Anxious, stressed, unfocused, stuck, or in a negative spiral? Ever thought about Hypnotherapy or Hypno-Coaching, but can’t seem to find the time? Enquire about our convenient, cost-effective Bespoke Packages today!

 

Do you need respite from your busy life to help get things into focus, set goals and follow through on them, combat performance anxiety or interview nerves, or deal with other emotional issues, panic attacks, negative thinking or unwanted habits? But it seems impossible, as you just can’t find the time in the middle of your busy week, and you are too tired at the weekend to bother?

Everyone’s lives are busier than ever these days, so it can be hard to find time, space, motivation or “justification” to take care of our own wellbeing and personal needs. Coaching and therapy sessions can also seem quite expensive, especially if you aren’t sure you will be able to complete the recommended number of sessions. And telling your boss or colleagues that you need to take time off work for a hypnotherapy session isn’t something that appeals to everyone either.

At AJR Hypnotherapy & Coaching, we are now offering Bespoke Packages – designed especially for you – that you can follow in your own time and space and at your own pace. These comprise a combination of audio recordings (usually MP3 format, but CDs can also be provided) and printed documents (pdf or Word format), with personal support via email, phone and/or Skype as appropriate. Following an initial consultation and personal assessment of your needs, usually carried out via a combination of phone call and email exchanges, we design an individual therapy or coaching package tailored to suit your requirements and needs. This can work out to be very cost-effective (costing around one-half of the price of the minimum recommended number of therapy-room sessions), as well as time-effective, and can also be more “treatment”-effective, since you have all the audio recordings and printed supporting documents to hand, so you can listen to sessions and carry out exercises again and again – as many times as you want to – to reinforce the therapeutic, motivational and hypnotic effects.

Why not enquire today? Please use the Contact Form at http://www.ajrhypnotherapysurrey.co.uk/contacts-and-clinic , providing your full name, address and contact details, and a brief account of what sort of assistance you are looking for, or what personal issue(s) you are struggling with, and why you think hypnotherapy or hypno-coaching might provide the answers. (Also check out our Shop at http://www.ajrhypnotherapysurrey.co.uk/shop , where you will find additional helpful resources, such as the Mindful Relaxation Skills Training Programme http://www.ajrhypnotherapysurrey.co.uk/product/relaxation-skills-training .)

AJR Hypnotherapy UK, Cognitive-Emotional-Behavioural Hypnotherapy, Hypno-Coaching, Cognitive-Emotional-Behavioural Therapy, Hypno-Healing, Stress Management, Skills Training (Relaxation, Meditation, Mindfulness), Guided Visualisation, Deep Relaxation & Reiki/Energy Healing, Psycho-Spiritual Counselling.

 

Welcome to the AJR Hypnotherapy UK Shop with new self-hypnosis audios and other positive and supportive products!

 

Happy almost Spring from AJR Hypnotherapy UK Surrey England UK.

Hello and welcome to the AJR Hypnotherapy Shop! Please come on over and have a look at what we have to offer:  http://www.ajrhypnotherapysurrey.co.uk/shop  We hope you will find a range of life-affirming, positive self-development, therapeutic and supportive products, at least some of which will be of benefit or interest to you – including a number of stress-reducing and self-empowering audio recordings and other products in areas such as relaxation and stress management, meditation and mindfulness, self-confidence and self-esteem, anxiety relief, overcoming social anxiety, self-healing, goal visualisation and more. This list will continue to expand over the coming months. If these products are not of interest to you in the first instance, then we would be ever grateful if you would forward the details and/or the website links on to any of your friends, relatives and/or colleagues whom you think might be interested:  www.ajrhypnotherapysurrey.co.uk

Hoping to hear from you soon or see you in the Shop!

Amanda Jackson-Russell, Cognitive-Emotional-Behavioural Hypnotherapy, Hypno-Coaching, Hypno-Healing, Stress Management, Skills Training (Relaxation, Meditation, Mindfulness), Guided Visualisation, Reiki & Deep Relaxation, Spiritual Counselling & Development.

 

Party time! Do you love it or dread it? Autosuggestions, affirmations, visualisations and self-hypnosis to overcome social anxiety, shyness and lack of confidence

 

It’s getting to that time of year when lots of social events, parties, business socials, lunches, kids parties, pub get-togethers and the like start to loom on the horizon. Many folks look forward to such events with glee and excitement. But a considerable number of people start to get anxious and full of dread at these prospects, feeling not so confident in social environments, tongue-tied, self-conscious, nervous, awkward, clumsy, blushing, and so on.. and quite often they can’t wait for the whole darn period to be over and done with, so that they can retreat back into their usual routines..  If you are one of the many people who suffer from social anxiety, whatever form it takes – you don’t have to despair – something can be done about it. You can develop more confidence and self-assurance, feel more at ease and relaxed around other people, and speak and act with more grace, ease and eloquence – and start to enjoy yourself!

