(Photo by Jeremy Thomas)
Audrey @ Summit
(Photo by Jeremy Thomas)
Audrey @ Summit
Given that I work to maintain my own healthy weight and support others doing so, Channel 4’s series of 4 programmes, “The Secret Lives of Slim People”, caught my eye. It looked at the lifestyle and diet of 8 volunteers who had been reported as staying slim despite reportedly over-eating. The volunteers were filmed and their lifestyle, habits, calorie count and exercise monitored to see what could be learned. How do these people stay within their Body-Mass-Index so effortlessly? (Note that BMI is a measure of health not appearance.) Sweets, booze and cola, double portions, burgers, carry-outs and scant deliberate exercise seemed to be the order of the day although their lifestyles and diets differed substantially.
Surprisingly, junk food eating did not necessarily mean over-eating as sometimes meals were skipped or left on the plate. In the end, despite what seemed, the volunteers’ calorie intake was about right for their day-to-day activity. Only one took-in more calories than she used - the scientists drew our attention to her parents’ slimness pointing out that it is a heritable trait. Not all the volunteers had slim families though.
Although little is new, here are the remaining points that came over:
Balance calories taken in with those expended - technology and Apps can help you do this.
Move! Use the stairs, walk, fidget, avoid long periods of sitting as brain and muscle-use burns calories. Some of those filmed were on their feet all day.
Eat slowly - savour your food and chew it thoroughly…put your cutlery down between bites. Mindless eating may cause over-eating so avoid distractions/eating on the hoof. Sit at a table.
Control portions - the volunteers were more deliberate about quantities than expected.
Pay attention to your body’s signals of fullness… be prepared to leave food on the plate.
Eat at regular times.
Consider chrono-nutrition - ie your body’s natural rhythm. Match your eating to when your body has produced chemicals to break down food. Apparently it’s best to “Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper” so avoid late eating.
Develop a good sleep routine of at least 7 hours - only 5 or 6 hours affects the production of key appetite hormones thereby increasing your risk of obesity.
A repetitive diet is apparently helpful eg same breakfast and lunch with varied dinner. A Mediterranean diet is much respected for good health and weight-management.
Whether deliberate or not, intermittent fasting works - successful methods are the 5:2 and 16:8 so called “Wolverine” diet. Skipping meals seems more acceptable than before.
Chilli spice is a helpful addition for metabolism.
Vinegar dressing and pickled food such as gherkins and sauerkraut add diversity to the good bugs in your gut - the volunteer who relished these and a home-cooked vegetable-rich diet was shown by researchers to have the most diverse gut biome of any person they had scrutinised in the Western World!
The old adage: Eat to live not live to eat. (Satisfying hobbies/activities and staying socially connected will support your well-being. Putting more food in your stomach when it is already full will not!)
At the time of writing the Channel 4’s series can be seen on All 4 Catch-up for another week or so. If you would like coaching support or hypnotherapy to replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones, do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Clinic appointments are available at Mulberry House Complementary Clinic in the West End of Edinburgh or phone coaching is available at an affordable price. My email is email@example.com
Often my clients come to get help to find the hidden qualities that are needed to transform their professional or personal lives. Tracy Edwards’s story is an inspirational one that epitomises this. It has been made into the documentary film, “Maiden”, and is released to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Having lost her father at 10 and then bullied by an alcoholic step-father, Tracy, a rather lost angry soul, was expelled from school without qualifications. Nonetheless, she developed a vision of sailing around the world after cooking on a yacht aged 24. Serendipity played a part as, at a chance meeting, King Hussain of Jordan encouraged her to follow her dream. One potential sponsor after another turned her down for being a woman in a man’s sport. There was nothing else for her to do other than risk everything to buy a dilapidated boat - the next job was to repair it! Having made her own heavy commitment, the King gave assistance for the significant costs of the race. Against all odds and four years on, this opened-up the opportunity for the first all-woman crew to take part on the 9 month-long harsh circumnavigation.
In 1989, Tracy and her team got to the starting line. In fact, Maiden won two of her class’s legs including the tricky one across the Antarctic’s Southern Oceans. Somewhat ironically Tracy received Britain’s Yachtsman of the Year Trophy for her endeavour!
It is a story of vision, grit, determination, resilience, leadership, friendship and team work. It is about sticking to the goal and seeing it through with hard work and effort. And as is common, there is fluctuating self-belief, confidence and finally significant personal growth. One crew member reflected, “Well, what would humankind have achieved if it always believed it can’t be done?” Another, “As a human you can go much further than you think.”
My recommendation is see the film for an inspiring view - there’s some infrequent swearing and sexism. (Times are beginning to change, thankfully.) “Maiden” is directed by Alex Holmes and uses original footage.
If any of this strikes a chord with you and you would like support to launch your strengths, please get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org Clinic appointments for coaching, NLP and hypnotherapy are available at Mulberry House in the West End of Edinburgh although coaching is available by video-link/phone if you live at a distance.
St Valentine’s Day is upon us and lovers, husbands, wives, partners are prompted to make a show of their affection and love. To romance - and perhaps take a moment to remind themselves what they take for granted at other times of the year! Flowers, hearts, poems, candle light… I hear the sale of aphrodisiac foods such as oyster and asparagus soar this week!
But what happens to those who are not in a special 1:1? Those who have lost a loved one? Maybe your “bestie” has gone abroad? Or you’re in pain after a break-up; just moved and are going through the struggle to connect and make new friends? Well, given the health benefits of being social, it makes sense to take time to reach out - arrange to catch up with a friend, invite a neighbour in for coffee, enrol for a new hobby, start a conversation with someone - who knows they might be alone too. And if you are lucky to have a special relationship, who else do you know that would appreciate a friendly call? Go on, share your love! It only takes a minute or two.
Card by www.archivistgallery.com 01608 658601
the j*falkner collection
As last year, Channel 4’s “Food Unwrapped” team paid attention to the seasonal topics of weight-loss and alcohol at the start of the year.
It was found that meal replacement with healthy eating helped weight loss, as did intermittent fasting (such as in the 5:2 and 16:8 diets mentioned in my January 2018 blogs). Those who simply counted calories did less well. In a recent BBC.com article about intermittent fasting, however, they argued that missing breakfast/intermittent fasting was not the key factor in weight-loss, rather, changing the timing of meals. Frankly the size of the group in Channel 4’s study was small (9 people) so it is hard to be sure of the results and the BBC’s article discussion could have been stronger. Nonetheless, the Channel 4 Team’s weight-loss summary points are worth mentioning: distract yourself from eating - have a focus other than food; movement/exercise is helpful and find someone to support you, including friends/clubs.
Another topic of the programme was about Dry January. Perhaps you have taken the worth-while pledge to avoid alcohol for the month? The presenter (44) who had his liver checked for fat and skin for premature ageing got a fright! He was found to be in the obese weight range (despite looking fairly average) and had a fatty liver from imbibing in alcohol. His skin was judged by a dermatologist to be akin to a 50 year old’s - alcohol causes dehydration and impairs absorption of vitamins. As someone who admitted to enjoying his beer and wine, a month away from alcohol and the presenter’s weight had dropped over 2 kg, his liver had recovered and his skin looked younger. They said that the benefits should still be evident 6 months later. So if you are well on your way to a Dry January, Go You! For February, keep in mind that alcohol recommendations have changed in recent years - 14 units for both men and women with several days off each week. Wine and beer are higher in alcohol content than ever before too so check the label.
Isotonic drinks for sports were given the thumbs up to increase endurance but a budget recipe for of sugar-free cordial with 25 grams of sugar and 1 gram of salt was found to do the job.
And finally, they looked at “Veganuary” - the move to veganism. In particular they looked at the Australian jackfruit which can be prepared to look like pulled pork. In fact, as part of a burger with salad, its fibrous strands fooled people! The benefits were that it is high in potassium, antioxidants and low in calories. Its sugar/carbohydrate breaks down quickly so ideal for race day or endurance too. However, it lacks the protein found in pork so they recommended it be eaten with a portion of lentils. Whilst tempting, I can’t say I’ve seen it in my supermarket and there are the air miles too.
