Calm, Confident & In-Control… at Christmas.

Christmas is soon upon us once again, and it’s a time for a break from work, a time for reflection, and to spend time with those that we love. Yet for some of us it can feel overwhelming, with so much to think about and trying to keep everybody happy.

There are presents to organise, food to buy, considerations of which family to spend it with, the prospect of family conflicts to manage, or for some people, it’s the daunting prospect of how to spend Christmas on your own.

Yet there is such a social demanding pressure for everything to go well, and it can feel overwhelming for those who are left to organise everything for the family. Feeling anxious and panicky can be really debilitating and can stop us getting on with the things that we need to do in a calm and controlled way.

Solution focused hypnotherapy was developed to calm the mind and reduce anxiety. The purpose is to think about how you want your life to be, and the positive steps you can take to get there.

When we regain clarity of thought, all those tasks which felt so overwhelming fall back into place and become achievable. When you can see clearly, you’re so much more productive than when looking at the world through a haze of chaos. As well as managing the multi-tasking of everyday life, a sense of control helps you to enjoy Christmas for you, to simply take time out to relax and breathe…

Becoming calmer and regaining the feeling of being in control of your life is a surprisingly easy goal to achieve. You may feel swamped at the moment, but that’s OK – most of us experience periods of feeling overwhelmed by life or losing confidence in ourselves. Simply by reading this, and contemplating hypnotherapy, you’ve started on the path towards taking back control!

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. Over the years, I’ve seen solution focused hypnotherapy help so many people regain feelings of control and confidence and start to enjoy life again. If the feelings I’ve outlined here sound familiar, please contact me for a confidential chat.

 

 

Hitting a concrete wall: overcoming mental blocks

Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ve hit a mental block”? I think we all do sometimes, whether it’s a task at work, a college assignment, cooking an old favourite dish..

Usually, we can unlock that block ourselves. All it takes is a change of scene, a few deep breaths, or reading something (for example a recipe to refresh our memory about that troublesome dish). However, occasionally a mental block can take a bit more work to overcome.

Recently, a new client came to see me. He was trying to find a job in his chosen field, but had developed a mental block about job searching, and he couldn’t see a way forward. He told me that he felt he’d “hit a concrete block, or wall”.

Where did that wall come from?

After talking with him, I started to feel that he’d built this wall from negative forecasting. As we’ve discussed before, negative forecasting happens when you assume there’s no possible positive outcome. In this case, my client felt that he’d never find the right job, so his brain started to tell him that there was no point searching any more. So, a job hunting barrier started to develop.

He began catastrophising, which means he was always being self-presented with worst-case scenarios. In this situation, negative thoughts included never finding a job and becoming long-term unemployed, or finding a job then not being very good at it, or not getting on with colleagues, or finding the right job, applying for it, then blowing the interview…

This constant negative forecasting creates anxiety, and our primitive brain starts to take over. We enter that hyper-vigilant state where we’re always on the alert for more problems, and these overcome any positive thoughts. When we become overwhelmed by negative feelings, our anxiety increases and that draining vicious cycle begins. As we all know, job hunting requires energy, positivity, and a good dose of optimism. My client simply had to break this problem-focused cycle to break his mental block.

The best tool to break down the wall

We would have to work together to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. I felt the best way to do this would be through CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy, combined with solution focused hypnotherapy.

CBT is a popular and effective talking therapy that looks at how a person’s thoughts affect their behaviour. In this case, negative forecasting about his career was preventing my client from searching and applying for jobs – his thoughts had a direct impact on his actions. As his therapist, my role was to work with him to challenge these negative feelings: if you can change the thought processes, you can change the behaviour and thus the outcome.

We started to work together on how his thoughts were affecting his feelings and actions. He’s now been coming to me for a month, and we’re already starting to find a door through that concrete wall. My client says he’s already feeling more hopeful and optimistic about his future – and I’m really confident that he’ll find that ideal job.

Let’s open that door

Do you have a mental block that makes you feel like there’s a concrete wall between you and where you want to be? We can find a way to overcome this, working together to replace those negative thoughts with affirmative forecasting.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK-approved therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Take the first step towards unlocking that block, and contact me for a confidential chat.

Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Hypnotherapy

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. If a person is exposed to a traumatic event (or events) that critically endangers or injures them, they may go on to develop PTSD. It can be a deeply disturbing condition to live with; however therapy is proven to make a real difference to PTSD sufferers.

Here’s a bit of background about PTSD, and how hypnotherapy helped my client.

What is PTSD?

PTSD was recognised as a condition in 1980; and although it’s often associated with military veterans, it’s actually an anxiety disorder that affects individuals in all walks of life.

Violence, sexual violence, serious accidents, terrorism, and natural disasters can all cause PTSD. Crucially, you don’t actually have to be the victim yourself to develop PTSD: witnesses, close friends, relatives, and emergency service staff have all experienced PTSD from events they’ve seen.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

It’s perfectly normal to feel disturbed after a trauma. However, the NHS recommends that you seek help if you’re still experiencing symptoms four weeks after the trigger event.

Symptoms can include insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, depression and hyper-vigilance (always feeling on edge). Some people experience physical symptoms (such as tummy aches and headaches), or exhibit destructive behaviour, for example drinking too much.

The good news is that therapy really makes a difference, even if the traumatic event occurred a while ago. Here’s how hypnotherapy helped one of my clients overcome PTSD.

Managing PTSD through hypnotherapy: a case study

My client had experienced a “near-miss” accident at work, and came very close to being killed.  After a year off work, he was still experiencing daily flashbacks, and his feelings of anxiety made social interaction hard for him. Then, his organisation gave him an ultimatum: return to work, or leave your employment.

He came to me at that point; and it soon became clear that as well as returning to work, he wanted to return to the normal family life he’d had before the incident. He wanted to be “present in mind as well as body” when he was with his young children, and needed to feel he could talk to his wife without upsetting her.

Specific visualisation techniques

We worked together with various techniques, including the solution focused hypnotherapy approach of visualising a positive future and working towards it.

We also used specific hypnosis techniques to address the traumatic event. This involves taking control of the flashbacks by running them as disassociated video clips in your own mind. Imagine you’re playing with a remote control, rewinding and fast-forwarding: sped up or run backwards, on an imaginary screen, events soon lose their impact with the repetition. We added a silly soundtrack, and replaced individuals with cartoon characters.

This may sound a rather quirky approach; however this is a proven NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) technique that allows you to reframe a distressing event and remove its power.

A happy outcome 

My client went back to work, and agreed a phased return with his employers. He also negotiated a generous compensation payment, which he had previously been too distressed to do.

His family and social lives improved – and he even started flying lessons, a long-held ambition! A great achievement for my client after just six sessions.

You can treat PTSD

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic, and an Anxiety UK approved therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you recognise any of the PTSD symptoms or have been diagnosed by your GP, please contact me for a confidential chat. We can make this better.

Sparing your blushes: how hypnotherapy helps erythrophobia

We all blush sometimes, usually from mild embarrassment. All that happens is that our cheeks darken slightly, which soon passes. However for some people erythrophobia (the fear of blushing) creates overwhelming feelings of anxiety.

Why do we blush?

Blushing is actually part of our primitive flight-or-flight response. When we’re faced with our old friend the sabre-toothed tiger, a blush isn’t going to save our lives – but, it’s a sign that our bodies are producing adrenaline, which will. When we produce adrenaline, our blood vessels widen to create a better blood flow, and this is why our faces redden.

Erythrophobia

An erythrophobic may not physically blush any deeper than the next person (and some people go a really dark shade without ever worrying about it). The difference is that an erythrophobic is excessively anxious about how they’re perceived – it’s actually a social phobia.

Erythrophobia creates a vicious circle: the more you fear blushing, the more you blush, and so on. People who don’t experience it can be dismissive (“it’s only your face getting a bit red”). However, for the erythrophobe, blushes create overwhelming anxiety.

It’s not an unusual phobia, and it’s something that hypnotherapy can help with.

Overcoming blushing in meetings: a case study

I’ve recently worked with a client to help her manage erythrophobia. In every way, she appeared to be a confident woman, and with no fear of blushing in social situations. However, she had become scared of contributing in work meetings in case she blushed. This had led to a negative forecasting tendency: people would judge her, she’d be viewed as incompetent. You can see her thought trail. My client felt it was limiting her career prospects and so she came for help.

