Tuesday, 13 March 2018

5 Keys To Mental Wellbeing

Achieving a good mental state doesn't have to involve expensive therapy and complicated techniques. Here are some easy strategies you can implement into your life, starting today.

1) Cut out caffeine

Having worked with hundreds of people suffering from anxiety, I have seen first hand, the dramatic results of simply cutting out caffeine. Often we feel as though we need that tea or coffee. However, what we actually need is a drink. Try switching to de-caff for a week and see what a difference it makes to your underlying level of stress and anxiety. Be aware that products such as diet coke and green tea often contain caffeine. This strategy is such an easy, quick win for mental strength.

2) Meditation

Meditation helps you to focus more and to feel confident that you can cope with situations. When you feel overwhelmed by your 'To Do' list, meditation is the perfect antidote. It doesn't have to involve incense, chanting and tie-dye! Headspace is a great app. It's very down to Earth and many of the sessions are only 10 minutes long, so you can easily fit them into day to day life.

3) Walking outside

Exercising outside is great for so many reasons. Obviously it's good for your physical health, which in turn can impact on your self-esteem. However, there are additional benefits to your mental wellbeing. Exercise is great for reducing stress (see my previous post on anxiety for the science behind this). Sunlight is also very beneficial for lifting mood. So get outside for a walk whenever you can.

4) Talking to yourself in a positive way

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Do you find you can be very self-critical? Or label yourself in a very negative way? Often, we tell ourselves things that we wouldn't dream of saying to a friend or family member. Notice when you do this and change it. Imagine what you would say to someone you care very deeply about. You would encourage them in a positive and motivational way. So, do the same to yourself.

5) Surround yourself with positive people

We are social animals. We are naturally influenced by those around us.  Notice how the different people in your life make you feel. If there is someone who puts you down, or who is always moaning about how bad the world is, make a conscious effort to spend less time with that person and more time with those people who make you feel good.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Overcome Anxiety

People experience anxiety in  different ways. For some, it is a rush of thoughts running through their mind. For others it is a racing heart or a feeling of dread in their stomach. Others feel tense, hot and sweaty. However you experience anxiety, it is a very unpleasant sensation.

Anxiety is a natural state and is part of our autonomic nervous system (ANS). Our autonomic nervous system keeps us alive, without us having to consciously be aware of things. For example, our autonomic nervous system controls our breathing, heart rate, digestion etc.

The part of our ANS which causes anxiety is the "Sympathetic Nervous System," also called the "Fight Or Flight" response.

Like all parts of our ANS, the Fight Or Flight response was designed to keep us safe. Thousands of years ago, it would have kicked in when humans were in genuine danger, such as fighting with a neighbouring tribe or running from a predator. In these situations, the fight or flight response is perfect. It releases adrenaline, makes you hyper-alert, increases your heart rate and breathing rate so you have more oxygen to run or fight. The system was perfectly designed to cope with short term dangers, in which running or fighting was the correct response. However, our biology has not kept up with the changes in our lifestyles. Nowadays, people perceive threats as things like, not being accepted socially, failing an exam, public speaking or having a short timeframe to get a project completed. Our brain perceives these problems as a threat and activates the sympathetic nervous system, which reacts in the only way it knows how, by releasing adrenaline, stimulating blood flow, increasing sweating and blood flow to the face (blushing). Unfortunately this physical response is completely inappropriate in most modern day situations.

So, you can see the mind body interaction here. The mind has a thought, (e.g. I'll make a fool of myself giving a presentation at work and everyone will judge me negatively), and this stimulates the physical response of anxiety.

Thankfully there are some easy strategies to overcome anxiety.

1. Cut out caffeine
Having worked with hundreds of anxious clients, I have seen what a huge difference simply cutting out caffeine makes. Switch to decaf since this is now available in most places. Often we feel as though we need a coffee. However, what we actually need is a hot drink and switching to decaf will still satisfy that need. Beware that caffeine is also in a lot of green teas and soft drinks such as diet coke.

2. Push your boundaries
When a situation makes us feel anxious we tend to avoid it. This creates a momentary feeling of relief, which acts as a positive reinforcement. This can lead to avoidance of other situations in which you used to feel comfortable. Imagine you have a circle of comfort around you. Within the circle are the situations you feel comfortable with. Towards the edge of the circle are situations which cause you to feel a little nervous. Outside of the circle are the situations you actively avoid. The problem with avoidance, is that your circle of comfort gradually shrinks, until you become very limited. The way to overcome this is to push your comfort circle. Every day do something which is a little scary for you. Each time you do this, feel proud of yourself. Over time you will become more confident.

