Warning – Forest operations

How hypnotherapy can help you find the motivation to change

I am fortunate that each day I get to walk my dog in beautiful countryside much of which belongs to the National Trust. One of our favourite places to walk is Limpsfield Chart. It is a large wooded area that consists of both native and non native trees. There are three main areas of non natives, predominately pines that provide a dense, dark and almost silent space in the woods. These are my dog Theo’s favourite, he rolls in the fallen pine needles and digs in the rotten tree stumps. Not much grows below the top third of the trees as it’s so dark.

Over the last few months there have been ongoing forest operations in the woods. They are stripping out the pine trees with a view to re-plant natives and encourage new growth and wildlife into those dead places.

It looks awful. Great swathes of trees have been cut down, the earth churned by the huge machinery needed to complete the task and branches and small trees have been crushed and lay fallen on the paths.

All of us that use the wood have felt the loss of those trees, of the shelter that they provide from the wind and the sun and the rain. All of us it seems are mourning the loss of what were essentially dead trees. Why? Because change can seem difficult.

Despite knowing that once the forest operations are complete and the replanting finished there will be a beautiful, alive and vibrant wood that will encourage and sustain wildlife it’s hard to trust the process.

For many of us knowing that the benefit of that change will far outweigh the short term turmoil is still not enough to motivate us to fell that first tree. So how do we find the courage to take that first step? Focus on your desired outcome. Think about your future just as you want it. Think about the things that you will be doing, the ways you will be behaving, how you will feel differently.

Somewhere in the near future once the forest operations are complete, all of us that use the wood will benefit from the changes that clearing out the dead wood will create.

How to manage stress

Managing stress - get those strategies working for youWhat is stress?

Stress is everywhere it seems. It’s hard to go a week without hearing that someone is suffering from it, is ill through it or has had to have time off work because of it.

Most of us will have felt stress at some point in our lives whether we experience it through an event like moving house, getting married, an illness or bereavement. Or through ongoing circumstances that are challenging such as unemployment, relationship issues, noisy neighbours or problems at work.

Sometimes we experience stress as a result of having too much to do or having a lack of control over our lives.

We all know what it is, but do we?

Why we need stress?

Our biological history determines our physical reaction to stress. We are designed to respond to physical dangers in one of three ways, fight, flight or freeze.

Although we are no longer hunter/gatherers that need to worry as much about our physical survival our biological reaction to perceived danger has remained the same.

When our fight or flight response is triggered our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline.

Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It increases the rate our blood circulates, our breathing, heart rate and carbohydrate metabolism. all of which work to increase blood flow to the muscles and oxygen to the lungs preparing our body for fight or flight.

Cortisol

Cortisol is present in our bodies all the time and has a number of important functions including regulating blood pressure, Glucose metabolism and immune function.

When levels increase as they do in response to stress it produces a number of positive effects that include a burst of energy, decreased sensitivity to pain, and an increase in immunity and helps maintain homeostasis in the body.

Although cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s essential that the body’s relaxation response is activated after a stressful event so that the body’s functions can return to normal.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Continued stress results in a build up of cortisol resulting in long term negative effects. These include; Blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid activity. decrease in muscle mass and increase in abdominal fat.

Why Me?

Why do some people get stressed and others don’t? Our tolerance of stress varies from person to person. What one person sees as stimulating would be unbearable for someone else. What is important to remember is that your body is responding exactly as it should to a threat.

If the threat is physical, the adrenaline that is produced will be used appropriately, you use it to either fight or for flight. As soon as the threat has passed your body begins to recover and you move back into homeostasis.

If the stress if emotional, however the effects of the adrenaline dissipate more slowly and feelings of agitation remain for much longer preventing your body from moving into a relaxation response.

How to manage stress.

As stress is not a medical diagnosis it can go ignored for a long time. The danger of this is that if it continues and is not managed or dealt with it can lead to anxiety and depression.

Recognising that you are stressed is a good starting point. Be aware of the triggers that cause it and try to determine a way of handling them in a more positive way. Learn relaxation techniques and develop a network of friends, family and colleagues that you can rely on.

Stress, it’s not all bad.

It does have its positive side. Short term stress can be highly motivational. Anyone that has had to perform on stage or as a sportsperson will welcome the extra edge that stress provides.

The important thing is that you can to recognise your own triggers and response to stress and develop skills that will help you deal with it and enable you to activate your own relaxation response.

Of course we will be here over the next few weeks to offer you tips and guidance about how to get started. If you ‘re already an expert on managing stress why not share your techniques with us, we would love to hear from you.

The challenge of retirement

Get Ready for RetirementA few months ago I was asked to write an article for Perception magazine about the challenges that retirement may bring.

For a lot of people the thought of retiring is a good one but for many others it starts a new phase of their life that they seem ill prepared for.

You can read the full article here.