The role of catastrophising

My client was so anxious that she started to catastrophise, which means that she focused on the worst possible outcomes. To the anxious mind, the route from a blush to a work demotion is a clear and sequential one. The fact that her colleagues probably wouldn’t even notice a blush ceased to compute once her brain set out along a negative forecasting path.

How hypnotherapy helped manage her erythrophobia

We needed to set her along a new pathway, using a mix of techniques. We discussed ways to convert negative thoughts into positive ones, including solution focused questioning, which helps create a vision of a preferred future outcome (such as being confidently involved in meetings). We then used trance work to strengthen new perceptions and goal opportunities we had discussed.

I set my client “homework”. As well as listening to the audio I gave her every night, she was to focus and reflect on her successes at work each day.  This positive focus strengthens neural pathways and encourages more of the ‘solution behaviour’ for example, the desired thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

At the start of our sessions, we would discuss progress in the week since we last met. One day she replied “I’ve been in meetings, this week, and it was fine”. I asked her how she knew she was fine, and her answer was wonderful: “Well, I didn’t even think about me. My focus was on the meeting and I was so engrossed in the discussion that it was natural just to join in.” We built on that, setting realistic weekly goals. She’s now finished her therapy programme, and is happily contributing to meetings and getting the recognition she deserves.

Don’t let the fear of blushing overcome success

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you find that you struggle in meetings, or feel anxious about blushing, please call me for a chat. We’ll work together to help you feel calm and in control.

Overcoming the fear of giving a presentation

If you’re really anxious about giving a presentation at work, you’re not alone. Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) is a common phobia, and people who have social or generalised anxiety often struggle with the idea of addressing an audience.

How does the fear of public speaking affect people?

Like many phobias, the symptoms vary between individuals. Nausea, sweating, dry mouth, wet palms, shaking, blushing, panic attacks… It’s not surprising that people who experience this go to great lengths to avoid public speaking. In extreme cases, people even turn down promotions because their new role could involve giving presentations.

If the idea of addressing a group of colleagues or clients makes you feel anxious, don’t worry; there’s plenty we can do to overcome this. Let’s have a closer look at a couple of clients I’ve helped with this.

 Overcoming glossophobia: case studies

I’ve recently worked with two (separate) clients who admitted to being natural introverts, and who needed to conquer their glossophobia. Coincidentally, both were solicitors; and that’s an interesting point. These clients were both qualified professionals with successful careers, and at first glance, don’t seem like people who would struggle with confidence or communication. However, anyone, whatever their career or background, can experience a fear of presenting.

Both solicitors needed to give presentations to their clients in order to progress to promotion. Their fear manifested itself in the ways you’d expect: shaking, cold sweats, feelings of panic, fear of the worst happening. So what could make two otherwise career-confident people feel like this?

Understanding the fear of public speaking

Our primitive responses are never that far from the surface. Once upon a time, our fight-or-flight response was there to protect us from sabre tooth tigers and other life-or-death threats. City-based solicitors are unlikely to be mauled by prehistoric beasts, however, our brain persists in trying to protect us by creating an instinct to flee.

The intellectual side of our brains tells us that a presentation isn’t a physical threat; however, the primitive brain keeps on predicting worst-case scenarios. We start to overthink the presentation. Stress hormones build. The idea of giving presentation becomes genuinely scary.

How solution focused hypnotherapy can help you give a presentation

With both these clients, we start out by understanding what causes the symptoms of glossophobia, and what can be done to minimise and even remove these. We then worked together over a number of sessions to find different perspectives on their anxieties, as well as coming up with practical coping strategies for presenting.

From wearing clothes that give you confidence to relaxation exercises, there are lots of things you can do to help lessen your anxiety. It’s surprising to hear that the always affable Sir Richard Branson doesn’t like public speaking. He uses various tried-and-tested tricks such as visualising a crowd of friends instead of an audience – and I can work with you to create your own presentation strategies.

