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Self care ideas

5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024

5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 08 January 2024

Are you wondering how to kick start your weight loss in 2024? Maybe this is the year to do it properly, without diets and to make it a lifestyle change and allow yourself to become slimmer, fitter and healthier. You may not know where to start or even have the motivation.

As a hypnotherapist, I work with many people to kick start their weight loss and here I am going to share 5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024. Five things that I know work and have worked for many people in my therapy room.

I will talk about:

  1. Food diaries with a free downloadable resource
  2. Small changes
  3. Movement
  4. Storing unhealthy foods
  5. Head hunger Vs physical hunger with free downloadable resource
A bowl of fruit

Food Diaries

Keeping track of your eating habits using a food diary can be really helpful. This is the way I often begin sessions with a client as it helps to identify routines, where improvements can be made and what is going well. 

You don’t have to remember to fill it in everyday. You can sit and go through what you typically eat in a day and use that as a guide. Use this food diary as a template

Once you have completed the food diary take a look at:

  1. If your meals are healthy
  2. What times of the day you are eating unhealthily 
  3. Whether you have exercise or movement in your day
  4. The things you are drinking
  5. If your diet is well balanced 

Small Changes

Once you have identified where the issues are you can make small changes. When you go on a diet you often restrict a lot of things all in one go. The brain does not like this! That is why you find you can only do it for a short amount of time. When you make a small change and allow the brain to get into the habit of that before making another change, it is much more affective. 

Choose 3 small things you can change. Here are some examples:

  • Drink a bottle of water each day
  • If you eat chocolate everyday, reduce that to 5 days 
  • If you don’t eat any fruit or vegetables, start eating them on two days 
  • If you don’t exercise at all, start to walk more or get up and down more, use the stairs more
  • If you eat carbs with every meal, start to eat it with only 2 meals a day

Notice how all these changes are not taking away everything that you enjoy, just cutting it down slowly. Once you have nailed these small changes, you can make 3 new ones and continue in this way until you are happy with your habits. This might take longer than a diet would but you are more likely to keep these habits for ever!

Movement

Back view of a lady running

You can have all the will in the world to lose weight, get slimmer and healthier but without movement you will find it much more difficult. 

Movement is so important in the weight loss journey. 

If you are somebody who does no exercise at all then start off small. This can be making a conscious effort to get up during the day and do some steps, it could be going up and down stairs more often, cutting out the lift or finding exercise that you really enjoy. 

Get back to sport – in your local area there will be sports clubs of all different kinds. They even having walking team sports now – I have seen walking netball and football in my local area. It is also a great way to meet new people!

Walk – it does not matter where you live, there is always somewhere to go for a walk. It is really good exercise AND it is free!

Remember, we need to burn the fuel that we put inside us in order to lose weight!

Storing Unhealthy Foods

This one is going to sound a little harsh but why are you storing unhealthy foods at home?

I have worked with so many people over the years who will say things like: ‘We have a treat cupboard at home and I can’t help going in it’. ‘I get chocolate biscuits for the hubby and I eat these’. ‘I don’t want to deprive my children of the treats so we have them in the house’.

But why? or why so much that it is having a detrimental affect on your health? I often wonder if these are excuses to the person to enable them to have the snacks or ‘treats’ in the home. 

If you are in charge of the shopping then think about how much unhealthy food is being purchased and limit this so that you can have a balanced diet more easily and the temptation is out of the way. 

When you think about it that way, it makes sense doesn’t it?

Head hunger Vs physical hunger

Did you know that there were two types of hunger? Head hunger and physical hunger.

Our subconscious mind has control over our physical hunger. It prompts us to let us know when to eat in order to keep us alive. 

When the subconscious mind thinks it is time for us to eat, it sends a signal to the stomach so the stomach can start getting ready for the food. This is when you get feelings of the tummy rumbling. This is the only time we need to eat!

Every other time we eat is referred to as head hunger. .We are eating because of boredom, stress, sadness, celebration or fear. This type of eating is what helps us to gain weight. 

It is important to understand your head hunger so you can be aware of it and start to make changes so this is not causing you to eat. 

You can use the below handout to help you understand and change the head hunger. 

