Are you feeling irritable? IBS and what to do about it

You are not alone, up to eight million people in Britain suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The symptoms of IBS can be variable and include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, tiredness, backache, muscle pains and sometimes bouts of diarrhoea and/or constipation. Although IBS is very common, the cause is unknown.

IBS can affect anyone at any age, but it commonly first develops in young adults and teenagers and is twice as common in women as in men.

Some people have occasional mild symptoms. While others have unpleasant symptoms for long periods. Many people fall somewhere in between, with flare-ups of symptoms from time to time.

IBS is not a disease. Although the symptoms of IBS may be severe, the disorder itself is not a serious one. There is no actual disease in the colon. Rather, it is a problem of abnormal function.

So what can you do if you have IBS? Reviewing your diet can be a first simple step. Certain foods such as coffee, alcohol, spices, raw fruits, vegetables, and even milk, are common triggers so avoiding them can make a big difference.

Virtually everyone has had, at one time or another, some change in bowel function or stomach discomfort when under intense stress, such as before a presentation or exam. So it is the interaction between the brain and the gut that hypnotherapy can help with.

Have a look at Medical News Today to see the evidence for a hypnotherapy based approach.

If you have IBS but are unsure about using hypnotherapy why not try our free relaxation download first, and see how you get on.

And so to bed… insomnia and how to overcome it

Sunray – And so to bed, insomnia and how to overcome it

“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more”.
-Wilson Mizener

You can’t beat a good night’s sleep but more than half of us will experience insomnia at some point in our lives.

For some, lack of sleep is a temporary annoyance that can cause irritability, forgetfulness and despondency. However, it can also be a debilitating symptom of more chronic condition such as depression, stress, anxiety, pain and heart disease. Simple things become difficult and long term sleep disturbance can make everything seem overwhelming.
Sleep is a natural state of unconsciousness that enables your body to rest. While you’re asleep, your body goes through different sleep stages in a cycle that lasts approximately 90 minutes. Your body may go through five of these cycles in a night. The sleep stages are:

• drowsiness
• light sleep
• deep sleep
• dreaming – also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep

So how do you ensure a good night’s sleep? There are a number of practical measures which may help re-establish a healthy sleep pattern. Try these for at least 3 weeks.

• Establish a fixed time to get up and stick to it even if you have had a bad night
• Don’t nap during the day
• Take moderate exercise every day, at least four hours before bedtime.
• Try to establish a bedtime routine, for example, a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall sleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.
• Ensure a comfortable sleeping environment, not too hot or cold etc.
• Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed
• Avoid eating a heavy meal late at night
• Hide your watch or clock so that you don’t keep checking it throughout the night
• Don’t lie in bed worrying. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia. Distract yourself with a book until you feel sleepy.
• See your doctor, if you always feel tired, there may be an underlying medical condition which needs treating.

If you need further support why not learn self hypnosis? Learning relaxation techniques and dealing with any contributory factors like stress or anxiety can be invaluable in helping you get the sleep you need.

Simple Things

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock

As I watch my dog use a peony flower as a pillow while he relaxes in the sunshine it makes me think about how fast life seems to move. It’s not uncommon to find relaxing, chilling out and taking a break scheduled into people’s diaries. And although it is a good way to remind yourself that it’s important it does mean it just becomes another thing that we have to fit in to our busy lives and ‘do’. We all have commitments that keep us busy but try not to forget to enjoy the small things in life because they are important too. A ten minute tea break, a five minute stroll, a minute to watch your dog using a peony bush as a pillow. All these small moments that can be grabbed during the day that just allow you to stop and breath and just ‘be’.

How to make a new habit stick

How many times have you tried making changes in your life, a habit change or learning a new skill, only to find that you run out of steam or get discouraged and give up.

So how do you make a new habit or behaviour stick? Go slowly and make the change a little bit at a time. If for example you are feeling inspired after watching the Olympics to get your bike out of the shed after a year of neglect don’t try to ride the Tour de France on your first ride out.