3. Practice mindfulness techniques
Incorporating relaxation, mindfulness or meditation techniques, into your life massively increases your ability to cope with the stresses of every day life. A great meditation app is Headspace. You can also read more on mindfulness here.

4. Download my hypnotic Wash Away Stress MP3
This hypnotic MP3 is one of my most popular. It will enable you to manage your stress levels and to feel calmer every day. You can purchase it here.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

5 Ways To Lose Weight Easily

Being overweight has a huge impact on your life. As well as the negative health implications, it also affects your self-confidence. You worry more about how people judge you and how you look in certain clothes. Perhaps your clothes feel uncomfortable as they dig in. Or maybe there's a huge percentage of your wardrobe that you just can't fit into.
We all know that to lose weight we just need to eat fewer calories than we use. It's simply a matter of eating less and exercising more. So, why is it so difficult?

The reason it is so challenging is due to your mindset. It is the way you think about food and exercise, which is holding you back.

Here are some simple strategies to change your mindset and make weight loss easy. At the end of the post there is also a chance to download my Hypnosis For Weight Loss MP3 absolutely free.

1)   Stop "All Or Nothing" Thinking
A very common thought distortion amongst people attempting to lose weight is "all or nothing" thinking. Typically you will be sticking to your diet religiously. Then you'll get too hungry and eat a biscuit. Then think,
"Sod it! I've messed up the diet now. I might as well eat half the packet."
Sound familiar?
Notice when this thought distortion crops up and make a conscious effort to think more logically. A single biscuit is not going to undo all the good work you have done. Instead, identify what led to the lapse.
Was it that you skipped lunch and were too hungry?
Were you stressed or angry?
Once you identify the trigger, find a solution to prevent it happening in the future.
Using a programme such as WeightWatchers is good as you are allowed sins so can still have the odd treat here and there.

2)   Notice Your Language
The way we speak, both to in our own mind and to other people, has a huge impact on our actions and behaviours. Often people use words such as "try," "should" and "need to." For example,
"I really should lose weight because it's not healthy to be this big."
The problem with these words, is that it makes our subconscious mind think we are being told what to do. It sounds like someone else is telling us what to do. When this happens we naturally want to rebel.
Change your language to words which are more positive and put you in control. "Can," "choose" and "want" are good examples. For example,
"I choose to go to the gym today because I want to lose weight, so I can feel confident at the party."

3)   Use a visual image
Your subconscious mind understands visual images very well. Find a picture which represents how you want to look when you have lost the weight. This could be an old photo of yourself or even a photo of a celebrity or a certain outfit you'd love to wear. Put this image somewhere you will regularly see it. This is a great motivator.

4)   Make a specific goal and tell others.
With any goal in life, it is important to make it specific. Instead of telling yourself that you want to lose weight, specify how much you would like to lose. This could be a specific number of pounds or a number of clothes sizes. Once you have clarified your goal, tell other people. You don't need to take out a billboard ad! But tell family and friends. This adds an extra level of motivation.  

5)   Set yourself up to win
To stay on track, you need to feel successful. If you haven't exercised in 15 years, don't aim to go to the gym for 2 hours a day. You will fail to reach your target and will feel disheartened and give up. Set yourself up to win. Aim for 10 minutes of exercise per day. Then anything above this is a bonus.

Here is a lovely comment from one of my recent clients about how hypnotherapy helped her.

 "After years of battling with my weight and yo-yo dieting, I came across a recommendation to visit Catherine to see if hypnotherapy really could work.
After just one really enjoyable visit Catherine has already successfully enabled me to not only give up chocolate, but also to stop snacking between meals.
Catherine is extremely smart, professional, understanding and empathetic. The hypnotherapy session itself was so relaxing, I came away feeling energised and motivated. 
I had a second session just to bolster the first and this time concentrated on exercising without dreading it and making healthy food options at all meals. I came away from that session and went to a High Intensity Interval Training Class with my daughter and I am 61!!! Totally enjoyed it and this is all thanks to Catherine.
There is extra help outside of the sessions provided too. I simply couldn't recommend her more highly."

As promised, you can have access to my Weight Loss MP3 (usually £10) absolutely free. Just email me here.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Monday, 21 August 2017


You may have heard of mindfulness and maybe wondered what it is. People often wonder what the difference is between hypnotherapy, mindfulness and meditation. Which is most beneficial to mental well-being, can also be confusing. In truth all three are very similar and all are beneficial, particularly for minimising stress and anxiety.

Today's post will explain a little more about mindfulness and how you can incorporate it into your own life.