If are are fed up of using diets and not getting anywhere or want to look at different ways this time then try these 5 things to kick start your weight loss in 2024. It is important to not only focus on the food but also how the brain is working because of past messages or coping strategies and these ideas can help you to do that. Let me know how they go and which one is your favourite!

If you feel overwhelmed or are not sure where start then get in touch to find out how we can work together – Alison Ralph Hypnotherapy And Counselling | 07719032346 | www.alisonralph-therapy.co.uk 

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Self care ideas

What is seasonal affective disorder and how can I help myself if I have it?

What is seasonal affective disorder and how can I help myself if I have it?

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 03 January 2024

Do you struggle with your mental health during the winter months?

Many people find this time of year and going into the New Year a difficult time. It might be related to Christmas, but it can also be a result of the changing seasons. You are not alone if this is you and this condition is actually recognised as SAD, seasonal affective disorder. 
 
It is explained by the NHS as a type of depression that comes and goes with the change of the seasons. The symptoms are normally more apparent and severe during the winter and so it can be referred to as winter depression. 
In this blog post I will explain:
1. What seasonal affective disorder is
2. The possible symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
3. Ways to help yourself overcome the negative feelings of seasonal affective disorder

What is seasonal affective disorder?

There are a few different reasons that you may experience Seasonal affective disorder at this time of the year. These reasons are:

  1. Poor sleep patterns – poor sleep patterns can cause a dip in motivation and energy levels 
  2. Low serotonin levels – this can cause a low mood
  3. High melatonin levels – which can cause you to feel tired
  4. Family history of mental illness – you may be more prone to mental health illnesses 
  5. Lack of sunlight – this can cause more melatonin

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

As with everything else, each person has a different experience of seasonal affective disorder. These are the most common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder:

  • Feeling low
  • Excessively tired
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Feeling irritable
  • Craving carbohydrates 

It can be difficult to face the world and continue with everyday life when these symptoms are present so here are some ideas which can help you with seasonal affective disorder. 

Self-care ideas to overcome SAD symtoms

If you would like to improve your symptoms of SAD to help with your day to day life then here are 5 ideas to try:

A picture of a number one

Go outside during the daylight – this can hep to increase serotonin levels which helps with overall mood

Walking outdoors during daylight

Brighten up your environment – have good lighting in your environment or invest in a light box – this gives the same affects as going outdoors

A bright workspace
An image of the number two
An image of number 3

Eat well – it is always good to eat well as this can improve our overall feeling of ourself and increases energy levels.

A bowl of fruit

Exercise (outdoors if you can) – this can help you to feel more motivated, energised and improve mood

Back view of a lady running
Image of the number 4
An image of number 5

Talk to a counsellor – this can help you to identify patterns in your mood, behaviours and feelings and may help you to make new ones that will help you to feel better. 

Alison talking to a client

If you would like to find out more about how therapy could help you, please get in touch – Alison Ralph Hypnotherapy And Counselling | 07719032346 | www.alisonralph-therapy.co.uk 

As you can see, there are many ways to help yourself if you are struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is important to remember that each self-care idea will not work for everyone so it is about finding the correct one for you. If you find that one of these suggestions help you then please leave a comment and let us know!

If you are struggling still after the self care, please see your doctor. They might recommend medication, even if just for a short time. 
 
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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!).

Travelling

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.

Spare

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!

Reflection

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. 

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Self care ideas

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. 

07719032346

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Self care ideas

Setting goals for 2024

Setting goals for 2024

Written By Alison Ralph                                                                        Date: 31.12.23

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 2023 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.

2024 logo

The topics I will cover in this blog post are:

  • The reason you should write down your goals for 2024
  • The best way to set achievable goals
  • The SMART goal method
  • Some FREE downloadable resources to help you set goals

Writing down your goals for 2024

It is very useful to write down your goals for 2024 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 goals are 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 2024. 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 2024 goals

stepping into 2024

You might feel that it would be useful for you to talk to a counsellor in 2024 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 2024, 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 2024 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. 

07719032346

Categories
Self care ideas

keeping your mental health healthy

Keeping your mental health healthy

Written By Alison Ralph                                                                        Date: 12.10.2022

Monday 10th October marked World Mental Health Day. A day for raising awareness and talking about mental health. So, what can you do to keep your mental health healthy? In this blog I will be sharing my tried and tested top tips from working as a hypnotherapist and counsellor. I hope that you find them to be helpful.

