Save the Date!

The countdown has begun.

My youngest daughter gets married in a year today. See, here’s the proof. I’ve got the ‘Save the Date’ type invite, so it’s real and in a year’s time, both my daughters will be married. Surely, I’m too young for that? Ah, no – wait – that’s just how old (young) I feel in my head! Anyway, I digress.

Today’s date popping up made me think, as I contemplated what we would be doing in exactly one year’s time. And I know that it will be a very different year than if I hadn’t become a Cognitive Hypnotherapist.

You see, in the past, I would now be beginning the process of pysching myself up to the fact that I feel too fat for a wedding. As Mother of the Bride we might tend to feel a need (and a want) to look our best. I’m no different – who wouldn’t?

In my previous life, I would be worried about being judged by other guests or feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Despite this being only about ‘a day in the life’ (all credit to Lennon and McCartney) I would be putting myself under pressure.

I would steal myself to the fact that I would have to lose weight by going on a strict diet to get rid of the excess weight I would inevitably have. This is assuming I hadn’t just come off my ‘diet’ phase of yo-yo dieting, of course. Because that’s what it was like. Diet until I get to the weight I want to be. Restricting, feeling deprived and miserable in the meantime. Longing for the time it would be over. Once it was, immediately returning to my ‘normal’ way of eating that got me there in the first place. Which meant that my weight would begin creeping up bit by bit, as it inevitably would.

What madness is this?

Rinse and repeat! I was doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. I should have realised I was locked into this yo-yo cycle.

So why does me being a Cognitive Hypnotherapist make a difference to how the next year is going to pan out? Well, some years ago I decided it was time to stop the yo-yo cycle and do something to change it once and for all. I used what I knew about how the mind works, to change my own thoughts, feelings and beliefs about food. I explored why I ate the way I did, and changed the meaning that I had created as a child so it no longer had the affect of making me turn to food. Turns out it was nothing to do with food as such, but that’s a story for another time. Anyhoo, that made all the difference. And despite having hypothyroism for the last couple of years, I’m able to maintain my weight and have finally broken the yo-yo cycle that was so demoralising.

So if there is anything here that resonates with you, and that you’d like to explore with the aim of making the changes you want, let’s have a chat. Anything is possible.

Fly, little bird, fly!

So, the time has arrived!

This is what you have all been working towards. All the hard work, sweat and tears! After the anticipation and expectation around exam results. There may have been the extra stress of going through clearing. They may have achieved the grades they needed for an offer to go to their first choice. However they got there, they are heading off to university in the next few days, if they haven’t gone already. It’s a time when some parents will experience that feeling of empty nest syndrome.

You’ve had the celebrations; cards, bubbly, perhaps a meal. There will have been the somewhat dubious and long-winded experience of organising student loans – and you have survived that – just. Lists have been made, and checked, twice! Then comes the time to elbow your way around Ikea, just as so many other exasperated parents before you. Hours spent, looking for the perfect duvet cover and shiny saucepans.

You’ve watched them pack from the side-lines, and then repacked for them when they weren’t watching (or was that just me?). As I did, you might even have tucked into some hidden place, a favourite childhood cuddly. And they will secretly be glad you did, but will fain embarrassment when it’s mentioned. You’ve loaded the car to near maximum weight, and surely to bursting point. All their worldly possessions are now stuffed into a few cubic metres of space with all those vital things they need for the next 3-4 years. They just have to have the X-Box to get by!

It’s all part of their journey…

The journey to their new ‘home’ is their next major step. And what a step, filled with a plethora of emotions. There’s excitement and anticipation, mixed in with fear and anxiety, probably. And that’s just you!

Then you arrive, and help them find their new room – a 10′ x 7′ space that will be all theirs. At least for the next year or so, they will live in this space. Without you!

And before you know it, it’s time for them to wave you goodbye. Whether there are tears or not (yours probably, not theirs), have you considered what this means for you as a parent?

You might be glad to have some time and space for yourself, after all, it’s been a long time coming hasn’t it. Think of all the things you might do now they have gone. You may have big plans for their old bedroom. It could be a home gym or the hobby room you’ve always promised yourself.

For some, the prospect of them leaving you might not be so appealing, but rather, something you’ve been dreading – and now that time is here.

So, now what!!

Few people expect to experience empty nest syndrome. I certainly didn’t. So I was surprised to find that I felt low when my youngest daughter began her uni life. It’s a strange thing to happen. As a parent, we know that if our offspring are able to get on with their life, happily doing what they have chosen to do, we should be pleased. After all, it means we did a good job with raising them. It’s what we do, preparing them well to be young adults, isn’t it? And just think of all the things you can do for yourself now that they’ve flown the nest. Even if that is only during term time. The possibilities are endless. So why do we feel like there’s something missing?

