National Stress Awareness Day

Mindfulness for Stress

When we are stressed, we are often judging ourselves and others, worrying about the past, or rehearsing the future, what meditators call the ‘monkey brain’. We are anything but present! Research shows that mindfulness is an effective technique to bust out of stress and tame the monkey brain.

Stress is part of our natural fight or flight response. Its impact is not only psychological but physical too, as it engages the part of our nervous system that heightens our senses and makes us alert, releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into the body. While occasional short bursts of stress can make us perform better, if stress continues over long periods it can affect our general health and sense of wellbeing. Scientists have found chronic stress is linked to high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, headaches, obesity and heart disease.

Mindfulness is a simple technique that helps to:

  • relax the body
  • calm the brain, and
  • rebalance the nervous system

By bringing our awareness into the present moment we break the cycle of negative thoughts and shift the body back into balance. Research suggests that over time daily mindful meditation can have benefits for immune and brain function, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Here is a simple mindfulness technique you can use anywhere to tame the monkey brain.

When you notice yourself getting stressed, take a breath (expanding your stomach as you do so) and very slowly release the breath (try to make the outbreath longer than the in breath). Now just check in with your body, noticing any areas of tension or tightening. You don’t need to do anything else. If you want to continue then scan your body in more detail, starting with your toes and working your way up, just noticing what sensations you find there, without judging.

Sometimes stress and anxiety are harder to shift and a course of therapy can help to move you out of the stress paradigm and promote resilience. I am a qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist offering sessions for stress, anxiety and depression at the WOW clinic in Westbourne (nr Emsworth), Nutrivital in Petersfield and the Cowdray Hall Therapy Rooms near Midhurst. If you would like to see how therapy can help you call me for a no obligation chat on 07949 736 553. You can also try out one of my audio downloads for mindful walking, relaxation and finding contentment available at www.fauzknight.com/free-audios.

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World Mental Health Day

No Shame!

Today is World Mental Health Day! Its a day we can openly talk about (and shout about) mental health awareness. When I speak to people about their mental health the word 'shame' comes up a lot. Not that people feel shame because of their mental health, but because others find it difficult when they mention their mental health experiences.

So today I want to talk about how to overcome the debilitating effects of shame and why it is so important for all of us to be open about it. If we are to create a healthy environment where everyone can talk about their vulnerabilities and overcome their fears, we need to bust out of the shame mindset.

When Brene Brown, author of the Power of Vulnerability, was invited to speak about her early research, she was asked not to talk about shame because it would put people off their dinner! What is it about shame that resonates so deeply, and uncomfortably with all of us? During our childhood many of us will have experienced occasions when we did something and were made to feel embarrassment or guilt, but shame isn’t about just those moments, it is about the moments when we unknowingly integrate those feelings into our very sense of self.

What is shame?

Shame is a belief not just that we have done something wrong, but that we ourselves are fundamentally wrong in some way. When we feel shame, we want to disappear and it can be very difficult to find peace with ourselves.

How does shame affect our lives?

While guilt is a passing emotion and can be part of a healthy process of dealing with our feelings (admitting ‘I made a mistake’ and moving on), shame often feels stuck, immoveable. Because it attaches to our sense of who we are and makes us feel bad about ourselves, it can be deeply damaging for our self-esteem and confidence. In the worst cases shame can lead us to respond to situations with severe anger, withdrawal, anxiety or depression.

This is because shame leaves us feeling exposed. This can be frightening, and fear triggers our fight or flight response. If this escalates into a fearful mindset, we may find ourselves constantly worrying what others will think of us, afraid we will say or do something that will lead to rejection or social isolation.

How can you manage shame?

We often learn shame during our childhood. As children we are told, sometimes on a regular basis, that we have done something wrong, or need to do better and it can feel like we have let others, and ourselves, down. These feelings can be confusing, frustrating and challenging and as children we don’t have the experience to put them into context.

By accessing the origins of a shame belief and making peace with it, we can release it, and its affect on our lives. Hypnotherapy techniques, such as regression, can help to discover the original memory or memories that boosted the shame response and change it. It can also help to change the negativity bias of the brain so that instead of looking for proof that reinforces a negative self-image, the brain begins to find evidence to support new beliefs that we are liked, loved and valued for who we are.

I am a Cognitive Hypnotherapist at the WOW clinic in Westbourne, West Sussex. If you would like to talk to a professional hypnotherapist, call me or message me on the contact details below.
Tel: 07949 736 553
e-mail: contact@fauzknight.com
Message me through Facebook: fauzknightCH
With thanks to Jo Pearse, WOW clinic.

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Research shows Cognitive hypnotherapy effective for treating anxiety and depression

A journal article published in the Mental Health Review Journal has shown that Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. The study looked at how people’s levels of anxiety and depression, measured through the national standard measures (GAD-7 and PHQ-9 forms), changed after attending one-to-one therapy sessions with a Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapist. Out of the 118 people who took part 73% showed improvements after an average of 4 sessions of Cognitive Hypnotherapy.

Many of the people who took part had high levels of anxiety and/or depression before treatment (e.g. anxiety disrupting their lives), and felt significant improvements or even recovery, after treatment. This response to treatment for anxiety and depression is significant. The research suggests that Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy compares favourable against other types of talking therapies. For example, talking therapies used by IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies project), such as CBT, on average have a success rate of 42%. This makes one-to-one Cognitive Hypnotherapy an important treatment option for people with high levels of anxiety and depression.