I recently read an article by Jason Firmiger, a Hypnotherapist, who had been on a course to learn how to help people with Dementia. The course was run by Dr Daniel Nightingale who is a world leading clinical dementia specialist.
THERE are over 850,000 people in the UK diagnosed with some form of dementia. 22,000 of these have young onset dementia, which occurs under the age of 65. Dementia, as we know, is a growing concern for those suffering from the disease and for those who care for them. There is no cure for primary Dementia currently, although cognitive therapies, aromatherapy and reminiscence therapy can help. Jason Firmiger led research into Hypnotherapy for dementia at the University of Liverpool and this showed surprisingly good results. They demonstrated that a weekly session of hypnotherapy for 9 months, measured against a control and neutral group had a positive impact in seven key areas. They found measurable improvements in concentration, relaxation, motivation, activities of daily living, immediate memory, memory for significant events and socialisation.
Significantly these subjects still showed these improvements 12 months after treatment.
Participants were introduced to the process of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) to help them relax enough to engage with this process. This is a gradual process of relaxation from the top of the head, through the body and down to the feet that we always use with clients. The therapeutic stage allowed participants to listen to suggestions made through the use of direct suggestions, relating to the 7 key areas, along with additional suggestions relating to Calmness, Relaxation and Confidence. Hypnosis sessions usually lasted about an hour.
The symptoms of dementia are exacerbated by two main factors - fear and anxiety. Hypnotherapy is extremely helpful in managing those two emotions. Alzheimer’s disease is also exacerbated by a lack of production of the neurochemical acetylcholine. When we experience REM sleep our brain gets a a large amount of this neurochemical. We know that many people with dementia find undisturbed sleep very difficult. It is therefore possible that through hypnosis, the client is receiving acetylcholine that he/ she may not otherwise receive. In addition to this, instead of the person spending their cognitive resources in negative thought, they are freed from this during their session of hypnotherapy.
It is good to know that the work we do with clients, whatever their problems, is also working well for those with dementia, and the neuroscience behind what we do reinforces the importance of positive thinking, positive action and positive interaction, being relaxed and calm, sleeping well, and giving the brain “time out” to do what it does best.
Well Spring is really here and May, my favourite month, is around the corner with my favourite flowers and shrubs and all the trees are turning green! It is so much easier to be positive and happy at this time of year, especially with the lengthening days and sunshine!
So it makes me wonder how we can still have such negative conversations with ourselves, often being much harder on ourselves than we would be with our friends and families. We remind them how good they are at things, and how well they have done, we encourage them and support them, but do we do the same when we talk to ourselves? What do you say to yourself? What words do you use?
I love explaining to my clients how their brain works, and when they understand that, they know that the most important conversations that they have are the ones they have with themselves. What we tell our brain about what we are going to do, and how we are going to do it, how we feel, and what we are good at, determines how successful we are.
Positive thinking is key for all of us, and because the brain can't tell the difference between imagination and reality (really!), we must give it positive messages in order for to it know what we want, and that are we confident that we can achieve it. So tell your brain what you want it to hear!
Think about the words you use – are they positive? “I can do this”, “I will make that work”, “when I pass that exam” “ I did this before, so I can do it again..” Be kind to yourself, remember what you have done well this week, what you have achieved, what you are good at.
If you remember to focus on what you are doing well, and what good things have happened for you, you will create new neural pathways in your brain so that thinking positively will be a habit for you, and life will be much easier because you will be successful!
One of the first questions most new clients ask me is “How many sessions do you think I will need?” A perfectly understandable question, but not always easy to answer – everyone is different.
If they want to quit smoking, then the answer is one session, if they want to clear a phobia, then four sessions should be enough.
For less specific problems it is likely more sessions are needed, because I will be working with the client to look at changing their thinking and behaviour, as their problems are likely to originate from unhelpful patterns of thinking that have become embedded in the brain. They will probably have created negative habits of thinking that the primitive part of the brain will repeatedly offer them when they feel anxious, as these neural pathways will have been long established. Thinking positively reduces anxiety because anxiety is created by negative thinking. Looking on the bright side of life is important – the more we do it the happier we will be!
