Tag Archives: Anxiety

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.

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.

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.

 

Empty the stress bucket: how hypnotherapy helps with anxiety

There’s a big difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. Everybody feels anxious occasionally: it’s a perfectly normal emotion. Exams, interviews, new work challenges are examples of things that make us all anxious. However, for someone with an anxiety disorder, regular everyday life feels overwhelming.

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. The Mental Health Foundation reports that in 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not unusual and that there are tried-and-tested means to help you manage anxiety.

One of the ways that solution focused hypnotherapy can help you is by emptying out your “stress bucket”.

What is a stress bucket?

The stress bucket is a helpful analogy that describes the effects of anxiety. Imagine you have a bucket, and every time something causes you to feel anxious or stressed, a beaker of water is poured in. Tiredness, family issues, work problems, money worries…all the negative thoughts, over-thinking, and fearing the worst will happen… in they all go. And of course, as the stressors build up, the bucket starts to get very full.

We’re all individuals, so we all have our own different buckets. Your stress bucket can take days, months or years to fill up, and it can easily overflow…!

What happens as our stress buckets begin to fill?

To understand more about the stress bucket, let’s put it down for just a moment and look at our brains.

In some ways, we are closer to our primitive ancestors than we think. Our minds have an intellectual, rational evolved part, and the primitive original part. The latter is what we can refer to as the “emotional, primitive’ part of our brain which we share with our ancestors, and this controls our fight-or-flight response. This developed to keep us alert to potential dangers and when our flight or fight response has become too sensitised, we can feel as if we are on hyper-vigilant mode, where we are expecting something to go wrong at any moment and fearing the worst. The primitive/emotional mind is the source of anxiety, anger and depression. If the rational side is temporarily unable to take over and make sense of any fears or worries we have, anxiety builds – and our stress bucket builds up.

A filled bucket needs to be emptied. Good sleep can be very helpful for this. At night, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep, our brain is attempting to use up any unspent adrenalin in the body by completing events, emotions and suppressed emotions in our dreams. In this way events get filed away as a narrative which we then have more control over. This overnight process helps to empty the stress bucket.

However, REM sleep is only limited to about 20% of our sleep. If the brain tries to overdo this, we are woken up in the middle of the night, this can explain why some people have disturbed sleep patterns. Therefore, when we have a full stress bucket, the brain isn’t able to empty it with REM sleep alone. Sleep difficulties are a common anxiety symptom.

But – buckets can always be emptied! Just because it’s not emptying automatically at the moment, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done…

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How can I empty my stress bucket?

We’ve talked about REM sleep as an essential bucket emptying tool – nature’s siphon, if you like. However, if you have anxiety, it’s likely that sleep doesn’t come as easily to you as it could. It’s always worth trying some simple sleep routines that help improve your sleeping habits.

Unwind before you try to sleep: no social media, work, or frenetic films. The old fashioned remedies of a relaxing bath, a warm drink, and a good book can all help you feel calm before bedtime. Caffeine, alcohol and rich food late at night prevent deep sleep, so avoid all these (and smokers find it harder to fall asleep than non-smokers). Make sure your bedroom is a sleepy haven: no kids, no pets, no bright lights, no telly, and kept at a comfortable temperature.

Make time for you, and doing the things you love to do. Sometimes we get so busy with our hectic lives these pastimes take a back seat, but self-care is important. Sometimes, it can be helpful to peer into your stress bucket to find coping strategies. Can you identify the stress factors and come up with some solutions?

Solution focused hypnotherapy can help empty the stress bucket

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy reduces the levels in the stress bucket through mixed methods, we combine hypnosis with psychotherapy to produce a less anxious mindset. Solution focused hypnotherapy concentrates on the future, helping you to come up with creative solutions to help yourself. Hypnosis creates a contrived trance state, in this state, we can start to replace those anxious feelings with positive thoughts.

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 empty your stress bucket, please call me for a confidential chat.

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What is overthinking – and what can we do about it?

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Everybody worries from time to time – so when does worrying become overthinking?

Overthinking is simply what its name suggests – thinking too much. Overthinking is going over the same thought again and again, analysing the simplest of situations or events until all sense of proportion has gone. The overthinking brain cannot translate these thoughts into actions or positive outcomes, so therefore creates feelings of stress and anxiety.

The phrase “overthinking” is often used quite flippantly these days. (You can picture the social media posts: “I’m overthinking my holiday packing. Lol.”) But for the genuine overthinker, there is nothing shallow or light-hearted about their thoughts. What distinguishes overthinking from merely thinking?

