Help With Anxiety

Anxiety is the natural survival response to run or fight being triggered at the wrong time. This response is designed to help you but in modern times this is often triggered by events from job interviews to social situations etc…

Anxiety and panic attacks are caused by a misuse of the imagination. For example worrying about an upcoming presentation you will be giving. Each time you imagine how bad it will go you create a template that your mind follows that tells it how it should feel about that event. Because you have the ability to use your imagination well enough to affect you, this means if you imagine it going well and look forward to it then that is the template that you lay down. This works by really building up the experience vividly in your mind getting pleasant, desirable feelings linked to the event.

When you have panic attacks or get anxious it shuts down the digestive system and all non-essential systems. It prepares your body to fight, run or freeze (playing dead). These responses could save your life in the appropriate situations. Even if it feels like you are going to die, you won’t. The feelings are because of the digestive system shutting down and because of the adrenaline released into the body. Most people say it feels like butterflies in their stomach, or a churning sensation.

Some people believe they will collapse or faint. Even if you do pass out your breathing will go back to normal and you will come round again. If you have a panic attack, rate the anxiety on a scale out of 10 and you can keep track of how quickly it is going. The chemicals released into the body that cause the feelings of anxiety leave the body after only a short while.

Whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious or just want to relax you can try 7 – 11 breathing.

Breathing in to the count of 7 then out to the count of 11.

You can learn the AWARE technique. Whenever you get anxious or have a panic attack you can remember AWARE:

A = Accept the anxiety, don’t fight it

W= Watch your anxiety, rate it from 1-10 and watch as that rating changes

A = Act with the anxiety, behave normally & do what you intended to do, breathe normally or do 7-11 breathing

R = Repeat all of the above steps until it goes down to an comfortable level

E = Expect the best, what you fear most normally never happens, mentally rehearse experiences where you thought you might have felt anxious in the past but surprise yourself when you don’t.

You can also do some mental rehearsal or guided imagery.

For Example:

‘Close your eyes, relax, vividly imagine watching yourself remaining calm whilst doing something in the future you would usually have found caused anxiety. Then imagine seeing yourself in that scene and notice how pleasant it feels to have this different response. Then once you have practised seeing yourself remaining calm and responding as you would like, you can imagine stepping into the scene and experiencing it in this new way as if you are really there, seeing what you would see, hearing what you would hear, and feeling the new calm or appropriate feelings. Then rehearse this regularly.’

During a panic attack if you take control of your breathing this will help you take control of the panic, if you feel it coming you could chew some gum or eat a small amount of food because you can’t be anxious fully at the same time as having your digestive system working.

You can practice sitting down and relaxing and then anchor that relaxation response. This response can then be fired off when you are in a situation that may make you feel anxious. You can practice this anchoring and firing the relaxation response, imagining being in situations that would normally cause anxiety and using the anchor to relax. The more you practice this the stronger the response will be.

Below are two tracks for improving well-being and reducing anxiety and depression. They can be played on the site or downloaded (small writing under the track with a link saying ‘download mp3’).

There is also a comments section below where you can leave comments or questions. And if you know anyone that this article would benefit feel free to share it with them.

There are some other useful places with information about tackling anxiety for example Genius Awakening has Five Ways To Quiet The Mind When You Feel Intense Anxiety, and you can find information about Generalised Anxiety Disorder here

Free Self Help Wellbeing Tracks – Use Both Tracks, They Are Interactive So To get The Most From These Tracks Follow The Instructions And Carryout The Tasks

Track One

Track Two

Help With Addictions

We are all born with the ability to create habits and with the process to get addicted. Without these abilities mankind wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have. There are many things that naturally turn into habits so that we don’t have to pay all our attention to them just to do them. Like driving a car, brushing teeth etc…

Sometimes this process gets high-jacked by a negative habit, like finding yourself smoking before you realise what you are doing. The process for addiction also serves a useful purpose. The process gives you a ‘high’ when you do something and causes irritation or uncomfortableness when you don’t.

This process is required for survival and evolution.

For example when a stone-age man used a stick to break open a coconut the ‘high’ of that achievement wears off over time so the stone-age man then turns that stick into an axe with a piece of flint. He then gets another ‘high’ from that achievement which also wears off over time. This process keeps the stone-age man reaching a point where he needs to do something to get that same high. Addictions high-jack this process giving a ‘high’ when carrying out the addictive behaviour and causing uncomfortableness when fighting to not carry out the behaviour. Over time you need to do more of the addictive behaviour to get the same ‘high’.