If you’re interested, the programme first aired on 3 January, can be viewed for a couple of weeks more on All 4 Catch-up. Its and other relevant links are listed below. Don’t forget that if you would like support by hypnotherapy or coaching for either weight or alcohol management, please email email@example.com and we can arrange an initial free phone consultation then clinic appointments and Mulberry House Complementary Health Clinic in the West End of Edinburgh. If you and a friend want to lose weight together then I would see what we could arrange. Here’s to a healthy 2019!
BBC.com’s article “Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?”
Drinkaware/Government guidelines on alcohol:
As I go about my day-to-day my professionally-trained ear notices people’s voices. Not surprising as I was a speech and language therapist before and now as a hypnotherapist my voice is essential for my job. Happily, however, I use (and teach) self-hypnosis for relaxation as stress is often a component of voice issues. The vocal tract and voice need care in the same way our teeth do but, as it’s not something that’s taught, it’s much neglected! Hence with winter infections approaching I thought I’d share general voice care tips.
The medical term is “vocal hygiene” meaning voice care. We mis-use our voice when we over-use it and abuse it when we use it in a harmful way such as raising our voice without adapting (eg shouting over back-ground noise/music or speaking too quickly/gruffly when stressed). It can lead to damage on our vocal folds - better known as our vocal cords. Warning! Once damaged it is typically tricky and effortful to repair them so read on and put best foot forward …
What to do:
Ensure you breathe well - an incorrect breathing pattern is common. Breathing is the basis of speaking: we add voice (a pitch from the vocal cords) and shape our exhaled breath into speech unconsciously.
Look after yourself - eat healthily and exercise. Avoid lifting heavy weights/straining and grunting though!
Adopt a good sleep routine - see my previous blog on sleep hygiene tips.
Plan for relaxation - stress leads to vocal strain. Add self-hypnosis/yoga/meditation to your routine.
Sip plenty of fluids throughout the day. 8 glasses of water is a common recommendation. In addition some sites suggest sugar free sweets and chewing gum.
Gargle with tepid water especially if you use an asthma inhaler.
Inhale the steam when showering or give yourself a facial steam.
What to avoid:
Talking - the vocal cords can vibrate millions of times each day - rest them in the same way you’d rest a strained wrist or ankle! 10 minutes silence here and there? If possible email/text instead.
Irritants - eg smoking, chemical sprays, perfumes can be triggers/cause coughing.
Talking loudly - a quiet voice (but not whispering) reduces damage to the vocal cords. See below about how to adapt yourself and the environment to reduce harm.
Clearing the throat (ie h-hmm) traumatises the vocal cords - sip water instead or swallow hard.
What else? Adapt yourself/the environment:
Be consistent in using strategies to control back-ground noise. For example silence the class using a non-voice method (eg hand raise/clap/whistle) before giving an instruction or turn down the music/TV before speaking. Avoid speaking on noisy public transport/streets.
Be close to whomever you are speaking - avoid calling out eg to children upstairs or signal to the person/group to come closer before you give an instruction.
Learn to project your voice with correct technique - you need a good lungful of air for starters.
Buy a headset microphone to aid projection of your voice especially if you teach yoga/sports/dance in a large area. Use it consistently.
Phone users - use a headset instead of hand held phone to help with posture and strain.
Be aware that vocal tract problems (eg nodules/polyps) are more likely to be triggered when you have a throat infection, are tired or below par. Take particular care at these times.
Give yourself some TLC and increase fluid intake - warm honey and lemon is soothing.
If you suffer from gastric reflux, use an extra pillow, avoid spicy food and eating late at night. Gut acids can track up to the throat causing irritation - it’s commonly found in people presenting with a voice problem. See your pharmacist/GP to consider the cause.
Steam inhalation and gargling - webmd.com recommends a ¼ teaspoon of salt in a mug of warm boiled water.
Be aware that use of throat lozenges can ease symptoms but the numbing may cause you to be less careful. Also that many cold/other medications have a drying effect on the vocal cords so sip plenty of water throughout the day.
Remember, the voice is an excellent indicator of our underlying health so it is important to get things checked out with your GP if the voice problem has lasted more than 2 weeks especially if you have not suffered a triggering infection. Do not overlook hoarseness/croaking, breathing difficulties, voice pitch drop, a breathy voice, a voice that tires easily (eg starts the sentence fine but sounds weak by the end) or cannot be made louder.
I can help you with breathing tips or hypnotherapy for reducing stress, relaxation, sleep, improving your public speaking or other. Please do not hesitate to get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 075 548 54321. I am motivated to help improve your health and well-being at an affordable price!
Summit Life Coaching Ltd with NLP and Hypnotherapy. Working to the ethics and standards of the ICF and BSCH.
Please do not copy without permission.
References: - various NHS and other Vocal Hygiene internet posts:
https://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/resources/patient-information/therapies/slt/voice-how-to-look-after-it.pdf (To be updated in 2019)
Tips for teenagers (updated 2018):
Sir Harry Burns, Director of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde, kicked off the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow’s lecture season with one on Wellbeing in Scotland. Here’s what I took from it - with some surprises!
Wellbeing is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. We Scots get bad press … a picture of smokers tucking into food like the photo, drinking excessively and sedentary. Actually, the only one that’s true is we drink too much. The change in culture and licensing laws in the 1990’s has led to us having the highest average in Europe.
Nonetheless, wealthier Scots have longer life expectancy counterposed with the poorest 20%’s lives shortening since the 1950’s. Overall we therefore have a declining life expectancy. The main drivers of this inequality are drugs, alcohol, suicide and violence - it’s the young who are dying early. The professor pointed out that many supporters for right-wing fringe parties and Trump supporters come from these deprived backgrounds. Happily, those born into deprivation are not bound to fail.
“Having a Why helps you cope with any How” The causes of wellness are:
An optimistic outlook - it really pays to have one!
A sense of control/our internal locus of control - so professionals’ jobs are typically less stressful and believing you can influence outcomes is better.
A sense of purpose and meaning - having a family to care for was a factor in Holocaust survival.
Confidence to deal with problems.
A supportive network - being connected to your friends and community is beneficial.
Enjoying a nurturing family.
Our social and physical environment must be comprehendible, manageable and meaningful or individuals experience chronic stress leading to inflammation/diseases.
(Go to the end to read how I can help or read on to see how it affects our society.)
What does this mean for Scotland?
Sir Harry explained that it is adversity, the lack of wellbeing, that causes major problems. Chaotic parenting, perhaps from addicted parents, causes depression - the child has no sense of coherence or control. The emotional parts of the brain are affected - the thinking part less active but the emotional arousal higher - the child is therefore less able to learn and cope with their emotions. At the molecular level a comforting hug makes a difference - without which epigenetic change means the stress response can’t be switched off leading to poor health and outcomes. These children have poor life expectations, do badly at school, have increased chronic diseases, weight-problems, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and other. In short the Government would be better tackling the factors of despair and adversity in young children than cutting out sugar!
Sir Harry closed by saying transforming people’s ability to cope is how to begin to get to grips with this complex problem. It is financially savvy and more effective than being fished out by NHS rescuers.
How Audrey @ Summit can help…
“Helping you make positive change” using Life Coaching, NLP or Hypnotherapy is my mission. I can help you tackle confidence and optimism issues, help you exert more personal control, make career change, find new purpose or develop your social life. My email is email@example.com, my number 075 548 54321. I work from Mulberry House Complementary Health Clinic in the West End of Edinburgh and coaching is available by Skype/phone if more convenient.
Find out more about The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow:
As the leaves begin to change their colours it's a wonderful time to get out and about, even if only for a "wee walk". It pays dividends for our emotional and physical well-being to do this, and all the more so if "mindfulness" is incorporated. I often encourage my coaching and hypnotherapy clients to practise it at opportune times such as when eating or getting a glass of water.
