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Eating Disorder Week

28 February to 6 March is Eating Disorder awareness week. This important week is organised by the UK charity Beat (formerly the Eating Disorders Association). Their mission is to provide help and support to those with eating disorders and end the suffering caused by it.

It is estimated that around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer with some form of eating disorder. This is not a problem of the young or just women, anyone of any age, gender and background can suffer from them. As Marya Hornbacher (US Author and Journalist) said, “Anorexia and bulimia seem to be getting much more common in boys, men, and women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds; they are also becoming more common in racial groups previously thought to be impervious to the problem”. And sufferers may deny or not realise there’s a problem and symptoms can be hard to spot.

This illness can manifest itself in a number of ways including bulimia, binge eating disorder, avoidant / restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) and anorexia. And, tragically and perhaps surprisingly, this group of mental illness has one of the highest mortality rates.

Beat’s helpline is available all year round and seeks to empower people to get the right help quickly. The sooner someone gets treatment, the greater their chance of recovery as the longer you suffer with one of these illnesses, the more likely you are to cause serious damage to your body.

So, what causes an eating disorder? Well, evidence suggests it’s a combination of a biological predisposition together with a social or environmental trigger. Common triggers can include a trauma, stress, bereavement or relationship problems.

Eating disorders often flourish on secrecy and, according to Beat, countless people who are in recovery agree that breaking the silence is the right thing to do. So, give some thought as to when and where you will talk to them. Try not to centre the conversation on weight or food. At their roots, eating disorders are about what the person is feeling. Mention a few things that have concerned you and confirm you care and are worried about them.

They may become angry or defensive. Try to be calm in response and don’t be disheartened. If they insist there is nothing wrong, continue to monitor them and remember they may not realise they are ill. Denial, specifically in the case of anorexia, it’s considered a symptom and is very common. Trust your judgment. If they acknowledge that they need help, encourage them to seek it as quickly as possible. Offer to go with them if they would find that helpful.

So, if you or someone you know has an unhealthy relationship with food then Hypnotherapy can help. It can help to explore triggers, break habits and boost will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.

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Procrastination2

I wrote a little while ago about procrastination. And while I thought it was a bit of fun, after some feedback I see it’s a real problem for some people. So, I have decided to write a new blog to help you decide whether you are really procrastinating or is it something else. I will then write a new blog with real advice for procrastinators. Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on me that it will take three blog posts to get to the good stuff.

The first thing is to realise you are procrastinating. Changing prioritises are a fact of life, but if you keep putting things off or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you are procrastinating. Other signs are filling your day with low-priority tasks, having important items on your to-do list for a long time, starting a high-priority task and then stopping or if you need to be in right mood or wait for the right time to tackle something.
Next you need to understand the reasons why you are not doing the task. Note, I did not ask why you are procrastinating. Perhaps there is another reason. For instance, are you avoiding a task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take a deep breath and get it out of the way quickly and then focus on the aspects that you do enjoy.

Poor organisation can lead to delayed tasks and missed deadlines. Well organised people successfully overcome this by using prioritised to-do lists, plans and schedules. Even if you’re organised, you can still become overwhelmed by a task. If this is the case, seek help with the task.

Another factor to consider is poor decision making. If you can’t decide what to do, you can’t start. Or you put off taking action worried you might do it wrong. Maybe you doubt your abilities and worry you might fail, so you put it off and stay in your comfort zone. But this lack of confidence is denying you the chance to learn and grow.

Also, it can be easy to confuse perfectionism and procrastination. As Jen Sincero (US Writer and Coach) said, “Perfectionism and procrastination have such a fine line. You say, ‘Well, I want it to be good. I want it to be perfect.’ But what you’re really doing is not doing your work. You’re putting off showing up and being visible because then you’re going to be judged, and it might suck”. Many perfectionists are also procrastinators. They would rather not do a task than do it imperfectly.

For some, procrastination is not a bad habit but a symptom of a serious underlying health issue. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety and depression can make you procrastination. If this is the case, then these causes need addressing.

If you are suffering from low confidence, anxiety or depression then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me to find out more.

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Addiction

Addiction is something that, historically, has been stigmatised and looked down upon. Those who suffer from addiction are often ignored, criminalised, treated as outcasts and even sent to prison. This cultural view of addiction is that it is some kind of personal defect, moral failing or a lack of willpower. These views also come with the, often unspoken, assumption that addiction is a conscious life style choice. These are all damaging and unhelpful attitudes. Condemnation and judgement are usually born of ignorance, but understanding can brings about a more compassionate view. As Sheldon Whitehouse (US Senator) says, “Addiction is a tough illness, and recovery from it is a hard but noble path. Men and women who walk that path deserve our support, encouragement, and admiration”.

One very useful and popular method to treat addiction is the twelve step model. This had a revolutionary effect on treatment as it changed the thinking about the nature of addiction. It taught that addicts have an incurable disease that can be managed. It provided a framework for addicts to refrain from using substances, attend regular support meetings and work a thorough programme in order to restore a functional life and free them from their substance addiction and the chaos that it causes.

