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Uncertain times

It seems we are living in uncertain times. I try to remain positive and not worry too much, but worrying is an aspect of who I am. I have had some moments of pause and reflection on the world as it is now. Winter is on the way, COVID is still with us, the NHS is near breaking point, there are fuel shortages, potential food shortages and a spike in energy prices.

While these problems are real and should not be downplayed, I realised I was experiencing a period of anxiety. And this is understandable, normal and nothing to worry about in itself. But having a great deal of uncertainty about what the future holds is a challenge to our mental health and can lead to anxiety and depression. This is all the more so for those already dealing with issues as the fear of being out of control and unable to deal with uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. As Rosie Weatherley from MIND (UK mental health charity) said, “A lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen”.

So at times like this it’s good to remind ourselves how to protect our mental health and look out for others who may not be coping as well as we are. Firstly, make sure you have access to high quality, truthful information. If you are going to worry about something make sure it’s real.

Consider when you want to consume information. Checking the news first thing in the morning and again in the evening is probably better than being constantly bombarded all day long. Also, try to avoid things that trigger your anxiety. There are some media outlets that seem obsessed with alarming people and are always trying to predict the next big crisis.

Stay connected to people you care about and people who care about you. Limit your time with those who are very pessimistic or negative. Also, having a routine can be good to remind you that life, day to day, goes on.

Anxiety UK (UK charity for those with anxiety) suggests practising the “APPLE” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

• Acknowledge. Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty when it comes to mind.
• Pause: Try not to react as you normally. Pause and breathe.
• Pull back. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts, they are just thoughts or feelings. Remind yourself this is just the worry talking. The seeming need for certainty is not necessary.
• Let go. Let go of the thought or feeling. You don’t have to respond to them. They will pass. You can perhaps imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
• Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Practise mindfulness – notice your breathing, the sensations of your breathing, notice the ground beneath you. Look around and talk in what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Once you have centred yourself, shift your focus of attention to something else. Focus on what you need to do now, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry.

Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool to help with anxiety and other disorders. If you feel that hypnotherapy can help you then contact me.

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I get locked down, but I get up again

Lockdown has been hard for many of us, but how can we make the most of it?

Like many of us, 2020 didn’t really play out the way I thought it would. Before it really got started the world changed and many of us were confined to our homes. Everyone’s experience of lockdown is different. Some lost their jobs while for some their jobs changed or became a lot busier. But for whatever reason, many of us found that we had more time on our hands. If you did, what did you do with that extra time?

Now, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. One friend of mine started reading again, having stopped in her early twenties, and is still working through the list of novels she has been wanting to read for years. Some of my friends put on weight and started binge watching TV series. So, between episodes, I took some  time to reflect. I decided I wanted to do something constructive with my time and I found, for me, the perfect solution. I trained to become a Hypnotherapist.

I had been interested in hypnotherapy and other talking therapies for many years and this situation gave me the time to do something about it. Now, on reflection, I was perhaps a little optimistic about how soon life would return to normal. So, I did an online, condensed, course over several months to gain a Practitioner Diploma in Hypnotherapy with Hypnosis World. Doing this has kept me sane and busy. But not everyone is so fortunate.

Many people have found themselves isolated both physically, emotionally and psychologically.  Not being able to see your mates at work, down the pub or at the school gates can have a massive impact of your wellbeing. When we have negative emotions you would be forgiven for wanting to get rid of them as soon as possible. The quickest way is often to self-medicate with a vice of your choice, be it food, sugar, alcohol or even something more damaging.

A more helpful and productive approach is to examine why you are having negative thoughts or emotions. Doing this is the first step to resolving the underlying challenge that is causing your distress. Negative emotions left unaddressed can be destructive and disruptive. We are all an accumulation of our experiences, thoughts and emotions. In extreme cases unaddressed, repressed, emotions can cause unwanted habits to form or be expressed through psychosomatic symptoms such as pain, anxiety and disease. Hypnotherapy can be used to explore the causes of these problems and help you to resolve them.

So, regardless of your lockdown experience, be mindful of your own needs, be kind to yourself and if you need help then reach out to your friends, family, support network or professionals for support. To find out more about my services click here