Stoptober – what is it and how can you prepare for it?

Stoptober - what is it and how can you prepare for it?

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 05 September 2023

Are you wondering what Stoptober is all about and how you can prepare for it if you would like to stop smoking or vaping? In this blog post I will explain what Stoptober is and give you some ideas for how you can prepare for the month and stop smoking or vaping for good!

Putting a cigarette out on a calendar

What is Stoptober?

October was chosen by Public Health England as the National stop smoking campaign to help people to stop smoking for good. It started in 2012, meaning that it is entering its 11th year this year. It has helped many people to stop smoking over the years. October was chosen as the month because previous studies had shown that those who stop smoking for 28 days are FIVE times more likely to stop forever. Giving you some time to adjust and 28 days to not have any cigarettes.

If you wanted to, you can sign up for Stoptober through the NHS website to receive all the resources available. Smokefree Registration

How can you prepare for Stoptober?

If you have already tried to stop smoking or vaping on your own you may have noticed that it can be extremely difficult. You might miss smoking, feel that it helps you in some way or you may not be able to cope with the cravings it causes. Here are some tips for beginning a mindset change and lessening the nicotine percentage in your body. Giving you the best possible chance of stopping smoking.

A picture of a number one

Change your brand of cigarette – it may sound bonkers but smoking is a sub-conscious activity. This means that you don’t have to think about it when doing it. It always tastes the same too. Changing your brand of cigarette can help you to bring it into the conscious thinking. 

Smoke with the opposite hand. I know, another one that sounds a little strange. If you normally smoke with your left hand change to the right and visa versa. Again, this will help you to bring smoking into the conscious thinking and allow you to think about it a little differently about smoking. When it is in the conscious thinking you can make choices about how much you smoke or whether you are enjoying it or not.

An image of the number two
An image of number 3
A person snapping a cigarette in half

Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke. You can do this by setting yourself a number of cigarettes for the day. To help you with this you may only take certain number of cigarettes out with you during the day or leave them in the car when you are in the house. You might smoke half of the cigarette and then put it out, every time you smoke. You might ban smoking in the car or house. There are many ways you can do this, get creative and decide exactly what you will do. Don’t be wishy washy!

Find new ways to release those feel good hormones. When the chemicals in the brain react with the nicotine you inhale, it releases the feel good hormones. Telling the subconscious mind that you are okay. If you can find new and healthier ways to do this, it can really help. For example, playing with a pet, going for a walk or playing a game. Find what works for you!

Image of the number 4
An image of number 5

Decide on your reasons for stopping and how you see yourself benefiting once you have. This is extremely important. Why would we force ourselves through something difficult if we couldn’t see how it would benefit us? Sit down and write all your reasons for stopping and how it will benefit you in the future. One example could be, having more disposable income. 

Have faith in yourself and tell yourself that you can do it. Being your own cheerleader is actually more beneficial than receiving praise from someone else. The more you tell yourself you can do it, the more motivated you will feel. In turn, releasing those all important feel good hormones. 

The number 6 inside a circle

What if I am a vaper?

A person holding a vape

I hear you saying, but what if I am a vaper, can these things also work for me? Vaping follows the same principle as smoking when trying to stop as the same chemical reactions happen in the brain. So if you would like to stop vaping, all of the above apply. If you vape with nicotine, it might be a good idea to start reducing the amount in the vape and if you can, take yourself down to 0% nicotine. 

Vapes can also become a comfort blanket, something that you always have with you or even hold in your hand. Start to reduce the time that you do this during the day so you can separate yourself from it. 

Benefits of stopping smoking

I have worked with many people over the years to help them stop smoking and everyone has their own reason for wanting to stop smoking. Once they have stopped I have received feedback from people saying:

‘I can’t believe how much more time I have in my day!’

‘I was able to save the money and treat myself and my partner to a holiday instead!’

‘I spent more time sitting on the floor playing with my children.’

‘I felt less stressed.’

‘I can breathe easier when training.’


There are so many benefits and some of these can be noticed quite quickly, whilst others take time. 

Have a read of this article. It explains how the body repairs itself once the nicotine has left.

What happens after you quit smoking? A timeline (

If you would like to know how hypnotherapy could help you during the month of October, you can send an email here 

Art; how can it help you to ease Anxiety?

Art; how can it help you to ease Anxiety?

Written by Karen Prince                         Date 18 July 2023

Are you searching for new ways to ease the feelings of anxiety? In this guest blog post, artist Karen Prince tells us her real life story and how art helped her to ease anxiety.

I remember the first time I saw the words “Mental Health Issues” in my Medical file and I was shocked, I was sneakily reading this upside down from an open file on a consultants desk.

I thought “that’s not me”, “I don’t have mental health issues” ”I’m not mad am I?”

Then the realisation hit because I had reached out for some help with my anxiety that’s why this label was in my file. I hadn’t really made the connection that having an issue with certain things stopping me from living my life as I wished was a Mental Health Issue.

This was a few years ago now, luckily more and more people are talking about mental health issues and I hope the tide is turning. The more we talk about it the more it will be less of a taboo subject, sometimes there is so much pressure for us to keep things together.

My triggers

There are a whole bunch of issues that can cause anxiety, but my big triggers were….