Adam Ford's book (photo) has written about what to do and he describes his personal walks at home and abroad. As an Anglican priest who has studied Indian religions, there's a brief and balanced mention of different thinking, philosophy, travel and humour which he brings together into a lovely read. My thanks to my friend for gifting it to me :)
If you are looking for greater calm, I teach hypnosis for relaxation (personalised for you and recorded) and introduce you to mindfulness too. Appointments are in the friendly setting of Mulberry House Mind and Body Centre, West End, Edinburgh. Please get in touch with me to book your appointment or to arrange a chat to find out more (free). My contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org and 075 548 54321.
All my best
Audrey - Summit Life Coaching Ltd with NLP and Hypnotherapy.
Reference and more...
The Art of Mindful Walking - Meditations on the Path (2011) Adam Ford Leaping Hare Press ISBN 978 1 78240 598 6
A similar absorbing read, "The Living Mountain" is a beautifully written little gem about walking in the Cairngorms:
The Living Mountain (1977) Nan Shepherd Canongate Books ISBN 978 0 85786 183 2
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre provides neuro-science and latest research:
The Headspace App is identifiable by a white square with orange circle within it. Good graphics and put together by a trained monk. (10 free mini meditations then a few £s each month.)
www.WildGeeseZen.org offers gentle Zen Buddhist Mindfulness group practice in Edinburgh (City Centre and Leith) based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese monk from Plum Village, France.
Stu Lee provides massage at Mulberry House clinic with particularly tense clients and includes meditation and breathing work.
Ruth Johnson is an integrative cognitive behaviour therapist/mental health nurse also working at Mulberry House clinic. She has a certificate in mindfulness.
Your shorts and sunglasses are packed, you've checked your booking and your passport's in your bag...now all you need to choose is a little holiday reading! I've given some regular book recommendations in the last paragraph here, but you may also be looking for (or know someone looking) for a self-help reader. I read this type of book routinely so I can make recommendations which support positive change as part of my coaching and hypnotherapy approach. Below are three of my picks; whilst the subjects are far from light, the books themselves are straight-forward and well-written. The first is about actions to take to overcome depression; the second supports reducing alcohol consumption; and the third is about how looking at your past relatives' circumstances and your own may be the key to ending inherited negative family cycles of behaviour.
"KEYS TO UNLOCKING DEPRESSION: An Internationally Known Depression Expert Tells You What You Need to Know to Overcome Depression" (2016) by Michael D Yapko PhD
This is written in a direct simple style by a world-renowned expert clinical psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. He cuts the subject down into 50 statements and encourages action. It is an inexpensive short read that's really worth it.
Summit's treatment approach to improved well-being: One of Yapko's recommendations is to use hypnosis, so I'll teach you self-hypnosis, help keep you focused on improving your well-being, and ensure you know what this expert recommends.
"MINDFUL DRINKING: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life" (2017) by Rosamund Dean
This is for people who are looking for a framework for reducing their alcohol intake. The author talks from personal experience, provides clear information and a considered approach. If you believe your life to be dictated by alchohol, however, this book is unlikely to go far enough although any reduction in your alcohol consumption will help your health.
Summit's treatment approach to alcohol over-use: "hypnosis" plus non-judgmental "therapy" which will be based on your desire to moderate consumption or abstain. Dean recommends hypnosis as an aid but she is critical that her therapist did not include "a plan" - I do! If abstaining, I can align the approach with elements of the AA's step programme as per my International Coaching Federation's training.
"IT DIDN'T START WITH YOU - How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are And How To End The Cycle" (2017) by Mark Wolynn
"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people." -Thich Nhat Hanh, A Lifetime of Peace (Zen Master and spiritual leader)
This quote sums up the basis of this fascinating work and may be of particular interest to those who have had treatment for a concern but feel they have not got to the bottom of it. Wolynn is an eminent American family psychologist who works with persistent symptoms and conditions. He gives compelling scientific background information explaining how it is possible to carry forward traumatic experiences from 3 generations. Language, epigenetic, memories and behaviours all play a part. These can result in negative family patterns being perpetuated, and consequently, why it may be relevant to consider if resolve can be gained by looking at past relatives' lives. The second half of this book provides a straight-forward prescriptive guide including questions to ask yourself. Although names have been changed he gives examples from case studies and the results seem to be life-changing healing. It is not essential, but it will help if you know or can find out about your parents' families and your early years. It is an approach that includes visualisation and explains the need to develop new neural pathways for changed behaviour and better health.
Summit's treatment approach will be tailored to the individual's concerns and needs, for example, chronic pain, anxiety or phobia. Research shows that coaching and hypnosis open up new neural pathways enabling easier behaviour change. Hypnosis includes use of visualisation/imagery and apart from teaching self-hypnosis, I provide personalised recordings and can introduce mindfulness and meditation if wanted. I do not currently include Wolynn's intergenerational approach in my work but watch this space...
And for that more regular holiday reading, I see that Phillip Pullman recommends Rupert Thomson's "Never Anyone But You", Sebastian Faulks "The Incurable Romantic" by Frank Tallis and Olivia Laing "The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain" (A Radio 4 Book of the Week) by Damian Le Bas. My personal recommendation is a travel adventure book by Levison Wood, "Walking the Americas" (Mexico to Panama). Whilst at times the writing could have been a little better I ripped through it. Incidentally, if you have any book recommendations, please get in touch by email: email@example.com and I will post them on Summit's blog and Facebook page either anonymously or with your name as preferred. Enjoy the summer!
MORE INFORMATION: Books will be available through your local bookstore - here are links or reviews of all the above books in order of mention.
With the peak holiday season fast approaching many of us will have booked exciting trips to faraway countries for a bit of sunshine and relaxation. Sometimes, however, people's anxiety of leaving terra firma gets in their way so UK holidays hold greater appeal, travelling by car or train even if the distances are long. This can be restrictive or cause discord if some members of the party have a desire for a taste of cultures and countries too far to reach by road or rail quickly. Statistics about how safe flying has become is rarely enough to persuade someone who is fearful of the whole flight experience to go. Hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming are considered useful techniques to deal with these concerns as the experience is rehearsed and stresses dealt with, usually in an incremental way, within the safety of the clinic before the trip. The anxiety cycle is broken by first identifying the negative behaviours, thoughts and feelings then replacing them with new ways of coping.
Over and above hypnosis and NLP here are a few therapy techniques that can be used to help keep those nerves under control:
"Breathing-in fresh air; breathing-out, smile. Breathing-in calm; breathing-out smile. Breathing-in equilibrium; breathing-out smile. Breathing inner peace; breathing-out smile."
If your travel is restricted in this way, open up your horizons by getting in touch today with Audrey for Hypnotherapy and NLP. Fees/T&Cs are on the ABOUT page of www.summitlifecoaching.co.uk A free consultation can be arranged by phoning 075 548 54321 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Appointments are in the delightful Mulberry House Mind & Body Health Centre in the West End of Edinburgh, a few minutes walk from Haymarket Station.
And like any wise traveller, remember to get yourself ready in other ways such as checking your passport is up-to-date, buying some local currency and a guide book with cultural tips and arranging any required visa or vaccinations in good time. Incidentally, a concern of injections can be helped in the same way as flying and "Knowasyougo" is a useful interactive travel App set up by Dr Fiona Taylor. Rebecca Coles at "Allbutessentialtravel" provides advice if your interest is adventure off the beaten path. Bon voyage!
It is fair to say that clients often approach me in a bit of a panic last-minute before their exams, job interview or test but, whilst much can be done in a two-hour appointment, consideration to adding Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques earlier would give clients a greater feeling of control and range of treatment options. Having a personalised hypnosis recording to listen to in the run up to "the event" develops a positive calm mind-set, techniques deal with that irritating negative inner voice and "anchoring" connects you to the "confident and competent you". More time better cements confidence, introduces self-hypnosis and, when wanted, clients can adapt their oral presentation content and style in light of the speech and language tips they have learned.
As the exam season is soon upon us I thought of mentioning how I can help and some other pointers. I recall my own university exams and the palpable tension at home when my children were swotting for their all-too-important school ones and sport competitions. Fortunately these and driving tests are in the bag, but the need to perform well carries on through much of our lives.
