THE BEST REMEDY FOR STRESS

Imagine that I offered you a single pill which could control the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut; lower your blood pressure; improve the way your heart functions; help avoid strokes; manage your weight; improve fertility and improve your mood. This pill has no side effects. Are you hooked yet? Are you ready to buy? Now imagine that this pill is not a pill but something you already have in your possession. In his excellent new book, Why We Sleep, professor Matthew Walker reminds us that we can go quite a long time without food or exercise but a few days without sleep has serious repercussions throughout every function of the body and mind. Without adequate sleep we over produce str

PRODUCTIVITY AND ULTRADIAN RHYTHMS – HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR NATURAL RHYTHMS TO ACHIEVE MORE.

We’d all like to be more productive in our lives but with our growing awareness of the harmful effects of stress and the potential physical and emotional burnout, how do we find balance? Do we meditate? Exercise? Improve our nutritional intake? All of these are important but do they really help balance or are they sometimes just add-ons to a life out of kilter? Will they also help improve our productivity? What if it depends on not just what we do, to de-stress, but when we do it? More than 50 years ago, the sleep researcher Nathan Kleitman discovered the 90 minute periods, at night, during which we move progressively through five stages of sleep, from light to deep, and then out again. Klei

HOW TO SURVIVE – NOW WE ARE IN THE FUTURE.

“Tis not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin It’s interesting to note that Darwin speaks here not of survival of the fittest, as is often quoted, but survival of those responsive to change. This distinction is of great importance to us in our modern age. There is no doubt that the speed of change can create anxiety in many individuals. As early as the 1970s, social commentators such as Alvin Tofler, who wrote the groundbreaking book Future Shock, warned of the result of an ever changing world. Tofler defined the term “future shock” as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. This

WHY I AM THE ETERNAL STUDENT AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE TOO.

This January I am embarking on yet another advanced hypnotherapy training. This time with the energetic and passionate trainer Adam Eason. The training will take me about a year or so and will take up quite a good deal of time during my weekends. So why bother? What’s the point of learning even more approaches, techniques and methodology? As a professional, I am required to be involved in continual professional development or CPD as it’s known. However, that only requires a few hours per year. There are a few major reasons why I find it important to be the eternal student. The first is my inquisitive mind – I’m always keen to learn more and understand just what hypnosis is and in fact what L

RELAXATION AWARENESS DAY

Today is Stress Awareness Day and whilst there will be many millions of people today who may potentially be damaging their health by experiencing prolonged periods of stress and accompanying anxiety, it’s also important to remember that there will be others who are utilising the opposite response in the body and mind. Our response to natural triggers or dangers in the environment – the release of hormones and a resulting change in the nervous system to enable fight or flight – has been called the stress response. It’s obviously very helpful when we need to be alert and focused. However, a stress response which is being triggered continuously by perceived danger can become a source of poor h

THE 2 QUESTIONS TO ASK TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD IN THE COMING SCHOOL YEAR.

September is here again and so the new school year begins. Perhaps your child is changing from Primary to Secondary education and is a bit nervous at what lies ahead or maybe they are starting with a new teacher and not sure if they will like the change. The ever shifting situations in school life can potentially undermine a child’s sense of stability or at worse make them school phobic. I have worked with many children and teenagers over the past 20 years, in a variety of settings, and have found that one effective method to improve levels of confidence, emotional intelligence and resilience is by asking the right questions in the right way. Solution-focused questions help individuals focus

TOP WELLNESS TIPS

I was recently asked, by Salisbury Life magazine, to contribute to their recent edition with my top tips for wellness. I was thrilled to be able to have my say on what I consider to be a vastly important area of life which we often neglect in the daily turmoil. Here are my tips and the prompts / questions that I was asked: If you only do one thing ….. My top wellness tip is to learn how to deal with stress – whether it’s a walk in nature, chatting with a good friend or watching your favourite comedian (research has shown that laughter can reduce pain and boost your immune system too). Find out what works for you and DO IT OFTEN! What changed ny life? – The experts reveal the changes that tra

WHOSE STORY ARE YOU LIVING?

“Only children believe they are capable of everything.” Paulo Coelho So how old were you when you stopped believing? Perhaps you can even consciously remember the knock-backs, the jibes or discouraging voices which you chose to believe instead of that innate drive for exploration. I’m not implying that we can all become world class musical performers or athletic champions – at the same time perhaps part of our self-limiting thoughts are based on wanting to achieve a socially measured goal rather than explore our own abilities for the sheer joy of it. Humans have a talent and need for stories – from telling tales around a campfire to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, we devour tales to inspir

7 THINGS YOU CAN START TODAY TO REDUCE ANXIETY

I’m on drugs! To be more precise I’m on a specific drug known as caffeine. This is unusual for me as I gave up caffeine about five years ago specifically to reduce my anxiety levels. I’ve been drinking decaf ever since. I just happened to be at a place today where there was some really good quality coffee and thought I’d treat myself. I then sat down for some meditation and realised something was happening to my body and mind. I checked my heart rate and discovered it was up from the normal 60 bpm to 85 bpm. My blood pressure was up to 150/80 from its normal 125/60. Needless to say I delayed my meditation until later as what is known as the relaxation response, a positive aspect of relaxatio

THE BRAIN-GUT CONNECTION, IBS AND HYPNOTHERAPY.

How many brains do you have? A simple question, but not so obvious an answer. According to modern neurological science we have a so-called second brain in our gut called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from oesophagus to rectum. There are more nerve cells in the ENS than in the spinal cord and between 80-90% of your body’s serotonin – the neurotransmitter which affects mood, social behaviour, sleep, memory and sleep – is located here. According to Jay Parischa M.D., director of the John Hopkins Centre for Neurogastroenerology, “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD): SHOULD WE BE TREATING MORE THAN THE COMPULSIONS AND OBSESSIONS?