Don’t let nerves get in the way of success.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My locations are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Contact me for a confidential chat and we can work together to help you give that presentation with confidence.

 

 

The main signs of stress to look out for

Stress is a normal part of our lives. Work deadlines, study deadlines, the school run, preparing for a holiday, juggling lots of pans on the hob, traffic jams when you’re in a rush… Most days have some element of stress in them. At it’s most basic level, stress is simply the body’s reaction to anything that needs you to respond to it.

Stress can be positive: remember those sabre-toothed tigers we’ve mentioned before? The stress response kept our ancestors alert and able to avoid being mauled by large and aggressive cats. These days, the stress response still helps us in potentially harmful situations, such as when we’re driving or chasing toddlers around the park.

So, if it’s a normal everyday occurrence, and it’s designed to keep us safe, why do we speak of stress as a bad thing? Stress can start to have a negative effect, both physically and mentally, when it becomes relentless. When it feels like there’s no let-up between stressful situations, our “stress bucket” starts to fill up and even overflow. Feeling stressed can be caused by a series of minor stressors or one great big worry: we’re all different, and so different things press our stress overload buttons.

However, there are some pretty universal factors that impact on most of us. It’s often easy to identify the causes of stress: problems at work, family issues, health worries, finances – all those things that we can deal with in moderation but not in excess.

How do we know when stress stops being a normal part of life and becomes something we need to address? Here are the signs of stress that we all need to be aware of.

Physical symptoms of stress

Our bodies are designed to cope with stress. However if there is too much relentless stress, we can experience physical symptoms due to the extra hormones (such as adrenaline) that our bodies start producing. Common symptoms can include headaches, upset tummies, feeling faint, chest pains, panic attacks or raised blood pressure. There are also other physical effects such as sweating more, feeling tired, having bad dreams, or grinding your teeth.

Emotional responses to stress

If you’re experiencing too much stress, you may be feeling overwhelmed, weepy, or even depressed. There could be a feeling of life spiralling out of control or of losing self-esteem. It’s hard to relax or switch off from your thoughts. Sometimes, stressed people avoid their friends or dong things that usually make them happy, a bit like having depression. Some people say that when they lose their sense of humour, that’s a sign that things “aren’t right”. If you already experience depression or anxiety, stress can make you feel much worse.

Stress affects your relationships

Stressed people often find their sex drive is affected, and they stop turning to their partners for comfort. Because there’s so much spinning around in their heads, they may be snappier at the kids or their colleagues, and avoid friends altogether. This can be one of the most conflicting symptoms, as you feel simultaneously irritated by people, but also lonely.

Problems sleeping

You may not be sleeping well, either because your thoughts won’t switch off, or because you’re having disturbing dreams. The knock-on effect of poor sleep, as I’ve discussed before, is that we need quality REM sleep to process the day’s events. This naturally empties our stress buckets overnight. If you can’t sleep, this doesn’t happen, allowing the stress to build up. When we were children, our mums used to say “you’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.” It’s true: it’s much harder to deal with life when you’re tired.

Changes in behaviour

There can be small indicators that all is not well: starting to bite your nails for the first time in years, not bothering with your hair or make-up or ironing your work clothes. Your appetite can change, eating more or less than you typically would. Usually-decisive people can find it hard to make decisions.

Turning to unhelpful stress relievers

A large glass of wine, a deep drag on a cigarette, or a slab of chocolate cake may make your feelings of stress feel better. They do – but on a very, very short term basis. For example, turning to alcohol to relieve stress can lead to greater problems. So, if you find yourself reaching for the fags or a bottle of wine when you’re feeling stressed, stop and think.

How can solution focused hypnotherapy help you with stress?

It can help you take that essential step back and regain control. You can’t be relaxed and stressed at the same time, so I work with my clients to help them find ways to remain calm and manage their feelings when things begin to overwhelm them. You will learn how our brain works to create anxiety and stress, and what we can do about it.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you feel that everything is getting too much, please get in touch for a confidential chat. We can work together to help you feel in control again, and replace feelings of excessive stress with ones of calm, in-control and confidence.

Does hypnotherapy work?

How do we know if hypnotherapy works?