The first thing might be to recognise that tension before exams/performance has a positive intention. It wakes us up to the fact that we need to prepare ourselves properly. Indeed a useful maxim is: "Proper prior planning prevents poor performance!" So ask yourself, "Have I prepared properly?"
The degree of effort and preparation will depend on many things but my psychology lecturer once said something that rang true for me. It was: "If you're not brilliant, be bright enough to know you have to work." That might entail reading sufficiently around your subject; applying yourself more than a friend; taking sufficient lessons so that you feel ready for the level in question; completing practice papers to get the technique and timing down to a fine art; learning the Highway Code, poem or script thoroughly; rehearsing with your group adequately; putting together visuals and thinking-through and revising your accompanying talk. But don't forget the obvious such as putting in your application on time, paying any fees and finding out the routine for the day!
Another question to ask is, "Have I got all the equipment I need?" For instance, a spare pen; new batteries in the calculator; an electrical point for the power-point presentation and possibly internet connection or refreshments for those attending; gear which meets the current safety standards for your sport's competition or exam; a spare guitar string or drumsticks; your earphones and preferred distraction music. I would also include checking out how you will get to the event and ensuring your choice of clothes is clean - even if it is an old lucky t-shirt! You want to arrive looking and feeling the part.
The second positive thing to recognise about performance anxiety is that a degree of tension is needed for peak performance - we don't see top athletes sitting down before they start, do we? We see them signalling to their body to get ready, consciously getting themselves "into the zone" - a frame of mind where there is a combination of confidence and alertness which allows the mind and body to sync and flow. Some describe it as a feeling of having a sixth sense. Would a walk around the block or run up the stairs set you up better than a coffee?
A good way to check that you are properly prepared is to visualise or imagine your event - that is taking the time to "run the movie of your success" in detail from start to finish in your mind several times beforehand. This rehearsed routine will bring a sense of familiarity and anchor you to a positive frame of mind when you actually do it. I suggest that if at any time your mind blocks / the movie stops, consider this an intuitive indicator that something in your preparation needs attention. As an example, for a university exam you'd visualise packing your bag the night before adding the items you need. You'd continue to visualise and self-talk yourself through sleeping well, getting ready then picking up your bag and making your way to the exam in good time, all the while paying particular attention to how relaxed and positive you feel... You'd continue connecting to a calm but alert feeling while you visualise taking your place in the exam hall, enjoying a long out-breath and shoulder shrug when the invigilator instructs you to begin. You'd imagine yourself reading the questions with care to select the best ones then see / sense yourself working with skill and reasonable speed to complete them, keeping a cautionary eye on the time. And lastly, you'd finish by visualising a positive outcome, sensing your satisfaction and a winning smile - you may even smell your success! After all you have prepared well, so it stands to reason! This mental rehearsal takes the "Can I?" to "I Can". That's hugely significant for achieving success.
Your success is my ambition - hypnotherapy is available from 7 years; life coaching from 16 years. Please email email@example.com or phone 075 548 54321. www.summitlifecoaching.co.uk
At a recent Hypnotherapy supervision meeting the topic of stammering treatment came up. I joined the discussion as a result of my previous work as a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) but I was cautious, deciding it would be worth my while refreshing my knowledge on the subject. Having done that I thought it might be useful to share this discursive essay although it must be said that my intention was a general update for myself rather than a thorough investigation. if you know someone who stammers I recommend The British Stammering Association's website (BSA).
What specifically is stammering?
At the Oxford Disfluency Conference (2008), Anne Smith produced this helpful statement: "Stuttering is a neuro-developmental disorder involving many different brain systems active for speech - including language, motor, and emotional networks. Each infant is born with a genetic makeup that contributes to his or her probability of stuttering, however whether stuttering will develop depends upon experience. To learn to speak fluently, a child's brain must develop many different neural circuits, and these circuits must interact in very precise and rapid ways. Stuttering emerges in childhood as a symptom that the brain's neural circuits for speech are being wired differently. For this reason, early intervention is critical, because by shaping the child's experience, we can affect the ongoing wiring process in the child's rapidly developing brain. The longer the stuttering symptoms persist in early childhood, the more difficult it is for us to change the brain's wiring, and stuttering becomes a chronic, usually lifelong issue."
Who is affected?
Stammering affects people in all countries and cultures, rich and poor, and those of all levels of intellectual ability. Most stammering begins in childhood and some spontaneously recover without any specialist intervention but about 1% of adults continue to do so. Incidentally, it is normal to have a degree of non-fluency when we speak - what that means is it is usual to have an occasional "um" and "er", small hesitations, minor revisions and corrections of what we've said. As is true for many speech and language problems, males are more often affected than females. Yairi (2005) cites Craig et al (2002) saying that in older children and adults the ratio is about 4:1 but less difference is evident in young children at 2 : 1 (Yairi & Ambrose 2005). Those who have stammered significantly for over three years are unlikely to become fluent (BSA). In my view later treatment may still help and is likely to focus on helping emotions, reducing fear and avoidance.
A genetic component?
Whilst not applying to the majority of children who stammer for a short time only, a genetic component has long been argued as it is evident in different family generations. Genetics research in 2010 found mutations in three related genes and gave additional insight as to the potential cause. They described it as an inherited disorder of metabolism and considered enzyme replacement therapy as a future possible treatment for those with a lifelong stammer. Reassuringly those with the mutated genes were not at risk of other more complex related disorders (Kang et al 2010 cited by Drayna 2010). I suspect that the group of adults who make their way to private hypnotherapy and less conventional therapy treatments beyond typical SLT (eg the McGuire programme breathing/belt technique) will include this group.
What does neuro-imaging tell us?
We can now study the "live" brain with the use of neuro-imaging. Indeed, neuro-imaging research has provided information about the neuro-physiological bases of this complex speech disorder. Subtle brain differences exist (eg reduced grey matter volume and white matter connectivity in these regions) however how to translate this understanding into beneficial everyday therapy is probably some years away (Chang 2014). Etchell et al (2017) reviewed neuro-imaging research between 1995 - 2016 and concluded that adults and children who stammer have widespread abnormalities in the structure and functional organisation of their brains which result in differences in speech tasks and non-speech tasks. This imaging does not give the "cause' of stammering but it does establish it has a neuro-developmental condition. The insights may lead to finding future treatments for modulating neuroplastic growth conducive to treating young children who stammer (Chang 2014). As we know, neuroplasticity reduces significantly (but does not stop) after childhood; therefore, early quality SLT intervention is key for children. I believe a collaborative approach between SLT and hypnotherapy could be worthwhile.
New biochemical research
In view of the gender bias, Bilal et al (2018) looked at hormonal factors. The findings supported that the GPER-1* levels of male patients were higher than females and of the control group. They concluded that it might be important in the diagnosis and treatment of stammering. From my reading G-protein coupled receptors help regulate a huge number of bodily functions from sensations to growth to hormone responses and many medicines target them. Links are included in the references for further explanation! (*G-Protein coupled membrane Estrogen Receptor-1)
Some treatment research, old and new
SLT research which included hypnosis and breathing was done by Eular et al (2014) on 98 patients. They concluded that "fluency shaping" and "modification" (standard SLT treatments) provided in an intensive time schedule were the most effective treatments and typically no further treatment was needed. Intensive group SLT was found to be recommended also. Extensive other S&L treatments including hypnosis and breathing exercises were found to be ineffective. Effectiveness was rated using a structured questionnaire by the participants and treatment was 1 - 7 sessions.
However, Kaya and Alladin (2011) found that hypnotically assisted diaphragmatic exercises were statistically significant for the management of stammering in a study of 74 people although they said further controlled trials were needed. Hypnotherapy was used to reduce anxiety, to lift self-confidence and increase motivation for the significant abdominal weight-lifting exercises lasting 2-hours a day for 8 consecutive days. (Note: whilst, as far as I know, no SLT was included in this study but, in my view, it is common for SLTs to target reducing anxiety and building confidence as part of their therapy. And likewise, if a patient's breathing pattern was considered problematic therapy would be given as speech is essentially a bi-product of breathing. (The air leaving our lungs gains sounds when it passes through the vocal folds in our larynx then the sounds are shaped into words by the mouth's movements. Hence shallow or irregular breathing does not support speech well.) Given that breathing therapy was not considered useful in the Euler et al (2014) research, perhaps hypnosis targeting anxiety and self-confidence was a crucial part of the significant result? It would be useful to look more closely at the study's methodology. I noted that Craig and Tran (2006) stated that emerging (psychiatric) evidence suggests people who stammer are more chronically and socially anxious to those who do not but it is considered the result of having a stammer rather than cause.
