Anxiety resources

Anxiety resources are one of the keys to feeling better. So what’s the first to understand?

It has to be relaxation.

Think of your anxiety a little like a light switch, on is anxious and off is relaxed. It’s simple but profound.

It’s physically impossible to be relaxed and anxious at the same time.  Relaxation is the first practical tool I teach my clients to use in the fight against their anxiety. Why?

Because it puts the power back in the anxious clients’ hands, and an empowered client has made a first step towards recovery. That is one of the benefits of relaxation, we CAN all do it, sometimes we forget how, but it is an ability we all share.

A little like Carl Jung’s idea of the common subconscious, relaxation is a natural healing resource that we can all access to fight anxiety, with the right help.

I’m not talking about the bottle of wine and a film type of relaxation with Facebook pinging all the way through; I’m talking about deep relaxation of the autonomic nervous system. It’s kryptonite for anxiety.

And that is something most of us very rarely do.

And it’s the ultimate ‘me time’. If you don’t know that, do yourself a huge favour and try it out even if you aren’t struggling.

Hypnosis is a fantastic tool to kick start the relaxation process if it’s been long neglected, so is mindfulness or meditation. Whichever way it happens, once it happens, clients have a tool they can access anywhere to turn the intensity right down, like you would a radio.

Think of that from the anxious person’s perspective. They are often confused, frightened, lonely, and sometimes desperate but mostly they want tools. They want to help themselves.

In the toolbox, relaxation is the soft, soothing, comforting, velvety hammer of anxiety. You can use it and enjoy using it too. It’s not the medicine that made us screw our faces up as kids. It feels good and it helps, what’s not to love about relaxation?

You can feel it working too, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, steady, easy breathing, benefit after benefit after benefit.

Every time you flick on or off a light switch, think of it… anxiety on, relaxed off.

 

Anxiety on.

Relaxed off.

Anxiety and you

ANXIETY AND YOU

So why did I decide to specialise in anxiety?

Well, anxiety chose me, not the other way around. As a busy Lawyer, I didn’t see the warning signs on the road to anxiety until all of a sudden… BAM!

Huge panic attack on the first day of a holiday, fear, confusion, feeling isolated and vulnerable, I felt like I was the only person in the world that this was happening to. I had no tools to help me help myself.

Fast forward ten years and I moved from anxiety’s latest victim to hopefully its worst enemy. How did I do this?

I condensed expert personal therapy, countless hours of study, became a therapist, researched and researched into my desire to understand anxiety and how to help others. It led to UKCP accreditation, thousands of hours of dedicated work towards helping people like you, but most importantly it gave me a skill set that really makes a difference.

So what does that mean to you?

It means you’re not alone in this struggle; people have been there before, while your route into anxiety is personal to you, the symptoms of anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety and that spiral of panic are very common to us all.

There are many useful ways to combat anxiety and find your peace, relaxation, CBT, hypnotherapy, reframing, behavioural methods and various forms of psychotherapy can all look at the causes and help move you forward.

You are not alone, I have been there and I have moved on.

You can move on with the right answers and methods. Therapy isn’t a magic wand, it’s sometimes hard work but the therapist collaborating with you as the client is the key to making that progress.

Whether anxiety strikes out of the blue or is a familiar part of your life when that feeling of dread, the fear of fear comes over you, you can use some of the resources posted on my last blog to help in the short term.

I find that with clients in my treatment room, learning about anxiety is a major part of the process and so I decided to put some of that knowledge out here to help you.

In the next blog, I will talk in more detail about therapy methods and how they work, but more importantly about how they can help you. Whether face to face or by online therapy, the more you understand, the more tools you have to combat anxiety.

I hope you’ll join me

Stuart

Help for Anxiety and Panic

HELP FOR ANXIETY AND PANIC

THE TEN TOOLS YOU CAN USE RIGHT NOW

1 – Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.

2 – Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reactions to stress.

3 – Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face those feelings, the less intense they will be.

4 – Do not add to your panic by thinking about what “may” happen. If you find yourself asking “what if?” Tell yourself “so what!”