Although it may not seem like an obvious choice to see a hypnotherapist if you are struggling with being a new retiree there are several areas that we can help with. Apart from any emotional issues that emerge we can help you, through coaching to achieve any new life goals and adjust to the changes.

Why not share your experience and tips on how to make retirement a good one.


Retirement: Are you ready?

 

Are you looking forward to retirement? Do you see it as a time when you are free of the stress of work and can spend lazy days relaxing? Or are you dreading the day you no longer have to get up for work and wonder how you will fill all those extra hours?

Retirement can and should be an enjoyable time. The freedom and leisure to engage in new hobbies, travel and enjoy time with friends and family is a gift. For many it can seem like an extended holiday.

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. ~Gene Perret

However our emotional response to retirement can vary. It can depend to a large extent on the reasons for leaving work. People who have planned their retirement are more likely to enjoy it than those who have been forced into it early through redundancy or ill health. People who found their work unrewarding or particularly stressful are also more likely to have a positive view of their retirement.

The transition from work to retirement isn’t smooth for everyone however. Although we commonly plan for our retirement financially, we rarely plan for any emotional challenges we may face when confronted with such a major lifestyle change.

Work provides structure, money, social interaction, purpose and a sense of self worth. Retirement can raise issues around relationships, boredom, and self-esteem. For some these challenges can seem overwhelming leading to prolonged stress and depression.

Identity Issues

Our identity and sense of self worth is often so intrinsically linked to our profession or the roles that we play that it becomes difficult to redefine ourselves in retirement when this changes.

When we define ourselves in terms of our job, for example, ‘being’ a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it makes it impossible to differentiate what we do from who we are. This can lead to a sense of loss once we retire, of not knowing who we are anymore.

In contrast, when we talk about working as a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it classifies what we do as separate to who we are. So redefining our sense of self away from what we do towards acceptance of who we are as a person has a huge advantage when we transition into retirement.

Relationship Issues

Retirement can bring new challenges to existing relationships. Additional time spent in each other’s company can upset the balance and bring unresolved but previously manageable tensions to the fore.

It can highlight contrasts in ideas and personality types. One partner may see retirement as a time when they just sit back and relax, whereas the other may be looking forward to a busy schedule with extended travel, new hobbies and an increasing social network.

Sometimes this is just a difference in personalities. Introverts may be more comfortable spending time alone and with limited social contact whereas extroverts will need company and regular social interactions more often in order to keep them happy.

Personal space and privacy can also be an area of concern. Friction can arise if a couple try to do everything together and don’t have enough autonomy. This can be additionally difficult if one partner has retired earlier than the other and has enjoyed independence and personal space that then may become restricted when their partner joins them in retirement.

Retirement can also mean that decision making processes change. Prior to retirement, work routines can provide a very clear division in decision making responsibilities. After retirement this division may no longer be clear and the need to make joint decisions more often can put a strain on the relationship.

Communication is essential to creating a harmonious retirement. Check that your expectations of retirement are the same as your partners. If your needs differ then make plans that will fulfil both of you. It is important to maintain activities that can be enjoyed both together and separately.

Loneliness

People often underestimate the importance of their work friendships. In many cases the people you spend time with at work are sharing up to 8 hours a day with you. If you don’t have a stable social network outside of work the absence of these daily contacts can create feelings of loneliness and isolation.

This can be complicated further if your retirement plans involve a move to a new area where you don’t know anyone or if you are single or have friends or family that live some distance away.

Make the effort to maintain your social contacts. Prior to leaving work agree future dates to meet up with friends so that you will have some social engagements to look forward to after you retire.

If you are moving or don’t have any friends that are local to you make the effort to join activities, clubs or special interest groups in your neighbourhood, It’s a great way to increase your social circle.

Boredom

Lack of routine or planned activities to look forward to can increase this sense of isolation and lead to feelings of boredom and depression. After we retire there is often a sense of not being useful anymore, or having a lack of purpose.

When we work our daily routine is shaped by the requirements of our job. Our success is based on how well we perform and we get rewarded for our success. We are very much dependent on an outer structure to provide us with a sense of achievement.

Once we retire, we are solely responsible for planning our days. We are making a shift from the outer structure of a work environment to the inner structure of retirement.
Simple daily routines can add purpose to each day as can regular activities. Volunteering can also be an option for some and can provide a new purpose as can any activity that is done on a regular basis.

Creating a happy retirement

Many people find adjusting to a life of retirement difficult but knowing what you want from your retirement and planning for it can help you manage any emotional challenges you may face.

Understanding what makes you happy should be the first step. Retirement should be an enjoyable stage in your life when you have the opportunity to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do when you worked. So don’t waste it.

Maybe you want to climb Everest or go camel trekking. Take up an art class or simply spend more time in your garden. Whatever you have a yearning to do make plans for it and then tick it off your list of things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for.

Communicate with your partner and compare expectations. It is better to talk these things through before you retire so that you can plan for any disparity in ideas. Even if your views of retirement differ entirely there are many ways to manage those differences so that you both get what you need. Your partner may surprise you and be happy to join you on the back of a camel.