  1. Watching my son having an anaphylaxis episode when he was 18 months old. It was terrifying watching him swell up almost beyond recognition and then struggling to breath. It also meant a lifetime of being vigilant with his food, eating out would never be the same again, or the weekly food shopping, having to read all the labels and the Epi-Pen training. After a second anaphylaxis episode, we found out he was allergic to Soya milk and soya protein too.
  2. I had a Brain Haemorrhage at the age of 39 with a then 2yr old and an 11 month old baby and in the middle of a building project. Luckily I didn’t need surgery and after almost a week in hospital I could return home. 

However I was left with a long term health issue of Fibromyalgia. I was exhausted a lot of the time and working full time was not an option and the kids were still little, I am grateful for every extra day I’ve had with my children, to be able to see them grow.

Painted flowers

My creative outlet

Before  all of this I’d always been a tad anxious but I always had a creative outlet. Painting and creating has always been my passion since I was a child. I started with painting by numbers and playing with paper dolls. My art teacher was always encouraging and it was the only subject that I loved and was good at. (I went through school being Dyslexic but not diagnosed but then that was the norm in the 80’s) Anyway painting took me to my happy place and 4yrs at Art College. I had a creative career, numerous jobs in different creative capacities and my anxiety was pretty much under control. Then I guess having children took priority over my creative outlet and my health suffered for it.


As my children grew older,  also to help with my recovery I started to paint and rediscovered my passion for Embroidery. I hadn’t done any Embroidery since leaving College and I found the repetitiveness of painting with thread extremely therapeutic. It calmed my mind, having a child with a severe allergy makes you always think the worst. We had quite a few trips to A&E, so much so I was getting calls from the Health Visitor. We discovered that he was also allergic to grass pollen, nope not just a bad case of hayfever! It took a few years before we had the right advice and the correct plan of action to get us through the summer months.

Discovering a new kind of Art

Fast forward to 2020 and we all know what happened then! However, for me it changed my life for the better. I was obviously very anxious like everyone else but a fabulous lady entered my life, in the form of Natasha Gulliford. I had been following Natasha on Instagram and I happened to comment on one of her paintings and she told me that she was going to be running a free Watercolour Workshop. So I signed up and every Monday there was a tutorial, sometimes my youngest son would join in. 

Natasha’s Workshop was a distraction from the awful daily horrors of the Pandemic and I fell back in love with painting. So whilst I suppose so many people were maybe experiencing anxiety for the first time during the Pandemic, I was finally getting to grips with some of mine. Spending hours painting, managing my emotions and it really helped once the home schooling started. At the end of Natasha’s free course she explained that she was going to be running a workshop to develop people’s work into Designs and also showing us how to digitise our paintings. I took the leap and invested in myself. For six months I had the pleasure of connecting online with other creatives. 


I guess we were our own version of Grayson’s Art Club..” we want to encourage everyone to express their creativity through Art. Art is good for you, whoever you are” Grayson Perry.


Natasha’s demos were so relaxing to watch, in fact I was so relaxed I would almost nod off. 

Have you ever watched a Bob Ross painting demo? It’s well worth the time it’s hypnotic watching an image being created. The saying goes that it’s like “watching paint dry” well in some cases that’s not a bad thing. It will make you slow down and connect with what you are creating. 

It might be how you are feeling, you just want to make marks, use bold brushstrokes that are full of energy.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies when you’re at your most relaxed and in your creative zone. I love painting florals and this has led me to wanting to grow flowers in the garden. Getting in touch and connecting to the Earth is magical and therapy in itself. Combining these two things is a real treat, my anxiety hasn’t gone away especially with the menopause in full swing, but I now have the tools to help me deal with my feelings. The colours and texture of paint can be such a joy and distraction, as an Artist/Designer I am constantly driven to explore and expand my creative process, self-discovery and growth. 

My own work

I’m delighted to be able to share my work on Instagram…Karenprince69

This has led to my work being in a few exhibitions, I have had some on line sales and I’m back to designing Wallpaper and Bedding designs.

I also teach watercolour workshops. It’s such a privilege and a joy to see people pick up a paintbrush, possibly the first time since leaving school. Some people get quite emotional, some decide it’s not for them and realise why they haven’t felt the need to paint. But it really is fantastic when people leave promising to start painting on a regular basis. Most people leave the sessions expressing that they haven’t felt so relaxed in a longtime and they can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.

Art work by Karen Prince

Art as self-care

We really do need to start making time for ourselves, to stop seeing spending a few hours painting or doing embroidery as a luxury. We need to think of it as looking after ourselves.

Many of us painted rainbows with our kids in support of our wonderful NHS workers during Lock Down, it was something to cheer us up when we couldn’t see our loved ones.

But if you feel that painting is too messy for you, try a colouring book, you can still be creative with this, in your colour choice or the marks you make with your pencils.


You could also start with something a little easier but very pleasurable like leaf rubbings or leaf printing,

I’m sure we all did this at some point when we were at Primary School. I love printing with leaves and incorporating them into a lot of my paintings, designs and embroideries.

Floral Art by Karen Prince

There’s nothing better than being in tune with the seasons but sometimes they seem so fleeting and it’s brilliant being able to use leaves and give them a chance to be permanent in a piece of work.