5 – Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed what you think might happen.

6 – Label your level of fear from 0 to 10 and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.

7 – When you find yourself thinking about fear, change your “what if?” thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by sets of 3.

8 – Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to you fear, it begins to fade.

9 – When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.

10- Be proud of yourself your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.

15 Motivation Essentials

15 MOTIVATION ESSENTIALS

Motivation can be overcomplicated very easily, but in therapy we shouldn’t underestimate its importance. Here I’ll try and break down what you need to know and leave out what you don’t to make things easier.

  1. WHAT IS MOTIVATION?

The simplest definition is that motivation explains your behaviour, it’s why you do what you do, why you want what you want and why you need what you need.

  1. WHY DO I NEED IT?

Because it’s part of a cycle of achievement, if you want results then motivation is not optional. The more motivation you have in therapy, the better.

  1. INTERNAL MOTIVATION

As the name suggests, this comes from within you. What do you love doing? Do you remember how you used to play as a child with no reward other than the sheer enjoyment of the process? Think about your ‘Me-time’ and that’s internal (or intrinsic) motivation right there. It’s as unique as you are and tends to be lasting.

  1. EXTERNAL MOTIVATION

This can be the carrot or the stick, for example money or punishment, and it’s the opposite of internal motivation because there is a (desired or undesired) outcome.  In therapy this could be someone who wants to change something because there is a reward for doing that or a drawback for not doing it. In other words they don’t want to do it just for themselves.

  1. DIRECTION IN MOTIVATION

Really important is where you are going; are you moving away from pain, or towards pleasure? If it’s a little of both, that tends to work best in the therapy room. Choice is key here, smokers may think they have no choice but to smoke but can go for a long time without a cigarette on a holiday flight.

  1. PERSISTENCE AND CONTINUING

Can you stick at it? The important thing here is to change the idea that it’s a hardship, of course you may suffer a setback, it’s part of being human. In therapy we don’t see things as linear or so black and white, it isn’t snakes and ladders after all! If you can learn to be gentle with yourself and remember why you were doing it, and what your motivation is you can get back on track.

  1. FAR BEYOND DRIVEN

We’ve all seen intensity and we know what it looks like, but intensity can be daunting and it can also be turned down by turning down the difficulty level. How do you see yourself? Letting go of the labels you may have given yourself makes it easier to move on from that old version of you

  1. I THINK THEREFORE I CAN

Guiding behaviour through goals (literally, in the case of sportsmen) therapy helps you to visualise an outcome and then build the psychological architecture to succeed. This is very powerful at a subconscious level and represents a tool that you can use for your own results.

  1. TAKING SMALL STEPS

By taking small steps and checking off the simplest milestones on your list towards your desired result, you build encouragement and therefore motivation. Do you know you can do it? Have you done something similar before?

  1. FOLLOW THE LEADER

Do you know someone else who has done it? Seeing others succeed before you can build motivation and help you to get where you want to be.

  1. COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT!

Do you have a champion of your cause? Is there someone in your corner that can support your efforts and encourage you along the way to change?

  1. YOUR BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES CAN HELP YOU

Your beliefs, emotions and behaviours can all help here; having a strong belief is a big step in making your change.  Do you have one habit that you can use as proof that you can form a new and more beneficial habit?

  1. SURVIVOR NOT VICTIM

You may have had hardships and it may feel like you are the victim of events that conspired against you, but you’re still here. Seeing those challenges as having strengthened you because you got through them rather than weakened you and made you more vulnerable changes your perspective and can increase motivation.   

  1. OWN YOUR GOAL

When you take ownership of a deeply held goal, you build subconscious motivation and you bring the subconscious into the process. Your subconscious is a powerful tool for change and ally in the process; it’s yours, so use it.

  1. SPREAD THE WORD

We can all increase motivation if we understand it, nobody else’s aim will be exactly the same as yours, it isn’t a contest, so spread the good news about motivation and see the benefits multiply.

 

Stuart Cale is the founder of Talking-Cure, a bespoke Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy practice specialising in anxiety, stress management and self-esteem.