Hypnotherapy offers the client an opportunity to understand how the brain works and to consider their thinking patterns, and how to think more positively, and forecast their future optimistically, giving the brain new messages so it can create new neural pathways. Learning to think differently, positively, takes time, and we have to create this new habit through repetition. Learning anything new takes time and practice, driving a car, learning to play an instrument, learning any new skill, it doesn’t happen overnight, we need to do things over and over again. The more we do it, the easier it gets, and after time it becomes automatic, we have learned it!
Research by neuroscientists has shown that to improve the neuroplasticity of the brain – creating new neural pathways, is always something we can do, whatever our age, but it takes time, and we should realistically expect to need up to 12 Hypnotherapy sessions to deal with long established negative emotional problems and behaviours. If we cease therapy too soon, the new thought processes will not be embedded and habitual for us and we could revert to unhelpful behaviour again. When these new habits are firmly established, we will have “deleted” the old neural pathways because we have ceased to use them, and the brain will therefore no longer refer to them.
The great thing with Hypnotherapy is we use Trance, or Hypnosis, to talk to the subconscious, the most powerful part of the brain in order to tell it what we want, and how we are going to positively go about it. This strengthens and underpins our own efforts, as it reinforces our new thinking.
Here is a useful explanation of Neuroplasticity..
So, here is 2017!
What are your thoughts about the New Year?
Are you looking forward to it?
Are your thoughts about it positive?
Is it going to bring challenges for you, and do you have goals you want to achieve?
What are your best hopes for this year?
We all know that New Years Resolutions can be difficult to achieve even though we start them with good intent. The problems lie not with the resolutions, but with our habitual thinking around them, the thinking (probably negative) that has caused us the very problems that we are trying to leave behind.
Sometimes the goals we set ourselves are big - giving up unhelpful habits, losing weight, changing career, or other major life changes. They can seem overwhelming and we need a bit more than willpower to get us through it with success!
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps you to take things slowly, to focus on small challenges that add up to the big one, in time. It helps you to reduce anxiety and to feel calm and confident so that you can keep going and achieve that preferred future that you have as your goal.
The great thing about hypnotherapy is that we can talk directly to your sub-conscious during the trance sessions, and this helps you to focus on what you want, tell your brain what it is you are going to do. If you always give it positive messages it will come up with solutions for you and help you find success!
So, for all of us, 2017 is the year to THINK POSITIVELY!
If you want to lose weight, cut down on your drinking, stop smoking, sleep well, feel more relaxed, reduce stress and anxiety, deal with Chronic Fatigue or other physical problems, move towards a career change, or even to improve your sports performance - I can help!
Happy New Positive Year to everyone!
Enjoy the holiday and find time to relax, have good times with the ones you love and look forward to the good things that will be coming your way next year!
How often do you relax? Really relax I mean, not just sitting in front of the television with a glass of wine, but giving yourself an opportunity to relax completely?
Life can be so busy and hectic and it is great if we get through the day having ticked all the boxes on our "to do" lists, and right now our diaries are getting filled up as we approach Christmas. Lots of those things in the diary will be fun, but it can still be a struggle to fit in work, chores, family, friends and commitments and feel we are coping.
Where in the diary is time set aside for YOU? When do you allow yourself time to be still, to turn off the radio, music, TV and enjoy being with the quiet, and peace?
How often do you simply lie down, let your feet and legs stop supporting you and relax, let your arms lie at your side and allow them and your hands and fingers to flop and release all the tension in them? Imagine letting your shoulders drop, and your jaw, unclenching your teeth, feeling your neck muscles relaxing, and allowing all the muscles of your face to soften and relax. As you lie there you begin to realise that your whole body is beginning to relax, your back, your hips, all the muscles around your middle, and your body feels heavier and softer. And then your mind starts to relax and you notice it is wandering off and your thoughts float around and drift.