In a smaller study of 30 patients Lockhart and Robertson (1977) used a combination of hypnotherapy and speech therapy. They divided the group up into those patients whose stammer presented as 'mild' deciding that the etiological basis might have been an extension of normal non-fluency, and a second group whose symptoms were more stigmatising and severe. These respected SLT researchers of their time chose to use only hypnotherapy for the mild cases but a combination of SLT consolidated by hypnosis at all stages of the intervention to promote fluency in all situation in the second group. They concluded that an approach using both disciplines provided a unified and effective approach to treatment.
And it was no surprise to read that McCord (1955) reported that the material on stammering found in hypnosis literature had a more favourable tone about hypnosis/hypnotherapy outcomes than in SLT and Psychology literature! McCord also gave an anecdotal illustration of successful hypnotherapy but this was over a period of more than 30 appointments so one could argue uncontrolled factors could have brought about the recovery. Times have changed in our standards of research but it is still tricky to get comparable treatment groups and control groups together with the same treatment methodology being applied. We know that individualising treatment is essential which does not fit with Random Control Trials and we also know that the therapeutic relationship (rapport) and patient's belief are influential but not usually measured. I also wonder if more collaborative approaches are in practise today but, sadly, I can't say I found much evidence of that in my small search.
Hence my conjecture is that hypnotherapy is an appropriate approach, particularly to target the emotional responses and research indicates that visualising a changed future will alter/strengthen neural connectivity. Information from Stanford University (2016) of up-to-date information gained via brain scans during hypnosis, the brain's activity and connectivity is of interest. What effect hypnosis has on the brain when treating stammering is not mentioned in this article but it does mention treating anxiety and an effect of hypnosis being a dissociation between action and reflection which lets the patient engage in activities whether suggested by the therapist or self-suggested without being self-conscious about the activity. The Stanford medical scientists are curious about how to stimulate the brain to make a wider number of people more hypnotisable because its potential to help is recognised. In treating stammering I know that both hypnotherapists and SLTs aim to encourage a confident assertive attitude, develop a positive sense of identity and that they incorporate techniques to desensitise the person to the specific environmental situations that trigger their stammer responses regardless of the aetiology.
I hope this has been interesting and please get in touch if you have experience or case studies to discuss. The long list of references is available on request.
Audrey at Summit Life Coaching Ltd with NLP and Hypnotherapy
Audrey is a member of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a non-practising member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
If you managed "Dry January" successfully, well done! Despite our best intentions, however, sometimes our motivation to reduce or do without our "wee wine", G&Ts, beers - or whatever our tipple - drains as we move away from the year's beginning. We find our old habit can steadily trickle back, perhaps even with a vengeance. It might start at a jolly social occasion but often it is the routine habit that trips us up, the one that simply serves to transition us from "work mode" and the demands of the day to a more "relaxed home mode". We may consider it a "grown-up" reward for having assiduously applied ourselves and juggled everything. For some others, being addled is a distraction from the evening's unappealing TV. Over time there can be a creep - one small drink becomes two, which becomes two large ones; or it may be the measure is now in half or whole bottles. Perhaps that's accompanied with unsettled sleep with an odd headache or hang-over. You tell yourself that it is beneficial for alleviating stress but know deep down that it's unhealthy. So your attitude has a mix of resistance, pleasure and when you're being honest, a bit of uncertainty or fear. Does this sound in any way familiar?
Regrettably I have seen several lives ruined by alcohol misuse so I know the folly of ignoring increasing consumption. It is not just the physical and mental effects like deteriorating performance, premature ageing, memory loss, anxiety and depression, but also the knock on effect on relationships with family, friends and employers, not to mention finances. It might be that your friends and colleagues drink more than you but that inner voice is whispering, "It's time to cut-back...time to follow best advice". But that can be easier said than done for a multitude of reasons including your inner voice contradicting itself, "Oh, one more won't hurt"... "I'm more fun when I've had one"..."I haven't had that much really".
What is a safe limit? The current Government guidelines for men and women is 14 units per week with some alcohol free days. That's 6 "small" glasses of wine (13%; 175ml), 6 pints of lager (4%), 5 of a slightly stronger cider or 14 single pub measures of spirit. 14 might sound like a lot, but most of us will pour ourselves a generous double. Suddenly, it's not so much, is it? And no alcohol if you are conceiving/expecting a baby. (More information and tips are available from Drinkaware - please see below).
Anyway, like the guy in the photo, if you feel you'd benefit from a hand to get things better under control, the first step is to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning me on 075 548 54321 and my training and success in supporting clients facing these challenges will serve to help you. It may even be you want to knock it on the head completely. If you've been thinking this way, why kick the can down the road?
This blog is an update of the one posted in January 2017.
Hey-ho it's January and most of us notice a few lbs have crept on. On every TV channel programmes focus on the unfavourite topic of weight and dieting. It might be you've made a New Year's resolution to give-up a particular food, alcohol or "to go on a diet"; I've heard we're more likely to succeed if we avoid that phrase. Rather we should think of it as a life-style change to ensure that the yo-yo weight-loss / weight-gain cycle is broken. Ho-hum ...
Although I'm lucky to now be at my mid-range BMI (that's a measure of health), as I come from a line of short overweight-women that hasn't always been the case. In fact, at 17, I joined my Mum and Gran at Weight-Watchers on a weekly basis. I try to keep abreast of this emotive and confusing subject for my own and professional interest but it's hard to pick out good, research-based information. Of course, I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, but it is nice to be able to help point people in an informed direction. However, as a coach and a hypnotherapist, where my skills lie is to support, motivate and help with habit change. Through a variety of techniques and NLP activities, you open up a new way of being; building a new neural pathway that helps move you from the "I want" to the "I am" as you move along your journey to success. We look beyond the obvious such as emotional eating and why you may be self-sabotaging.
Whether you just like to do your best to eat healthily or if weight-management is your target, I thought you might like help sifting through all that is being thrown at you about "dieting" as the year starts. You might like to know about a book called "The Diet Myth - The Real Science Behind What We Eat" by Professor Tim Spector (2015). More recent articles and TV programmes are bringing the same information to our attention, making the ideas more mainstream. The book draws on science and tells us why the balance in our microbiome (our gut microbes) and its interaction with our body plays a crucial part in our weight. Spector rejects diet fads embracing food diversity for a healthy gut and healthy body. He favours a Mediterranean diet which he lists as predominantly fish/vegetables/beans/lentils and fruit and enthuses about extra virgin olive oil, blue cheese and natural yoghurt. He believes it is about working out what works for your body. As usual he advocates regular exercise which will lift your spirits, stress-bust and burn calories. Of course, some people find it easy to maintain a healthy weight without knowing how important their gut microbes are. Perhaps though it can be a key contribution to YOUR success?
Like Spector's book, Channel 4's "Food Unwrapped" Diet Special January 2018 also emphasised the importance of having diverse gut bacteria. Their reporter visited the Hanzi People in Tanzania because they are healthy and have no malnutrition. They have 40% more bacteria in their guts than most of us in UK and a greater diversity, living on a diet containing honey comb (with bee grubs 'n all), a very fibrous root vegetable and a fruit which is extremely rich in Vitamin C. The programme went on to say that we can simulate this by including Jerusalem artichokes and chicory (red and green, preferably raw with a regular intake a few times a week) along with raw garlic, onions, seaweed, wheat, oats, and fish (mentioning mackerel). Essentially these are rich in prebiotics which promote the good bacteria that are already in our guts. Another pointer was the use of the spice cumin. They said more clinical research is required but it is seems to help burn fat. And for curry fans like me, a Chicken Korma made with a low-calorie recipe got the thumbs up as it contained a range of other particularly valuable spices in weight-management such as turmeric (which stops fat re-growth after weight-loss), ginger (which helps you feel satisfied after eating), cinnamon (which helps control blood sugar), and chilli (which increases metabolism).