Painted flowers

We have so much inspiration at our fingertips and in the real World, next time you’re out having a walk , slow down and have a good look at the fauna and florals. Take your time looking at the textures and colours, nature really is amazing, since I’ve started painting again I notice things so much more. Have some away time from your screen and take yourself off for a little daily wonder. It doesn’t have to be long but just spend time looking and touching nature. It can be so rewarding, even better if it can inspire you to capture the moment by painting what you’ve seen. It will be your own expression in your own style, just have fun, your mental health really will benefit from it I promise you.


I love working in mixed media, I use concentrated watercolour as the colours are so vibrant and intense. Then I work on top with acrylics, so I can build some luscious texture.

My work is loose and expressive rather than realistic, but my style has changed over the years, just like my handwriting has changed from when I was younger. It’s about finding what flows for you, what works for you, about what comes naturally. Of course practice helps like everything else in life but the main thing is to have fun.

There are some fabulous artists on Instagram and YouTube who happily share their skills. Have a look, dip your toe into a new medium, look for a local art class where you can borrow the materials and then you can

See if it’s something you enjoy before investing in your own equipment. There are so many styles and mediums you can paint in, and fabulous new products being developed all the time. Also great brushes, they can make all the difference to your work.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to get in touch

Instagram Karenprince69

How scented candles can play a part in your selfcare routine

How scented candles can play a part in your self care routine

Written by Nicky Burnett                           Date 26 June 2023

Are you wondering how helpful scented candles can be to your wellbeing?
In this blog post, Nicky Burnett the founder of Amare Luxury Fragrance, tells how candles helped her during a tough time in her life, and how they can bring you moments of self care every day.

How it all began for me

Candles have always been a part of my self care routine.
They were my go to, to create a cosy space, to relax me or to give me a boost of energy depending which fragrance I chose.
A way to take little moments for myself every day.
I love the big self care gestures, like a spa day or a holiday, but realistically these aren’t things that we can do every day! I wish they were!
But lighting a candle is something that we can do for ourselves every day.
And those little moments of daily self care really do add up.
And we start to see and feel the wellbeing benefits for us.
Lighting the flame encourages me to slow down and really enjoy the beautiful aromas.
Taking time for myself every day.
I choose fragrances that calm or uplift me, depending on my mood and needs on a particular day. The fragrance you need and its benefits, will change all the time for you. That’s one of the beauties of scented candles!
Calming candle flame
So when my Dad was terminally ill, it came naturally to me to bring a candle into his room. Self care is important for everyone, but it can be particularly difficult to find the time and energy to take care of ourselves in busy and stressful periods of our lives.
But ironically these are exactly the times when we need it the most.
So bringing a candle into my Dad’s room was my way of helping to take care of both him and myself in difficult times.

During the time that he was very poorly, I started to dream about starting a business where I could encourage other people to cherish moments for themselves with beautiful fragrance, and gradually Amare was born. Amare means to cherish in Italian.

My purpose with Amare, is to encourage you to cherish moments of self care every day.
To keep yourself recharged and strong, to be able to cope better with whatever life throws your way.

What are the wellbeing benefits of scented candles?

Candles are a popular way to add a touch of elegance and luxury to any home, but they have been used for centuries for their, fragrance and mood boosting properties too.
And in more recent years there has been more interest in using them in self care.
There are so many reasons why candles can be beneficial as part of your self care routine. Here are just a few of them;
A picture of a number one

The act of lighting a candle can be a calming and mindful experience. It can help to slow down your thoughts and allow you to concentrate on the present moment.

Candlelight can help to reduce stress and anxiety. They create a calming and relaxing atmosphere that can be particularly helpful after a long day or when you are feeling stressed or anxious.
An image of the number two
An image of number 3
Research has proven that fragrance can have a powerful impact on your mood. They can boost our mood and make us feel more relaxed and happier.
 I certainly found this when I was lighting candles in my Dad’s room.
It calmed me down, created a pleasant atmosphere in the room for him, and generally lifted our mood in difficult times.

Beautiful fragrance can boost your creativity. It can help you focus and be more creative.

Image of the number 4

How you can include candles in your self care routine?

If you are looking for a way to incorporate scented candles into your self care routine, here are some ideas that I use:

  • Light a candle before bed. The soft light and calming fragrance of a candle, can help to signal the start of winding down ready for your sleep, and can help you to sleep better.
    Some fragrances have proven properties to help you to relax, such as Lavender and Camomile.
    Make lighting a candle part of your evening routine. Reminding your body and mind that it is time to slow down and switch off.
  • Take a bath with a candle.The combination of the warm water, bubbles and relaxing fragrance can help you to unwind and de-stress after a long day. I also add relaxing essential oils into my bath water!
    Remember to use your candle safety and keep it away from water 
  • Do your Yoga practice or meditation with a candle. Focus on the flickering flame and your breath. Let the calming candle fragrance help you to relax, clear your mind and focus.
  • Read a book curled up on the sofa, pressing pause on the world for a while. Candlelight provides a cosy and inviting atmosphere that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying your book. Or playing your favourite music.
  • Light your candle while you paint your nails, or give yourself a facial.
    The relaxing atmosphere created by candlelight can help you to feel pampered and indulged.
  • Light a candle when you spend time with loved ones. Candlelight can create a cosy atmosphere to sit with a glass of wine and chat, or maybe a romantic atmosphere.