Am I over-thinking?

Surely we all overthink to some extent? As parents, sons or daughters, employees or business people, worrying about things is linked to caring about our loved ones, and about doing a good job.

However, people who really struggle with overthinking tend to be “ruminators”, going over events that have already happened. Plain old worrying tends to be about the future: can I meet this deadline? Can I find a nice residential flat for my mum? Often, our worries help us move forwards as we are working out how to mitigate them; however overthinking tends to be passive rather than active, dwelling on past events and building up disproportionately negative future results.

Take this scenario. You accidentally call your new boss by the wrong name. What do you think and feel when you realise this later?

The average worrier will feel mildly embarrassed, plan to apologise with some self-deprecating comment the next day, then forget about it and make dinner. The overthinker will replay this error over and over, while rewriting different outcomes. By four in the morning, he or she will be mentally creating scenarios of being passed over for future promotions, or even chosen for redundancy. The incident has triggered big questions in the overthinking mind, which blow the whole event way out of proportion.

This may seem like a trivial example; however it’s a good illustration of how over-thinking can take over many facets of your life. Dwelling on a past event and making catastrophic predictions from it are classic examples of what an overthinking mind can do.

Overthinking comes from your primitive emotional part of your brain

Like many traits of anxiety and depression, overthinking actually comes from one of our primitive preservation instincts.

The primitive mind will always see things from the worst possible perspective. This is because the brain is being hyper-vigilant, trying to keep us alive – there’s no sense in being optimistic about those sabre-toothed tigers I’ve mentioned before!

The intellectual brain will tell us that no way will we lose our job because we called our boss by the wrong name. However, people prone to rumination are responding in that primitive fight-or-flight mode, where focusing on worst-case scenarios is more likely to keep us alive. Overthinking and anxiety work together, exacerbating the feelings of stress and helplessness.

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Overthinking fills the stress bucket

It’s easy to create anxiety through negative future forecasting. However, dwelling on the past can also make us feel extremely anxious. Negative thoughts fill our “stress bucket” to the point where we feel that one more drip, one more thought, will make us overflow.

How can we empty our stress bucket? At night, we enter the amazing healing process of REM sleep, where our brains go over the day’s events, moving them from the emotional, primitive brain to the intellectual side. The brain files events away, together with the emotion, and suppressed emotion, and turns them into memories and narratives for another day. The brain may also ‘live out’ unspent emotion via our dreams in order to use up unspent adrenalin as part of this process. The person who called their boss by the wrong name won’t have forgotten the incident over night, but won’t really be thinking about it by the morning.

The overthinking person will not be so fortunate. If he or she is not sleeping well, due to overthinking, tossing and turning whilst ruminating over the events, then they miss out on this vital REM sleep, perhaps waking up during the night, or not able to get to sleep until the early hours by which time it’s time to get up and start the day with low energy and low mood.

How solution focused hypnotherapy can prevent overthinking

Everyone overthinks sometimes. The problems arise for people who find it very difficult to stop the thoughts. Whereas the occasional over-thinker can intellectualise the initial worry, the real ruminator is subject to a constant barrage of negative thoughts. Naturally, it’s all too easy for a vicious circle to develop, as increased anxiety leads to further overthinking, and so on.

So what we need to do is break this cycle. Solution focused hypnotherapy, with its focus on the present and the future, is a logical way of tackling overthinking. By creating a contrived trance state, we achieve a state where both sides of the brain come together – and this is when we can start to replace all these negative thoughts with positive thoughts for the future.

We talk about solutions and ways forward, helping you to set achievable goals, and to recognise those times when you are coping well and to build upon those strengths and resources.

Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety through relaxation and visualisation, allowing people to focus on the positive aspects of their lives, resulting in shift towards an optimistic – and indeed, realistic – perspective.

That new boss you accidentally called by then wrong name? It’s opened up a great chance for an informal chat, and that’s always good, right?

Let’s start thinking about overthinking – together

You’re not alone. Overthinking is something many people experience, and I can work with you to overcome it.

The cycle of overthinking and anxiety can easily be broken using solution focused hypnotherapy. This is a natural, calming, and safe way to begin to manage your thoughts again.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. I have clinics in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. To find out more about how I can help you, please contact me for a confidential chat. Contact details can be found at www.greatmindsclinic.co.uk.

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