World Mental Health Day logo
A picture of a number one

BE ACTIVE – Yes it’s the one that people go on about all the time. Joe Wicks has pretty much made his living out of it and that because it works! When we exercise the brain releases endorphins. Those are the chemicals that made you feel good. They are designed to send a message to the subconscious mind and tell it that you are doing okay! Not only that, don’t forget the buzz that you get when you have achieved something or when you are in a class with others you can also have a little chin wag. It doesn’t have to be high impact exercise, just something achievable for you. You might start with a slow walk, or some leg raises in your chair at home. If there is one thing you do this week to keep your mental health healthy, let it be getting active!

An image of the number two

STAY IN THE PRESENT – Now I am not saying this is easy, it can be quite difficult but does make a difference. If you are looking towards the future all the time and anticipating what ‘could’ happen then you may experience feelings of anxiety. If you are looking at the past on a regular basis and focussing on the negatives or what you could have done in certain situations then this can cause depression and low mood. If you find yourself thinking into the past or future a lot then catch yourself and bring yourself back to what you are doing in the present moment. Immerse yourself in that moment and its details. If you do need to think about the past or future, give yourself a time and place to do that. Give this a go and notice how eventually you will be more focussed on your present moment.

Take a look at these cute little mindfulness jars that give you 50 ideas for mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you to stay in the present and helps to keep your mental health healthy! These little jars are made by me and can be bought in my Etsy shop.

An image of number 3

TALK – Yes it’s that old chestnut, but again it works. My first session with any client is getting to know their issue and what has been going on for them and what they would like to achieve from sessions. We may not do any work around overcoming the feelings or the issue but people always go away feeling so much better and as though a weight has lifted off their shoulders. This is because the issue is not swimming around in their imagination anymore but it has been shared and can be looked at in a different way. This can happen if you talk to a friend or family member too but if you don’t feel that you can express it to them then reach out to a charity such as, The Samaritans or get in touch with a counsellor.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor or would be interested in hypnotherapy sessions to help you keep your mental health healthy then find out how we can work together here Contact – Alison Ralph (alisonralph-therapy.co.uk)

Image of the number 4

MAKE YOU A PRIORITY – You may have a job, a house, a family, a parent to care for and other responsibilities that make up the person you are. However, it is very important to give time for you. I often see people who have anxiety and they find it difficult to say NO. This causes them to take on roles that they either don’t want or don’t have time for, but the more and more they take on, the more anxious they become. Our bodies were not designed to be on the go all of the time, we really do push them to the limit. So, if you can take some time out just for you, learn to be more assertive and have moments of pause during the day, you will find that your mental health improves.

If you are unsure about ways to prioritise you or practise self care take a look at my wonderful product – 100 Days of Self-care. There are 100 ideas for you to pull out of the jar and practise AND they guarantee to put you first and release those feel good hormones! 

An image of number 5

DON’T BECOME CONSUMED WITH IT – This might sound like an unusual one and one that may cause you to feel p***ed off, however if you give so much thought to the anxiety or feelings of depression then the likelihood is that you will make it worse. Now I am not saying to ignore it completely and make yourself busy all the time because that is not useful either (as explained in point number 4). What I am saying is, notice that it is there, accept it is there and tell yourself that it will go away. When you constantly think about it in a negative way, it causes the brain to think there is a threat and this then activities that fight or flight within you and the feelings become heightened.

It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself to have mental health issues or not, you can still practise some of these things to keep your mental health healthy. It is important to recognise that each of these tips will not work for every person and therefore it is important to try each one and find what works well for you, giving them a week or more before you decide to stop using them. These tips will give you some ideas but don’t forget to read my other blogs to find out other ways to keep your mental health healthy. 

If you have tried self-care to keep your mental health healthy and they are not working then it might be time for you to contact your GP. Don’t be afraid to contact your GP and talk to them about how you are feeling. Remember, you will get your mental health on track eventually!

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. 