Notice that the trend of juicing fruit/veg raises an alarm for Spector, as it removes the fibre which carries fat from the body. Processed foods are a no-no because the body does not handle the added chemicals well. That strikes a huge amount of food off the list, such as, preserved meats (e.g. sausages, ham, salami). Foods with a long shelf life (e.g. cakes, biscuits, butter-like spreads) are off the menu too as they contain worrying hydrogenated fats. Fructose (the sugar present in fruit) is to be watched - indeed I noticed my large glass of supermarket-bought orange juice this morning contained 26% of my daily recommended sugar intake! Counter-intuitively, low-calorie diet foods and fizzy drinks laden with artificial sweetener are a non-starter as your brain has not evolved to know how to digest these. Spector recommends sticking to white meat, such as chicken, for the most-part, although it seems an occasional steak and glass of red wine are allowed. He considers dietary supplements potentially very harmful. The good news is he is less concerned by calorie counting, the bad news is he'd like a sample of your stool! The book is an accessible read and highly recommended, particularly if you've tried "the usual" and are a bit stuck.
Channel 4's programme "Food Unwrapped - The Diet Special", aired in January 2017, also provided information along the same lines as Spector's book. It challenged the Government's Eat-Well guidelines to cut-out fat and, rather, made a plea to cut-out foods containing sugar. In order to do that we need to be aware that "carbohydrates" can mean starch or/and sugar and it is only by looking at the packaging's small print that you can discern which are present and the percentages. Most people do however know that starch and sugar are extremely different nutritionally. The programme warned to be wary of those so-called "healthy" breakfast cereals. Both Spector and the programme mention that there's evidence to support intermittent fasting as it has been shown to improve metabolism, so if you like skipping breakfast then here's your invitation to do so. They looked at the so-called "Wolverine's" 16:8 Diet, when all eating is done within an 8 hours period each day (apparently Hugh Jackman used it before playing the part). Spector also gives the supporting evidence for the 5:2 diet which allows normal healthy eating for 5 days a week then restricts calories for the 2 remaining days: men to 600 calories and 500 for women. Incidentally, I have seen clients include these diets successfully as part of their coaching or hypnotherapy journey to a lighter, brighter way of being.
Another fact more commonly heard now is how a poor sleep routine is linked to poor health and being over-weight. Apparently sleepy people are more stimulated by food! Nick Littlehales' book, "Sleep - The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your body and Mind", explores sleep management in huge detail. That's hardly surprising as he is a sleep coach to Olympic athletes, some Premier League and Sky cycle teams. What you need to know, most of all, is just how important darkness is for sleep and how important sleep is for good health! Research shows to avoid obesity your sleep should average 7 hours. Incidentally those sleeping less than an average of 5 hours are at greater risk of diabetes (type II). Note, however, that 8 hours a night is an average and not for everyone. You might be like Usain Bolt who likes a good 10 hours, or more like Margaret Thatcher who existed on about 5 hours per night along with day-time naps. In Littlehales' programme, your sleep time can vary from night-to-night to accommodate your life-style as sleep is measured over the week and includes naps. Our natural body clock 90 minute cycles are known as "circadian rhythms" and are a crucial part of his programme. They continue night and day with your body dipping between 1 - 3pm and 5 - 7pm - ideal times for a wee nap just like the continental siesta.
Sadly inexpensive calorie-rich food is on offer almost everywhere and the NHS recommended exercise levels are higher than even an energetic enthusiast might guess. It takes a while to become conversant with what nutrition and calories are in a portion of food but good Apps help such as "MyFitnessPal" help. But if you've gone down that route and you're battling the bulge unsuccessfully perhaps this has given you more to think about to increase your chance of success? Good luck and I hope this has been of use to you. Remember if you've other health issues and you are not used to doing exercise, do get advice from your GP before embarking on your healthy life-style change. If your BMI healthy weight-range seems a long way off, keep looking forward step-by-step: that's the weigh to go! And as ever, if you'd like some coaching or hypnotherapy for weight-or sleep management (or anything else) please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or by phoning 075 548 54321. Coaching is available by Skype so your location makes no difference. My Hypnotherapy and NLP sessions are available at Mulberry House, the delightful complementary health clinic in the West End of Edinburgh by booking directly with me. Please scroll through my website's testimonials on the About page to read about how I have helped others successfully.
For those interested please find below references and links for further reading/viewing:
Click here to see the NHS Choices page on a Mediterranean Diet.
Spector Tim (2015) THE DIET MYTH The Real Science Behind What We Eat Weidenfeld & Nicolson UK
Habermacher Andy (2016) The Human Brain and Coaching; Emotional Drives and Coaching; Motivational Patterns and Coaching - Excellence in Neuroleadership International Coaching Federation Webinars (Book available)
Littlehales Nick (2016) SLEEP The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind Penguin
Summit Life Coaching Limited, Hypnotherapy and NLP - January 2017, amended January 2018. Not for reproduction without permission please.
This anonymous quote caught my attention as it encapsulated two things which are part of my clinical practice - helping people reach their ambitions (usually with Life Coaching) and to over-come their fears (usually with a combination of Hypnotherapy, NLP and when called for my speech and language therapy knowledge). This photo shows me succeed in a significant ski-touring adventure and, as part of that, control a fear of heights. I was with younger friends - Rebecca Coles and Simon Verspeak, both of whom are experienced mountaineers - and I joined them one weekend on the popular ascent of the Italian mountain, Gran Paradiso (4061m) in 2013. We split the ascent with an overnight stay in a lovely refuge then got under way early morning to reach the summit before a long ski down. Curiously, the mountain summit has a statue of The Madonna which is accessed along a narrow ledge with sheer drop on one side but I trusted Rebecca's lead and everything went to plan. That said, my friends may not have known that in days gone by I found it hard to climb a ladder to change a light bulb yet alone something like that! However, my ambition to do more than ski in resorts and my passion for the mountains took me there and my heightened awareness of the day means I can reflect on the moment I put my fear behind me and composed myself before making my way along the ledge to the summit. My skilled friends and their encouragement had made it possible. No prizes for guessing why I called my company Summit.
So do you have your own ambition or a fear that disrupts your sense of well-being? My Life-Coaching, Hypnotherapy and NLP skills combine to address both and I will act as my friends did to guide and motivate you along whichever journey you want to take. My knowledge from working as a speech and language therapist combines to support those wishing to overcome public speaking concerns or prepare for that important interview and you can see that I am an enthusiastic sportswoman. Perhaps yours is a career ambition or a physical fear like climbing a ladder? Perhaps it is a social anxiety or business situation like making a presentation? Perhaps air-travel is a concern? Whatever it is, I would be delighted to help you address the issue and look forward to you getting in touch. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 075 548 54321.
Photo by Simon Verspeak - mountaineer/leader and mountain rescue
I was roped-up to Rebecca Coles - mountaineer/leader and travel writer
You may have heard about this on the news this week and today I caught sight of an article by The Guardian's science correspondent, Hannah Devlin. It is worth sharing as a reminder of a key way to optimise health. You may have read my previous blog about "Sleep" and it is in this regard that most of us know about the term "circadian rhythms" and their part in good health. But as Devlin's article and the blog mention, being in tune with our circadian rhythms affects so much more than sleep.
The article, "'Western society is chronically sleep deprived': the importance of the body's clock", tells us about Hall, Rosebush and Young's accomplishments in their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms controlling these rhythms. The prize winners recently found the main gene that controls this clock and how it is connected to our planet's revolutions. Indeed, most of our cells have a clock of their own and about 50% of these are switched on and off by our bodies' "period" gene. At night time this gene encodes a protein in the cell then it degrades during the day - giving us a continual pattern. It is easy to see then that staying aligned to nature's clock enhances our well-being and performance and why it plays a part in risk for strokes, heart disease, dementia, obesity, diabetes and even some cancers.