Using techniques of visualisation, self-hypnosis, positive self-suggestions and affirmations, you can start to build new confident social circuitry in your brain, and with a little practice and persistence, you can gradually erase those old anxious habits your unconscious mind has got into.

First of all, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for about 15 to 20 minutes. Sit down in a comfortable chair. Relax your body as much as possible. Close your eyes. Now just become aware of your breathing, noticing the in-breath and the out-breath. Allow yourself to breathe slowly and deeply. With each out-breath, imagine that all your thoughts, cares and worries are flowing out of your mind, and all tensions are flowing out of your body.

Now, think of a social situation that you might find yourself in in the near future that you might feel a little anxious about – it can be real or imagined. Picture yourself in the situation. Think of how you would like things to go – how you would like to feel, act, speak and think in that situation – everything going as well as you can possibly imagine.

Here are a few things you can visualise for yourself:

1) Imagine yourself just before the event: * Feeling positive and looking forward to the event * Looking forward to getting to know new people * Looking forward to relaxing and enjoying yourself.

2) Imagine yourself in the situation: * Feeling calm, relaxed, happy, self-assured, confident * Feeling good about yourself * Your breathing calm and relaxed * Your whole body feeling relaxed and at ease.

3) Visualise yourself in the situation: * Standing or sitting up straight, with your head up and your shoulders relaxed * Moving about in a relaxed, open, easy manner * Approaching and joining a group of people * Smiling and making eye contact with people * Asking another person questions about themselves; responding with interest; sharing information about yourself and/or your interests; focusing on the other person/people; chatting in a calm, relaxed manner.

4) Imagine the following thoughts going through you head (repeat them silently to yourself now): * I feel relaxed, confident and at ease * I feel good about myself * Everyone looks friendly here * It’s going to be fun to meet new people and find out about them * I can easily approach someone and say hello and introduce myself * It’s easy to ask someone questions about themselves and get a conversation going * I can easily approach a group, listen to what’s going on, and join in the conversation.

5) Spend a few minutes seeing yourself, in your mind’s eye, at the social event and imagining things going in the best way possible and visualising yourself feeling, acting, speaking and thinking in your ideal way. (Try to come up with words, feelings and images of your own that best suit you and your personality – and keep them positive!)

Now let the thoughts, feelings and images of that situation fade from your mind for now and just allow yourself to relax and feel calm and peaceful. Bring your awareness back to your breathing process, noticing the in-breath and the out-breath as you relax down deeply into your chair for a few moments. Now start to take some deeper breaths, bringing your awareness back to your body, to the room or surroundings where you are sitting. Imagine smiling to yourself inside and feeling calm, relaxed and confident. When you are ready, open your eyes and have a stretch before getting up and resuming your day.

Practice the above exercise a few times over the week (or two) before the next social event you are due to go to – and start to notice an increasing positive transformation in yourself and your confidence!

For further help and guidance about hypnotherapy, personal coaching, relaxation skills, emotional therapy, mindfulness techniques and cognitive-behavioural therapy (including cognitive emotional behaviour therapy) – for social anxiety or any other issues you may have – contact Amanda Jackson-Russell at AJR Hypnotherapy (see above right for contact details), based near Epsom in mid-Surrey, UK.

(P.S. Apologies – I meant to post this article a bit earlier, before Halloween – so I hope you have managed to survive intact in the meantime..)

 

Hypno-coaching, personal coaching..? Don’t need therapy but looking at coaching?

 

Hypno-coaching, personal coaching, life coaching, personal development, CB-coaching, NLP-coaching, goal-directed coaching..  What’s the difference and what are you looking for?  Well, there are probably as many different types and styles of coaching as there are coaches.

Whatever its name, coaching basically helps you look at whatever challenges you have in the present and/or what it is you are wanting to attain in the future, and helps you develop strategies, methods, practices, skills and techniques to enable you to move towards your goals in a coherent, pragmatic, structured (but flexible), positive manner.  It enables and encourages you to use not only your accumulated knowledge, experience, skills, talents, understanding, analytical/logical abilities, and so on (and help you to develop these), but also your creative, imaginative, intuitive, and as yet untapped latent potential resources.