07719032346

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Self care ideas

Staying on top of your self-care

Staying on top of your self care

Written By Kirsty Windsor                                                                        July 2022

A little bit about me

Hello! Kirsty here from The Letterbox Edition

After going through a difficult time in life, I decided to make a big change. I stopped chasing the corporate dream in aid of setting up and running a small business from home. 

I am a firm believer in making time for yourself, and spent a lot of time during lockdown completing online courses around mental health, emotional resilience and self care. 

I always knew I wanted to work for myself, and decided to take my passion for self care, handmade products and supporting  small businesses and set up a letterbox gifting company sending care packages through the post. 

If you are looking for a care package for yourself or a loved one, please head over to www.theletterboxedition.co.ukIf you can’t see exactly what you are looking for, please reach out, I would be love to curate a gift box for you.

A picture of Kirsty,; owner of the letterbox edition

My self care journey

Self care is vital for building resilience towards stresses in your life, it isn’t all face masks & bubble baths and whilst these things do help to allow you to relax and unwind you need to ensure you are taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially.

I don’t profess to be any means an expert, but I have put together some of my top tips to make sure you stay on top of your self care. 

Shut those peepers

It's ok to rest; treat your body to a good night's sleep

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Without enough sleep the brain simply cannot function properly. It’s so important to allow your body to repair and be fit and ready for another day. Whilst there are many factors that contribute to a bad night’s sleep, especially with young children, there are many things you can do to aid a restful night’s sleep.

My top tip would be to stop scrolling! I think we are all guilty of this; aimlessly scrolling through social media whilst we lay in bed. Before we know it 30 minutes have passed by. Try to put your phone to one side and spend those 30 minutes reflecting on the day, being with your thoughts and drifting off into a restful night’s sleep. 

If you are struggling to drift off, there are many different things you can try. I personally love a  self heating eye mask. Game changer. You won’t know what you are missing until you have tried one of these. These are a little luxury in life, and not something I use every day. However, if my mind is full, it works so well to bring instant calmness and relaxation. 

Not an instant fix, but something to think about is your bedroom space. Does your bedroom bring a feeling of calm? Try to declutter your bedroom, take those piles of clothes to the charity shop, put away the washing, tidy your makeup space. A cluttered room can make your mind feel busy. 

A clean and tidy room can also make morning routines run more smoothly, if like me you’re rushing around in the morning trying to find a matching pair of school socks, getting organised can take the stress out of the morning rush.

Do good, feel good.

Try to look for ways to do good in your local community. When you do something good, you feel happier. This can be anything from litter picking, cutting an elderly neighbour’s grass, or helping with a local charity event. 

It’s often the small things that make the difference, for example if a neighbour is off their feet can you put the bin out for them? Just a small gesture can mean the world to someone. 

My favourite part of putting together my letterbox gifts is handwriting the gift notes. I see such lovely messages of love and friendship. Often my gift boxes are sent when people are going through a difficult time, it brings me such joy to know that I will bring a smile to their face even when facing sadness.

Get those steps in

Get out for some fresh air, it will do you the world of good. You will spot me in all weathers, out walking our dog around Macclesfield Forest. Don’t let the bad weather put you off. A walk in the rain can be just as enjoyable as a walk in the sunshine, just dress appropriately! Whatever you enjoy; swimming, running, playing tennis or like me just simply walking, just get moving.

Often time is not on our side, can you utilise your lunch break to get outside for some fresh air? Can you walk to the shop instead of driving? Getting out for a walk brings so many benefits – helping to clear your mind, boosting your energy and helping to aid a restful night’s sleep.

An image of Kirsty walking two dogs

Get sh*t done

Running a small business alongside raising a family can be gruelling and having a list of things to do whirling around your head can be overwhelming. Get some pen and paper out and make a to-do list! As silly as it sounds it is so satisfying to cross tasks off one by one.

Don’t forget to be realistic, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Try creating a daily and weekly to-do list, even a monthly list with your aims or goals for the coming weeks.. Be realistic with what you can achieve each day, although tasks can be rolled over it can be frustrating to have a never ending to do list. 

Just a side note to say sometimes life throws curveballs and to do lists go out the window. That’s OK, don’t beat yourself up just keep going. 