THIS is relaxation! And this is what we all need to do to help us cope with all the pressures of life. When we relax we give our body the chance to repair and restore itself - it is constantly repairing and replacing cells, healing itself and defending us against possible infections and bugs. It can't do these things well if we don't help it a bit.
When we allow our body to relax, we also give our minds a chance to relax too, and this means it can get on with processing our thoughts and feelings, and deal with the anxiety and stress that so many people are experiencing. It also gives our mind a chance to help us come up with the solutions we may be trying to find - for problems we have, or for ways to achieve something that seems too difficult. Have you ever noticed that when you stop thinking about a problem and let go of it for a while that all of a sudden an idea or solution pops into your head? That is because you have given your mind a bit of a rest and it has had time to help you find the resources and knowledge within you, and you come up with a solution.
Anxiety and stress have a very negative effect on our mind and body, and often result in poor sleep patterns, and then tiredness ensues. If we relax often, we will reduce our levels of anxiety, and then we are likely to sleep well.
If we overwork ourselves, our bodies and our minds, life can get on top of us, so give yourself some time out - it is not an indulgence, a waste of time, it is really essential for you and your health. So, for 20 - 30 minutes (that's all!) be in a quiet place, maybe play some gentle music, dim the lights, lie down somewhere comfortable and warm and simply allow yourself to stop moving and be still. Enjoy doing nothing, let your body relax slowly, maybe starting at the top of your head and working you way slowly all the way down to your toes releasing tension in your muscles. As your body relaxes you will find your mind starts to relax too. Let it.
If you do this regularly you will notice a difference in the way you can cope with life and you will probably start looking forward to your quiet times of peace and relaxation!
Some people find relaxation difficult at first, and if you are one of those people, or know someone who is, you could take advantage of my 30 minute relaxation sessions, to help you really experience deep relaxation. It might make a nice Christmas present for someone!
My relaxation CD's are also available to buy.
So - when are you going to relax next?
Well it is nearly the end of the month and October approaches, or should I say Stoptober? The NHS is renewing it's campaign for you smokers out there to give up the habit, and we know how difficult it can be for some people.
Thankfully, Hypnotherapy is a pretty easy way to achieve this! It only takes one session of about one and a half hours, and if you really want to stop, it is a very successful way of doing it! Because we use trance in hypnotherapy, we can talk directly to the subconscious, a very powerful part of the brain, and this makes changing unhelpful habits much easier.
You may think smoking is an addiction, but it isn't - it is just a habit, and we all know that we can change our habits. Smokers often stop smoking, they have to - at work, in public places, in aeroplanes, often indoors, so they do stop regularly. I can help you think about why you smoke, what you gain from it, and what you don't like about it, and how life would be if you didn't smoke.
So, give up for good, feel better, and no more standing out in the cold having that cigarette!
Wow! We have all been amazed and excited at the success of team GB at Rio! It has made everyone smile and feel good - not just the athletes but those in the audience and those at home too. Did you notice that rush that flowed through you when you knew it was another Gold medal?
That was serotonin, an important neurotransmitter we can produce that raises our spirits, flowing through your body, and it makes us feel good when we are doing something we enjoy, or get good news. The more of this we produce, the happier and more positive we become, so it will really lift your mood if you are feeling down or depressed.
What do you do that produces serotonin? Well, we may not all be Olympic athletes, but we can take take exercise, and this is a brilliant way to create serotonin, so whether you walk, run, swim, cycle, dance, or go to the gym, just do it as often as you can and you will recognise that serotonin feeling. If you want to find out more about how beneficial exercise is for the the brain read this book:
Spark by Professor John Ratey. In it he describes how exercise improves the performance of the brain, how it helps us to achieve more academically, and to become more positive in our thinking and behaviour.
What makes you laugh? Well whatever it is, get more of it because that produces serotonin too, and listen to music that makes you happy.
And keep smiling - just smiling creates serotonin too!