A useful analogy of addiction and the associated cravings is one of a company that wants to make positive changes. The ‘boss’ which is the part of you that is saying ‘I want to quit smoking (for example)’ has good intentions. Beneath the boss is a ‘secretary’ that monitors incoming messages from the body. The ‘security guard’ monitors levels of various chemicals in the body but doesn’t know what should or shouldn’t be there, the guard just alerts the secretary if any of the chemicals begin to go missing or reduce.

When the boss has stopped the intake of nicotine, after a short while it starts reducing in the blood. The security guard notices this and so he emails a message to the secretary. This message is laced with dopamine which is a feel good chemical. The secretary checks on the computer and sees that the boss has said ‘no cigarettes’. So the secretary ignores the message. As the nicotine goes down even further the security guard sends another message laced with even more dopamine. This time the secretary does a search on the computer for memories where nicotine has been taken into the body, and searches for memories that are also laced in dopamine. What the secretary discovers is that smoking has made the boss feel good when stressed, when bored, when socialising, etc… So the secretary sends a message to the boss laced with even more dopamine for the boss to act on.

The negative addictive behaviour once served a purpose

People start addictive behaviour for many reasons. It could be many things from peer pressure to experimentation. Often the behaviour initially is only in one context, like smoking with specific friends, or drinking with friends. One thing that all addictive behaviours have in common is that they give you a ‘high’. It could be a ‘high’ from doing a risky extreme sport, or a ‘high’ from taking a specific substance.

To start with this addictive behaviour is in your control. The bigger the ‘highs’ the sooner the addictive behaviour takes on a life of its own. Due to the way the brain works at some point when you feel anxious or bored you will want to relieve this feeling. To do this you turn to the most effective thing you know, which is often the addictive behaviour. This how you begin to create a habit for that behaviour. As long as you continue to do the addictive behaviour your mind will get used to the levels of various substances in your blood stream, whether these substances are created by your mind, like endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline etc, or whether these substances are added to your blood stream like nicotine.

Once you stop the addictive behaviour it takes a period of time for the chemicals in your blood to go back to normal. This period of time can be as little as a few hours for chemicals created internally, to a few days for chemicals like nicotine and longer for some stronger drugs. Once the chemicals in the blood have normalised all that is left is the habit, not the need for the chemicals.

The reason for turning to the addictive behaviour when you feel anxious or bored is that it gives you pleasure, or an instant feeling of gratification when you carry out the behaviour. Unfortunately most addictive behaviour quickly follows with a greater feeling of anxiety or depression as the effects of the behaviour wear off. This means that you have to do more of the addictive behaviour to get the same results.

Beating the addiction

One way to beat addiction is to link the addictive behaviour with the most negative outcomes you can vividly imagine, and not carrying out the addictive behaviour with the most positive outcomes you can vividly imagine. People with addictions will always have one or more of the basic needs or innate skills not being met, so find constructive ways to meet these.

Plan for times when you are most likely to give in to the addiction, finding ways to prevent the old behaviour pattern.

Don’t be put off by a relapse. Many people have a few relapses before they finally completely get rid of that addictive behaviour. When the addiction strikes it is actually only mildly uncomfortable to ignore the urge for the addictive behaviour but it tricks you into thinking it is worse. It also only lasts a few minutes. Try comparing it to other things like would you prefer a nagging toothache or this brief uncomfortableness for the addictive behaviour? Learn to relax; this lets you think more objectively and clearly. To relax you could breathe in to the count of 7 and out to the count of 11. The longer out breath triggers the relaxation response. Regularly vividly imagine the negative outcomes had you continued with the addictive behaviour and vividly imagine the positive outcomes of not carrying out that behaviour, what will it be like, what are the benefits, who else benefits, etc…

Feel free to leave comments below about how you get on overcoming addiction and please share this article with others that may be interested.