At any time, we can focus on the past, the present or the future. During a typical day, we will focus on all three at different times. For example, focussing on the past, while remembering instances from our childhood. Or thinking about the work we need to get done tomorrow, which moves our focus into the future. Or concentrating on a game of tennis we are playing in the here and now. Of course, we need to shift our attention between the past, present and future in order to function properly. However, when people dwell excessively on the past, it can lead to feelings of depression. This can be because the past was unpleasant and we feel sad that this was the case. Alternatively, if we dwell excessively on a very enjoyable past, it can lead to feelings of sadness because you perceive that things aren't as good now.

Conversely, focussing excessively on the future commonly leads to feelings of anxiety.

Mindfulness teaches you to be present in the moment, which leads to a sense of peace and calm. This technique is particularly beneficial for alleviating stress and anxiety.

You can easily incorporate mindfulness into your life by following these simple steps:

  1. Lie on your bed and close your eyes.
  2. Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine counting 1 on your inhalation, 2 on your exhalation, 3 on the next inhalation and so on until you reach 10. Then start the counting again.
  3. Listen to the sounds within the building you are in. Then extend that out to listen out for sounds outside the window.
  4. Notice the sensations of your breathing, the way your chest rises and falls with each breath.
  5. Scan through your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, noticing the sensations in each part of your body as you do so.

A quick word of caution. Although mindfulness is typically prescribed to anyone who suffers with anxiety, it is not suitable for people who have health related anxiety.

As you become more familiar with the technique of mindfulness, you can incorporate it into your day to day life, for example, noticing the sounds around you as you walk to work.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The dreaded team meeting

His hands were sweaty. His heart was racing, as it had been since they had all filed into the meeting room. He could feel his face was bright red. He was fidgeting with the pen in his hand, trying to calm himself down, not listening to the words any of his colleagues were saying, while simultaneously painfully aware of whose turn it was to speak. Three more people, then it was Pete's turn to give his update to the group.

He hated the weekly team meeting. He knew it was ridiculous, but speaking to the group filled Pete with anxiety, which was getting worse over time. Usually one of the most dedicated and conscientious members of staff, he had pulled a sicky two weeks ago when he was scheduled to chair the meeting. Panic not pride had accompanied his boss's recent suggestion that he go for a promotion.

Although Pete is a fictional character, this story is one I see all the time as a hypnotherapist.

Situations such as:
  • speaking up in team meetings,
  • giving presentations and
  • having conversations with your boss
are very intimidating for many of us.

Unfortunately, as well as being a horrible way to feel, it can really hold you back in your career. Time and time again I meet people who avoided promotions because they didn't want to present to groups.

Thankfully this is treatable. A very beneficial technique is Systematic Desensitization.

You can do this yourself as follows:
  1. Get yourself into a lovely relaxed state by lying on your bed, closing your eyes and breathing slowly and deeply.
  2. When you are very relaxed, imagine yourself in your team meeting. Really imagine it as vividly as possible, engaging all of your senses.
  3. As you imagine yourself coping in a very calm, relaxed way, hold onto that level of physical relaxation.
  4. Imagine confidently delivering your talk.
  5. As you continue to focus on maintaining that relaxation, imagine through to the end of the meeting, when you all leave the room.
  6. Repeat as often as possible.
This techniques works by making a new association in your mind between relaxation and team meetings. You can't be very relaxed and very anxious at the same time. It's physically impossible due to the neurotransmitters which are released in each state. So by pairing the team meeting situation with relaxation, you remove the anxiety.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

5 Public Speaking Tips

What is the biggest limiting factor in your career progression?
For a huge number of people, the one thing that hinders them, is a fear of public speaking.

A recent client of mine was offered a promotion. Already the manager of a small team, the promotion involved managing an entire department. Although she was more than capable of doing the work, she turned the promotion down, because the new job required her to deliver presentations. Unfortunately this story is very common. Whether it's delivering big presentation, speaking to the MD or having regular team meetings, public speaking fear drastically holds back your career.

Here are five simple ways to be more confident.

1) Positive self-talk.

Notice the way you talk to yourself in your own mind. Do you say things to yourself such as,
"I'm terrible at presenting,"
"I always go bright red,"
"I'm boring,"
"People will think I'm stupid."

Even the most confident speakers would feel anxious if their inner monologue was this negative before a talk. Imagine someone you care about. Perhaps a best friend or sibling. Would you ever tell them they looked stupid? Or that they were terrible at presenting? No, of course you wouldn't. So don't say it to yourself. Talk to yourself in your own mind in an encouraging way, as if you are motivating a best friend.

2) Challenge yourself

We all have a comfort circle around us. The problem is, when we fear certain situations, we tend to avoid them. The result is our circle of comfort gets smaller. To become more confident you need to challenge yourself instead of avoiding situations. Challenge yourself to speak to a senior colleague, speak up in a team meeting or ask a question during a presentation.

