is important to reduce anxiety as research shows that prolonged exposure to cortisol and other stress-related hormones can cause memory problems, weaker bones, increased blood pressure and can even reduce fertility as well as impacting negatively upon immune functioning.

A study published last month by researchers from the University of Iceland found an association between stress-related conditions such as anxiety and PTSD and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

This study confirms prior work in the area which found a correlation between PTSD and lupus, in 2016 Healthline reported on the link between RA and PTSD, a link has been uncovered between RA and 9/11 first responders and in 2008 a study was published which indicated that up to 80% of patients who were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease reported uncommon emotional stress before disease onset.

Supporting the call for better mental health care, the National Council for Hypnotherapy says that about one in seven people are suffering from stress or anxiety at any one time in the UK currently.

 “Stress really affects long-term health,” said the lead author, Dr. Huan Song, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland. “It affects not only psychiatric health, but leaves people vulnerable to other diseases. There are many treatments now available for stress-related disorders, and it’s important for people to get treatment early.”

Clinical hypnotherapy has a proven record in treating anxiety, stress, PTSD and other similar issues successfully, with the hypnotherapist working in partnership with the client to identify and treat those ‘triggers’, allowing the person understand them and cope with them in the future.

In some cases, a therapist could use cognitive hypnotherapy or analytical hypnotherapy, both of which function on a deeper level than suggestion hypnotherapy and are able to work with the unconscious mind so that negative beliefs which were built up during the trauma can be explored and alleviated.

To find someone who can help you manage your stress, use the NCH directory, which lists therapists near you. Your health could be at stake.

Dysthymia – are you depressed and don’t know it?

Have you been feeling out of sorts lately?  Perhaps a bit sad, restless or easily annoyed by things that you normally wouldn’t bat an eyelid at.  There’s nothing that’s changed that you can put your finger on, but you just don’t feel like your usual self.  The beginning stages of dysthymia, a form of low-grade depression can be very subtle and are often dismissed as just being under the weather or stressed about work.

Levels of clinical depression continue to rise in the UK with recent studies showing that millenials are twice as likely to experience depression during pregnancy than their mothers and the World Health Organisation stating that depression and other related disorders will be the second most common disease worldwide by 2020. Everyone feels down at some time so it’s easy to dismiss. Perhaps you start having trouble sleeping or notice your energy has dropped.  Maybe the feelings go away, or come and go, and that’s a normal part of life.  However, if these feelings continue they are a red flag for dysthymia.

Even though dysthymia is a milder form of depression it should still be taken seriously, if not treated it can significantly interfere with your work, health and social life.  The persistent low mood and feelings of worthlessness can lead to significant problems in close relationships with sufferers feeling unworthy of love and being less resilient when relationship problems arise.

Because depression affects people’s thinking, their logic and emotions are also affected.  Having a safe place to express their emotions and assess the validity of their thoughts can be crucial to overcoming a depressive episode. 

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.  Clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with mental health conditions and helping to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

If you’re not feeling quite like your usual self and would like some help click here to access the NCH directory, with over 1,800 therapists all around the UK there’s sure to be someone close to you.

Do you struggle with disordered eating? Learn new habits.

Do you starve yourself all day and then binge at night, eat in private because you are “on a diet” or skip meals and pick at snack foods all day?  Do you turn to fatty, sugary junk food when you’ve had a bad day or does thinking about food and what you’re going to eat take up a significant chunk of time in your day? 

While some people have no emotional connection to food, seeing it simply as fuel, many others spend significant periods of time thinking about food, eating more than physical hunger dictates. Struggles with food don’t just happen to those who are over or underweight, it is possible to be at a healthy weight and have issues with the way that you view food. 

From the time we are babies we learn that food is a form of nurture, we associate the comfort of our parents with being fed. For some people this link remains strong into their adult lives, and as life gets stressful and responsibilities mount up the act of ordering a pizza when you’ve had a bad day brings feelings of comfort.  Other people have strong associations between specific foods and memories that make them feel safe and loved – perhaps your grandmother always gave you sweets when you visited her and now when you’re feeling sad and stressed you turn to sweets for an emotional pick-me-up.

Unfortunately relying on food to change your mood often backfires with people reporting that they feel guilt, shame or self-loathing after they comfort eat.  TV chef Nigella Lawson recently said that she has noticed this pattern amongst her friends and says that many people are now using ‘healthy eating’ as a way to cover up disordered eating patterns.

The culture of dieting has also been criticised with experts stating that depriving ourselves of the foods we enjoy and exercising excessively can lead to increased risks of developing disordered eating patterns such as fasting, binge eating, intentional vomiting, laxative use and cutting out whole food groups.

If you’ve been struggling with your eating patterns or your thoughts about food seeing a qualified hypnotherapist can help.  By understanding the conflicts between what you want and what you’re doing you can break through barriers that may have been leading you to sabotage yourself for years.

Working together with your hypnotherapist you will develop new habits and coping mechanisms that aren’t based on food, focusing on making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle that will remain with you for the rest of your life

Why not contact a hypnotherapist near you? Simply use the NCH directory by clicking here.