 

 

Hypnosis not for TV

hypnotherapy is a natural and healthy state of deep relaxation

Hypnosis not for TV but for clinical settings

Hypnosis is not for TV. “You’re back in the room”; ITV’s latest game show which features contestants being hypnotised by “master hypnotist” Keith Barry and longtime presenter Philip Schofield begins this weekend.

For decades, the hypnotherapy profession has worked hard to legitimise itself and leave the parlour trick stage hypnosis image in the past. With so much research into the efficacy of hypnosis in medical and psychological worlds, the public is now to be treated to ridiculous tricks performed by people most likely role playing and making hypnosis appear to be more magical than empirical.

Now, some in the public (and sadly some in the profession) will see a programme like this as a bit of fun and nothing to become agitated over. Some might even see this programme as positive press for hypnosis. I, however, see this programme as something very different.

In my practice, as with many other professionals, all the people I work with have genuine issues that they want to change. The decision to see a hypnotherapist is not always an easy one due to the portrayal of hypnosis as being some odd occult practice. When a person seeks out a mental health professional they are not looking for a sideshow act.

As professionals it is our duty to put the welfare of our clients and potential clients at the forefront of everything we do. This programme is potentially detrimental to them and so we must speak out. Programmes like this give a false idea of what hypnosis is, and I call upon all my fellow professionals and those with an interest in mental health to take to social media to voice your disquiet about this extremely tasteless and damaging form of entertainment. Let the public know what hypnosis is used for therapeutically and how programmes like this set the profession back in recognition terms, by years.

Remember there are no stage surgeons and there is a good reason for that, they are health care professionals who are take client care seriously. Should hypnotherapists see their profession in any less of a light?

Therapy for jealousy

Jealousy can feel like we are losing our hold

Therapy for jealousy and emotional issues. These can be helped by individual therapy in a safe and supportive setting

Jealousy, something (often secretly) familiar to many of us. Jealousy and Envy (yes, they are different things, envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by someone else and jealousy when something we already possess is threatened by a third person) can both be very intense feelings that in turn can easily dominate aspects of our lives. Another problem is that they can be as hard to shift as they are to deal with, and often are not talked about or discussed.

Jealousy can destroy love, and it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been touched by the classic signs of jealousy such as lack of trust, fear of losing someone we love, or anger at attention paid to others. When it comes, that intensity of emotion can render rational thinking impossible and even cause behaviours in the sufferer that drive people away and reinforce the self-fulfilling prophecy.

The emotional content of jealousy is complex, abandonment, loss, fear, sorrow, humiliation, betrayal; the list is long and infamous. Even violence can make an unwelcome appearance where jealousy is concerned, and it can be as irrational as it is damaging, Steven Stosny, a psychologist says, “The formula for jealousy, is an insecure person times an insecure relationship” and goes on to point out that it isn’t just sexual jealousy at play, sometimes children or any kind of friendship that diverts attention from the sufferer can be a problem.

With origins based in our far-distant evolution, perhaps to protect intimate relationships, in our current lives where we may change partners several times in the course of a lifetime, jealousy can become a painful burden. The feeling of inadequacy makes it seem a particularly poignant and difficult burden.

So, what can be done? Well, like many things, communication is often at the root of the solution, jealousy is often something we deny in ourselves so just recognising and acknowledging it are also important steps. It’s often too personal and complex for a list of self-help suggestions as seem to be so common in our culture that demands quick fixes. Jealousy isn’t something we can cast off like an unwanted coat when spring comes, it’s a treatment process, and moving beyond jealousy is a skill that often takes a little time to learn.

Having said that, as is so often the case, people can travel through life with often debilitating levels of jealousy, accepting that as their fate. Surely, if you’re affected, it’s worth taking some steps now to hopefully improve the quality of life and relationships still to come…?