The most exciting part of meeting with a new client is the bit when I get to explain to them how the brain works, and how they can take control of their brain, and change their thinking so that their life can quickly become easier, they can become calmer, more relaxed, and probably sleep better!
It is wonderful to see those "light bulb" moments when they realise that they can see themselves in the explanation, their problems, their behaviour, their thinking, and that it can be changed.
Our brains are brilliant, complex, clever, they protect us, save us, keep us functioning without us even having to think about what they are doing, they help us learn, remember, create, understand, and the more we use them, the more we can achieve.
However, we must learn to be in control of our brain, to be the boss. Too often we let our Primitive brain take over when we need to be in control, feeling sensible, logical and calm, and the primitive part of our brain doesn't do calm. This part of the brain deals in anxiety, anger and depression, and rushes to sort problems out in panic mode.
Once we understand which part of our brain is sensible, calm and logical, the Intellectual Brain, and how to make sure we stay in it, we can deal with life and problems more easily. Once we understand how to avoid creating anxiety we will not engage the Primitive Brain, unless we need it in a crisis.
Hypnotherapy really helps people to understand how to manage their Primitive brain, to reduce their anxiety, to look at life more positively, to take control. During the trance sessions we talk directly to the subconscious, an incredibly powerful part of the brain, and this helps to enable people to make the changes they want to make so they can feel happier.
Here is a link to an article in the National Post by Neuroscientist Dean Burnett that you may find interesting...
Talking to friends and clients recently, it seems clear that many people are feeling anxious and uncertain about the future in the light of recent events. Levels of stress seem to be rising as people, concerned about the future, are falling into the pattern of forecasting their future negatively, expecting the worst, without realising that this will simply create more negative thinking and consequently, more stress. This will be bad for them, and for the people around them.
Anxiety is caused by negative thinking, and too much anxiety over a period of time causes stress. Too much stress, that has its roots in fear, can be harmful to our physical and mental health. It is important for us all to remember that positive thinking is needed in challenging times, so that we can think sensibly and logically in order to cope and make good decisions.
Hypnotherapy is so helpful for reducing stress, as it enables us to change our thinking and to be calm and relaxed. When we are calm, and relaxed we will sleep well, stay healthy, and feel confident to deal with whatever life throws at us!
I saw this perceptive little comment outside a cafe in Seville, Spain. It made me think, reminded me that we can be so busy chasing after things, that we forget to notice and enjoy the good experiences we have in life. It is easy to lose the ability to appreciate what is in front of us in the moment, and then we have missed it!
Try to think of at least five good things that have happened to you at the end of every day. Keep thinking........ You will probably come up with more! While you think positively like this you will be producing serotonin, and that will make you feel happy!
I will be doing it too.
I wonder what is on their chalk board now.......
Well I learned something new last month - all the brain training activities I am doing to help keep my brain fit and my memory in good working order are apparently not the the most effective...
I thought I was doing all the right things to improve my brain capacity but it seems that word puzzles, sodoku, crosswords, scrabble are good, but not nearly as good as..... Bingo!
Research carried out at Southampton University conducted in 2001 found that Bingo is an effective way to slow and counter age-related decline in our thinking capacity. Experts believe the game has a positive impact on mental speed, the ability to scan information and memory.
As well as being an awful lot of fun, it can be great way to meet new people and even win a bit of cash here and there. So, maybe we should all start playing!
Of course, there are other ways to help improve brain capacity too - taking exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes of light exercise can improve your ability to retain information and react to stimulus. Whether that’s a brisk walk, jog, swim or cycle, it doesn’t take much to integrate a swift workout into your day. Aerobic exercise is believed to promote new cell growth – a study in 2010 from Cambridge University found that regular running, even just for a few days, has a significant impact on your powers of recall – a change attributed to this boost in brainpower.
We all know that eating healthily is important, and can help us lose weight, but it is really important for keeping our brain healthy and boost its capacity too.
here is some fun info...
So, lets all have a healthy meal and jog down to the Bingo hall!