Some additional tips when you are using candles for self care

  1. Place them in areas of your home where you will be able to enjoy the benefits of their gorgeous aromas, A quiet and relaxing space if your aim is to let the candle stress you.
  2. Light your candle and take a few deep breaths. Allow yourself to relax and feel the benefits of the fragrance.
  3. Create a comfortable space, get cosy on that sofa and light your flame.
  4. Take time for yourself, unplug your phone, turn your devices off, and focus on what you need.
  5. Remember to keep candles away from draughts and curtains, and out of the reach of children and pets. Never leave a lit candle unattended 
No matter how you choose to use them, candles can be a perfect way to add a touch of luxury and relaxation to your self care routine.
So next time you feel tired, stressed or overwhelmed, light that candle and take some time for yourself.
Taking a few moments every day for yourself, to reap all the wellbeing benefits that beautiful fragrance can bring you. 
To bring your mind, body and soul back into balance again, recharging and relaxing.

Sleeping in a heat wave

Sleeping in a heatwave

Written by Victoria Goss                             Date 08 June 2023

Victoria Goss logo

A huge thank you to Victoria Goss for writing this guest blog post for those having difficulty sleeping during a heatwave. Victoria Goss specialises in beautiful, pure cotton nightwear for women and so knows a thing or two about getting a good night’s sleep!

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to both our physical and mental well being but it can be difficult to achieve when the night is far too warm for comfort and so, with Summer just around the corner, here are a few quick tips to help you achieve that longed for sleep in hot weather:

A picture of a number one

Prepare your bedroom in advance for the night ahead – try to keep the blinds drawn when the sun is shining into your room and if the air is hot then close the window too during the day.  Open the window when the air has cooled in the evening to help lower the temperature inside.  A bowl of ice cold water placed on the windowsill will further help to cool the air coming into the room.

Only use natural fibre sheets on your bed – poly cotton or polyester sheets will only make you feel hotter.  A good quality cotton under and top sheet will help to let your body breathe overnight.  Don’t be afraid to wet your top sheet with cold water too, this will help to cool your skin and is a trick that is used frequently in Mediterranean countries.

An image of the number two
An image of number 3

Put the duvet away.  Even a summer weight duvet is too hot for heatwave temperatures.  A top sheet will probably be enough but if you’ve been very successful at cooling your room then add a lightweight woollen blanket to the bottom of your bed that you can quickly pull up if needed during the night.

Have a cool bath or shower before you go to bed.  This will remove any stickiness from the day and help to relax you especially if you use a soap or shower gel scented with natural lavender oil.

Image of the number 4

Choose your nightwear with care – a polyester nightdress will not let your skin breathe but a pure cotton one will.  Bamboo also makes wonderful fabric for nightwear in all weathers as it naturally helps to thermo-regulate your temperature and as it is produced in a jersey type fabric it has a bit of ‘give’ in it making it very comfortable.  Don’t be tempted to sleep without clothes, it may seem like a good idea but not only will you feel warmer than if you had a cool (again even dampened) nightdress on, you will be more likely to be bitten during the night by all those pesky insects!

Close down all blue light emitting devices at least two hours before bed.  Not only does the blue light confuse your brain into feeling more alert than it should at bedtime but having a gadget to hand will add extra heat to your room which you don’t want.

The number 6 inside a circle
The number 7 inside a circle

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the day.  Tea, coffee and wine don’t really count for this!  A long glass of diluted fruit juice or squash is much better and I prefer it to plain water as it helps to add some important salts and sugars to your system.  Be sure to take a glass of water to bed with you in case you wake in the night feeling thirsty.

Eliminate all unnecessary light in your bedroom.  If you have a TV in the room then try not to leave it on standby.  If you can’t be without your phone close at hand then turn it off before you go to bed.  Let the darkness settle around you and allow yourself to be drawn into the shadows towards sleep by it.

The number 8 inside a circle

I hope you find these tips helpful and remember that if you need to purchase a pure cotton nightdress or pyjamas to wear on these warm nights there is a great selection to choose from at

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. 


Healthy Body Healthy Mind

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind; the importance of regular exercise

Written by Matthew Rigby                                                        Date: 2nd April 2023

Would you like to know how to keep a healthy body and a healthy mind? Exercise and physical activity are important for individuals for so many
reasons and can help with overall health. There is not only the individual benefit in terms doing something for
yourself, but also the social aspect of doing activities in a group or club.
There are many studies which have shown that doing physical activity can
improve mental health. It can boost your mood as you experience physiological changes.
Physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy.
As you exercise, endorphins are released in the brain, it helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the
Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels
better your mind will naturally begin to feel the benefits too.

Matthew Rigby is a Macclesfield based PT, offering a number of different opportunities to get fit and lose weight. From beginners courses and sessions to advanced level. He decided to change his own life in order to get fit and healthy and helps others to do the same!