Change in therapy

Clients often dwell in the past or live in the future, mindfulness can help with focus as one of many benefits

Clients often dwell in the past or live in the future, mindfulness can help with focus as one of many benefits

 

Change in therapy, one common denominator is clients often seeks a big change, rather than gradual shifts into change, we can make ourselves mountains to climb. We’re most of us familiar with the famous Chinese quote from Laozi “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and this is how the guides tell us to effect change, bit by bit. In a world of instant gratification however, this is less appealing than the idea of announcing to the world (or ourselves) that we are suddenly different in a big way, a dramatic way.

For some of course, who are ready for change, it can be a resounding success, for others we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment when those old familiar patterns creep back in. Patterns are a big part of how we live, and of course are often a big part of how those around perceive us, and therefore predict our behaviour. Most people aren’t fond of change, but many want it.

The science of change, habits, addictions and patterns, is far too big and complex to even touch upon here, but that’s just a repetition of the ‘oh it’s no use, it can’t be done’ mantra that appeases the slip back on the seemingly endless path into ‘changed forever’. So I say this, consider the effects of that change, that potential small step.

When we change one thing that means other things change as a result.

You get off a plane after a few hours to a blue sea and sun, your mood changes. You serve up breakfast in bed, you get a great big smile, someone else’s mood changes, so your mood changes, and on it goes… One thing affects another and before you know it, your small change has taken you somewhere completely different. One of my old lecturers used to call it the M62 (an English highway) principle, a turn off begins by diverging only a tiny bit from the route and before you know it, you’re on a radically different path, and that’s it, evolution and not revolution.

So maybe don’t dismiss that small change as not enough, or if you’ve made a big resolution that has fallen by the wayside but leaves a fragment of its intent or meaning to germinate on fertile ground, then maybe make that your focus, tend it, nurture it and see where that beanstalk leads you.

‘Changes aren’t permanent, but change is’ (thanks to Neil Peart for that quote).

Stress and anxiety

 

Man suffering from stress and anxiety

Man suffering from stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety, we all know the effects, we recognise the all too familiar signs… be it sleepless nights, waking up in the dead of night, drinking or smoking to excess, headaches, bad-tempers, repetitive thinking or habits, or even full blown panic attacks with the associated frightening physical symptoms. If panic strikes, the result can be physically and mentally very scary. The thing that we don’t all know, is that something can be done to help and crucially, before we get to that stage.

We all need some stress, but it helps if we can recognise the type of stress. ‘Eustress’ as it is called is the type of stress that benefits us, the type of stress that pushes us to go that little bit further, to achieve, the type of stress that readies us for exams or business presentations, or for any occasion where we need to perform at our best.

Then there is bad stress. The problems with the bad type of stress ‘Distress’, come when demands on us exceed our perceived abilities and then when stress builds, anxiety can often accompany it. We pop a painkiller, or we lose ourselves in the T.V. or a glass of wine, temporary fixes, but there is another way.

If we can’t change the pressures on us, then we can certainly change how we react to them, and more importantly our perception of them. This has many benefits; firstly, the unpleasant and worrying effects of stress are lessened so that we can enjoy life more. Secondly, we can improve our physical health, lower blood pressure, heart rate etc. and thirdly, we are building a set of skills that will allow us to deal better with stress in the future, because we understand it. This in turn allows us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be… for us and for our loved ones.

At Talking-Cure I teach these coping skills, how to turn down the intensity from red to amber to green, how to relax, how to increase energy levels and cope with the pressures that modern life throws at us. By giving ourselves the ability to deal with stress and anxiety before they become crisis issues, we are taking a preventative path rather than looking for a cure. As we have touched on before, this is a fresh and positive approach to well-being, and the benefits in quality of life and saving in lost productivity can literally be enjoyed by anyone with the desire to take the necessary steps, we see it as an investment in your future.

Social Media problems

Addiction to social media, internet addiction and self-esteem are sometimes closely linked

Addiction to social media, internet addiction and self-esteem are sometimes closely linked

Social media problems examined. Social media has changed our world in many ways; it has brought pleasure, connection, re-united people and re-ignited old friendships. Recent research commissioned by Unilever however (in which a thousand women were surveyed and compared to a similar sample from 2004)  found some less than savoury effects of Facebook, Twitter and the like. In the findings, more than half of the participants reported that seeing photos of friends made them feel worse about their own bodies.