It is always so rewarding, to hear clients say how much better they feel, and it’s great to see the reviews that people leave on the feedback forms. So, it’s really exciting that we are also starting to collect real statistical evidence as well. 

I use CORP in my clinic to measure outcomes. CORP stands for CPHT Outcomes and Research Programme. The software was originally designed and used for measuring frontline outcomes in private practice and has been relied upon in some of the most successful practices in the U.K.

After each session, the client simply takes a minute, to self-assess on a tablet, where they are on the scale for seven indicators of wellbeing and mentally healthy behaviour; thoughts, interaction, activity, confidence, strengths, achievements and happiness. The programme then allows each practitioner to be able to track the progress of each of their clients during each and every session.

It means we can build a clear picture of evidence to show how effectively the practice is working, and it is also confidence boosting for clients to be able to see their progress.

This fantastic tool is being used as part of a pioneering research project into solution focused hypnotherapy. All data collected is anonymous, and the project was pioneered by Matthew Cahill, a senior lecturer and supervisor at The Clifton Practice.  Matthew has been assisted by a number of researchers, web designers and experts from the University of St Mark and St John who ensured it would provide academically robust results.

Solution focused hypnotherapy combines hypnosis with psychotherapy to look at what you would like to achieve, and focuses on the present and the future to achieve those worthwhile goals. Clients are encouraged towards a positive mind-set, focusing on how they want things to be. It’s in this way that clients can visualise and achieve a more enjoyable and fulfilled future.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist . My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you need some help to reach your goals, please call me for a confidential chat.

What are neural pathways?

When I’m talking about how the brain works, I sometimes mention neural pathways. What are they and how do they affect our lives? Here’s a brief look at the science behind solution focused hypnotherapy.

What is a neural pathway?

In brief, a neural pathway is a series of connected neurons that send signals from one part of the brain to another.

Neurons come in three main types: motor neurons that control muscles; sensory neurons that are stimulated by our senses; and inter-neurons that connect neurons together. These connected neurons process the information we receive. It is these that enable us to interact, as well as experience emotions and sensations. They create our memories and enable us to learn.

We already have a series of neural pathways, and we are creating new ones all the time. An example of an early neural pathway is that if a baby smiles, he or she is rewarded by a smile in return and possibly a cuddle. The same baby may work out that if he or she touches something sharp, it may hurt. Both are valuable learning experiences.

Neural pathways are essential; however not all of them are beneficial and can become negative habits.

How neural pathways develop

Like a physical pathway on the ground, if you keep going over the same route, it becomes a habit. You probably have a set route that you take on the way to the local shop. You can walk it with your eyes closed, and why would you ever go a different way when this way is so ingrained?

Habits are the same. By always reaching for a bar of chocolate when you feel low, or a drink to lessen feelings of anxiety, you are creating a pathway in the brain. This means that like your walk to the shop, you automatically follow the same route. You’re feeling down, so your brain goes along the path to the chocolate bar.

The happy thing is that like a real road system, the brain can be changed and adapted. This flexibility of the brain is called neuroplasticity, and it’s this that enables you to change habits that you thought were ingrained. Like the Highways Agency, the brain can create new routes and shut off old ones, with some help and training.

How solution focused hypnotherapy helps change neural pathways

This is what my colleagues and I do: we help our clients to let go of old habits and create new, positive pathways in their place. If you have realised that you need to change your route, you can start to remove those negative behaviours.

A good example of how we re-programme our neural pathways is to do with weight loss. It could be that since childhood, you’ve come to associate a biscuit with reward and feeling good. So, if you feel in need of an emotional lift, you automatically take the path (physically as well as mentally!) towards the biscuit box. Yes, diet and exercise help you lose weight; however unless you change those pathways, any weight loss won’t be sustainable.

I work with my clients to adjust their relationship with food. However solid this pathway has become, we can block it off by replacing the need to eat with other ways of feeling good. By looking at the source of the pathway, we can also head those anxious feelings off at the pass, meaning that you won’t need to travel that path anymore. Solution focused therapy helps you train your brain to stay on positive pathways, and yes, you can break those well-worn habits.