Coaching is a highly effective standalone process.  However, if you are interested in incorporating hypnosis, this has been found to increase the effectiveness of a number of psychological disciplines, including CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy), and can speed up the process.  But the choice is entirely yours and it is not a requisite to achieve positive and lasting results.

Coaching is a proactive discipline, requiring the coachee to take full responsibility for their own life and direction, while providing a structured and supportive realm and relationship within which you can grow, learn, develop and enhance your innate skills and abilities, acquire and develop new skills, techniques and strategies, and endeavour to achieve your full potential in life, whatever your aims, priorities and intentions.  It can help you focus on, aim for, and achieve both short- and long-term dreams and goals.  If you are uncertain what it is you actually want to achieve, coaching processes can help you identify, clarify and prioritise your intentions and objectives.  And if “goals” are not your aim per se, then it can still help you maximise your potential and effectiveness in your life (and relationships), enabling and empowering you to feel more fulfilled, confident, at ease, content, and joyful with where you are right now.

Coaching draws on tried and tested methods and practices from a wide range of disciplines including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), counselling, cognitive-behavioural (CB) psychology and therapy, yoga, meditation, relaxation skills, assertiveness training, mindfulness, problem-solving therapy, resilience training, stress management, positive thinking, affirmations, energy psychology, emotional brain training, “the new biology”/ “the biology of belief”, neuroscience/ neuroplasticity, psychoneuroimmunology, and more.

Coaching endeavours to devise an approach appropriate to the individual, tailoring methods, practices and techniques according to individual requirements, and adapting such methods and techniques as required throughout the coaching process.  Coachees take an active role in identifying the approaches and interventions most appropriate to their needs, and are required to fully take part in their coaching process for the fulfilment of their desired objectives.

AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey offers hypno-coaching and personal development coaching as alternatives to “therapy”, in order to help a person identify and focus on their positive intentions for themselves and their lives, enhance self-belief and self-confidence, and uncover and maximise their own unique combination of skills, talents, interests, perspectives and potential.  Hypno-coaching generally requires at least some one-to-one sessions (in person).  Personal development coaching can be carried out by a combination of Skype and phone sessions, with email support.  Please contact me for further information and/or to book a consultation (see above right for contact details).

 

Be Ready to Create Your New Life, Your New Way of Being, in 2015

Gradually the days begin to start earlier and a little brighter, giving us glimpses of new starts, tentative hopes of new enterprises, positive changes, moving forward into ways and projects that we have been dreaming of but have not yet got underway..  The weather still gets in the way, up and down, unpredictable, challenging our intentions and persuading us sometimes to sink back into lethargy and “hibernation”, not wanting to galvanise ourselves and get going with our plans for the future..

Christmas.. Winter.. Short days, long nights, gloomy dark mornings, oppressive early evenings, cold and clammy weather, defrosting the car, walking in the sleet and rain, standing in the freezing cold for a bus..

For Nature, Winter is a time to rest, take stock, regenerate, nurture the tiny seeds that hold the promise of new growth, conserve and consolidate energy, nurture the inner living spark, readying the ever-present potential to move forward, spring into action, grow and shine, when the time is right..  And we can learn and heed many lessons from Nature’s wisdom – taking time to nurture our inner selves, be patient, pace ourselves, reflect on the times just past, appreciate our achievements (and simply our being-ness and our survival..), dream and plot and plan for what we envisage or wish to be ahead of us.. Then gradually..  finally..  as the energies become stronger..  we start to notice the mornings are becoming lighter, the days longer, the weather (more or less..!) becoming a little more forgiving, a little less harsh..

And, before you know it, you wonder where the days and weeks have gone..!  And, believe it or not, we are now in the rapid run up to the Spring Equinox – well okay, there is still a little way to go yet..  And there have been so many jobs to do and stuff to attend to after the brief respite (or not!) of the so-called Festive Season, that all of a sudden, weeks have gone by and we are well into 2015..!!  Can you believe it?  Already nearly 2 months into the New Year..  and more than that, 15 years into the New Millennium!?  Well, isn’t it about time we started to get our act together to get going on co-creating the New World, New Earth, that many of us have dreamed of and planned for?  It may be a grand cooperative vision of a new harmonious, supportive and blissful all-encompassing Community on Earth.  Or is may be a personal vision of self-respect, self-expression, self-love and self-appreciation, and expressing our own, individual, unique, beautiful, creative way of being, giving, functioning and living.  Or perhaps, and maybe more likely, it is somewhere on the myriad of states and stages in between..