Another very surprising result was that ten years ago, 75% of the women surveyed reported that the media set ‘unrealistic’ standards of beauty, but that figure has now dropped to only 66%. So what’s going on, and why is it a concern? Is there resigned acceptance of the unrealistic standards, or is the pressure that society and the media places on us to look a certain way having a potentially damaging effect over time?

Low self-esteem is a very real problem for many of us, and the sometimes debilitating effects of low self-esteem are at the forefront of those issues that many people tolerate unnecessarily, and which reduce their quality of life on a daily basis.

It’s a changing and ever more competitive world in which we live and one where it seems that our friends have the highest influence over our idea of beauty. That pressure can cause anxiety, jealousy or any of a number of emotional or thought issues. This is why here at Talking-Cure we take the influence of social media in our lives very seriously, and we see ever-increasing levels of the effects that internet exposure can have on our clients. In our view, although the end results of these pressures are often the same, the causes are changing with each generation and as therapists we need to rise to meet these challenges.

So, if you find yourself struggling with any of the issues above, or any other problem which may be related to exposure to social media or the use of the internet generally, then please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and speak to us here at Talking-Cure.

Smokers Aren’t Stupid

Smoking cessation with Stuart Cale of Talking-Cure is an effective and tailored hypnotherapy treatment

Smokers aren’t stupid

smokers aren’t stupid, seems a controversial statement that doesn’t it? But ask yourself why? Why is it that society and non-smokers treat people who smoke as if they are stupid? In this day and age, everyone who smokes is aware of the risks, it’s impossible not to be, there are reminders on every cigarette packet, on billboards, T.V, almost everywhere we turn. In society, smokers are ostracised, segregated, labelled and branded, but people still do it.

 

Ask almost any smoker if, knowing what they know now, they could go back in time, would they still make the same choice to start smoking, and the answer will almost exclusively be an emphatic ‘no’. Smokers are aware, thinking, caring people, not fools and treating them like fools is not the way to help those who want to stop.

 

We all know that nicotine is addictive, but nicotine is gone from the body within about three days. What creates the problem however, is a simple mixture of psychological principles, simple but powerful. What individual smokers need to be able to create lasting behavioural change, is both an accurate picture of the drivers behind their behaviour, and more importantly, a measure of which of those drivers are the most powerful, and why. It’s science, not rocket science, but science nonetheless.

 

Threats can work, but often only temporarily, short term need more often than not wins out over the possibility of health gains far off in the future, take something away, and it becomes more desirable than ever. It’s a potent cocktail of sometimes unconscious elements, what is needed is a similarly potent motivation, and more importantly, allowing the ex-smoker to take personal responsibility for the decision.

 

Sigmund Freud is often regarded as the father of modern psychology, and he described dreams as ‘the royal road to the unconscious’. We are however, a society of instant gratification, of quick fixes, we want it all and we want it now. We don’t want to spend years studying our individual motivations or be involved in uncovering our unconscious drivers. Hypnosis offers us a way to tap into the unconscious mind and often change those behaviour patterns quickly. Hypnosis isn’t new, the ancient Egyptians used ‘sleep temples’ four thousand years ago, and modern hypnosis has developed into a pleasant and natural way to address problems and imbalances of the unconscious mind.

 

It’s all about changing the way the smoker feels about smoking at the root level, removing the feeling of being deprived, of losing something. It’s even in the language we use, we ‘give up’ smoking, rather than free ourselves of an unwanted behaviour and then rejoice in that freedom. If you’re relying on another form of nicotine, be it e-cigarettes, gum or the many other types of nicotine replacement therapy, you’ve substituted one unhelpful behaviour for another.

 

Labelling smokers as stupid, underpins the idea that smokers are all they are. They’re much more than that, they’re our parents, children, brothers and sisters. As society advances, we look to science to lead the way, it’s time that we looked to the Social Sciences to help with unwanted behaviours such as smoking, and emerged from ‘dark age’ thinking and prejudice ourselves.