I’ve used eating as a straightforward example, and an issue that many of us struggle with. However, you can also change your pathways to break nicotine or alcohol addiction, or help with social interaction if you have anxiety. Thanks to the neuroplasticity of your brain, with help, support and effort you can overcome habits that sometimes seem unbreakable.

Start on a new path

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you feel that you need support to break any negative behaviour or habits, please call me for a confidential chat. We’ll start on that positive new pathway.

 

Coping with anxiety

Everybody experiences anxiety sometimes. It is one of the many emotions that we feel as humans. However, things that are simply passing worries for some people are debilitating anxieties for others. If you have an anxiety disorder, or think you may have, how can you keep these negative feelings under control?

Recognising anxiety

The first step is recognising that you are experiencing anxiety, rather than feeling anxious, and seeking support. There are various forms of anxiety.

The most common one is Generalised Anxiety Disorder. People with GAD anticipate tragedy. Worries become relentless, and fears for the future can arise from little or no actual stimulus. For example, you may find yourself unable to sleep because you are worried about your job, when in fact your employment is secure.

There are other more specific anxieties. If you worry excessively about interacting with other people and experience severe discomfort during social situations, you may have Social Anxiety Disorder. It is estimated that one in every three people who lives through a traumatic event will experience some level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People who have regular panic attacks, a huge rush of physical and psychological symptoms, may be suffering from Panic Disorder. The term ‘OCD’ is incorrectly used to describe someone who is excessively fussy; however genuine Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferers have a debilitating condition which makes daily life difficult.

Coping mechanisms for anxiety

If you are diagnosed with anxiety, you are far from alone. The figures for a 2016 mental health survey reported by MIND show that 5.9% of the UK population experienced GAD, and 7.8% of people had mixed anxiety and depression.

There is a lot of support for anxiety disorders, and there are many things you can do to manage it. However, a 2014 YouGov survey showed that a fifth of people who have anxiety have no coping mechanisms to manage their anxious periods. Please don’t become one of those who struggle unnecessarily.

Everyday anxiety management

You may be treated for anxiety disorders with a combination of therapy and medication. However, there are also coping strategies you can use every day. I work with my clients on coping mechanisms, and I can’t stress enough the importance of developing strategies that work for you.

Learn to Control worry

When somebody tells you not to worry, it is easier said than done ! I can’t tell someone with anxiety not to worry, but what we can do is learn to control worry.

Self care

Take time for self care. Eating healthily is as important for the mind as the body. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if they increase your anxiety. Do nice things that make you feel good, listen to your favourite music, read a good book, have an invigorating shower, book a massage, spend an hour in the garden, take a walk in the fresh air, or as one of my clients said to me this week ‘I allow myself half an hour to have a peppermint tea in the conservatory’ – a great simple idea ! Activities don’t have to be complicated to be enjoyable. Plus, make sure you have plenty of rest…

Sleep

When we enter the REM phase of sleep, our minds churn over the day’s events and emotions, moving them from short term to longer term memory, and from the emotional side of the brain to the intellectual side. Unfortunately, anxiety sufferers often miss out on some of the essential REM phase of sleep.

However, you can carry out various rituals to help you sleep. Try a bath, a cosy drink (no caffeine or alcohol), and a good book. Avoid stimulating action movies, social media, and rich food. Make your bedroom as calming as you can: a good temperature, dim lights and comfortable bedding can all help create a relaxing haven.

Be open

Discussing your feelings with others can really help you manage your anxiety. If you would prefer to talk to people who share your experiences, ask your GP about local support groups, or look for (recognised) online communities.

Some people choose to volunteer for a charity or community group. As well as providing social interaction and distraction, helping others is a powerful way of realising the good in yourself, and seeing that you can make a positive difference.

Learn your triggers

Awareness of what triggers anxiety attacks can help you manage them. For example, it could be that alcohol increases your symptoms so you know you should cut down. If events in the news make you anxious, don’t read the headlines before bed.

Keep a diary. Note your mood and anxiety level in different situations, building up a picture of any patterns. It will also show you all the good that you are doing, journaling can be a really great morale booster.