Luckily for me, I had tools and techniques to help myself. I was able to use them through that difficult time. That’s not true for everyone, of course. So you might like to consider getting some extra support if you think it might help you know your own direction. After all, this signals a new chapter for you too. And it would be great to be able to embrace so that if feels like an exciting new step, It’s not something to dread, but a natural progression. This is your time, so find something to give you purpose. Volunteer to do some work with a cause close to your heart. Give something back to your community. Take up a new past-time that you’ve always wanted to do.

If you find it difficult to get the motivation to do those things, get in touch. You might need a little help to take that next step in your own journey, so let’s have a chat.

tel: 07813 126048



What’s a girl ‘To Do’?

Is your ‘To do’ list driving you to distraction?

I was talking with a client about her ‘to do’ list. Every day, she diligently makes her ‘to do’ list. Every day, she also makes herself very stressed by having said list, because inevitably, the list is so long that she finds it almost impossible to complete. She is setting herself up for failure – each and every day. Her stress levels because of this, are so much higher than they need to be.

This got me thinking, as these things often do. So last week when I was out with a friend and talking about how so many people seem to do this to themselves, I had a bit of a moment. You might even call it an epiphany, although looking back it’s so simplistic, that I can’t believe I haven’t thought about this before. And the thing is, that I can’t even claim the credit for this, because it was my friend, or rather a friend of hers who first mentioned it.

So what was this epiphany, I hear you ask? I’m glad you asked. Instead of a ‘to do’ list, how much more easy to achieve would be an ‘enough’ list be? So, this ‘enough’ list would be the things you have to do during your day, which by doing them would be enough. Think of how much easier that would be. How much more satisfying, because you’re actually likely to achieve the things on this list, than you the the more extensive (they generally are) ‘to do’ lists of the past? I just means you’re not putting yourself under undue pressure to achieve things that are unachievable!

I’ve been trying it out myself over the last few days, and I have to say, it feels good. At the end of the day, I’m still achieving the important things that need to be done, it’s just that all the silly, niggly jobs that don’t need to happen immediately, and so don’t make it onto my ‘enough’ list, don’t constantly get carried forward to the next days’ ‘to do’ list. So I’m not having to beat myself up for not having done them, because they weren’t important enough to get on my ‘enough’ list. I hope that makes sense.

I’d urge you to give it a go, and let me know what difference it makes to your stress levels. I’d love to hear from you.

Research Project supports efficacy of Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Over the last few years a group of Quest Trained Cognitive Hypnotherapists and their clients have taken part in a research project. As a result in the September 2015 issue of the Mental Health Review Journal, a peer-reviewed article comparing Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy with national results for the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme suggested that….’QCH may offer a brief effective treatment for clients with clinically significant levels of anxiety and/or depression, widening client choice’. This is a wonderful and unique achievement demonstrating the robustness of QCH as a therapy model. In an average of six sessions, 71% reported themselves recovered, compared to 42% of people using other IAPT therapies. Quest is committed to demonstrating effectiveness, one client at a time, and in doing so we believe we are setting the standard in transparency. This article also highlights the little known fact that dropout from treatment in statutory NHS services is so high that it’s hard to really have any confidence in the outcome of statutory treatment. QCH is positioned to offer a real alternative and we are working hard to bring this to the attention of both the public and the commissioners of services.

The full article can be found here:
A pilot investigation of Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy services using Improving Access to Psychological Therapies as the benchmark
William Peter Andrews , Andrew Alexander Parsons , Heather Rawle , Julie Gibbs. Mental Health Review Journal 2015 20:3 , 199-210

Obesity the biggest threat to women’s health

There has been a lot mentioned in the media today of the report from England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, which has warned that obesity is the biggest threat to women’s health. She claims that it is also putting the health of future generations at jeopardy and needs to be tackled now.

Her annual report this year has focused on women and claims that tackling obesity should be a national priority, if we are to avert a growing health catastrophe. Of course, there are many illnesses that are themselves responsible for more deaths in women (and men, actually) than being overweight, and we could argue that being overweight or obese doesn’t necessarily mean that we will become ill because of it. However, there is little dispute that being excessively overweight causes all sorts of added health issues, including high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes, and muscular/skeletal problems to name but a few. So what can we do about this?

In my past, I’ve had many years of trying (and not succeeding) to keep my weight in check, so I know who difficult it can be. What I also know is that I was able to change the habit of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting by sorting out my issues around food, and why I kept turning to it in times of boredom, or when I felt bad. I worked with a fellow cognitive hypnotherapist to sort out my relationship with food, so that I can still enjoy eating, but no longer turn to it, as if it’s a magic bullet that could fix all my problems. It couldn’t, and I ended up feeling worse about myself for having eaten things that clearly weren’t good for me. So I know from personal experience, and from the many clients that I have helped over the years to sort their eating patterns out, and thereby lose weight, that cognitive hypnotherapy could make a big difference.