Another tip would be to try to spend time each week to meal plan and prep for the week ahead. If you know you have after school clubs or are working late, try to have a meal prepped that can be just reheated. It’s so easy to fall into a trap of eating junk on these evenings or reaching for the take away apps. I often find takeaways can leave me feeling sluggish and guilty for wasting money when there is plenty of food in the house.

Get your om on

When first looking at meditation, I didn’t really know where to start. I turned to the Headspace app and decided to dedicate small chunks of time to sit quietly with my thoughts. There are many other apps available offering daily meditation videos, breathing exercises. Not all will be the right fit for you – but go ahead and give it a whirl.  

Stop bottling it up

It’s so important to have someone to talk to, especially when you are going through a difficult time in life. I’m guilty of putting on a brave face and going about by day, but your emotions catch up with you eventually. So, whether it is your partner, sister,  or a friend, make sure you are talking to someone about how you are feeling. You may wish to seek professional help when navigating difficult times, my advice would be to seek out a local counselling service. If you are local to Macclesfield,  Alison offers an invaluable service. Alison offers a free phone consultation giving you the opportunity to see if it is the right fit for you.

And relax

Life is busy, there is no getting away from that. However, it is so vital to make a small amount of time for yourself. I try to do this each day, whether it be the cliche bubble bath and face mask or putting my feet up to squeeze in an episode of my favourite TV programme. Don’t feel guilty for taking this time, spend it doing something you enjoy. So read that book, knit that blanket or complete that puzzle, whatever brings you joy. Try and do something you enjoy every day.

How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you

The Letterbox Edition

If you would like to find out more about the products Kirsty offers at The Letterbox Edition pop over to her website where you can browse not only self-care packages but packages for children and vegan self-care packages. 

www.theletterboxedition.co.uk

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. 

07719032346

Categories
Self care ideas

Mental Health Awareness Week: How can I combat feelings of loneliness?

Mental Health Awareness Week: How can I combat feelings of loneliness?

Written By Alison Ralph                               May 2022

Everyone can feel lonely from time to time. Loneliness can be felt when there are people around or when others are not there. It can have serious effect on our mental heatlh, especially when we are not alone by choice. This year’s Mental Health Awareness week is focussed on loneliness. Mentalhealth.org claim that millions of people in the UK are affected by loneliness each year and this has been exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic. When lockdown hit the UK, we were thrown into isolation and reduced ability to connect with others which has resulted in a higher level of distress. 

This blog post will provide you with:

  • A tool to identify if loneliness is affecting your mental health
  • Suggestions for coping with your loneliness
  • Charities you can connect with to combat your loneliness or to help others
  • How to support others who are feeling lonely
  • Why counselling could be beneficial for you or a loved one who is feeling lonely

Is loneliness effecting your mental health?

Use this tick list to find out if loneliness is having an effect on your mental health. Once you have ticked the ones that apply to you it may help you to gain an understanding of how you are feeling and the reasons why. You may also like to think about how to tackle these feelings and the rest of this blog can help you with that. 

A tool to help people identify if their loneliness is effecting their mental health

I'm lonely, what can I do to help myself?

ENJOYMENT

Complete tasks that you know you will enjoy as a way of keeping you busy. For example, a sport, knitting, reading or playing a musical instrument. Make sure these things are fun and fulfilling. 

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Trying to do some physical activity can help with loneliness. Whether that is a walk or a dance around the house as this can help you to feel less overwhelmed. 

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR PETS

If you have a pet then it can help to spend time with them. They provide unconditional love and support as well as giving you structure to your life. They can also get you out and about where there is a chance you could meet other people.

STIMULATE THE MIND

Completing activities that stimulate the mind can help with loneliness. Taking a course in a topic you are interested in or listening to a podcast of a person whose voice you enjoy or simply listening to some comedy that will make you laugh at the same time too. 

ENGAGE

Engaging with people you meet in day to day life can really help you to feel less lonely. Whether that is smiling at somebody on your daily walk or saying ‘Hi’ to someone you pass in the street. This may not only give you a lift but the person you are engaging with as well.

GROUPS

Find a group of people or a club that do something you find fun or interesting. When you share an interest with someone else about something it can be easier to talk to them. You may also find that you meet a friend for life!

a pathway running through an autumnal forest

Charities that can help you to combat loneliness

There are many charities out there that have been designed to help people combat loneliness. So, whether you are reading this blog because you are lonely or because you would like to help others who are lonely these websites might help you in combating that loneliness. 