In our 24/7 society it is worth making an effort to sync with light and dark because a tiny part of our brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, is linked to the eye's retina and connects to the pineal gland on the opposite side. This gland pumps out melatonin - a crucial hormone for sleep. In shift work and jet lag our bodies have to over-ride its biology. In connection to the common problem of over-eating and diabetes, research shows that animals in tune with their circadian rhythm (even if sleep deprived) maintain a steady weight but animals forced onto a schedule that is out of sync, eat impulsively and develop glucose intolerance. It shows also why following instructions to take medicine at particular times is important - for example, strokes are most common in the morning so swallowing blood pressure tablets first thing is best. On the other hand, the liver produces cholesterol more quickly at night so swallow satins before bed.
Like using self-hypnosis and mindfulness for health benefits the evidence for aligning ourselves to our circadian rhythms is clear. Can any of us ignore the recommendation to get an old-fashioned good night's sleep? Perhaps you recognise this but struggle to achieve it? If so, help to sweet dreams, weight loss or other is just a call or email away! My Summit contact details to arrange a free consultation are email@example.com and 075 548 54321. Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques for insomnia and sleep disorder are a good option because sleep is not controlled consciously...ask an insomnia sufferer or those of us who have tried telling a restless child to go to sleep! On the other-hand, if it is your life-style that needs attention then life-coaching is useful. Among other successes I have helped clients combat insomnia, pain disrupting sleep, sleep disorder and weight problems.
Scroll down from here if you would like to read my "Sleep" blog, posted May 2017. Go further back to January to read about weight management. There are links to other reading with the blogs. The one to Devlin's article is below.
As the Edinburgh Festival comes to a close, I was reflecting on what stood out in my mind. My top three shows were the stupendous Flip-FabrQue, a remarkable French-Canadian acrobatic troupe; comedian Jason Byrne's laugh-out-loud improvisation and story-telling, and the University of Cape Town's Baxter Theatre Group who excelled in their performance of "The Fall": a brilliantly acted and sung insightful, searing play about equality and colonialism. The diversity of skill and quality makes choosing a favourite impossible. But despite all that, what stands out in my mind most is seeing the advert in my bank's window, "An audience with Pepper the humanoid robot - Banking as it should be" (sic).
So the sign intrigued me sufficiently to pop in! There was the usual queue of bored and impatient customers being served by pressed members of staff flanked by a display with a talking dancing robot that is currently trained to answer set questions. I knew this technology was already around but seeing it in my bank, getting prepped for use, took me by surprise.
Even if a bit of a struggle for me at times, technology has significant benefits so I am no Luddite. However, I am aware of increasing concern about poor mental wellbeing linked to the widespread use of technology. Indeed, the hypnotherapist and internationally known expert in depression Michael Yapko's recent Newsletter goes into the severity of the problem in some detail. For instance, there is growing and alarming research that connects a rising rate of anxiety and depression in adolescents with technology use. These adolescents are at increased risk for mental health problems as adults. The problems can stem from indefensible on-line bullying and exclusion by others, and, perhaps even more common, a lack of actual personal contact, addiction to and anxiety caused by checking social status on sites such as Facebook and Instagram which can lead to a drop in self-esteem when we perceive others' lives to be "better" than our own. Yapko has a useful book too, "Keys to Unlocking Depression" (2016). As our perception and thinking can be detrimentally altered by technology the book includes a section "Beware of the Potentially Negative Effects Technology Has on Depression: Be Smarter than Your Smartphone!". It is a self-help book I recommend to clients who have low mood and anxiety (or similar).
As the presence of the humanoid robot demonstrated, our future is inevitably going to be ever-increasingly integrated with technology. Obviously, there are people out there looking at the ethics and risks of all this as we move further into the 21st Century. But what small things can we do to promote a good balance of technology's benefits with its mental health risks? Following Yapko's advice would be a good starting place: take "time out" from technology's offerings by putting it aside for periods of time to allow interaction with others in conversation, get out to enjoy nature, meditate (or use self hypnosis), give time for self-expression through creative arts and exploration. In fact the Festival shows with friends were ideal! We already know good physical health requires regular exercise and healthy-eating - similarly, good mental health requires care and attention.
Yapko M PhD - August 2017 Newsletter
Yapko Michael D (2016) Keys to unlocking Depression: an Internationally Known Depression Expert Tells you What You Need to Know to Overcome Depression Yapko Publications
This is available from your local book store and Amazon including Kindle version:
Hypnotherapy is a useful complementary health technique which supports issues such as low-mood, anxiety, stress and panic attacks. There are many small changes and habits you can form to help you regain/maintain a positive perspective. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be more effective when used in conjunction with hypnosis (Yapko/others). If you have a deeper malaise/depression your GP will give advice in the first instance. Note that the use of antidepressant medication may affect the timing of hypnotherapy treatment. A combination of medication and CBT may work best for a deep depression as the treatments can affect different parts of the brain (Korb 2015). Alcohol abuse contributes to depression. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like a free phone consultation if any of these issues affect you. Call Audrey on 075 548 54321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org There are links to this email throughout the website and more information on the "About" page.
When I help clients make positive change, certain recurring features become evident. In the first place, the person approaches me because they have a desire to do something different or fulfil an ambition. It might be to change a habit for better health, to start up their own business or fulfil a sports objective. The clients are unique mostly with differing aims but they all share a wish to do something and they are keen to make a success of it.
As the process continues, I guide, support and motivate through coaching or use hypnosis to engage their own unconscious mind's support to help them reach their desired outcome. In doing this, I garner the client's own strengths to achieve. This ultimately involves them applying their own backbone as I can assist (hopefully significantly) but it is they who take the steps that get them to the finishing line!
And along the journey of success, it is true to say that some clients experience a frustration or two. This is when I encourage them to take the rough with the smooth, to persevere, to show resilience so as not to get down about things so they stay on course. Additionally, I encourage them to connect with their sense of humour as a way of handling stress. Sadly, with the stresses and strains of everyday life we are prone to forget about our playful, humorous side but smiling and laughing generate helpful neurotransmitters and release tension. It is amazing what seeing the funny side of things can do to shift our perspective, to re-set us into a more positive “can-do” mind-set which serves to motivate us to find a solution. Indeed, if you saw the film, "Eddie the Eagle” (2016) and his journey to the 1988 Olympics as the lone British ski-jumper, you would have identified with just how much a “can-do” attitude plays a part in success - and you would, no doubt, have had a good laugh too!
So all in all, I think Reba McEntire’s quote goes a long way to succinctly sum it up… “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone!"
If you have a wish for change and would like a helping hand, please get in touch by phone 075 548 54321 or email email@example.com. You can scroll down to a link below or find one at the bottom of the Home page. Incidentally you can also see some clients’ Testimonials on the About page.
Often we have too much going on and that takes its toll, leaving us feeling pressurised and prone to making silly mistakes. By taking a moment to join forces with our breath, we can effect a beneficial change in our state that helps us to manage better. Try this:
Hold out your hand in front of you. Now with the index finger of your other hand, slowly trace its shape by running the finger up and down the sides of the other five fingers. As your finger runs up the fingers, breathe in; as your finger runs down, breathe out.
Alternatively, you might like to close your eyes, and with a nice full and rhythmical breathing pattern, say this to yourself:
"Inhale Calm - Exhale Tension
Inhale Positivity - Exhale Fear
Inhale Confidence - Exhale Doubt
Inhale Contentment - And Smile"
Remember to check your breathing technique! Your lungs are like bags that go from the diaphragm up to the collar bones. When you inhale your tummy should fill up and move out, then move back towards your spine as you exhale. Sometimes tension causes us to get this the wrong way around: the air coming in expands the upper part of the chest, the shoulders rise and the tummy comes in. If this is happening, give your body a shake, place one hand on your tummy and the other on a collar bone to act as monitors, and try again! A mirror can be useful too.
This blog will interest you if you have sleep difficulty, Type 2 diabetes, low-mood, stress, heart, fertility problems or are over-weight. I'd recommend it if you want to improve your work/sport performance and to increase your knowledge about the importance of sleep. The information has been gathered predominantly from Performance Sleep Coach Nick Littlehales' book "Sleep..", NHS Choices and various respected websites. Sources and products are listed at the end.