What is in your dreams, intentions and inner visions, urging you to set in motion?  The impending Spring Equinox could be seen as a beckoning for you, and each and all of us..  an encouragement to start to see and have trust in new beginnings, new (and old) hopes, new projects, renewed motivation..  More and more, you start to see the signs that Nature provides, here and there..  and as you look, consciously, searching out, noticing, paying attention… the signs are there more and more..  Snow drops and crocuses pushing through the damp and barren soil, birds starting to sing earlier and earlier in the day, blue skies starting to appear more frequently, the temperature outside not requiring quite so many layers of clothes or gloves, the pale sun gradually becoming stronger with each day, maybe even signs of baby birds emerging from their nests, tiny blossoms daring to push through on the branches of trees and hedges..

The Seasons and Nature are great reminders of the cycle of life, providing us with their example of the natural course of things..  and, if we pay attention, giving us the teachings, the lessons, of how to let go of the past, the dead, worn out and gone.. and to consolidate and conserve our energies and resources..  rest and regenerate..  self-heal..  nurture..  and then, once again, when the time and conditions (opportunity) are right, to spring forth into action into our renewed lives, with new energy, trust, strength, hope, courage, faith, vision, inspiration, creativity and renewed momentum..!

Are you struggling to make the changes you want or need to make?  Can you see a glimmer or slight prospect of new beginnings, new ways of being, new hopes, new dreams, feelings of peace and fulfilment, thoughts of accomplishment, balance, cooperation, harmonious relationships, self-respect, uncovering and giving light to your talents and gifts, greater health and wellbeing, expressing your creativity and inner truth..?  But you can’t quite figure which way to go, what steps to take, how to shake off your fears, doubts, insecurities, feelings of inferiority, fatigue, inertia, muddled vision..?

If you are struggling with any of these issues or others, do give me a call or send me an email, and just maybe we can work together to find a new way forward for you.  See above right for contact details.

Amanda Jackson-Russell, BSc, PhD (Neuroscience), Hypnotherapist (MNCH (Reg.)), Emotional Therapist/EFT Practitioner, Relaxation & Meditation/Mindfulness Instructor (BWY Dip), Spiritual Healing Facilitator & Counsellor (MNFSH), Reiki Master Practitioner & Teacher (Usui Shiki Ryoho System of Natural Healing).

Stressed? Anxious? Meditation and mindfulness may improve the way the brain handles stress

 

Daniel Monti and co-researchers, at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, investigated methods of reducing stress in patients with a diagnosis of breast cancer. 18 patients who were not currently in active treatment were assigned to one of two groups: 1) those to take part in a mindfulness-based art therapy course; and 2) those to take part in an education programme (serving as an “active control” group). Those patients in group 1) underwent an 8-week mindfulness course that combined meditation exercises that stressed awareness of breathing and emotions with expressive art exercises to provide opportunities for self-expression. Patients in both groups were assessed before and after the programmes according to a symptom checklist. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was also used to assess cerebral blood flow before and after the study programs.

The researchers found that the patients who underwent the mindfulness programme had significantly increased blood flow to areas of the brain associated with controlling emotions and regulating stress. In addition, these increases in cerebral blood flow correlated significantly with reduced stress and anxiety as indicated by the symptom checklist. The findings suggested that the brains of those patients who underwent the mindfulness programme worked in a different way to those patients in the education programme control group. The former patients also reported feeling better.

The researchers speculated that methods that change the way the brain handles stress could help improve the quality of life for cancer patients. In addition, it is fairly widely accepted that most people could benefit from lowering their stress and anxiety levels. The findings of this study suggest that a programme of mindfulness could help do this by changing the way the brain deals with stress.

The conclusions drawn from this study obviously cannot be extrapolated to a great degree, as this was a small study, using a specific intervention of mindfulness, meditation and art therapy, versus an education programme (“active”) control group. Nevertheless, the findings showed that a programme that incorporated mindfulness was able to alter the brain and, correspondingly, improved the way in which a group of potentially high-stress patients handled stress.

For information on how hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation skills, self-hypnosis, EFT and/or cognitive therapy can help manage and reduce stress and anxiety, contact AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey. See above top right for contact details.

Reference
Monti, DA, Kash KM, Kunkel EJS, et al (2012). Changes in cerebral blood flow and anxiety associated with an 8-week mindfulness programme in women with breast cancer. Stress and Health, 28 (5), 397–407.