Matthew Rigby PT

Physiological changes

When a person takes part in exercise, the cardiovascular, respiratory, energy and muscular systems all work together to supply energy to the working muscles and remove waste products.
When the muscles start to work, they need more oxygen so the respiratory
system responds by getting more oxygen into the lungs. The blood carries greater amounts of oxygen and the heart responds to pump more oxygenated blood around the body.
Taking part in regular exercise or training around three times per week for six
weeks will lead to adaptation of the body systems that are used or trained.
This has the effect of increasing performance in that type of exercise or sport and is often beneficial to general health and everyday life.
After 4-6 weeks people close to you will start noticing physical changes, and they’ll give you positive comments on how good you look or how you’ve changed. This in turn will lead to a boost in morale and self-esteem.
When you are comfortable, or begin to feel more comfortable with your body
you will become more confident. You can build your self-esteem and help
combat and deal with depression, anxiety and stress.
I have personally found the benefits of exercise which has essentially helped to
turn my life around for the better. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked, I
lacked confidence. I got out of breath chasing my two little boys (at the time)
around a small back garden. I was sad and depressed, I knew something had to change. I then made a conscious decision to make some lifestyle changes.
Over time I’ve worked on this and to achieve the goals and milestones I wanted. It also led to a significant career change. Because I have personally been through this experience myself I feel my experiences have helped me as a personal trainer over the last 7 years, by giving clients motivation, support, encouragement and empathy.
A group of runners at their run club

Building Foundations and Creating Positive Habits

The key is to make the right lifestyle choices. Take the time to invest in yourself. Find something you think you’ll enjoy and give it a go.
Plan your day so you can go for a walk or run. There are massive benefits to simply having a high daily step count, anything over 10,000 is good and going in the right direction.
If you are just starting out, it’s better to take small steps than throwing yourself straight in at the deep end.
Planning is really important, if you fail to plan a time to do a certain activity, then you’re more likely to fail in completing that activity on the day or during the week.
You have to recognise that something needs to change, once you’ve done this
it’s about shifting your mindset and creating sustainable habits, even if you just plan to something like a 30 minute walk three times per week, over a month or so. Then you can begin to progressively increase this and build in other physical activities.

Using Exercise Vehicle to Help Others and Improve Myself

I absolutely love my job, because of the good experiences I’ve had with
exercise I have a real passion to promote it to others.
Clients have come to me and I have helped them achieve their goals and things they didn’t think would be possible.
One client I have helped and trained from her couch (total non-runner) to a sub 4 hour Marathon runner in under 2 years.
Having the ability and knowledge to help people achieve their goals in a safe,
correct and effective manner gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction.

My Journey

My journey began mid 2012. I enlisted the help of a personal trainer who I saw at least once a week for 16 weeks. I slowly built up, I began to enjoy exercise.
As I had more sessions and workouts I became more confident about doing things on my own.
As I started to become fitter. I started to challenge myself more. I began to run
further for longer. I then entered races, that feeling of crossing the finish line
knowing you have given your best is amazing, it’s something that I have
become slightly addicted to.
In November 2012, I completed my first Tough Mudder event, I was absolutely buzzing!
At the time I had friends and family doubt if I was physically and mentally capable of finishing such an event. I ended up turning this into a positive, I used this as motivation to prove people wrong and put in the hard work to achieve my goals. I really enjoyed training for and actually doing the event.
In the last ten years I have completed 36 different Tough Mudder events.

Significant Accomplishments in Obstacle Course Racing

Mr PT in obstacle course racing
October 2019, Represented Team UK as an Age Group Athlete at the 2019
Obstacle Course Racing World Championships
Jan 2022, Mixed Pairs Runner Up with client Michelle, at Conquer Fitness Wild
Winter Challenge.
July 2021, 3rd Tough Mudder Yorkshire
August 2021, I was crowned Europe’s Toughest Mudder Age Group Champion
35-39 and finished 9th overall out of 484 participants.

Road Race Progression

In September 2012 I did my first 10km road race in 1hr 4 mins. 2019 I set a personal record of 42 mins and 3 seconds, knocking 22 minutes off my first
The #mrptrundamentalist Run Club
MR PT run club in macclesfield
I founded the #mrptrundamentalist run club in October 2018, with one group of six people training for a 10k race at the end of November that year.
Fast forward a couple of years and through Covid the run club is still going strong!
I have three groups running so far. I have runner that have just graduated from my 5th Couch to 5K course and some have moved into the next group.
My next Beginners 0-5K will start with a FREE TASTER session on the 27th May at 08:30 meeting at Yas Bean, followed
by a 7 week course on the 3rd June. Same time, same place every week.
Alphas (4-6k) and Inters (5-9k) groups run on a Tuesday night at 18:30 and 19:30 retrospectively meeting at 5S Fitness during term-time.
For more info on this please check out my website or contact me directly.

Closing note

I found using various training methods, mixing strength training with
HIIT/circuit style and cardiovascular workouts beneficial towards achieving my
My training has developed, leading with more function fitness based exercises, as I explore fitness racing events like Conquer Fitness, Hyrox and
Deka, in a bid to continue to get that finish-line feeling and continuing to improve as an athlete and coach.
I am a Strength and Conditioning, British Obstacle Sports and UK Athletics
coach based at 5S in Macclesfield, on Hurdsfield Road. If you are interested in a
complimentary taster session then please get in touch.

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. 


How to stop over-thinking

How to stop over-thinking

Written by Alison Ralph                                                               Date: 6th January 2023

Our mind is a complex place, one that is still an anomaly even to the top scientists. It causes us to do some unusual things in its quest for survival. One of these things is over-thinking, especially about things that worry us or have a negative impact. AND all too often at times when we don’t want them to. We have all got into bed at some point and PING! a worry or thought comes into our minds and it can feel hard to control this. So how do you stop over-thinking? In this blog I will share some of the best ways to gain control of your thoughts and stop over-thinking.


