What if you were your own best friend?

Do you have a best friend or a group of friends that you enjoy spending time with? If so, what do you like about them? Why does it feel good to be with them? Sometimes we like people because they share our interests, or our sense of humour sometimes we enjoy their company because we like the fundamental qualities they have like honesty, trust, loyalty or support. When we think of our friends we do so with admiration and warmth noticing all the good things that make them special to us.

Now I want you to imagine having a ‘friend’ that constantly judges you, and that thinks nothing of calling you stupid or fat or useless. A friend who has difficulty in forgiving you for even the smallest of mistakes and who does this on a daily basis. How do you think your relationship would last with such a hard critique of your perceived faults?

For many people they have a friend like this. The one that exists in their head judging them harshly for every misdemeanour and imperfection. It’s no wonder that we sometimes struggle with self esteem or the ability to challenge ourselves to achieve more than we think is possible. How we speak to and about ourselves is just as important as how we speak to each other. Most of us would not dream of talking to our friends in the same way that we talk to ourselves and let’s face it, if we did we would not have any friends left.

When we continually criticise ourselves we are doing ourselves a terrible disservice and creating a negative relationship in which we feel unsupported, unloved and unworthy. So for all of you out there that recognise that you have been giving space to this unhelpful friend take a moment to stop. Imagine that you can transform that voice into the best friend that you could ever wish to have.

How different would it feel to be talked to in a wholly positive way? It doesn’t mean that you can get away with being badly behaved, as a good friend will be honest and always keep you on track. It means that criticism becomes constructive and you would be supported and encouraged to be the best possible version of you that you can be. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a friend like that you could talk to everyday?

I want to challenge you to try it. Actively engage in the process of transforming that voice in your head to create a new best friend. Try it for a week and I doubt that you would want to invite that old voice back. So please give it a go and let me know how you get on.

K

The Little Book of Stress Busters

pocket book of stressbusters

stressbusters bookMany years ago I worked for a large telecoms corporation. My job was very stressful. I was bombarded with targets, performance parameters and quite often unhappy customers. I saw many people around me suffering from signs of stress; panic attacks, lethargy, and general feelings of being unwell and unable to cope. There was a significant number of people over the 17 years I worked there on long term sick leave.

Stress has always interested me. What makes one person more able to cope than another? What causes a person to become stressed? It’s often not one big thing but an accumulation of small pressures that build over time. So how do we manage stress? What can we do to help ourselves?

I began to collect ideas and techniques that people used and found helpful to manage their stress and in combination with what I have learnt in the last 7 years as a hypnotherapist have collected some of the most useful and put them into a book.

So I am really excited to announce that The Pocket book of Stress Busters is now here. It is a collection of tips and techniques that are simple yet powerful ways to help you manage stress. So if you or anyone you know would benefit please share the link and I look forward to hearing how you get on.

Click here to see it on Amazon.co.uk, The Pocket Book of Stress Busters

Breathing – using it to help you relax

One of the tools I often give clients to practice is a technique called 7/11 breathing. It may seem strange to think of breathing as a technique because it’s something we usually do without thinking about it. But breathing in a particular way can create an amazing change in the way that you feel.

I often suggest that people try it when they feel stressed or anxious and although it can take a little while to get used to doing it the ability to control and manage your own state of anxiety is extremely empowering.

With permission I wanted to share this feedback that I received from a client of her experience of mindful breathing

”Tension is building in the sky. A storm is coming and feels inevitable. The dark clouds are clumping together creating a seemingly breakable force of anger and foreboding. But I’m distracted for moment and, when I look to the heavens once more, I see that a breath of wind has arrived.  Not an angry, destructive wind, but rather waves of gentle, calming, unassuming breeze which are just enough to break the clouds and allow a chink of sunlight to peep through. What seemed a moment ago to be an impossibly foregone conclusion of rain and misery now seems to have been lifted by just a few calming and refreshing breaths which allowed a ray of sunlight to break through and carried the atmosphere to entirely different place. I think I’ll go out for a walk now… It looks nice outside….”

I think it’s a lovely way to describe what happens when 7/11 breathing is used effectively to create enough space to allow a ray of sunlight to break through and enable you to choose how you get on with the rest of your day.

So please try it for yourself and see how you get on, think about how you feel before you’ve tried it and then after you’ve tried it.

Find a space where you will not be disturbed and sit or lie comfortably closing your eyes.

Keep your shoulders down and take a really deep breath – it can be helpful to put your hand on your stomach to feel it inflating as we often breathe into the chest instead.

As you breath out just allow the out breath to extend so that it lasts longer than the in breath. A good way to do this is to breathe in to the count of 7, then breathe out gently for a count of 11.

If you can’t breathe out for that long, hold your breath for the remainder of the time while you keep counting to 11 and then breath in again. Alternatively, try breathing in to the count of 3 and out, more slowly to the count of 5.