Stuckness.. Negativity.. Acceptance.. And Changing The Energy..

Stuckness..  Negativity..  Acceptance..  And Changing The Energy.. 

What can you do when, whatever you try, you seem to be getting nowhere?  You are beating yourself up because you are overweight, you are out of work, you have no money coming in, you have bills to pay, you can’t afford stuff for your kids, you have health problems, your partner has problems too..  or you are all alone..  You may be using alcohol to blank out from your worries.. or medications or drugs..  but you know that is not a good solution, but however much you try, you just can’t seem to break out of the “habit”..  You feel that life is just passing you by..  You may feel you are “past your prime” in life..  You’re just never going to get anywhere..  You are stuck.

And you seem to have been stuck forever..  You have tried numerous ways of attacking the problem, but nothing seems to get you out of your stuckness.  You have asked other people for help, you have tried all the methods you know have worked for others, you have tried all the methods that used to work for you in the past..  But nothing is working now..  You are frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, totally fed up with making the effort, totally fed up with living like this..  But you can’t give up..  But nothing you do seems to make a difference.  You’ve heard the term “just keep going”, things will get better eventually, just keep the faith, keep trying, it will work out in the end..  But it has been going on for so long…  You are not sure if you have anything left in you to keep trying anymore..  And you are not even sure anymore what it is you are trying to do, or what you need to keep trying to do..  You’ve lost the plot..  You had dreams, but they all seem impossible now, pie-in-the-sky, so far away..  it all seems futile..  You can’t remember the last time you felt good.. about yourself.. or your life..  You just want to sleep..  or go hit the bottle and blot it all out..

Your brain hurts with constantly going round and round, trying to figure out how to solve the problem..  You keep trying to think of other options, other methods of attack, other opportunities, other ideas, other roads, other directions..  You are just so exhausted and frustrated and totally fed up with it all..  You know you are not lazy..  You know you are intelligent, resourceful, creative, hard-working..  You know you have skills, talents, qualifications, and lots of things you can offer the world..  But you just can’t seem to figure out a way to get out there and make use of all this positive stuff you have..  Why can’t you solve the problem?!  You’ve tried lots of different things..  But you just seemed to come up against constant obstacles, closed doors, resistance, rejection..  You are totally discouraged, have lost all confidence in yourself, and you’ve lost all faith in the world in general.. 

You know that there are lots of other people in the world who are much worse off than you – whether due to culture, religion, geographical location, economy, politics, poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of education, lack of food/warmth/home/work, war, terrorism, famine, earthquakes, floods, drought, tsunamis, hurricanes, and so on..  You should be grateful for what you have – food, warmth, clothes, friends, technology, whatever..  But you just can’t..  The word “gratitude” just irritates you..  You just can’t connect with it, you can’t feel it..  You’ve heard of the “law of attraction”, that you get back what you put out..  So is it all your own fault?!  So you beat yourself up again for being a whingeing, whineing, moaning minnie..  Why don’t you just get off your ass and do something?!  But what?  You feel as though you have tried everything you can think of, but you just seem to go round in circles..  or you get nowhere at all..  You’re stuck.  There must be another way, another approach, some other route or method you haven’t thought of yet..  Your brain hurts..

So what do you do?  Accept?  So what is acceptance?  Is it giving up?  You can’t do that.  What about acknowledgement?  What about “going with the flow”?  What about stopping resisting?  Letting go?  Trusting the universe?  What does all this mean?  You’re not sure you know what all this means.  How can you “go with the flow” when you are stuck?

Releasing and letting go of negative energy (thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and so on).  You feel sure it’s something to do with this.  But how do you do that? 