I will help you to understand:

  • The reasons we over-think
  • Relaxation and why it is important
  • The worry chair
  • Journaling to stop over-thinking
  • Delaying your thinking
  • How talking to a counsellor can help
Lady with head in her hands because she is feeling stressed or anxious

Why do we over-think?

Do you get stressed, anxious or confused about the over-thinking that happens in your brain? Do you feel like nobody else is doing the same thing? I’m here to tell  you that over-thinking is normal. However, some people can control it better than others. So why do we over-think? What is the brain trying to achieve? 

The basic answer to this question is that the brain overthinks in order to survive. The brain’s primary goal is to keep us alive so this means that if we are faced with a problem of any kind, the brain kicks in and asks, ‘What is the best way to approach this in order to survive?’.

Now there may be a number of ways to approach something and so the brain run through the possible outcomes before choosing one. 

Of course when looking at over thinking it can be worsened by traits in our personality, our childhood and the behaviours we have learned and whether we allow time to think about our worries or if we are pushing them to the back of the pile somewhere. 

Research also suggests that overthinking can become a habit. Once our brain has gotten used to overthinking, it continues to do that because the process has become a habit. 

The good news is, there are ways to get out of this habit and be more in control of your thinking. 

When overthinking is going on in the brain it causes stress which in turn tenses the body.

If you’re experiencing stress in your life it creates tension in your body which then sends a message to the brain to say that you are stressed and you then start to worry about the stress.

Hopefully you can see how the thoughts and the tension in the body come hand in hand? It can become a vicious cycle if you don’t do anything about it.

This is where relaxation comes in. When we relax the body, it has many benefits; it tells the brain that we are calm so tension can be released, it can improve digestive health and lower blood pressure. Here are a couple of ways for you to practise relaxation. 

1. Mental visualisation

This is a great way to relax and one of my favourites because it draws on a tranquil place where you may have been before. 

Sit back and relax in your favourite chair or lay on your bed. Close your eyes and think of a calm relaxing place. A place where you could be and you would be without distractions or the stresses of life. Or just a space that is your ultimate tranquillity. There is no set rule for the place. It can be somewhere you have been before, such as a holiday destination, or a place you want to create in your mind. 

When you have thought of a place you can build up all the details here. The colours you can see, any landscape, any sound that you can hear in that place, things you could touch, smell or taste. Using all of your senses helps to activate each part of the brain and brings all focus to that one place and the feelings of calm. If you have been there before you might like to bring in some happy memories from the time you were there. Once you are ready to finish your relaxation you can open your eyes again.

This is a great way to bring calm and relaxation to the body. The brain inks your place with relaxation and calm and so the next time you come to do it, it will feel easier to bring that calm feeling to the body. It also frees the mind from any over-thinking because focus is on the visualisation. 

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

This is one that I like to practise often and brings a level of calmness to all parts of the body.
  • While in a comfortable position, preferably with your eyes closed, move your focus from one body part to the next, personally I like to start at my feet. Tense the body part as tightly as possible and then release all tension before moving to the next body part. 
  •  Include all muscles, even each muscle on your face. 
  • Contract the muscle for a count of 5 or 10 and let go suddenly. 
  • Finish with a few deep breaths and a stretch
  • Some muscles can just be clenched but other need to be contracted in a different way. Shoulders need to be shrugged by raising them sharply towards your ears, your forehead can be wrinkled into a deep frown and your eyes closed tightly. To clench your jaw and facial muscles you need to smile as widely as you can, your stomach can be tensed by sucking it in as tightly as you can and your back should be arched and then released.
It might seem a lot to remember to begin with but once practised a few times you will soon be able to complete it automatically and feeling the benefits. Progressive muscle relaxation should bring a sense of relaxation to your body and help you to feel less tense.
A lady feeling relaxed. Showing relaxation after hypnotherapy.

The worry chair

showing how calm my therapy room is

We have looked at how you can help the physical response in the body to over-thinking but what can you do to help keep those thoughts at bay? Some research suggests that over-thinking can actually be a habit and therefore once you have go into that habit, you will have to unlearn it. This is where the worry chair comes in. If you are a serial worrier, the worry chair could be helpful for you. 

This is what you need to do:

  • Choose a chair in your house that you personally don’t use for anything else. Somebody else in the house might use it and that’s fine.
  • When you realise a worry is coming into your mind, you go and sit on the chair and you allow yourself to worry. 
  • Once you have done all the worrying for that moment, go back to what you were doing. 
  • Repeat the process once another worry comes into the mind. 
  • Or you might decide that between the times 1pm and 1:30pm you will sit on the chair and allow yourself time to worry, meaning that at any other time of the day you don’t worry

The idea of this technique is that you train your brain to worry at only certain times of the day, or for a certain amount of time. You become fed up of going to the chair and therefore go less and less and you become in control of your thoughts. 

It might not seem feasible if you work out of the home or if you are a busy person but it really is affective and shouldn’t take long to train your brain if you stick with it!


Journaling to stop over-thinking
This is a new concept I have been looking at recently and I can really see the benefits and have started to share the idea with clients. 
When we over-think, the thoughts are available for the imagination to create whatever it pleases round them.
For example, you may have a thought that you don’t want to do that talk in front of your colleagues and before you know it, your imagination has you being sick in front of them with nerves. You may then believe that this will happen and phone in sick to work.
However, if you had written this worry down on paper to begin with and explored your feelings about it and the most likely outcome, you may see it in more of a rational way and it will not have been picked up by the imagination in the same way. 
You might like to write down:
  • The thought you are having
  • How you are feeling in the body
  • The possible outcomes 
  • Whether any stressful events have recently happened for you
  • How stressed or anxious you are feeling on a scale of one-ten
  • How your generally well-being is for example, are you tired

Journaling not only allows you to get the thoughts out of your head, but it can help you identify patterns in your thoughts and feelings. So get yourself a little book and a pen and start writing!

