Wipe away worrying

Photo of woman staring out train window considering the Fast phobia release and worrying

4 wonderful ways to wipe away worries

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it!”              (Mark Twain)

Worrying’ is a word that comes from an old English expression meaning to strangle. That’s an appropriate connotation, because worries can certainly strangle the life out of you.

Persistent, chronic worrying can turn into an uncomfortable habit that’s hard to get shot of, like an old pair of shoes that have become cracked or misshapen, so that wearing them is actually harmful, but you’ve worn them for so long it’s hard to bring yourself to get rid of them.

Chronic worriers even worry when they have nothing to worry about!  Some feel that if they don’t worry then they are tempting fate. One guy I worked with felt that it was his worrying (rather than, say, jet propulsion) that kept the plane in flight whenever he flew. He said “I feel like if I don’t worry, something bad will happen!” ”

Worrying is not harmless. It has consequences. The more we worry, the more stress hormone we produce and the more we dream at night. In turn, over-dreaming caused by unresolved worry can cause clinical depression (something else to worry about!).

The role of the imagination

Chronic worrying (which most of us will fall into to some extent at times) has been called a thought disorder.’ But it’s more a misuse of the imagination. ‘Imagination disorder’ may not sound quite so clinical, but is possibly more accurate. Imagination is not just all in your head. It has measurable, palpable effects, physical and behavioural.

Chronic jealousy, for example, is a classic misuse of the imagination.  Jealous people, often with no real grounds, may imagine all sorts of negative things about their partner’s actions and intentions. This can significantly raise their blood pressure (evidence of the hypnotic power of the imagination to affect the body). It may even lead them to commit terrible crimes, all because they buy into the scenario created by their imagination.

Hypnotherapy, of course, works in the same way but to positive ends. We use the imagination in hypnosis to alter physical phenomena. For example, improve immune response, take away pain. And behavioural responses, for example, help someone stop smoking.

The common denominator is the imagination, and whether a person uses it constructively or destructively.

So how do you get yourself out of the being caught up in chronic worrying and use your imagination more productively? Here are four powerful tips.

1) Get distance on the worry

I’ll often talk about how we are capable of imagining absolutely anything, but whether we buy in to what we imagine is another matter altogether. Stephen King uses his imagination (as do many writers) to create terrifying scenarios, but he produces all these scary ideas without being scared witless by them himself. He can clearly separate himself from what he is imagining.

Simple as it sounds, this is often a completely new idea for many worriers. As I’m typing this, I can quite vividly imagine the ceiling caving in on top of me while not believing for one second that it’s going to happen (fingers crossed).

So rather than trying to get yourself not to think about it’ – possibly the most useless advice ever – just relax deeply while imagining what normally scares you.

In effect, you are asking yourself to worry without feeling worried. I have found this to be surprisingly easy and effective.

And when you can hypnotically see yourworries in the distance -‘over there’- while feeling ever so relaxed over here. I might even prescribe set doses of worrying while relaxed for the chronic worrier to take between sessions.

Emotion is the neon sign yelling  “Pay attention to this!”” and when you diminish the emotion, the old worrying thoughts become much less compulsive.

2) Organise the worrying

There’s nothing like a timetable for bringing things under control.

Worry tends to be intrusive, to gate crash your head when you’re trying to enjoy yourself or concentrate on something. Prescribing worry time is a neat way of prescribing the symptom and organising this destructive use of the imagination as a prelude to getting rid of it once and for all.

(Of course, being able to worry sometimes is useful for all of us, so perhaps we won’t get rid of it completely – just keep it in its place.)

When you select a specific time of day to sit down and do nothing but worry for a specific period, you give yourself permission to defer worrying.

When they a troublesome thought occurs, say to yourself: “”Okay,  there’s a worrying thought.  I’ll worry about that in my worry time, not now.”

Setting up a fixed period, no longer than 20 minutes for worrying soon shows you that worrying doesn’t have the hold over you that you thought. When you must do it for 20 minutes, it gets harder and harder to do – thus transforming itself from something that you can’t help doing to something that is a real nuisance to keep up.

3) Write down solution steps

Worrying that doesn’t lead anywhere is like a dog chasing its tail!

It’s been shown that writing about emotional issues lowers stress hormone levels, perhaps because writing requires us to use other (less emotional) parts of the brain. But to be really effective writing needs to be more than just venting.

So get yourself to begin using this practical writing technique:

List write down, exactly and clearly, just what you are fearful of, making as full a list as possible

Split –mark each item on the list in such a way as to show if it is soluble, or insoluble. For example, worries about situations that cannot be immediately changed, or concerns over the unchangeable past.

Steps –copy all the soluble items into a single column on one side of a page and note down beside each item in the next column some practical steps that can be taken towards fixing’that problem.

Resolve– copy all the insoluble items into a single column on one side of another page. Beside each item describe how you would need to feel differently about these issues in order to resolve these worries psychologically. For example, I need to accept that the plane takes off and makes a lot of noise as the engines gather speed and this will always be so.

4) Chuck your worries away

Writing down bad memories, enclosing the paper in an envelope, sealing the envelope and then burning it has been found to influence the memory. In the sense that recollection of the emotional details of an event becomes weaker after this metaphorical act.

