Self care ideas

How can reading promote good mental health?

How can reading promote good mental health?

Written By: Alison Ralph                                   Date: 16.05.23

If you are an avid reader then there is good news for your mental state. Reading has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.

In fact, research conducted by Dr David Lewis (a cognitive neuro psychologist) showed that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60%! That is 68% better than listening to music, 100% better than drinking tea and 300% better than going for a walk!

I hear you asking how? How can reading help to improve my mental state?

1. Reading is pleasurable

Alison Ralph reading a book with a cup of tea

When we complete pleasurable activities it triggers neurons in our brain. This leads to the release of a chemical called dopamine which causes a feel-good sensation. When you choose a book you enjoy, this feel good sensation happens in the brain. 

2. Reading can provide an escape from the 'real world'

If you have ever felt stressed or anxious, you will know that it takes over your thoughts, and often your physical self. If you get lost in a wonderful book then this can take you away from those thoughts or feelings, even if just for a short while. 

Reading engages the imagination and stimulates creativity, which engages the brains prefrontal cortex. This is the area that houses the ‘anxiety brake’. As you feel calmer, the fear centre of the brain (amygdala) becomes less active and the rationalisation area of the brain (cortex) become more active. This shift in brain function can empower the ‘anxiety brake’ and leave you feeling calmer and more in control of anxious thinking. 

3. Reading lowers your heart rate and relaxes you physically

Due to the fact that reading deactivates the amygdala, the body becomes calmer, reducing heart rate and easing muscle tension. Breathing automatically slows and everything becomes much calmer. 

Alison Ralph Reading a book

4. It encourages you to have empathy for others and yourself

This is a really important one! Often our relationship with others can cause us to feel stress or anxiety or we may not have a great relationship with ourselves and this can create negative feelings. Reading a book can introduce us to different scenarios and how people react to these. It can help us to see things from a different viewpoint and may even relate to us in many ways. Once we have built up empathy for the person in the book, it can begin to transfer into our ‘real’ life.

Reading can help you become smarter

My voice will go with you book

You might be somebody who enjoys reading information books, or the book you are reading may just have a few new facts in it that you didn’t know before. This all contributes to you becoming smarter, and who doesn’t like the feeling of knowing stuff? It can help us to feel better about ourselves and raise self-esteem. 

Reading for me...

Harry Potter

I have to admit that I have never been an avid reader. However, when I got to university (I think), I decided to read he Harry Potter books and I was hooked. This was the beginning of enjoyment for reading for me. I think these books made me feel smarter and they gave me an escape from the stressful things around me. They also gave me something to talk to others about (many people were Harry Potter obsessed at the time and still are now!).


When I was travelling the world after university I was in New Zealand and was recommended a book by the locals. It was a fiction book but based on truth. I cannot remember the name of the book but it gave me a sense of connection to the place I was travelling around at the time. It also helped me to feel that I know something about the history of the area. I remember reading this at times when I felt home sick or lonely and it really helped me escape form the outside world.


One of the latest books I read was Spare By Prince Harry. Now I am not somebody who is particularly into the royal family but I really wanted to read this and feel like I had heard his side of the story. I also think that as a therapist I am genuinely interested in people’s lives (you might say that I am a little bit nosey). I could not put this book down! It was extremely interesting and I felt real empathy towards him. Everyone deserves to tell their story!

Current reading

I am currently reading Roman Kemps autobiography which is interesting and focussed around mental health. I also read many different books by psychologists, hypnotherapists and counsellors as this helps me to develop as a therapist and find new ways of working with my clients. I guess this therefore makes me feel smarter!


It is clear to see why reading is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety and help promote good mental health. I wonder if you reflected on the books you have recently read you could find ways that it has helped you in a positive way. As you can see, just a handful of books I have read over the years have really helped me in the moment and for many different reasons. Everyone is different of course and you may find that if you are stressed or anxious, it is difficult to read. Remember, you only need 6 minutes a day to make a difference!

If you are finding that you used to enjoy reading but are not interested in it anymore or just cannot focus due to stress or anxiety, it may be time to talk to somebody. Feel free to contact me to find out how we could work together. 


Can hypnotherapy help me to stop vaping?

Can hypnotherapy help me to stop vaping?

Written by Alison Ralph                                                             Date: 4th May 2023

You may be wondering if hypnotherapy can help you to stop vaping. You have heard about all those people who have stopped smoking through the use of hypnotherapy. It must be the same surely? Yes! Hypnotherapy can help you to stop vaping. Just like smoking, vaping is a habit, it’s a part of your life, something that you cannot imagine living without. 

The good news is, hypnotherapy can help you to stop vaping by changing your mindset and interrupting the habit. 

In this article I will explain:

  • The reason you are addicted to vaping
  • How the nicotine in your vape influences the brain
  • The harmful side of vaping
  • The reasons people decide to stop vaping
  • How hypnotherapy can help you to stop vaping
  • The benefits of stopping vaping
  • How we can work together to help you stop vaping
A person smoking

Why are you addicted to vaping?

‘A habit; a routine or behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.’

Once you make the decision to vape, you tend to chose when to do it. Whether that is at work, out with friends or randomly throughout the day. The more that you smoke the vape, the more that the brain notices the routine of it and then it becomes a habit. The more that you use it, the more the brain expects it and so the habit becomes more prevalent in your life. 

It may be that you started vaping to stop smoking and so the vape will have replaced that habit. Vaping only at the times when you would have had a cigarette, or more often because vapes are more socially acceptable. 