The sweet sound of relief for tinnitus sufferers

Have you heard a ringing, buzzing or humming sound that is only happening inside your ear?  The sound may be in one or both ears, low or high pitch, loud or soft, continuous or intermittent. Tinnitus affects approximately 10% of the population, that’s almost 6 million people in the UK. It’s rarely a sign of serious underlying disease, however approximately 1 in 100 people are very distressed or disabled by it and as many as 1 in 20 people are at least moderately distressed by it.

When tinnitus continues for a long period of time it can become distressing, with many people affected reporting emotional stress, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating.  The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) says children who develop tinnitus may not complain of ringing or abnormal sounds in the ears, but just seem anxious, sleep-deprived and unusually sensitive to loud noise or silence.

Studies published recently have indicated that mindfulness and hypnotherapy are particularly effective in reducing the experience of tinnitus with 73% of the study group who used hypnosis succeeded in reducing the noise.

“As we naturally tune out sounds, so people can learn to use that ability where needed. They can also learn to manipulate that sound so they can change its pitch, for instance, and thus tone it down,” says the National Council for Hypnotherapy.

Through hypnotherapy, you can learn to train your mind to focus on something else so the tinnitus becomes nothing more than a background noise.  As with any medical condition which impacts upon your life, negative feelings and emotions become linked to the condition and hypnotherapy can help to remove the emotional link to the problem. 

Working with a trained hypnotherapist you will also tackle the other aspects of living with tinnitus, such as insomnia, anxiety or stress. There is no one approach which works for everyone, so your hypnotherapist will tailor a treatment plan that’s specific to you. 

Take a step towards peace and quiet, contact a qualified clinical hypnotherapist near you today.

Menopause: A breath of cool air relief

Every woman who reaches ‘middle age’ will experience menopause, the average age for reaching menopause in the UK is 51 but women can experience symptoms of perimenopause for an extended period of time beforehand.

Because perimenopause is a time where hormone levels fluctuate wildly, symptoms will vary and change.  Common symptoms include sore swollen breasts, lowered libido, heavy bleeding, hot flushes, night sweats, lowered mood, anxiety and sleep disturbances.  After menopause hot flushes and night swats are still common, affecting ¾ of post-menopausal women, with 1 in 3 women finding the disruption severely bothersome.

Clinical hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective in reducing hot flashes. Randomised, controlled trials of clinical hypnosis demonstrated the approach was significantly better than a “structured attention” therapy approach in postmenopausal women with frequent hot flashes and more effective than acupuncture, herbal supplements and yoga.

The effects of menopause can be severe and can lead to women leaving their jobs because of the upheaval of the symptoms.  To combat this, the West Midlands Police have brought in a hypnotherapist to work with women who are going through the change. 

In sessions with a hypnotherapist, a woman with unwanted menopausal symptoms can learn to use simple techniques to manage their reaction to things like hot flushes.  You;ll learn to identify your triggers and be given practical information on how to avoid them.

During hypnosis sessions you may be asked to imagine stepping into a cool sea or feeling a cool breeze and then coached in self-hypnosis so that you can learn to visualise that same body-cooling sensation when hot flushes strike in everyday life, leading to actual relief of symptoms.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has 1800 highly trained and qualified therapists on its register of UK therapists who can assist you in this transition of life.  Contact one today and enjoy some cooling relief.

Hypnotherapy brings relief for IBS sufferers

Got a dodgy stomach? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in your toilet routine. IBS is an ongoing chronic disorder which can last for your full lifetime.

IBS is estimated to affect between 10 and 20% of the population in the UK with an average onset age in their mid 20s.  Characterised by abdominal pain or discomfort, many people are reluctant to admit that they are suffering because of cultural taboos around talking about toilet habits. 

Although the condition is often regarded as minor, the symptoms can seriously affect quality of life. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says IBS can be debilitating, preventing people from achieving simple tasks such as going shopping or enjoying long walks. It may also cause serious discomfort on a regular basis.

Gastrointestinal disorders are complex, and the causes are different for every patient. Emerging research has shown that sensitive nerve endings in the gut can become inflamed, leading to visceral hypersensitivity which causes people with gut related conditions to experience more pain and motility problems.

NHS guidelines allow doctors to refer IBS patients for hypnotherapy or other psychological therapies if medication is unsuccessful and the problem persists. Greater use of hypnotherapy to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome would help sufferers says gastroenterologist Dr Roland Valori.

Studies dating from the 1980s show that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Chrons.  However, the medical community has been slow to implement these research findings due to a lack of general understanding of how the mind body connection works.

Gut-directed hypnosis works by addressing a ‘miscommunication’ between the brain and gut. Using suggestion, relaxation and imagery techniques the client is guided into a focused state of awareness where they can learn skills which help calm and soothe their symptoms. 

As IBS is a medical condition it is important to consult your doctor for a diagnosis. Unlike many medical conditions that have specific tests in order to confirm a diagnosis, IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion which can be considered 6 months after symptoms first begin.

A growing number of NHS clinics now offer hypnotherapy for IBS and your GP can provide you with a referral or you can you can find a NCH-registered hypnotherapist near you by clicking here.