I once had a client who told me she was worried about certain things she felt she couldn’t talk to me about. I asked her whether she could write them down so we could dispose of them properly. She did so. I then asked her to take the sealed envelope and put it into her log burner and burn it.

We then talked about those things she did feel able to discuss with me. In a later session, she confided that since doing that ritual she somehow felt much less concerned about those secret worries.

Ultimately, worry should be a tool or a signal that lets us know when something might need addressing. We don’t what to lose this tool completely, but no tool should ever be allowed to enslave its owner.

Staying young

Photo of hand and Tissot wrist watch with focus on the time in cold blue colours ageing us

Can hypnotherapy keep you young?

According to results of the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study….In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Many more struggle on without seeking medical help.  It is already known that chronic stress can affect our health adversely in many ways. What is not so well known is that it can also lead to premature ageing and the health problems that are associated with getting older.

Latest research suggests that age related diseases occur at different rates in different individuals. ‘Psychological distress’ appears to be an important factor in how quickly the onset of these diseases occurs.

Stress brings about imbalances in the body, such as high cortisol, glucose and insulin, and low growth hormones. These may lead to unwanted responses in our bodies, potentially impairing the normal cell ageing processes.

Premature ageing can also occur as a result of a lifestyle that includes the sort of behaviours that we associate with stress. They include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, a high fat diet and sleeplessness. These have all been linked to DNA damage due to a process called oxidation.

But the good news is that these ageing mechanisms can be reversed!

Research suggests that individuals can help themselves by reducing their perceptions of stress, along with increasing healthier behaviours, such as sleeping better, drinking less, and stopping smoking. These changes may promote subtle but important improvements in premature cell ageing.

In addition, hypnosis may contribute to stress reduction and health promotion.  After a hypnosis session, heart rates can reduce and breathing rates lower. So the state of relaxation induced by hypnosis could well be beneficial and lead to stress reduction. Thereby minimising the risk of premature ageing.

Solution focused hypnotherapy (SFH) can help people manage their stress levels, it is a modern research based combination of hypnosis and psychotherapy, which promotes relaxation and helps clients to make beneficial lifestyle changes.

Local Hypnotherapist, Neil Cox of Bude, is very enthusiastic about the efficacy of SFH in the management of stress. “We know that too much pressure can lead to stress and a range of physical and mental health problems, including, it now transpires, premature ageing. Stress affects the way you think, feel and behave, impacting every area of your life at any age. Hypnotherapy offers powerful techniques and strategies to enable you to deal with stress, helping you to think and behave in a more positive way, and that has many health benefits”.

Neil explains how it works: “We encourage clients to focus on how they want things to be. We avoid problem talk and instead help our clients to visualise their preferred future. By encouraging clients to think and express themselves positively, we can help to improve their response to life’s stress.

Find out more by booking a consultation online today 

Making mistakes

mug of tea considering hypnotherapy anxiety depression stress mistakes

People who say they never made even just a single mistake in their entire life are most likely lying.

We are all wonderful creatures. But the fact remains that we are not perfect. People who say they never made even just a single mistake in their entire life are most likely lying. Mistakes are normal. They are part of everyday life. But even though it happens most of the time, committing mistakes can make us feel embarrassed, disappointed and sometimes, a ‘complete failure’. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can actually turn mistakes into touchstones that will help you become a better person.

If you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, apologise.

Sometimes, we say things that offend other people and make them feel upset, even though we really don’t mean it. The best way to deal with this kind of situation is to say the big word “SORRY”. Tell that person you didn’t mean to offend him or her. Say sorry with utmost sincerity. Doing this does not just free you from guilt; it may also win you a friend.

Face it.

The best way to overcome a negative experience is to face it, not avoid it. If you’ve done something wrong, acknowledge it and accept it. Don’t try to deny it. But don’t beat yourself up either. Instead of focusing your time and energy trying to blame yourself, look for ways to repair the damage your error has caused. If for example, you’ve ruined a presentation that made your boss a little disappointed, apologise first and offer a solution to the problem. If it isn’t possible, tell him or her that you will be more careful to avoid doing the same mistake in the future. Accept whatever criticism that may be directed on you without complaining.

Confide to someone you trust.

Talking helps release some of the discomfort and frustrations you may have about the mistake you did. But be careful who to confide with and never badmouth someone else. Remember, the word can spread quickly. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it with friends or relatives, you can always talk to a professional therapist.

Take responsibility for your action.

Committing a mistake can actually help you become more responsible of your actions and decisions. Don’t try to run away – it can only make things more complicated. Instead, confront the situation and deal with the consequences of your mistakes. It is going to be tough but most of the time, the lessons learned from mistakes are the best life lessons we would never forget.

Moving on from a mistake is highly possible.

 Remember that people, too, will get over the mistake you did and forget about it. But sometimes, if it has deeply hurt them, moving on can take a long time. If you have already apologised but the person you’ve hurt hasn’t forgiven you yet, just accept the consequences. As other say, “to forgive is divine”. Not all humans have the ability to forgive and forget.

Remember that frustrations and embarrassments are temporary.

They say time heals. In the right time, all the negative emotions you’re experiencing right now will go away. Assure yourself that soon you will feel better and everything will turn out all right.

Mistakes have one purpose – to make you stronger, wiser and better. Take time to reflect on things and uncover the hidden lessons from every mistake you did. Surely, it has something good to offer you.

Do you agree that some of the best lessons in life come from failures?