Physical activity

Exercise provides so many benefits: stress relief, focus, better appetite, improved sleep, possible social circle, goals, enjoyment… Plus of course, improved physical health makes you feel much better mentally. You can start to introduce exercise gently with some walking, or perhaps there is an activity that you have always wanted to try. Whatever you choose, the endorphins released by exercise are sure to help.

Feeling confident in your physical health is really important, as many people with GAD spend sleepless nights worrying about imagined or exaggerated symptoms. As an aside Googling symptoms is not always helpful! If you need to check something out online, use a recognised medical website like NHS Choices.

Meditation

More people are realising the importance of meditation, hence the sudden rise of mindfulness apps. Meditation is the act of focussing the mind to create inner calm, clarity and concentration. You can learn simple relaxation techniques through meditation, which can help you through stressful moments. Learning how to relax through breathing (taught in meditation and yoga) is a valuable tool, after all, your breath is always with you, ready to help.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. I am a solution focused hypnotherapist and Master NLP Practitioner, I can work with you to reduce and manage those anxieties that make daily life harder. Please contact me for a confidential chat.

 

Keeping calm in a crazy world: managing external factors

How often have we heard the phrase “the world’s gone mad!” over the last few months? There seems to be uncertainty all over the globe at the moment – and now we’ve just had the news of a snap general election in Britain. As well as this, it feels like we’re bombarded with information all the time, through the media and social platforms. From celebrity babies to old school friends looking fantastic on Facebook, the world seems full of factors that increase our sense of anxiety.

It feels like there is too much happening at once, and external factors are starting to fill up our ‘stress buckets’! However, you can still focus on your emotional health while there are external social and political factors at work.

In other words, how do we learn to keep calm in a crazy world?

Manage your social media

The constant scrolling, the information, the opinions, the comments, the sheer exhausting bombardment of social media… Smart phones are fantastically useful devices, but they’ve made it far too easy for us to live our lives on social media. We compare ourselves to others far too much (even though we probably suspect that their social media portrayals aren’t exactly accurate, this doesn’t prevent us from feeling inadequate because of them).

Switch off your WiFi at night so you’re not tempted to carry on scrolling at bedtime. Don’t friend or follow people or organisations that offend you or make you feel uncomfortable – and remember that you don’t actually have to have a social media account. We all lived perfectly well without social media “back in the day”!

Avoid alarmist news sources

We’ve all heard a lot about “fake news” recently, and there are certainly a lot of scary-sounding headlines around. Stick to reputable news sources that give facts, such as the BBC – but don’t have News 24 on a loop. You can always replace fakes with facts: if a headline grabs your attention but doesn’t quite feel right, check it out on a website such as FullFact (UK) or FactCheck.org (US). Knowledge can be deeply reassuring, and can help you manage worries caused by fear-mongering and alarmist headlines.

Do something completely different

Switch off the smartphone, and opt for some good old-fashioned fresh air and exercise! Take time to escape from the constant media bombardment, and as psychologist Dr Alan J Lipman beautifully puts it, “explore and interact with the unmediated world that you live in”. Spend time with real people you care about, not just social media profiles and talking heads on television. Take time to breathe, be mindful, enjoy the good things in the world rather than focusing on the turmoil.

Learn to manage your anxieties

You can’t change the world single-handedly – but you can manage how it affects you and how you deal with it. Many of my clients come to me because they feel that their anxiety or stress is taking over – and solution focused hypnotherapy is so effective at relieving these feelings. We work together to focus on solutions, rather than dwelling on problems, reducing your anxiety while calming your mind.

Learning calming techniques is extremely beneficial (and this works so well hand-in-hand with solution focused hypnotherapy). This really helps with all that negative future forecasting which is such a symptom of stress.

Think about exceptions

Something that we focus on in my sessions is the solution-focused therapy concept of “exceptions”. By this, I mean occasions when everything is going well and you don’t feel personally unsettled. For example, a client may say “I never seem to feel anxious at work”, and that gives us an ‘exception’ to the unsettled feelings so that we can explore your strengths and coping skills that you use in other situations. If you feel that external factors are getting too much for you, identifying your own coping mechanisms can be of huge benefit.

Let me help

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If the world seems like it’s spinning too fast at the moment, please call me for a confidential chat – and together we can help you control anxiety and stress.