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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.

 

 

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.