Home | Campaign to End Loneliness

– WaveLength

Get help with loneliness | British Red Cross

Home | Co-op Foundation (coopfoundation.org.uk)

How can you support others who are feeling lonely?

A person reaching out to help another

LISTEN AND SHOW UNDERSTANDING

Allow a person to talk about how they are feeling but don’t judge or give opinions. You  may find that if you open up that space for them to talk, they will feel more comfortable joining a group with you or venturing out into the open without the feelings still on their shoulders. 

GROUPS

If you are a member of a group or a club, try to make them welcoming for others. It can often to daunting joining a new environment and isolating the ‘new’ person will only cause them to feel more lonely. 

DON’T JUDGE

Telling a person why they might be feeling lonely is not helpful. Allowing them to speak freely and helping them to recognise that they are not alone and that it is common is more likely to be helpful.

How can counselling help with loneliness?

Talking through the way you are feeling in a non-judgemental and understanding environment can be helpful in combating the feelings of loneliness. The counsellor is there to help you come to an understanding of why you feel a certain way and to support you in the process of coming to conclusions about changes you could make. 

To show how welcoming my therapy room is

If you would like to find out more about counselling support I can offer then please get in touch. 

When you feel lonely it can have a detrimental effect on your mental well-being and can feel like it will never get better. I hope that following some of these ideas will help you in combating loneliness and finding the interaction with others that you want and need. 

If you have knowledge of any other charities or groups/clubs that may be helpful for others, please feel free to comment with your ideas!

Get in touch...

If you are struggling with your mental health and would like to find out how hypnotherapy or counselling could help you I am here to answer all of your questions. 

07719032346

Categories
Self care ideas

What are affirmations and how can they help your mental health?

What are affirmations and how can they help your mental health?

Written By Alison Ralph                               April 2022

Ever wondered what all the hype is about affirmations, how they can help your mental health and why they are often used within hypnotherapy sessions? This blog post, written by Alison Ralph, Macclesfield based hypnotherapist, aims to teach you:

  • What an affirmation is
  • How affirmations work in the brain
  • How you should be using affirmations for the best outcome
  • How to decide which affirmations could be good for you
  • Why they are often used within hypnotherapy sessions
  • Example affirmations for anxiety
  • Example affirmations for stopping smoking
Demonstrate thinking positive

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a sentence or phrase that has been written with a positive or reassuring aim. They can be imprinted in the conscious and subconscious mind if used correctly and aim to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts and give you positive changes in the way you think of yourself and the world around you. We actually create many affirmations for ourselves but these are often negative ones such as, ‘I am unattractive’. 

You might be wondering if there is evidence to suggest that affirmations do work and the answer to that question is, yes.

Image showing all the things the mind filters

How do affirmations work in the brain?

So, your wondering how affirmations work and whether they are worth the effort?

The neuroplasticity in our brains allows us to create new pathways and strengthen old ones. The brain can often become confused with imagination and reality which means we can think about things we would like to achieve and the brain can take it for reality.

When this happens, many of the areas in the brain which are activated when we actually experience these things become activated. If these things are continuously imagined, the brain begins to take them as fact. 

When you truly believe you can do something, your actions can often follow. 

a pathway running through an autumnal forest

How should I be using affirmations for the best outcome?

Using affirmations is extremely easy and if done correctly can have desirable outcomes. I believe that two or three affirmations are plenty because if we have too many to remember it can make an easy task seem hard and unachievable. It is also important to know that you can change your affirmations to a new set when you feel you have achieved them. 

Having your affirmations visible

Writing down your affirmations and sticking them on your bedroom mirror or fridge can be useful because each time you see them you will automatically read them, thus imprinting them in the mind. I like to give my clients a little glass bottle to put their affirmations in so they can keep them in their handbag or the glove box of their car. This is especially useful if you would like to overcome a habit when driving, for example nail biting or binge eating. Having the affirmations on hand can be extremely helpful in achieving your goal. 