Small steps..  Small efforts..  Repetitive small efforts..  Small changes..  Persistent, consistent changes..  That last bit sounds too much to be able to do, to keep up..  Let’s go back to small steps and small efforts..  and repeating them whenever you feel you can.  You’re still not sure how you let go of negative energy etc..  The negative stuff is part of your daily life, your daily routine, your unconscious habits..  Well, if we can’t start with releasing the negative stuff just yet, how about trying to introduce a few positive things first..  Maybe if you do that, and keep doing it, little by little, the positive energy will start to push out the negative stuff..  What little positive things can you do?  Well, do one or two things that make you feel a bit better.  Do your hair, do your make-up, brush your teeth, have a shave, have a relaxing bath, wear something pretty or smart.  Play some music you like, watch a movie you love, or a comedy show.  Tidy up, do the laundry, do the dishes, make the bed.  File some papers that need filing.  Tidy your clothes away.  Take a walk.  Feel the sun/rain/wind on your face.  Watch the birds outside, listen to the breeze rustling the trees, look up at the sky.  Read a book.  Phone/skype/email/text a friend.  Arrange to meet up with a friend/ someone who makes you feel good.  (NB. Avoid negative/ critical/ unsupportive/ unsympathetic people!)  Meditate/listen to a guided visualisation.  Attend a workshop/lecture.  Join a class or club.  Go to the gym.  Do some yoga/tai chi.  Go for a run/jog/swim/bike-ride.  Drive somewhere nice in the car or travel somewhere on the train/bus.  Visit the seaside.. or a river, garden, meadow, lake, mountain.. whatever..  Draw, paint, write poetry.  Write a blog or write in your journal/diary.  Be creative in the kitchen.  Stroke the cat.  Take the dog for a walk.  Play with your kids.  And be present with all of these moments and experiences.  Be “mindful” of them.  Savour any good feelings..  and commit them to your bank of good memories and experiences..

Look at old photos of good times..  places and people and experiences that evoke happy memories.  Remember back to good times and places and people and experiences..  Daydream and relive some of these happy times if you can..  just for a little while..

And acknowledge..  that you are taking small positive steps, doing small positive things..  Congratulate yourself.  And accept..  Accept yourself for what and who you are at the present moment, and for where you are at the present time.  Accept that you are doing the best you can at the present time.  Sometimes that is the very best we can do..  and the only thing we can do..  Be kind to yourself.  Be patient with yourself.  Little by little, know that the energy is changing..  that you are helping to change the energy..  adding a little positive here and there..  and little by little replacing and releasing the negative..

Amanda Jackson-Russell, BSc (Hons), PhD (Neuroscience), Clinical & Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapist, Emotional Therapist, EFT Practitioner, Stress Management Consultant/ Relaxation Skills Trainer, Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor, Reiki Master, Spiritual/Energy Healing Facilitator, Healer Member of NFSH, Medical/Health Writer & Editor. AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey and Energessence Natural Healing. Epsom, Ewell, Ashtead, Leatherhead, and surrounding areas, Surrey, England.

What Is It You Wish For In 2014?

 

Hello there, fellow travellers on planet Earth..!

I was going to write a blog post about manifesting your dreams and goals in 2014 – and I may still do that – but for now, I would like to take a slightly different tack..

For many people – especially those who may be of a slightly introspective nature, but also those who have hope and aspirations for the future, but may have experienced numerous set-backs over the last few years..  maybe longer – this time of year is not only a time of reflection, to look back and see where we have been, how far we have come…  but it is, more importantly, a time to look to the future with renewed hope, excitement and expectation…  to remember our dreams and plans and hopes for the future…  to renew our faith and trust…  to galvanise our resolves and energy reserves…  and make the decision to GO FOR IT..!!

But again, for many people – especially at this time of year, when the weather and daylight hours are less than encouraging, and maybe the “festive season” has been less than rewarding in its “promises” (often fraught with disappointments and regrettable family discords..), and some may be suffering health problems and/or seasonal flu bugs or the like, and the economic “climate” of our societies has been so depressing and unrelenting – it can be a very hard task indeed to get that TRUST and FAITH going again, in ourselves, in others, and in the world at large, and to galvanise the MOTIVATION and ENERGY to get our lives moving forwards again in the direction that we want it to be going..

If you don’t’ feel this way, then fine, this blog is probably not for you, so no need to read further! But if some of this strikes a chord with you, then you will probably also realise that getting the necessary STRENGTH, MOTIVATION, IMPETUS and ACTION going for you would be much easier if you had someone to work with you, to support and encourage you, to help guide your intentions and keep them on track, and help you focus your energies sufficiently so that you are able to actually get on the road to realising (“making real”) your desires and goals for your future..  your life..  your self.. Now, you may have a really good friend or partner who can help you do this.. If so, that is fabulous – lucky you!! And I hope you acknowledge your good fortune and express your gratitude to the universe (and also congratulate yourself) for your ability to have attracted to yourself what you have needed..

However, unfortunately, many people find that they do not have the support systems they need readily available to them, for whatever reason..  or for no reason at all.. But, nevertheless, they feel in their hearts and souls that, given the right support, they might be capable of amazing things..  infinite possibilities..  the stars are the limits..!!  (okay, let’s not get too carried away..!!)