Help With Sleep

Sleep is fundamental to survival. Proper sleep boosts the immune system, refreshes and revitalises you for the following day. When you go into dream sleep the brain closes off all unfinished emotionally aroused patterns from throughout that day. Some people may think that they never dream or that they never sleep but all those people do sleep and dream. Sleeping and dreaming is so fundamental to life that without it people would die. On average people nowadays sleep for about 20% less time each night than people did a hundred years ago. This reduction in sleep has a dramatic effect on health. Sleep deprivation causes many accidents and increases the risk of psychiatric problems. Without sleep people find it increasingly difficult to function correctly, they have poorer memory and co-ordination skills etc…

Insomnia is probably the most common sleep disorder. It is often caused by excessive worrying. This can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. It also makes you dream too much which then makes you wake up tired (see depression section). Stopping worrying during the day will help to lift the insomnia. It will also help to stop nightmares (it also will help if you reduce anxiety-see anxiety section). Many sleep problems from night terrors (which occur in non-dream sleep and the sufferer awakens with no memory of the incident) to nightmares (bad dreams).

To help improve sleep it is advisable to make sure that you don’t have a clock near the bed that you can see as seeing how long you are awake for can lead to worrying about it which then makes it harder to sleep. To help you to relax and sleep at night you could purchase a relaxation CD to focus on as you go to sleep or you can learn to relax. To relax you could learn to tense and relax your muscle groups from head to feet in time with your breathing. Tensing up as you breathe in to the count of 7 then letting the muscles relax as you breathe out to the count of 11. Then pausing briefly to get a sense of that relaxation and beginning to get an idea of a pleasant ‘special place’ (don’t think of it as a ‘special place’ if this wording is wrong for you, find something that is right for you) forming in your mind that can become like a brief waiting room before you pass into sleep. After pausing you can then move onto the next muscle group (the neck for example) again breathing in to the count of 7 as you tense then out to the count of 11 as you relax, then pausing again. Doing this each night will retrain your brain to relax when it is time to go to sleep at night. Currently your brain will have been expecting the night to involve worrying or distracting thoughts etc… Some people may find that within a night or two of doing this they are sleeping properly others may take a week or a little longer before they regularly sleep well throughout the night.

Some tips to have the best chance of rapidly sleeping well; if you find you are in bed for a while and still not asleep then get up and go to a dark, cool room and sit there for 30 minutes. Always wake up early (don’t lie in). If possible don’t do shift work. Don’t watch TV or use a computer within an hour of going to bed. Don’t eat or drink too much within 2 hours of going to bed. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and other substances within 3 hours of going to bed. Avoid going to bed drunk. Have a hot bath 30 minutes before going to bed. Don’t exercise within 2 hours of going to bed. Another idea is attempt to stay awake for an hour longer than the time you would’ve normally ended up falling asleep. Many sleep problems are due to excessive worry or excessive emotional arousal. Learning to relax and be calm will help improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get. You can also write down everything that is on your mind before you fall asleep.

Drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills to help sleep is generally not advisable because these disrupt sleep patterns, but if prescribed you should follow what your Doctor advises or seek further medical advice. They may help someone get to sleep quicker but they disrupt sleep that goes on a few hours later. This disruption upsets the balance of rapid eye movement sleep and deep slow wave sleep. Due to receiving less rapid eye movement sleep you don’t close off all of the emotional arousing patterns from the day before so you get a build-up of open patterns requiring more R.E.M sleep the next night and then more the night after that etc… This can make people feel worse during the day and be more prone to anxiety problems as the brain is already overloaded with emotional arousal. They are likely to also get very emotional very quickly at almost nothing and not know why. Deep sleep is required for healing. So with reduced deep sleep they don’t do the required amount of healing on their body that they need to be doing. The deep sleep is involved in keeping the immune system charged up and in growth so both of these areas will also be affected so people may fall ill more frequently due to lowered resistance to illnesses.

Below is a self help track to help you fall asleep and get improved nights sleep that can be played on this site or downloaded, there is also a comments section where you can share your experiences, comments and progress. If you know anyone else that would benefit from this article or self help track please share this article with them.

Track One

Dan Jones Interviewing Stephen Brooks

UK’s leading Hypnotherapist and author of best-selling book ‘Advanced Ericksonian Hypnotherapy Scripts’ Dan Jones from interviewing legendary Hypnotherapy trainer Stephen Brooks, from www.british-hypnosis-research.com

This amazing, rare and insightful interview with Stephen Brooks. Hear him talk about therapy, the ‘lost years’, therapist’s mind-set, how to be a better therapist, being a therapist, rather than just doing therapy, and so much more.

This interview was filmed live in front of an audience of students, and students were given the opportunity to also ask questions.

I look forward to reading your comments and questions below, please share this page with anyone that may also be interested in hypnosis and therapy and learning more about BHR Hypnotherapy Trainer Stephen Brooks.