Do this about 10 or 20 times concentrating on the counting. You may find that your mind wanders and that’s fine. Any time you notice that it has just gently bring it back to focus on the breath.

It’s really that simple but it can make a big difference so good luck and I’d love to hear how you get on.

Hypnotherapy and the power of thought

I was talking to a friend recently about her new neighbours. Let’s just say that relations between the two houses were not as she hoped they would be. As she was taking about them I realised that I had got caught up in her story of how rude they were and how unfortunate it was that they had moved in next to her.

So I started offering possible reasons why they may seem rude or unsocial – shy, introvert, feeling unwelcome etc. It reminded me that sometimes we do ourselves and those around us a disservice by thinking the way that we do.

When people choose hypnotherapy they often do so because they feel they have tried everything else. Part of the process that I go through with every client is to get them to try to think HOW and WHY they think what they do.

Understanding that you can change the way that you think is incredibly powerful if not always easy. So I wanted to share one of my favourite clips with you. Not only does it make me smile each time I see it but it carries an important message. We may not find it as easy to change our thinking as the lamb in the film but we can start to wonder if our thinking is the thing that is stopping us from doing more and boundin’.

Power of thought

Persistent unwanted thoughts? Try these top tips to let them go.

Thinking Positive

Do you ever feel your thoughts are out of control?

Are you in a never ending circle of worry about something you should have done or something you should not have done? Are money worries, work worries or relationship worries filling your head?

It can seem impossible to think about anything else and for most of us the only option seems to be to try to push these thoughts out of our minds.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that thought suppression does not work. Trying to push thoughts from our minds just makes them come back stronger. It’s a bit like saying to someone don’t think of a pink elephant. What’s the first thing you think of? Yep a pink elephant.

So, what can we do instead?

Try these top tips

1. Delay.

Although suppressing a thought isn’t a good idea long term as it increases its intensity you can delay it.

Creating a 30 minute ‘worry period’ can be effective and bypass the need to suppress.

Knowing that you have a specific time where you are allowed to actively worry can allow your mind to relax the rest of the time.

Focussed worry in this way can be beneficial so why not set up your own ‘worry schedule’.

2. Paradoxical therapy.

Do you feel you need something a bit more hard-core? Then concentrate on the worry. This principle is based on the long-established practice of ‘exposure therapy’. By exposing ourselves slowly but regularly to something we fear it enables the fear to fade.

This method, research suggests can be particularly effective when tacking obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour.

3. Acceptance.

If boot camp style isn’t your thing then why not try acceptance instead. Although it some ways it’s similar to Paradoxical therapy it is a much gentler approach.

Accepting that you have unwanted thoughts can be the first step in letting them go.

Imagine that you are looking up at a blue sky, your unwanted thoughts are the grey clouds passing overhead. You can’t make those clouds disappear you just have to watch and wait for them to pass so that you can see the blue sky again.

4. Focus on your good points.

Studies have shown that by recognising and focusing on all the good qualities we have it can increase our social confidence and improve self control.

This can have a knock on effect and help us manage our negative thoughts. So why not get a pen and paper and write down all the wonderful qualities you have?

5. Avoid Stress.

Although it may seem like a good idea to have so much to do or to think about so that you don’t have time to think about ‘the thing’ it isn’t an effective strategy.

Studies show that the more stressed we become the more likely it is for unwanted thoughts to resurface, so find some time to relax each day.

Want to know the science behind this? Have a look at the research here.

Do you have any tips that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you so why not drop us a comment?

Sick with Worry

Last week we looked at stress and how our biological history determines our response to it.

We all know that too much stress can be bad for us, but we are not always good at recognising the symptoms.

As chronic stress can affect virtually every part of the body this week we will be looking at some of the surprising symptoms that you may not associate with stress.

Sick with worry

Our top 10

  1. Cravings. Yes really, studies have linked cortisol to cravings of sugar and fat.
  2. Fat storage. There is a correlation between stress to weight gain.
  3. Self- control. Brain imaging research shows that major stress can reduce the amount of brain tissue that regulate emotions and self-control.
  4. Asthma. In a study children who experience severe stress, such as a death in the family, were almost twice as likely to experience an asthma attack over the following two weeks compared with those children not under stress.
  5. Bruxism. Stress can cause you to grind your teeth, look out for our article on Bruxism in the next issue of Perception magazine.
  6. Chronic Fatique syndrome. Adrenal exhaustion, often a result of prolonged stress shares many of the same symptoms as CFS. Such as confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, headaches and tiredness among them.
  7. Increased alcohol intake, drug intake, cigarette intake or impulse buying.
  8. Worsening of skin conditions. Eczema, Psoriasis and Acne
  9. Increase in minor accidents
  10. Overreaction to small annoyances

The good news is that most of these symptoms can be helped with stress management. Over the next few weeks we will be putting together some ideas for you to try you that you can build your very own stress management pack.