3) Toastmasters

Toastmasters are a wonderful organization, with meetings all over the world, whose aim is to teach people how to present well. It doesn't matter if you can speak comfortably to a room full of people for ten minutes or are too nervous to introduce yourself, Toastmasters can accommodate you. It is a great way to build confidence and skill at public speaking.

4) Imagine through to the end.

When we think about something we fear, we tend to imagine the worst part. When you imagine future presentations or ones you have done in the past, you probably imagine the part when you first stand up and everyone looks at you. Our minds then get stuck in the most fear inducing part of the experience. Change the way you think. Imagine presentations through to the end. Whether it is remembering past presentations or thinking about future ones, imagine through to the end when you thank your audience, receive a round of applause and return to your seat. This teaches your mind that you are ok in that situation and it does end.

5) Fear Of Public Speaking Hypnosis MP3

Download a great hypnosis MP3, to easily overcome this fear here.

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Thursday, 2 March 2017

10 Ways To Feel Happy

Want an easy way to lift your mood and feel great? Here are 10 simple things you can do today to feel instantly better.

1) Take some gentle exercise, preferably outside. Exercise gets our blood flowing, which gets rid of that lethargic feeling we sometimes have when we're feeling down. We also feel a sense of accomplishment when we exercise and of course, there are the obvious health benefits. You don't have to run a marathon to get these benefits, a walk outside will provide many of the same mood lifting properties. If you can get some exercise outside, this is even better as sunlight is good for our mood.

2) Do something for yourself every day. Often, if we are feeling low, and particularly if we have low self-esteem, we have a tendency to put everyone else's needs before our own. So, perhaps you make sure your boss, children, friends, parents etc. are all happy each day, leaving no energy for yourself. Each time we do this we are subconsciously telling ourselves,
"I'm not important. My needs are not as important as other people's."
Each time we send this subconscious message to ourselves, our self-esteem takes another knock. To feel good, take some time everyday to do something that is just for you. This isn't something you should do or need to do. It's not a chore or obligation. It's something you want to do. For me, it is taking time to have a nice coffee and read a travel magazine, in a beautiful location. Even if it is just for ten minutes per day, for those ten minutes you are subconsciously telling yourself,
"I'm important. My needs are important and I deserve to be happy."

3) Accept compliments with a thank you. When we are feeling low we have a tendency to deflect compliments. For example,
"You look lovely in that dress."
"Oh this old thing. Nah, I've had it for ages and it makes my arse look huge."
Sound familiar?
Accept compliments with a thank you is a great way to boost self-confidence. It's also more polite to the person giving you the compliment.

4) Write down three good things about yourself each day. This is another great way to boost self-confidence, which in turn helps you to feel better in every area of your life. These could be things you like about your physical appearance, talents you have, things you've done well that day, being a good friend etc. It's important to write these down, not just think them, as seeing them in written form imprints them into your mind more effectively.

5) Write down three good things about the day. When we are feeling a bit sad or depressed, our perception of the world changes. We notice the things that go wrong each day. We dwell on the negative and filter out the positive. This distorted view of the world makes our mood even worse and exacerbates the problem. A good way to break this negative cycle is to write down at least three good things about each day. If you struggle with this, start small. For example:
  • The Spring flowers are out in the garden.
  • I'm lucky enough to have enough money to feed my family every day
  • I heard a song I really like on the radio.
6) Watch some comedy. They say laughter is the best medicine and there is certainly some truth in this statement. When you're feeling a bit low, watch some stand up comedy on TV or a comedy film. It's a great way to lift your mood.

7) Spend time with people who make you feel good. We are social animals and we need human interaction. Choose the people you associate with wisely. We all have those people in our lives who make us feel a bit crap. It could be that they are criticize us, are confrontational or are very negative.When you need to lift your mood, make a conscious effort to spend time with people who are upbeat, kind and make you feel good.

8) Set yourself up to win. In modern life we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We want to have a thriving career, be the perfect parent, have a busy social life and look fantastic. Often when we achieve a goal, such as a promotion, we immediately start focussing on the next target. This creates a feeling that we are constantly failing. Create ways you can win each day. When you are setting goals for the day, have some small, achievable ones on there. If you have a To Do list make sure this includes some smaller items. These small wins create a feeling of success, which keeps you motivated and happy.

9) Focus on the here and now. We can focus on the past, the present or the future. Of course, we need to allocate some time to each, to function normally. However, when people dwell excessively on the past, it can lead to depression. On the other hand, when people focus excessively on the future, it can lead to feelings of anxiety. Focus on the here and now, what is going on today, what you can see, hear and experience around you right now, what makes you happy today. This is a great way to boost your happiness.

10) Download my Boost Confidence Hypnosis MP3 below.

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