The following is a case history of a client with OCD. Full permission from the client has been given to publish her story. Jane (not her real name) came to see me concerning her obsessive checking behaviour which she’d carried out for the past 7 years. She was now 27 years old, held a very responsible position within a hospital and had a generally positive outlook on life. Jane told me she had been to see her GP about her behaviour and had been sent to group and one-to-one Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) / Counselling for support where she had learnt some coping skills and strategies which helped on some days but not when she was experiencing high levels of stress. The CBT sessions had l

5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Today, 10th October, is Mental Health Awareness Day. I’ve been exploring the 5 best ways to improve our mental health and maintain a positive frame of mind when under duress. We have been bombarded over the past couple of decades with largely good information on how to protect our physical health and there is a huge industry of superfoods and supplements supporting this. However, we can still tend to ignore our mental and emotional level of being as it isn’t so visible and poor mental health is still somewhat of a taboo to discuss openly. Improving how you feel psychologically does not necessarily cost the earth and as our minds and body are intricately linked, physical health is likely to i

THE DAYS ARE DRAWING IN. ARE YOU FEELING SLEEPY?

Do You Feel Like Hibernating? Every Autumn, as the days get shorter, I can feel an urge to rest more. Is this a good sign I wonder? Is it my age showing? Or could it be that my body naturally knows that, at this time of year, it is more vulnerable to colds and other bugs and my immune system needs more sleep in order to stave off infections successfully. In a recent study (1) investigators examined the effects of sleep deprivation on our immune system’s ability in fighting off infection. Volunteers were inoculated with the cold virus and were permitted varying lengths of sleep. It was discovered that those who slept less than 5 hours had a 4.5 greater chance of developing a cold and those wh

THE SUGAR DEBATE.

Is it really all that bad for you? Recently Jamie Oliver started his latest campaign which focused on the detrimental effects of sugar. In his Channel 4 show, he stated some pretty shocking facts: 26000 children each year have teeth pulled out by operations due to decay. 3.5 Million people currently have type 2 diabetes which is often a result of too much sugar in the diet. This costs the NHS £9 Billion a year. 7000 of those sufferers per year will have an amputation – that’s 130 amputations per week! The organisation Action on Sugar, which is supported by 23 international health experts, claims that excess sugar is linked to obesity, cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The issue is

ASK NOT WHAT THE NHS CAN DO FOR YOU – ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE NHS!

Everyday in the press and on TV we are bombarded with news of the imminent closure of hospital wards, reductions in NHS services or increasing waiting times for vital medical procedures. Whilst I do not agree with the austerity cuts put in place by the current government – that’s a rare political comment from me – I do feel that there is a lot that individuals can do to keep themselves healthy and in the process reduce pressure on the NHS. Public Health England – whose responsibilities include supporting the public so they can protect and improve their own health – are asking adults aged 40-60 to make seven lifestyle changes to increase their chances of living a long and healthy life. These

THE GUT / BRAIN CONNECTION.

Ever had butterflies in your stomach? Have you been so nervous you’ve had to run for the bathroom? The brain and gut are so intimately connected that your emotional frame of mind is reflected by the state of your digestive tract almost immediately. Conversely, when you are relaxed, the peristaltic action within your gut is steady and efficiently digesting and moving the food through your body. The gut has also been termed the second brain of the body. There are more nerve cells in the intestines than in the spinal cord and between 80 – 90% of the body’s neurotransmitter serotonin (which can affect mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and functio

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

This morning I’m taking responsibility. I do it every morning and whilst I can’t say I enjoy the process, the necessity of it outweighs any short-term minor discomfort. ( All will be revealed later I promise). Responsibility – do you shy away from it or embrace it? It’s often a word that, for many of us, comes with a heavy load of emotional baggage. If, when you were a child, responsibility was a word that was directed at you as a command or had a sense of blame or condemnation – “Take some responsibility!” “Be responsible!” “Why can’t you act more responsibly?” – then you possibly still react to the concept. As we grow older, the responsibilities of adulthood can weigh us down – the mortgag

IF I’M THE BEST MAN, WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?

That was my feeling during the period leading up to my brother’s wedding. Of course it was a real honour being chosen to be in that treasured role. I was his friend and he recognised me as being someone who was special in his life. So why the punishment? The punishment I’m talking about is of course the Best Man’s Speech. I am quite accustomed to speaking in public and have done so since the age of 18 when I first taught classes in English to French children but this was a different matter. I was being asked to play the role of funny man. The Best Man’s Speech traditionally has to be funny and this was where my fear arose from. My brother had always been the humorous one when we were growing

BEE THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BEE

It’s not uncommon for people to be a bit afraid of injections and needles when visiting the doctors or dentists, but when it is a full-blown phobia it can create a fear that is not only highly disturbing for an individual but can also stop them seeking medical or dental procedures when needed. True phobias are more pronounced than fears and develop quite often from childhood experiences leaving an individual with an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. Laura developed her needle phobia from a stressful experience when she was a child. She said that her fear was so extreme that, “I couldn’t even watch someone getting an injection on television. The thought o

EXAMS AND HOW TO SURVIVE THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WITH YOUR STRESSED-OUT TEEN.

If you currently have a child preparing for GCSE’s or ‘A’ levels, you may be in the unenviable position of experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress, heightened emotions or even mild depression emanating from your child. As a parent, you obviously want the best for your children but these times can fray the best of nerves and can possibly be testing your relationship. Schools, these days, give adequate advice to pupils on how to study, revise and prepare for exam days on an academic level but, according to some parents I’ve encountered, quite often can be lacking in their support, or sometimes even acknowledgement, of the psychological issues that may arise during this period. Normal level

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