But you get the drift, don’t you? Unfortunately, none of us (generally) is an island paradise, living in totally self-sufficient isolation.. We all need each other, even if, sometimes, we don’t recognise it, want to see it, or don’t like to admit it.. We are in fact a world-wide community and we are co-dependent, and need to be able to give and take, offer and receive, support and seek/accept support…  from each other..

Let me leave the point there with you for now, and just say that, if you are feeling that you could benefit from some structured support in helping to get your life on track and realise your goals and dreams – whatever they may be – then I may be able to provide you with professional guidance, support and methods that could help you. Well, at the very least, I’m willing to give it a shot if you are! So please contact me if you would like any information as to how I might be able to assist you, or if you would like to have a consultation. Please see above right for contact details. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Well, in the end, it did kind of turn out to be a post about manifesting your dreams and goals..!)

Amanda Jackson-Russell, BSc, PhD (Neuroscience*), Clinical Hypnotherapist, Cognitive-Emotional-Behavioural Hypnotherapist, Emotional Therapist, Reiki Master, Spiritual Healing Facilitator, Spiritual Development Coach, Relaxation Skills Trainer, Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor, and Medical/Health Writer & Editor. AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey and Energessence Natural Healing. Epsom, Ewell, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham, and surrounding areas, Surrey, England, UK. (*I am required to provide this extra information for legal reasons.)

Relaxation Skills Training (Applied Relaxation) and It’s Benefits – Part 2

In my blog entry of 30th April 2013, I discussed the benefits of Relaxation Skills Training (or Applied Relaxation) in comparison with attending the occasional yoga, Tai Chi or meditation class (which are great places to start learning relaxation skills). Here, I will describe the training in a bit more detail. For anyone who is looking to reduce or more effectively manage their “stress”, overcome panic attacks or phobias, break out of a cycle of anxiety or habitual worry, manage a stress-related illness, control exam anxiety, overcome performance anxiety, improve their work efficiency, reduce their levels of physical tension, or even enhance their creativity, this will explain the stages of relaxation skills training and the rationales behind them, so you can decide whether this is something that could benefit you.

As I mentioned in the earlier article, many people may have never experienced a state of deep relaxation. Even during sleep, the body and mind do not necessarily relax completely. In fact, contrary to experiencing relaxation during sleep, many people in our busy Western society either have disturbed sleep or difficulty sleeping, or find that even with a reasonable amount of sleep, they may have rather “active” dreams and wake up feeling less than rested or even exhausted!

Yet deep relaxation is usually the body and mind’s only respite from the constant drip, drip, drip of adrenaline and other stress hormones into our systems from the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response and chronic stress/anxiety/tension states). In deep relaxation, the sympathetic nervous system is toned down or even switched off temporarily, allowing the other arm of our autonomic (automatic or “unconscious”) nervous system – the parasympathetic nervous system – to gain the upper hand for the time being. This part of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for rest, repair and recuperation – allowing body tissues to repair themselves, cells to build up energy stores, our hormone and immune systems to balance and strengthen themselves, body organs to have respite from the effects of chronic stress – in essence facilitating our body’s self-healing abilities. In addition, deep relaxation allows our thinking (analytical) mind and mental stress/anxiety circuits to rest and enables parts of the brain involved in relaxation, memory, creativity, learning and other nurturing activities to become stronger.

Relaxation skills training involves a number of stages, and the number and extent of the different stages can vary depending on a person’s existing skills and experiences, and their particular needs and inclinations. However, broadly speaking, the format of the training will have the same basic elements. Firstly, your body and mind experience deep relaxation, perhaps for the first time, so that you, your body and your mind know what they are aiming for (your “goal” – a relaxed state). And you then practise one or two, or more, relaxation techniques, so that you learn to elicit the relaxation response for yourself, and your body and mind get more and more familiar with this state through repetition of the practices (the body and mind/brain learn pretty much everything through practice and repetition until the state, or new skill, becomes a “habit”). The next stage is to learn to elicit the relaxation response at will (on demand, as it were) – sometimes called cue-controlled relaxation. You learn this first in the clinic room, then you practise doing it at home to reinforce this part of your new skill. When you feel comfortable and confident with being able to bring about relaxation “on cue”, you are ready to go to the next stage. This may involve rehearsing relaxation and maintaining that state while in hypnosis and while imagining situations that normally or previously might cause you anxiety or stress (this stage is sometimes called “hypnotic desensitisation” – you desensitise to the anxiety or stress situation by imagining it happening while in deep relaxation). The final stages – depending on your needs – often involve practising using your relaxation skills out in the real world (“exposure therapy”), first in low-anxiety/stress situations, then gradually, as you build up your skills and confidence more and more, in higher anxiety/stress situations, until you experience feeling relaxed more and more of the time, and finally you find you rarely experience anxiety or stress any more in day-to-day situations.