Self Hypnosis

Saying affirmations when practising self-hypnosis can be extremely helpful as they are being said within subconscious thinking. This is where all our patterns of behaviour and past feelings are stored. Thinking of the affirmations at a subconscious level can help the brain to visualise the ways you would like to behave and therefore adding to changes in behaviour. 

If you are unsure about self-hypnosis and how to use it, have a read of my blog here 

A picture of a dandelion clock

How can you decide which affirmations will work for you?

If you would like to use affirmations but are unsure about how they could work specifically for you, it would be good to begin writing a thoughts diary; recording your negative and automatic thoughts. Once you have identified patterns in your thinking and those thoughts that are putting you down you can create new, positive sentences that flip the negative thoughts on their head. For example, if you are telling yourself that everything is your fault and that you haven’t achieved anything in your life, your affirmation could be: ‘I am worthy and important’.

Once you have identified your negative thought patterns it is time to write some affirmations. Follow these simple rules for affirmation writing. 

  • Beginning your affirmation with ‘I am  …’ gives you ownership of the sentence and a command to the subconscious mind. The mind interprets it as a directive and therefore must follow through with it. 
Lady with arms in the air showing that she is free from anxiety and stress.
  • If you keep your affirmation brief it is easier to remember and is not confusing for the mind which is already filtering many things from your day. I believe that the simpler you make them, the easier they will imprint on the mind. 
Focus on growth
  • Affirmations in the present tense are easier for the mind to understand and helps it to visualise the outcome. For example, ‘I am slimmer and healthier’ not ‘I will be slimmer and healthier’.
  • Make sure your affirmations are related to you and what you would like to achieve. If you have completed the negative thoughts diary it will help you to plan which thoughts need to be targeted and the positive sentences can then be created. 

 

Keep the affirmations positive and don’t use any negative words. For example, ‘I am not a smoker’ will be interpreted by the mind as ‘I am a smoker’ so write the affirmation as ‘I am a non-smoker’.

Statements to empower you

If you would prefer not to write your own then you can buy Your 100 days of affirmations jar from my Etsy store. This gives you 100 different affirmations so you are sure to find some that work for you! There are a number of different jars- all created for different goals so go on over and take a look. 

Why are affirmations often used in hypnotherapy sessions?

People come to hypnotherapy sessions because they would like to change a behaviour or current way of feeling or thinking and affirmations can help to do just that. In collaboration with hypnosis, affirmations can help to reinforce what is completed in sessions between the client and therapist. The more that the client can do at home, the more successful their outcome is likely to be. I always like to teach my clients self-hypnosis and I believe that affirmations are an important part of the steps to self-hypnosis. 

A list of example affirmations for anxiety
Example affirmations for stopping smoking

I have designed a jar full of 100 positive affirmations. Tried and tested positive affirmations to lift your mood. You can buy one by clicking the link below.

The aim of this blog was to help you understand more about affirmations and how they are affective in improving your mental health. I hope that you are now ready to investigate your thought processes and have the confidence to use my rules to writing affirmations to create your own. You will soon notice how fun and addictive it can become!

 

Alison Ralph

Get in touch...

If you are struggling with your mental health and would like to find out how hypnotherapy could help you I am here to answer all of your questions. 

07719032346

Categories
Self care ideas

Which essential oils are good for anxiety?

Which essential oils are good for anxiety?

Guest Blog written by Lisa Johnson   Owner of LJ Natural             September 2021

Quite often I share natural health related articles on social media, and I can see that the most popular, by far, are those that mention how to deal with anxiety. We seem to be in an epidemic of anxiety, which is such a sad state of affairs, when really, we live in a time of such massive choice and where information on how to improve our lives is readily available at your fingertips.

So today I’m sharing a few ways to help you deal with anxiety at home.

Essential Oils

Our sense of smell is so closely linked to our emotions. It therefore makes sense that using essential oils can help improve an emotional situation and will be very effective. Here’s just a handful of oils you could pick up at your local health food shop that will help you when you are feeling very anxious:

Lavender: renowned for its ability to calm and soothe, lavender should be the first oil you try to help you relax, and as it also aids restful sleep, it’s a perfect oil for helping all aspects of anxiety.

Clary Sage: a mood-lifting oil which calms the very nervous, and creates feelings of peace.