This twelve step approach has ideas such as taking a personal inventory, accepting and working on personal shortcomings as well as seeking forgiveness and enlightenment. I believe this a tremendously powerful and effective approach. And if you or someone you know has an addiction I strongly suggest starting the journey to managing it with this approach.

But, I do not feel this is the whole story. I believe there is a part of the puzzle of addiction missing in this model. For me there needs to be an understanding of trauma and the role it plays in self-soothing behaviours and addictions. As Gabor Mate (Hungarian-Canadian physician) says “Every addict has trauma, but not everyone who has trauma becomes an addict”.

An addiction is a behaviour where by a person is unable to stop an activity despite harmful consequences. There is a wide spectrum of these compulsive behaviours but I believe they almost always start with the subconscious trying to protect us from harm or discomfort. Addictions often, at least initially, bring relief or distraction from the pain being faced.

When we feel in a state of threat or pain or dysregulation we often exhibit the Fight or Flight response to combat or run away from that which is harming us. Trauma, especially an emotional one, is not easily resolved by this response and so we become stuck in this fear state. Our minds then seek ways to mitigate, lessen or pacify the trauma and this is where addictions can take root.

Now some addicts have argued that they have not suffered a trauma. But if we look at traumas from the perspective of the subconscious or auto nervous system and how it responds to pain (both physical and emotional) we can see that addictions is often driven by a trauma of some kind.

This trauma based view of addiction has started to transform addiction management and treatment. A trauma-informed approach to addiction, and mental health, is a more compassionate, realistic and scientific approach. And Hypnotherapy has a key role to play in this. It has a number of techniques to help clients explore the origins and root causes of addictions, phobias and other unwanted behaviours. If you feel that hypnotherapy could help you or someone you know then contact me.

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World Cancer Day

4 February is World Cancer Day. It’s a global initiative created and led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The idea is to raise awareness, improve education and influence governments and other organisations about cancer. Many cancers and the resulting suffering and deaths are preventable.

There have been massive strides forward in the treatment of cancer in recent years. But while there have been awe-inspiring advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, many who seek help with cancer do not get the best possible care. Factors such as income, education, geographical location and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and lifestyle are not uncommon and can negatively affect care, treatment and outcomes.

So this year’s the World Cancer Day’s theme is “Close the Care Gap”. Its all about raising awareness of this equity gap. Today, nearly two thirds (65%) of cancer deaths happen in the least developed parts of the world. But even if you live in a higher income country, inequities still exist among lower-income, indigenous, immigrant, refugee and rural communities. As Sylvie Meis (Dutch television personality and model) said, “Whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, young or old, cancer knows no boundaries”.

As with so many things, prevention is better than a cure. Tobacco and alcohol use are a major contributor to cancers. Did you know that tobacco causes eight million deaths every year and accounts for about 25% of all global cancer deaths? Stopping smoking at any age can make huge a difference. Doing so will increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.

Also, limiting or eliminating alcohol use can help guard against mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel, liver and breast cancers. Another factor that can improve your chances of remaining cancer free is making physical exercise part of your daily routine. Additionally, no matter where you live or your skin tone, moderating your exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds will reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.

There is no doubt that early detection saves lives. Many cancer show early signs and symptoms that if caught will massively increase your chances of survival or avoiding serious problems. Each of us can be empowered with the right information to know what’s normal for our bodies and recognise unusual changes – and importantly, seek professional medical help promptly.

So, if you are struggling to lose weight, reduce you alcohol intake or stop smoking then Hypnotherapy can help with breaking habits, will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.

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National Heart Month

February is National Heart Month and not just because of Valentine’s Day. It’s an annual UK and US event which is designed to raise awareness of Heat Disease and educate how to look after your heart. Your heart is critically important to our health and wellbeing. It pumps blood around our body and this transports oxygen to our cells and organs.

One way to participate and support others is to take part in the National Wear Red Day on 5 February. Organised by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, this day focuses on raising awareness of congenial heart defects and problems. As the name suggests you can wear red and organise events to raise money for this important charity. Their website has an array of resources and ideas for how to take part.

So, how do I look after my heart you might ask? Well as with many things it about a good lifestyle. Specifically, exercise regularly, eat a balanced (varied) diet, monitor your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Also, if you have any concerns then seek the help of a health care professional, such as a GP or Doctor.

High blood pressure normally doesn’t have noticeable symptoms until the pressure is quite high. But if left untreated, it will increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that approximately, a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. If you are worried your doctor’s practice can help or you can buy a home blood pressure monitor.

As David Suzuki (Canadian Scientist) said, “The medical literature tells us that the most effective ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many more problems are through healthy diet and exercise. Our bodies have evolved to move, yet we now use the energy in oil instead of muscles to do our work”.

Making changes to lifestyle, such as exercising more or eating better can be difficult to start and maintain. Hypnotherapy can help you overcome the challenges you face by increasing motivation, improve your confidence and retrain yourself to make good habits part of your life. I recently made a short video about how Hypnotherapy can help with a new exercise routine. If you feel that Hypnotherapy can help you then contact me.