Don’t forget to talk to your wider family too. Their expectations may be different from yours too. Just because you are no longer working doesn’t mean that you should be constantly available. Decide and agree boundaries.
Maintain your social network. Even if you are looking forward to retirement and want a period away from the people you worked with don’t lose contact. Make new friends and increase your social circle. Although this can seem scary, joining a group or group activity is a great way to meet like minded people.

Find a purpose. Small things can often provide the greatest meaning. Helping a neighbour, looking after a pet, babysitting the grandchildren are all purposeful activities.

Keep active. There is a lot of research that suggests that people who stay active and involved cope best with retirement. The benefits of physical exercise are well documented but don’t forget your brain.

Work provides mental stimulation for many so if you need to continue it after you retire why not consider learning something new. There are a lot of organisations that run adult classes so whether you want to take up a new hobby or further your education you are bound to find something that interests you.

Remember retirement is a process. Work often provides structure, hierarchy and defined roles whereas retirement is undefined and unstructured. Like any transitional period retirement has both emotional rewards and pitfalls.

How successful your retirement is depends on you and your ability to find happiness in your relationships both old and new. As well as satisfaction in your personal interests and challenging or creative mental activities With forward planning and good communication you can look forward to a smooth transition into this exciting phase of your life.

I’m not just retiring from the company, I’m also retiring from my stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron. ~Hartman Jule

Things that go crunch in the night

Do you have a habit that no one knows about? Is it so secret that you don’t even know you do it? Teeth grinding or Bruxism to give it its proper name is a common problem.

Are You Affected by Teeth-Grinding?

With estimates of up to 31% of the population affected, it often only gets diagnosed at a dental appointment when the result of the grinding has created visible damage. If you are unfortunate enough to experience some of the frequent symptoms associated with grinding your teeth then you know that it can affect your quality of life.

Bruxism can not only cause dental problems such as tooth sensitivity, wear and tear and even fractures it can also cause headaches and pain in the jaw. As a large percentage of people aren’t aware they are doing it they don’t associate their symptoms with teeth grinding and so the behaviour goes unchallenged.

Categories of Teeth Grinding

Bruxism falls into two categories. The first occurs during sleep as is known as  Sleep Bruxism – the symptoms of which are usually more severe upon waking and get better during the course of the day.  The second category, Awake Bruxism occurs during wakefulness; the symptoms of which may not be apparent upon waking but get worse over the duration of the day.

Although the consequences of both sleep and awake bruxism are similar, it is widely thought that they have different origins. The reason why people grind their teeth isn’t clear although it is generally accepted that it may have multiple possible causes.

‘Awake’ Bruxism

Awake bruxism is often associated with the occurrence of stressful events and is more common in women. It more usually involves clenching of the teeth although grinding may occur as well. It is often classified as a semi-voluntary habit in the same vein as cheek biting, lip biting, nail biting or chewing on a pen or pencil.

‘Sleep’ Bruxism

Sleep bruxism is equally common in both men and women. Evidence suggests it may be caused by abnormalities involving sleep arousal and neurotransmitters connected to the central nervous system.

In one study of sleep bruxism,* over eighty percent of the episodes were linked to a sudden change in the depth of sleep. These changes were accompanied by increased heart rate, muscle activity and involuntary leg movements.

Other studies suggest that bruxism is linked to the central nervous system. The effects of dopamine altering medications are cited as evidence that disturbances of the dopaminergic system are to blame. This may explain why smokers are twice as likely to grind their teeth than non smokers as nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine.

It has also been suggested that there is a connection between the vagus nerve and tension in the neck and jaw. The vagus nerve is responsible for lots of tasks including heart rate, sweating and quite a few muscle movements in the mouth. It stretches from the medulla in the brain and passes through the skull down to the chest cavity where it branches off in multiple directions to stimulate organs and muscles.

Stress is a risk factor

However stress is generally considered to be one of the biggest risk factors in grinding teeth. Research suggests that people that grind their teeth respond differently to stress than non-grinders. Although the research connecting stress with awake bruxism is more robust than the research connecting it to sleep bruxism it has been shown that children with sleep bruxism are much more anxious than their non grinding counterparts.

If you suspect that you grind your teeth or maybe you have a partner that does, traditional treatment relies heavily on using mouth guards or splints in order to prevent the teeth connecting. This is obviously only really effective in sleep bruxism and can be uncomfortable for some people.

Hypnosis Teeth Grinding

Hypnotherapy May Help

As stress is thought to be a common factor in both types of bruxism, learning how to deal with stress could prevent a temporary short term issue from becoming a long term habit. If you feel that you need support in managing stress, then hypnotherapy may help.  If you’re not sure that hypnotherapy is for you, then why not buy our free download for bruxism and let us know how you get on.

*Macaluso et al