The vape is more accessible, designed to fit nicely in your pocket and so the habit can feel as though it completely takes over. You see people walking around town vaping, on the school run vaping, in their car vaping or outside a restaurant. It can feel as though it is all around. 

If you have nicotine in your vape then this is causing more reason for the brain to become addicted.

When you bring nicotine into the brain through the act of breathing in, it reacts with the chemicals in the brain. It creates nicotine receptors in the brain which cause the brain to think that everything is okay and that the receptors are now are part of you. If you don’t satisfy that part of the brain, it wonders why and asks you for it. The more you satisfy this part of the brain, the more the brain wants that feeling and therefore causes the act to be completed over and over again.  

When nicotine reacts with the other chemicals in the brain it causes the release of dopamine. This is our feel good hormone. So you begin to feel that smoking your vape is helping you because that is the message you are sending to the brain each time you inhale. 

A person holding a vape
The harmful side of vaping

Vapes have not been around long enough for scientists to find out what the long term affects are, however we have all heard on the news when things have gone wrong. And at the end of the day, inhaling something into the lungs surely is never going to be good!

Recent supermarket research found that in some vapes there has been a higher level of nicotine than is legally allowed and they have taken the decision to ban them from stores. So, do you really know what you are breathing into your body?

It was found that the particular brand of vape had at least 50% more than the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid. You can read more about the issue here 

Nicotine inside a vape is the most harmful substance which can cause increase in blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart and a narrowing of the arteries. Nicotine may also lead to hardening of the artery walls which may lead to heart attack (

According to the CDC inside a vape there are; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, possibly affecting the health of the lungs. They also contain flavourings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease. There is evidence of volatile organic compounds and Cancer-causing chemicals. And could also include heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

As you can see, even though the long term affects of vaping are not yet known, they contain many harmful ingredients which can have an affect on the health of your body and brain so maybe it’s time to think about your reasons for stopping vaping. 

The reasons that people decide to stop vaping

I have worked with many people in recent years who have wanted to stop vaping and people have different reasons for stopping. 

Some of the most common reasons for stopping vaping are:

  1. Health – people are aware that vaping could be bad for their health and want to give themselves more chance of a longer life. 
  2. Children – people want to set good examples to their children in the hope that their children will not think it is okay to vape. 
  3. Money – with the rise in cost of living at the moment, people are looking at ways to save money. Vaping can be costly and cutting this out helps them with their finances. 
  4. Control – I have many clients who comment that they feel like the vape controls them and they don’t want to be controlled any longer. They would like to take back the control and feel stronger.

When using hypnotherapy to stop vaping, the reasons somebody wants to stop are really important and are used to help change the mindset. 

Spiral image to demonstrate hypnosis

How hypnotherapy can help you to stop vaping

Hypnotherapy is extremely helpful when you want to overcome a habit. The reason for this is the subconscious mind. This is where we store all of our habits, past experiences and feelings towards anything that has ever happened to us in life. 

In hypnosis, we access the subconscious thinking and then the hypnotherapist can make suggestions to the subconscious mind to make the changes you are hoping for. 

So how does hypnosis work? The hypnotherapist will guide you into an altered state of consciousness. A little bit like a really relaxed state, and they will then ask you to focus only on their voice. This focus on the voice and nothing else allows the altered state. 

The suggestions that the hypnotherapist makes to the subconscious will help you to feel like you don’t want or need the vape or that you never were a person who vaped.

It is a calm, natural and affective way to stop you from vaping!

If it is smoking you would like to stop, click here

The benefits of stopping vaping

As you can imagine, there are many benefits to stopping vaping. Here are just some of the benefits I have heard from past clients:

  1. Health – People feel healthier, fitter and more able to breathe.
  2. Freedom!- People always comment on the freedom. They no longer need to carry the vape, worry if they are going to run out or plan breaks around the vape. 
  3. Nicotine free – those who smoked a vape with nicotine can enjoy the fact that the nicotine will leave their body. Their lungs will eventually clean themselves, their teeth and skin will be cleaner and their blood pressure can have a chance of coming down. 
Alison talking to a client

How can we work together to stop you vaping?

I am Alison, a hypnotherapist based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. I also work remotely to help stop people vaping. I have a lot of experience helping to stop people vaping and smoking and pride myself in giving you the best support and possible outcome for you. 

If you have landed on this page and you would like to stop smoking, have a read of this blog which is more directed towards smoking. 

If you would like to stop vaping, we can work together. I offer a course of 3 sessions to help you stop vaping and always begin with a FREE phone consultation.

The first session is an information collecting session. I will find out as much information as I can about you and your vaping history. I will then teach you what you need to know about the chemicals in the brain. Together we will come up with conscious strategies you can use to cut down on the vaping. 

You will then go away for a week and start cutting down your vaping. 

At the next session we will review progress and go through the positives of stopping vaping. You will then have a 40 minutes hypnosis session to change the mindset. At the end of this session you go home as a someone who doesn’t vape.

The third session is always geared towards the future. We use hypnosis to ensure that vaping doesn’t come back into your thinking in the future. 

If you feel that this is something you would like to explore then please get in touch.

‘The efficacy of Alison’s technique speaks for itself. It’s been nearly two months now and I haven’t used nicotine in any form and don’t intend to, ever again.’

It may feel like you have tried everything and anything to give up that vape and as though it will control you for the rest of your life. 

Hypnotherapy can help you to get rid of it once and for all. I am here to empower you and help you to feel confident that you can live without it. Hypnotherapy is a safe and natural way to stop vaping and is highly successful. 

Get in touch...

If you would like to find out how hypnotherapy or counselling could help you I am here to answer all of your questions.