If you would like to discuss how I might be able to help you to be able to get a better relationship with food, do get in touch. We can have a chat, with no obligation, to find out if I can help you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving may be an American tradition and OK, I may not be American, but I do’t think I need to be, to be thankful, grateful, or count my blessings. And I do – a lot. Because I really do have much to be greatful and thankful for.

And it’s easy to lose sight of that fact sometimes. When things aren’t going to plan; when there’s traffic stopping us getting to an appointment on time; when the boss is being particularly obnoxious; when you’ve had an arguement with your partner; when the kids are playing up and forgettng that they might get put on Santa’s naughty list (it is only 4 weeks until Christmas Eve, after all).

One of the tasks I will often set for clients is a really simple one that helps to prime your mind to notice the good things that you have in your life. It’s a really simple concept, inasmuch as our unconscious mind will notice what we prime it to notice. So if you’ve ever been thinking about buying a new car, and had a particular model in mind, don’t be surprised to find that that model of car seems to be in abundence now. It’s not that there are more of that type of car on the road suddenly, only that you unconscious mind is primed to see them, and so it does. I remember being pregnant with my first child, and noticing babies everywhere! I was primed to see them.

And so it can be with good things in our lives. So here is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Each evening, perhaps before going to sleep, think about your day, and come up with three good things that happened in that day. If you can think of more than 3, then I suggest you whittle it down to the best three. If you’re struggling for a third, dig deeper, because I guarentee that there are at least3 good things that will have happened to you!

Do this each evening and not only will you begin to notice good things happening in your life, you might just being to feel happier in yourself. You see, I could have sub-titled this Reasons to be Cheerful, because you’ll have lots if you get into the habit of doing this exercise.

And let me know how you get on. I’d love your feedback.

All Change!

Life’s a funny thing, isn’t it. Everything is plodding along nicely, and you think you have it all in hand, and then something happens – it could be something simple, or a major happening – and everything is thrown up in the air! It’s in those moments that we can either become a victim to the ‘poor me’ or even ‘why me?’ mentality, or we can embrace the moment and make something positive come from it.

I have to say, that this last year as definitely seen some massive ups and downs for us (husband and myself) – frankly more downs than ups if I’m honest, but out of it has come a realisation that we want something to be different in our lifestyle. All the ‘downs’ of the last year have fired us to make some significant changes that can allow us to pursue that new way of living. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. I suspect it’s going to mean working harder, especially to begin with, but I do believe that we can make the changes if we put the effort in. Part of achieving these changes is about me moving my practice to London, and working from Harley Street in the heart of the medical district, which I’m really enjoying.I’m making lemonade, because life has given me a few lemons!

What I know is that if I had been in this situation 14 or 15 years ago, before I did my training as a cognitive hypnotherapist, I would have been in the ‘why me?’ mind-set. I wouldn’t have known how to cope with change and I certainly wouldn’t have the confidence in my own ability to make change happen. The fact that I can be sitting here in front of my computer, typing this, and only being concerned with how best to make things happen, rather that being nervous, anxious or even scared about what might happen, speaks volumes to me. It shows me just how much I’ve changed due to my training and the work I do, because I use what I’ve learned on myself. I suppose this should tell you something of what you could achieve if you wanted to, by getting some help from someone like me, if you can’t quite do it by yourself.

Boy gets home after 4 years away after using hypnosis for anxiety

Amazing results using hypnosis for flying anxiety!

You may have heard the reports of a boy who had been unable to return to the UK for 4 years after a flying phobia meant he couldn’t get on a plane. After many failed attempts, his parents sought the help of a hypnotherapist. It was only after this help that the young lad was successfully able to go home on a plane. The use of hypnosis for anxiety isn’t something new; I see lots of clients for something similar. Of course, everyone experiences anxiety differently, and I would speak to each client and find out what that means to them before deciding how we might make a difference to how they feel and how they react to the world around them.

And if you thing it’s something you need some help with too, why not get in touch. We can have a chat on the phone or via Skype, so that I can listen to what’s going on in your life right now, to understand as much as I can. There’s no obligation at that point for you to continue, so what have you got to lose? Anyway, have a read of the full article here. It just shows what’s possible…

Princess of Cambridge uses hypnotherapy to help combat morning sickness

According to reports in a number of newspapers recently, the Duchess of Cambridge has had hypnotherapy sessions to help with her extreme morning sickness associated with her pregnancy. I know from my own experience how limiting morning sickness can be to your life, and how low it can make you feel when you have constant or even intermittent morning sickness. I found that eating starchy carbohydrates helped momentarily, but of course that meant I put on a lot of weight in my pregnancies, so I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone. If I could have found another way, it might have meant I didn’t have to lose 4 stones in excess weight after the birth of both my children. But I didn’t know about this stuff then, so I did the best I could at the time. Now, I know differently, I could have saved myself a lot of unnecessary discomfort and effort.