Follow these guidelines and make the changes you want.

1. Commit to Thirty Days – Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic.

2. Do it Daily – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym or get on your bike every day. Activities that are only done once every few days are harder to develop as habits.

3. Start Small – Don’t try to change your life in one day. It is easy to get excited or over-motivated and take on too much. If you want to exercise for an hour a day and you haven’t exercised for the last year start with 15 minutes. When this becomes a habit build on it.

4. Use Prompts – It’s easy to forget your goal so write it down and place reminders for yourself to keep on track.

5. Stay Consistent – The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick to it. Try doing it at the same time and same place for your month it will be easier to stick with it.

6. Be Realistic – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It can be hard especially if you are trying to give something up. Keep trying.

So good luck and let us know how you get on!

Take Control of Your Own Time

Do you find yourself rushing around with too many things to do in a day? It’s difficult to be at your best if you are running around and getting stressed in the meantime. This often means that you don’t have enough time to do all those things you’ve been meaning to do, things like keeping up regular exercise, preparing food and eating healthily, or simply looking after yourself. We’ve all said it – ‘I just don’t have the time’ but are we really as busy as we think?

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler

We all have the same 24 hours in the day so how do some people seem to achieve so much and others seem to achieve so little?

It’s all about priorities…

How quickly does your perspective change if instead of thinking ‘I don’t have time’ you change it to ‘It’s not a priority’

‘I don’t have time to go to the gym and work out’ becomes ‘exercising isn’t a priority.’
‘I’d love to eat healthier but don’t have time to cook’ becomes ‘eating healthy isn’t a priority.’

So next time you think about saying you haven’t got time to do something ask yourself if it’s a priority instead.
You may be surprised at your answer.

Still not convinced? Then why not try this tip from the Wall Street Journal: ‘Are You As Busy As You Think?’ and keep a time log.

How much time do you spend watching TV, or surfing on your computer for example?
This can be a really effective way of working out where you can save time and use it to achieve your priorities instead.

‘I am feeling very Olympic today’

With the Olympics kicking off this week it seemed a ideal time to talk about performance.  Although the immediate focus will be on sport,  performance in other areas such as presenting, exams, driving tests and interviews can also be improved with some simple techniques.

1. Centre yourself.

This technique helps reduce anxiety and stress and re directs your focus to the present task. Imagine your lungs are divided into 3 parts, lower, middle and upper. The lower part is in your abdomen and the upper part is in your chest.  As you breathe in through your nose imagine that you are filling your lungs from the lower part upwards. You should notice your stomach expanding first and then as you continue to breathe in, your chest should also expand pushing your shoulders up and back slightly. Exhale through your mouth and as you do think of a key word that helps you focus on what you want to do. For example ‘sharp’, ‘relaxed’,  ‘ready’ or whatever word has meaning for you . Keep practicing this technique so that it becomes automatic when you need it most.

2.Visualise yourself getting the outcome you desire.

Research has found that repeated visualisation can build both confidence and physical and psychological reactions in certain situations. With mental rehearsal, the mind and body can become trained to actually perform the skill imagined.

  1. Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  3. Create a vivid and convincing image of yourself and of what you want to achieve. Imagine the sights, sounds, feelings and even the smells of the experience. Visualise as much detail of the scene as possible. What are you wearing, are you alone or are there other people around you? What can you hear? How do you feel?  See yourself achieving your goal.
  4. If your mind wanders just focus on your breathing and gently bring it back.
  5. Always end the exercise with a positive image.

 3. Believe in Yourself

If you recognised the quote ‘ I am feeling very Olympic today’ from Cool Runnings then you will know that belief in yourself is as important as the talent that you have. Cool Runnings is loosely based on the true story of the First Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the 1988 winter Olympics. They had no experience, they used borrowed equipment but they had a strong belief that they had a right to compete as equals and that’s what they did. Believe that you can achieve and remember that there is no failure only feedback.

So whatever your goals are over the coming weeks or if you are just watching for fun good luck.