Frankincense: helps to cam the mind, stops the mind racing, so is ideal when you are feeling overwhelmed or are over-thinking. It will gently lift the spirits and increase low energy.

Neroli: has a long history of relieving anxiety and is very helpful when dealing with shock. It’s very calming but with an uplifting, refreshing scent.

Ylang Ylang: helps to reduce rapid breathing, a racing heart and reduces blood pressure. It is very calming, eases tension, and is gently sedative.

Vetiver: helps to balance you emotionally, so if you are feeling very overwhelmed, tearful and anxious, it’s a great oil to help relieve these feelings, it also helps to dispel feelings of anger, distress and hysteria.

 

 

 

Please Note:

Make sure you dilute your oils before using them on the skin. You can mix up body or bath oils using approximately 10 drops of essential oil per 50mls of carrier oil. If you’d like more advice on mixing oils, just message me.

You can use all of these oils in a diffuser at home too. You could also place a couple of drops on a tissue and sniff when needed.

There are hundreds of essential oils and many of them are great for anxiety, and often, it’s a question of just smelling them and seeing which ones resonate with you. There’s a theory in aromatherapy that you are drawn to the oils that are most beneficial for you. If you really love the smell of an oil, that’s the oil to use that day.

Supplements

I’d like to add that whilst using aromatherapy and essential oils will help with the symptoms of anxiety, you are not really dealing with the root cause. As with virtually all health issues (mental and physical) improving your diet is absolutely central. I’ve recently come across a company called Mad Diet and they advocate a package of 4 essential supplements that make a huge difference to mental well-being. Please pop over to their website to learn more, as there is tons of information about not just supplements, but eating better, and see here what they recommend for anxiety:

Vitamin B Complex: essential for brain function, reduces fatigue, boosts the immune system, boosts mood, lowers anxiety and depression and helps to regulate hormones.

Magnesium: needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, and most people in this country are woefully deficient in it. It relieves anxiety, improves sleep quality, and helps to maintain normal muscle function.

Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3: our brain is made of fat and it is absolutely vital to our brain function to consume good quality fats. Taking a good quality omega 3 will help to fight depression and anxiety as well as improving ADHD in children, fighting cognitive decline (such as Alzheimer’s), and reduces many other health issues such as asthma, heart disease and autoimmune disease.

Priobiotic: as I’ve said in so many of my other blogs and on my eczema page, all health starts in the gut, and so having a really health gut full of the right kind of bacteria is central to overall health, including brain health.

Mindfulness

Yes I couldn’t write about anxiety without mentioning mindfulness. Really all it involves in stopping your brain from doing that constant chatter and worry, and instead, tuning in to the world around you in the present moment. You can do guided mindfulness via an app such as Headspace, or you can just sit quietly for 5 minutes and look at a tree moving the in breeze, or watch a candle flame flicker – and when unwanted thoughts and emotions come into your head, just notice them but let them go.

Water

Are you hydrated? Probably not, most people aren’t. Being dehydrated makes anxiety much worse. Drink a pint of water.

Write

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and quickly write down all the things that are making you feel anxious. Getting them out of your mind and onto paper makes a massive difference. Once they are down on paper, you can either fold that paper up very small and put it to one side, or rip it up and throw it away. Or perhaps you’d find it helpful to start a journal and then you’ll see which topics frequently come up and you can do something to put solutions in place to deal with those actions.

I hope this has given you lots to think about. I make a pre-blended anxiety release oil which many customers find incredibly helpful when dealing with anxiety. It does have the most gorgeous, uplifting aroma and it’s a great product to have in, as part of your mental health toolkit. 

Showing what essential oils look like in a glass jar

If you are local to Wilmslow, Cheshire, and would like to learn more about using essential oils at home, then book on to our next Organic Beauty Workshop where you will be able to choose the oils that most appeal to you, and make some bespoke products to take home.

Oh and lastly, don’t feel alone. Anxiety is unbelievably common and you shouldn’t feel ashamed or like you are being silly or like you need to pull yourself together. Accept that are human and that things are not always perfect, and then get busy doing all the things I’ve mentioned here.

Get in touch...

If you are struggling with anxiety and would like to find out how hypnotherapy could help you I am here to answer all of your questions. 

07719032346