Writing affirmations

Delaying your thinking

Have you ever noticed that worrying or over-thinking comes at the most inconvenient times? For example, when you lay down for bed at night or when your about to do something significant?
The good news is that you can delay your thinking until a time that is more convenient for you. Allowing you to be in control of your thinking. 
So when that thought comes into your mind you can simply say ‘I am happy to worry about XYZ but just not at the moment. I will worry about it at 10am tomorrow morning’. Or ‘I recognise that I need to think about XYZ and I will do it later’. 
Unfortunately, we do need to allow our brain to worry, it’s a part of what the brain does for survival.
Often people ignore the worries and this can create other issues. Here we are not ignoring the worries but simply saying we will do it at some other time. You can then wake up in the morning and at 10am allow yourself to have the worry. In some cases you will find that the worry no longer feels significant when you come back to it. 
Talking to a counsellor

Do all of these ideas feel impossible or are you unsure where to start or which one will work for you? Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed or just don’t think any of these will work for you? Seeing a counsellor may be the way forward for you. A counsellor can listen to you and your thoughts and help you identify what is happening in your brain or where these thoughts are coming from.

The counsellor may also be able to help you identify the best way forward in term of strategies you can use.

It may be that talking about the thoughts helps because it allows them to be out in the open and not deep within your imagination.

You may feel that your thoughts are too unusual or ‘out there’ to share with anyone but the truth is, counsellors have heard many different thought processes and are not there to judge!

They are there to facilitate you in over-coming a problem. They will be empathetic, show understanding and create a safe space for you to work through those thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about counselling and how it can help, I am happy to answer any questions. 

Alison talking to a client

If you are an over-thinker it can be an over-whelming feeling, often causing stress or anxiety.

These techniques are tried and tested ways to gain back control of that thinking and bring calm and relaxation to the body.

Of course each one will not work for every person and it may take some trial and error to find what works for you. It is important to stick to them and keep repeating the process to allow the brain to get into new habits.

If you feel that you need more help then talking to a counsellor might just be the correct route for you.

Remember though, it is your brain and your thoughts, you CAN gain control!

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. 


Setting goals for 2023

Setting goals for 2023

Written By Alison Ralph                                                                        Date: 31.12.22

We have come to the final day of 2023 and there is a lot of pressure around changing yourself, becoming the new you and making New Year’s resolutions. It might be that you don’t bother with all of this and that is okay. Don’t allow people to pressurise you into it. If you are thinking of setting new goals and looking at reflecting on 2022 then this blog post is for you. Read on to find out about why it is useful to write down your goals, the best way to set achievable goals and for some FREE downloadable resources.

2023 picture

The topics I will cover in this blog post are:

  • Why it is useful to write down your goals for 2023
  • The best way to set achievable goals
  • The SMART goal method
  • Some FREE downloadable resources to help you set goals

Why is it useful to write down your goals for 2023?

It is very useful to write down your goals for 2023 and you will notice that if you do this, you are more likely to carry them out. 

Think about all the thoughts that are swimming around in your head. Sometimes it can feel like your trying to catch a small fish in a large ocean of water. If you set goals in the mind then it can feel like this each time you think of your goals, or you might even forget to think about them at all!

If you write down the goals then you can see them clearly in front if you. Have them stuck at your work desk, on your fridge or in your bag to view everyday. You can then be sure of what your goal is and keep working towards them. No fishing around in the mind through all of those thoughts you have day to day!

We tend to have more ownership over the things we have written down and may even choose to show them to somebody else who can support us in our goal.

So what are you waiting for? Get a piece of paper and pen or download one of my documents in this blog post and get writing!

Alison Ralph sat in her therapy room

What is the best way to set achievable goals?

When setting achievable goals it is useful to first decide on goals that are achievable. If we have a goal which is too broad or not achievable then we are less likely to achieve that goal. For example, if your goal is to get healthy, this is a broad statement and may require you to do a number of different things which feel unachievable before you have even started. This can lead to procrastination, starting and then giving up quickly and failure. 

If you can make the goal more focused for example, to eat more fruit  and veg every day or to exercise twice a week, these are more focussed and achievable. Once you have achieved these and they are part of your day to day, you can always change the goal or add something to it. 

SMART goal writing

You may have heard the SMART goal setting method before and it can be helpful when looking at setting goals that you are able to reach.

S is for Specific – Don’t just say what will happen. Be clear about what you will do, in detail. For example, I will go to the gym on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Tuesday and Saturday I will focus on cardio and on a Thursday I will do some weights.

M is for measurable – A good goal can be measured or quantified. The outcome is not vague or up for interpretation. Answer this question, ‘How will I know that my goal has been reached?’

A is for attainable – This means that it is realistic for you in your situation. A goal should challenge us to move and improve but needs to be possible and reasonable.

R is for relevant – Does the goal actually speak to your broader values? Does the smaller goal fit into the bigger goal and does it make sense in context?