It can be as simple as changing perception whilst tuning out the unconscious mind, so that it tends to focus on things other than the unpleasant feelings of sickness. Teaching tools and techniques that the Duchess might use to help herself feel better, might also be a part of the treatment she receives.

Whatever her treatment, the Duchess is tacking action, to help control how she feels, and that’s got to be a good thing. Good for her!

Felix Baumgartner had hypnotherapy to help his anxiety before skydive!

This was posted on the BBC ( website today. It’s a fascinating article in itself, but I was pleased to hear how Felix had used hypnotherapy to help him overcome the anxiety age felt when training in the pressure suit that would keep him alive…

Why Baumgartner’s record dive almost didn’t happen

Austrian Felix Baumgartner is the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound – but a severe claustrophobic reaction to the pressure suit he had to wear during his ascent to 39km (24 miles) and his freefall almost put the whole project in jeopardy.

The 43-year-old adventurer had never worked at extreme altitude before, and in order to survive the jump he needed to be more than a skydiver – he needed to become a test pilot.

His next generation, full pressure suit was made by the same company that prepares the flight suits of astronauts – but whereas a test pilot would have a couple of thousand hours to train in a pressure suit, Baumgartner only had 20.

A BBC/National Geographic documentary about the project reveals how much he struggled during the four years of training.

“Having this suit on my body and feeling it, and the smell of the rubber, made me anxious,” he said.

So anxious, that he took a year off training, returned to his home in Austria and had hypnotherapy to help him prepare mentally for the challenge.

“I’ve never been that far from Earth – and you really hope you come back alive.”

Retired US Air Force Col Joe Kittinger, who previously held the record for the highest freefall, acted as Baumgartner’s radio link in mission control at Roswell airport, and understood the risks of the dive better than anyone else.

“The vacuum, the nothingness, it’s waiting there to kill you immediately. It’s hostile up there, there’s no pressure, it’s cold, there’s the glare. If something breaks, that’s it,” he said.

The mission was funded by Red Bull – but the money came at a price – a 12 month deadline which the scientists were not used to. And for Baumgartner there were many things which he felt he had no control over. “I have to trust these scientists. If something goes wrong you’re all by yourself and that is really scary.”

His survival relied on one piece of technology above all others – his pressurised suit. Even experienced astronauts struggle with the suit and he had to learn to skydive in it.

One of the team’s biggest fears was that Baumgartner’s suit would fail above the Armstrong limit – the altitude that produces an atmospheric pressure so low (0.0618 atmosphere) that water boils at the normal temperature of the human body.

“You don’t have the pressure of the atmosphere holding the gases in your bloodstream – so your body starts releasing all the gas. Out of every orifice you have you’ll start to ooze fluids. It’s like the worst possible horror film,” said Art Thompson, the project team principal.

Baumgartner’s hand-sewn pressure suit cost more than one million pounds and is capable of keeping him alive on the moon. It took a team of 30 people six months to make.

Part of his training focussed on acclimatising him to the suit, so he would feel as comfortable in it as in his own clothes – but it severely restricted his movements.

Training or torture? The gruelling tests for potential astronauts
“It’s hard to describe how it feels, your movements are totally limited. You can’t breathe that easily. It’s difficult – you don’t feel a damn thing in that suit,” he said.

“When I skydive, even in winter, I don’t even wear gloves. I want the air floating around my body, I want to feel the speed and the temperature.”

When he first tried the suit on he said that it felt “as if the outside didn’t exist anymore”.

“It’s just you – having a hard time breathing, and it’s hard dealing with the loneliness. You start thinking about the big jump, when you’re sitting in the gondola for two hours, getting higher and higher, you’ve totally lost your connection to the earth. If something goes wrong, you have to pay for it.”

During training Baumgartner had to fight his fear – and the urge to tell the team to get him out of the suit. “I couldn’t even stand being in the suit on the ground.”

“The higher you go the more the suit inflates, so it gets harder to move. You can feel your stomach getting squeezed, you can feel your heart beat getting faster.”

As Baumgartner went through his last-minute checks inside the capsule, it was found that a heater for his visor was not working. This meant the visor fogged up as he exhaled.

The team took a calculated risk to proceed with the jump after understanding why the problem existed.

And early in the dive there was concern that Baumgartner was in trouble. He was supposed to get himself into a delta position – head down, arms swept back – as soon as possible after leaving his capsule.

His jump from the capsule was perfect, but after passing through the sound barrier he went into a flat spin – prompting a horrible sense of dread back at mission control.

If he was unable to stop the spin blood would rush to his brain, causing a redout, which might result in an aneurysm, brain damage, or death.

However he was able to stick out both of his hands and managed to make himself stable, before pulling his parachute and breaking the records.