Of course, you won’t extinguish your ability to feel anxiety, fear or stress completely – and nor should you want to – as these responses, in appropriate (eg. life-or-death) situations, are vital to our survival. But – and this is the point – you will be able to have control over such feelings in situations where they are inappropriate and counter-productive.

As you can probably tell from this description, the art of relaxation takes practice and persistence if it is not your current usual state. But much of this is up to you and done at your own pace and in your own time (as “homework”) – so it needn’t take an endless number of clinic sessions. And the benefits will last a lifetime, and will probably extend your life, productivity and quality of life immeasurably too!

If you think you might benefit from relaxation skills training, meditation/mindfulness training or hypnotherapy and you’d like to book a consultation or find out more about skills training or therapy, or if you have any other questions, please contact me at AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey by email or phone (see top right of this page).

 

Research shows that mindfulness may change how the brain deals with emotion

In recent years, research evidence has been accumulating to support the notion that mindfulness practices can have wide-ranging beneficial effects on our mental, emotional and physical health. An example of one such study is described briefly below (the full text can be found in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 4 [April 2013]).

Jacqueline Lutz, of the University Hospital of Zurich Psychiatry Department, and colleagues wanted to find out whether and how mindfulness could affect the brain during emotional arousal. Their working definition of mindfulness was “an attentive, non-judgmental focus on present experiences”. They randomly assigned 49 subjects, who had no prior or existing neurological or psychiatric illnesses, to either a mindfulness or a control group. The theory was that, when subjects anticipated or viewed pictures with negative emotional content, those who were instructed in and practised mindfulness would show increased activation of areas in the brain involved in regulating emotions. The researchers also wanted to know whether mindfulness might be associated with decreased activation of regions in the brain known to be associated with emotional arousal, such as the amygdala and insula.

Lutz and colleagues used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanning to measure real-time activity in the brains of the study subjects. During fMRI scanning, subjects in both the control and the mindfulness groups were shown cues that indicated whether each individual picture they were about to view would be “positive” (pleasant), “negative” (unpleasant), “neutral” or “unknown” (meaning there was a 50:50 chance it could be “positive” or “negative”). Because mindfulness strategies are often used with the intention of helping to address unpleasant emotional events, the mindfulness group was instructed to apply aspects of mindfulness (eg. non-judgmental awareness of thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations) while viewing only the unpleasant and unknown images.

The study found that, compared with the control group, subjects in the mindfulness group displayed decreased activation in the amygdala and other regions involved in processing emotion when they were shown the negative pictures. They also showed increased activity in brain structures associated with emotional regulation when anticipating negative pictures. The findings of this study suggest that even a short and simple mindfulness intervention has the potential to help regulate emotion.

So what does this mean for you and me? Most people are not familiar with the intricacies and “esoteric” language and implications of scientific research, and so they often find it difficult to interpret such findings in terms of their health, wellbeing and everyday lives. But basically, studies such as the above are increasingly accumulating evidence to show that many of the exercises used in activities such as meditation, relaxed abdominal breathing, mindful yoga, chi gong, and related practices that help us to detach from daily stresses and simply focus on “the present moment”, can have wide-reaching positive effects on the way we deal with life’s stresses, emotional turmoil, traumas, worries, fears, and so on, helping us to find a calmer, more objective and centred perspective, so that we can regain a healthier mental, emotional and physical balance in our daily lives.

Mindfulness training, mindful meditation, mindfulness-based hypnotherapy (MBHT)TM, relaxation skills training, stress management, self-hypnosis, cognitive-behavioural techniques, emotional therapy, and traditional hypnotherapy are available at AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey, with clinics serving the mid-Surrey areas of Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham, Epsom, Tadworth, Ewell, Cobham, Esher, and surrounding areas. Please email or phone (see above right for contact details) for more information or to book a consultation. Amanda Jackson-Russell, proprietor of AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey and Energessence Natural Healing; BSc, PhD (Neuroscience), Dip. CBH/HPD, MNFSH, Reiki Master, EFT Practitioner, Stress Management Consultant, Yoga/ Relaxation/ Meditation Instructor.