T is for time-bound – Set a deadline for one the goal should be accomplished by, or outline some time limits. Goals set for ‘someday’ or with a longer timescale don’t normally materialise.

Following these steps can help you to create some clear and precise goals, giving you a good starting point for 2023. Remember, once you have achieved one goal, you can create another precise goal and continue to improve and achieve!

Focus on growth
Here are some FREE downloadable resources to help you set your goals.

Some people like to start with a plain piece of paper and start to allow their mind to run, however if you are someone who needs guidance or a template feel free to download these, produced by me. One is more structured than the other so you might prefer to complete just one, or you could even use both. I really like the one which looks like a firework because it really gets you thinking about different aspects of your life. Here are the documents:

A file to help you set 2023 goals

stepping into 2023

Here’s some ideas for goals you might implement in 2023…

Examples of goals you could have in 2023

You might feel that it would be useful for you to talk to a counsellor in 2023 or to achieve a goal using hypnotherapy. Follow the link below to get in touch and found out how I might be able to help. 

Whatever you decide your goals to be in 2023, making them realistic and using small steps is the answer. The more you are able to achieve, the happier you will feel and the more motivated to carry on setting goals you will be. Remember, writing them down gives a clear, ‘set in stone’ goal and you are more likely to carry them out. Stick to the SMART goals if you feel they will be useful or simply follow one of my downloadable documents.

I hope that you have a successful start to 2023 and that it is a healthy one for you and your loved ones.

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. 


A Hypnotherapists guide to reducing stress

A hypnotherapists guide to reducing stress

Written By Alison Ralph                                                                        Date: 02.11.22

Today is Stress Awareness Day in the UK so I thought I would create a guide to help you reduce stress. The aim of the guide is to help you to notice what you might be doing in your life that can create more stress and hopefully enable you to put new things into place to prevent the feelings of stress or overwhelm. Within my therapy practice I work with many clients who are experiencing anxiety or low mood from the overwhelm and stress they have in their day-to-day life and the guide I have created here are tried and tested strategies I have suggested to my clients. 

Say No more often

This is one that many people struggle with. Always trying to make other people happy or a belief that the more you do for others, the better their opinion of you. This can lead you to take on more than you can physically and mentally handle. Remember that it is okay to say NO. It doesn’t mean that you are being unreasonable, it just means that you are looking after you and that you can give more quality time and attention to the things you have said yes too. This may mean learning to be more assertive and when I say assertive, I don’t mean to be mean to people but setting boundaries in place to make sure that you protect yourself. You might find that this is something that you could improve within the workplace or with family or friends. 

Alison demonstrating deep breathing

And breathe...

If you have read any of my other blog posts or you follow my social media posts you will know that I am a big believer in deep breathing. When you take a long deep breath in through the nose and out of the mouth it not only activates the parasympathetic nervous system (that’s the part of our body that deals with relaxation) it also enables us to take time out, close our eyes if we chose and release the muscles in our body. It also allows us to interrupt a faster pace of breathing that is often experienced with stress and bring the breathing back to normal. The benefits of long breaths really are plentiful when it comes to releasing stress. Deep belly breathing is my favourite and the one I teach to most of my clients. See the instructions below!

Instructions for a relaxing breathing technique

Get plenty of sleep

Sleeping really does have an effect on the way we think and feel, and the decisions that we decide to make during the day. If you are someone who struggles to sleep, then create an environment that promotes sleep. To find out more you can have a read of my blog all about insomnia. 

A hypnotherapist’s guide to better sleep and battling insomnia – Alison Ralph (

Get exercising

Alison in her running gear tying her shoe lace

Yes, it’s the one that is talked about an awful lot but for good reason! It really does help the body to release stress. Think about the time when we were cave men. We were faced with an animal that may want to kill us. We had to run away or fight it. The adrenalin rushed around our body and we either ran or we fought. As we were doing either of these, the adrenalin would discharge from the body, and everything would go back to its normal way of working. It is important to know that our body experiences this same reaction with our everyday stress, but we don’t run or fight. When we exercise, it can help to get rid of these chemicals as well as producing the feel-good hormones, endorphins. Make sure you find the exercise that works for you. My most favourite exercise is netball – I love it and it fits in with my lifestyle and so it is easy to go and do it!

Ask for help!

Yes, it’s another one that people always go on about. I am not necessarily talking about going to see a GP or a therapist. I am talking about acknowledging that you are taking on too much as a mum, dad, partner, employee, daughter, son… you get the jist! I often work with people, and they are doing EVERYTHING! And, not feeling as though they can ask for help. This might be because they are embarrassed to or because they feel they SHOULD because of some deep-seated belief. I am here to tell you that you are only HUMAN. You cannot do everything and if you are, it is likely that you will be suffering from some sort of stress. Ask for help from friends and family members, either help with physical activities or a listening ear. If you feel that you can’t talk to them, seek out a therapist who you can talk to.

Alison talking to a client

Remember that you are only human, and humans were not designed for such a fast paced and ever-changing world and life. It is okay to say no, and you will notice that when you start to say no, things will feel much easier and less overwhelming. Make time for things that are good for you, and you will feel the benefits, and if you are struggling, please ask for help, whether that is physical help or just someone to talk to. You will notice that once you have given yourself permission to do this, you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders!

If you feel you would like to know more about how counselling could help you then please get in touch. You may find that you only need a couple of sessions. 

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