Category Archives: Confidence

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.

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.

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.

6 ways to juggle your busy life without feeling overwhelmed

Sometimes, life is simply overwhelming. There is so much to do and think about, it’s hard to know where to start. We all feel the squeeze sometimes: there may be an extra-busy time at work, or a building project at home. When we feel up against it, even a simple trip to the supermarket seems like an epic task.

The run-up to the summer holidays is one of those overwhelming times. We may be trying to fit lots in before heading off on our hols; and many parents start to worry about how exactly they are going to keep all those juggling balls up in the air when the kids are home full-time.

I can’t reduce your task list but I can help you manage it. It is possible to be really active and still feel calm and in-control. Here are my tips, based on time-management methods and relaxation techniques, for happy juggling.

Diarise your time

During busy times, a diary is your new best friend. Whether you use something like Google Calendar or prefer the old-fashioned desk diary approach, keeping track of everything helps you lose that feeling of chaos or the fear of forgetting anything.

It also helps you be sensible about your capacity. Seeing everything written down is a great reality check, sometimes you glance at your calendar and realise that your schedule simply isn’t possible. Cross things out and reallocate them. You can’t begin to manage your activities if you don’t know what’s happening when.

Can you outsource?

We all understand what that means in the workplace: but it can be done in general life too! There are all sorts of people out there who can lend a hand, and you don’t need a massive budget to hire in help when you need it.

A virtual PA for just a couple of hours a week could tide you through busy times and this doesn’t just have to be for work, although if you are a self-employed parent, admin assistance could make all the difference when school’s out. Try an ironing service for busy periods or before a holiday, or find someone who can help you tame your garden so it’s lower maintenance (and a space to enjoy). If you have school holiday children to manage, arrange play date swaps with other parents, so each of you has some child-free time in turn (and you can relax knowing that your kids are having fun with friends). Look into local holiday clubs for older kids.

Handling the housework

A personal chef is a step too far for most of us, but there are always takeaways for those evenings when you can’t do it all! You can also have food ready in the freezer for busy weeks (and drop the guilt if you haven’t made any frozen batches of wholesome casserole. The freezer section of your local supermarket is fine!). Grocery delivery is an absolutely brilliant help.

We’ve discussed hiring in help, but realistically, the housework falls on the householders. But don’t forget that you might have potential helpers! Even little kids can help with simple tasks such as putting the dishes away (and older ones can always be bribed…).

Combine, don’t separate

In an ideal world, work and family would be in two nice, neat boxes! Sometimes, that’s simply not possible, and working from home can actually reduce time pressures. Sir Richard Branson claims to not divide work and play, and that involving his children with work has always brought a new perspective. Mothers trying to work to the background sounds of CBeebies may raise a tired eyebrow; however he has a point. If your partner, children or elderly relative is used to you working in the same space as them, it becomes business-as-usual.

Explain to the kids if you can complete x, y and z before deadline o’clock, you’ll have the afternoon at the park/cinema. Set up craft activities to keep younger kids engaged, and accept that there may have to be a bit more screen time occasionally. When you do go out, you can still keep an eye on work. Being able to access your emails 24/7 could be seen as a bad thing or as a way of preventing work from building up and getting out of control. Of course, your working hours may mean you need to arrange childcare for at least some of the summer. If this is the case, separating work and family life can be important to make sure you enjoy time together. Again, that diary helps!

Don’t forget yourself!

When people mention ‘me time’ during busy periods, the most likely response is hollow laughter! But really, a break from everything recharges your batteries and actually makes you more productive. Dog owners are often very good at this, as their pets make them go out a couple of times a day! Go for that run or swim, take a fun lunch break with friends or family, join that book club for a once a month get together, make sure you get a relaxing evening bath, and only burn the midnight oil in times of extremis.

If you have kids or dependent family, book a babysitter or smile nicely at a local relative, and go out with your partner or friends.

And relax…

What relaxes you? Is it that lovely bath I mentioned above, or half an hour with a book before bed? We all have a ritual that makes us feel relaxed and comforted, and that is so important when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and if you learn breathing and calming strategies, you can keep bringing them into play all day when things start to feel too much.

You can visit someone like me, and by using solution-focused hypnotherapy, I can work with you to develop coping strategies for dealing with your hectic lifestyle. There’s a fine line between busy-ness and stress, and hypnotherapy, along with these time management tips, helps you stay on the right side of the line.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. I have clinics in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Please call me for a confidential chat and I’ll help you keep all those juggling balls up in the air.

 

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 general 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, put down the paper, 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 mindfulness 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 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. We may explore coping skills from this exception which can be used 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.

Calm, Confident & In-Control…

When clients first come to see me, and I ask them what are their best hopes to achieve from this therapy, they often say that they want to feel ‘calm, confident, and in-control’, and these are fabulous goals to strive for.

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These three qualities enable us to really embrace life – if you are not feeling calm, confident and in-control, you may be feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed – and solution focused hypnotherapy can help you overcome these negative feelings.

Anxiety and panic can be replaced with feelings of calm, confidence, and of being in control. As well as being essential for our mental wellbeing, these three qualities enable us to really make the most of our relationships, careers, and leisure time. In short, to make the most of life.

Feeling calm helps your family and everyday life

Feeling anxious and panicky can be really debilitating. Being anxious developed as a primitive self-preservation instinct – but for the modern brain, an inability to switch off this function is exhausting and can prevent us from leading a normal life.

Replacing anxiety with feelings of calm has so many benefits. On a basic level, life is much easier when we feel calm! Family life, relationships, and everyday activities stop feeling like stressors and become things to enjoy again. Life may be busy – but when you feel calm inside, life isn’t stressful, it’s simply full.

Confidence is so important at work

There’s a difference between seeming confident and genuinely feeling confident. We’re all familiar with the analogy of the swan – graceful on the surface, but paddling like heck under the water! That’s how many of us feel at work at least some of the time, and the pressure to put on the calm exterior while panicking beneath the surface can be gruelling.

True confidence, as opposed to wearing a confident mask, is a great gift in the workplace. It also helps in all other areas of life – sports, hobbies, dating, dieting, studying, job-hunting…

Being in control lets you do so much more

Feeling out of control is a state that sneaks up on many people sometimes. It could also be described as feeling overwhelmed. It can simply be because we’re trying to do too much, and are spending our lives fire-fighting – working parents of small children often feel this, for example. A feeling of life being out of control happens with those who experience overeating or addictions. Or, feeling like a loss of control, can be a symptom of depression or anxiety or due to situational life events occurring. Whatever the cause, there are a range of techniques that can help you take back control.

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 enables you to take up that new hobby, or study a new subject, or simply take time out to relax and breathe…

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How can solution focused hypnotherapy help you to feel calm, confident, and in control?

Solution focused hypnotherapy was developed to calm the mind and reduce anxiety – so is the perfect approach to help with the issues we discussed above. Solution focused hypnotherapy works by concentrating on a positive future; and although it acknowledges the past and the current issues, it doesn’t dwell on these. The purpose is to think about how you want your life to be, and what positive steps you can take to get there.

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. I can be found at www.greatmindsclinic.co.uk with clinics in Altrincham and Deansgate in Manchester.

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