As a hypnotherapist I offer treatment for poor sleep because hypnosis works with the same automatic part of the brain that controls sleep and our other body functions such as circulation. Most often clients seek help during stressful times or because their work patterns are disruptive to a good night's sleep. Occasionally it is a more unusual sleep disorder. Research shows that long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems so I thought it worth giving a general review of what seems the best current advice. It makes particular sense not to overlook your sleep pattern if you are monitoring other aspects of your health.
What role does sleep have in boosting good physical and mental well-being?
An occasional sleepless night will not do us harm but after several nights our brain can fog, it becomes harder to concentrate and remember and we become more accident prone. On the other hand, good sleep habits help boost our immune system helping us fight infection, help maintain good mental well-being, lift our libido, and make us look better. Importantly sleep helps prevent Type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes fuel gained from high-energy carbohydrate. Short sleep duration is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) as sleep is significant in the production of our appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin suppresses hunger while ghrelin initiates meal intake. More sleep increases the levels of the former and reduces the latter. That said, apparently obesity sufferers have been found to be leptin-resistant and these hormones' role in the regulation of food intake is complex. Sleep reduces certain inflammation-causing chemicals that cause heart disease and a lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure as is fertility because fewer reproductive hormones are produced.
Sleep - maximising minimum gains for improved health and performance
In the last decade the benefits of sleep have been embraced by sports people; so much so, the Premier League and Olympic athletes often employ sleep consultants. It is a wave that was started by Sir Alex Ferguson when he was approached by Nick Littlehales to work on sleep with the Manchester United team in 2004. Although many people cannot work to the strict standards of premier athletes, there is a concept of maximising minimal gains which can be applied to people with different lifestyles. To start with we need to look at what happens in sleep and what is the ideal.
Our natural body clock - circadian rhythms
We have a natural rhythm that is synced with the rising and setting of the sun. Light plays a crucial part in producing serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps with the body’s healing processes and gives a feel-good mood boost. It is also the substance from which melatonin is derived - that change is triggered when light turns to dark. The production and release of the hormone melatonin occurs with a clear circadian rhythm and peaks at night. It is an essential for good restorative sleep. Our natural “circadian rhythms” are 90 minute long continuous cycles. Whilst not all of us work during the day or have consistent wake-up and bed times, being in tune with day and night, light and dark is exceptionally important for promoting health.
How much sleep do we need?
The figure of 8 hours a night is commonly bandied about. This is, however, only an average. Apparently Usain Bolt and Roger Federer like 10 hours per night whereas Margaret Thatcher was renowned for 4-5 hours and additional 20 minute naps. Information on the NHS Choices website suggests that routinely getting less than 5 hours of sleep increases our risk of diabetes; less than 6 hours gives a greater risk of depression and anxiety and less than 7 hours increases our risk of obesity. And parents, before you moan at your teenagers, they - like young children - need more than adults; teenagers are programmed to rise later as restorative sleep helps with their growth-spurt!
Although waking and sleepiness are tied to daylight and darkness, our bodies have a natural dip between 1- 3pm and 5 - 7pm when we are inclined to feel the urge to nap. Littlehales suggests making use of these siesta times with a proper nap rather than falling asleep in front of the TV after work.
Littlehales’ sleep programme, R90, uses these natural cycles as opposed to counting the number of hours sleep each night. He does not favour lie-ins, preferring the rise time to be consistent but adds naps or power naps (including meditation) to catch up on lost cycles. He considers these rhythms so important that, rather than disrupt them, he would prefer you to skip to the next 90 minute period before beginning your night’s sleep routine. Thinking in cycles rather than hours is helpful… if late to bed one night it will not be detrimental but if this happens several times during the week the answer is to take control by finding extra naps or schedule an early night later in the week. It is common sense really but being disciplined and monitoring your sleep habits prioritises it. This allows you to be in control, keep a positive attitude and promotes your good health.
As an example of Littlehales' programme, by nature I have a late-bed time and like 5 cycles each night. So, my midnight bed-time until the 7.30 alarm spans 5 circadian cycles x 7 days = a 35 cycles per week target. If I go out or work late then I might go to bed at 1.30am or very occasionally 3am - then I have 1 or 2 cycles to catch up on using sleep naps and meditation.
Littlehales also pays close attention to early risers (“larks”) and late-bedders (“owls") knowing that people perform at their best at different times of the day. Indeed, he recommends that an owl is chosen to take the penalty shoot-out in an evening game!
First, get up at the same time each day (even at weekends), open the curtains, and get into the daylight. If you need extra sleep, go to bed early or take day-time naps.
Include a long unstimulating cool-down before bedtime and a wake-up routine
Littlehales emphasises that the 90 minute cycle pre- and post-bed is an essential part of a good routine. In this time he recommends a bit of fresh air and a physical stretch as well as the usual getting dressed/undressed, breakfast/bedtime snack and, of course, a trip to the loo. The rest of the 90 minutes can be used for mundane tasks such as admin e.g. filing and compiling tomorrow's to-do list, housework, ironing, unexciting reading and so on as you cool down/warm up. It is a perfect time to include self-hypnosis or other (see later). Exciting/enthralling TV/reading/computer games/work emails are to be avoided before bed. Littlehales advises hot-water showering/bathing in the morning unless you like a quick tepid shower at night to cool you down. He also says to avoid hard physical exertion before bed and in the early part of the evening when our blood pressure is at its highest. And in case you are wondering, Littlehales is accepting of sex as part of this routine!
Deliberately switch from Day to Dark to Day
Day-light lamps are recommended to get an owl going in the morning if their work depends on early performance or to help sync them with an early-rising lark partner. Larks are encouraged to arrange the important work for the morning, owls for later on.
Dim the house lights during the pre-bed cycle to help the body transition to sleep mode - use a dim beside lamp and if necessary avoid the bright bathroom light in favour of candle light. Also ensure your bedroom is dark at night as it is considered exceptionally important for your body’s mechanisms. You may need to invest in black-out curtains or blinds particularly if you are a shift worker. Littlehales even recommends use of a “Valkee” therapy head-set (like ear-phones) which targets light-sensitive areas of the brain. These and daylight lamps could play a part for night-workers, those changing time-zones and Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers.
Ban TV/technology and bright lights (no matter how small) from the bedroom
The common consent is to keep the TV out of the bedroom along with any “blue light” technology. More and more of us seem to be taking our mobiles/laptops into the bedroom to charge/check late emails. All light is detrimental to quality sleep but blue is particularly so. The message is simple - leave these elsewhere and buy an un-illuminated alarm clock!
Facilitate a cool bedroom
A cool bedroom of 16 - 19oC induces sleep. However, one list of recommendations listed a hot water bottle as being acceptable because the bottle cools the body as it loses its heat.
Buy a comfortable and large bed
Perhaps the most obvious….Littlehales advises a Super King-size for couples but this may not be practical. He also gives tips on how to choose a bed.
Make your bedroom into your neutral “recovery room” or sanctuary
Littlehales refers to the bedroom as a “recovery” room to emphasis the importance for sleep and the role it plays in an athlete/high performer’s life. He prefers an unadorned room with neutral colour scheme but the National Sleep Foundation recommends turning your bedroom into your sanctuary - colours of your choice, comfortable furnishings and so on along with lavender as a pleasant smell that might help. In any event, keep it tidy and inviting!
Use relaxation techniques before bed
Examples are following your breathing as in yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, and tensing/releasing muscle groups deliberately to bring about relaxation. Note that I can teach you about self-hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness in one or two sessions .…do use the Contact page to get in touch!
Consider that what you eat/drink before bed may help or hinder
Alcohol in small amounts is a stimulant so avoid a night-cap. Along with this are caffeine and taurine (Red Bull). Recent research recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine a day and Littlehales says to use it as a legal stimulant when you need to be on the ball! It is apparently a naturally occurring psychoactive substance. The amount of caffeine in home-made and different high street brands' coffees varies enormously. It is found in many foods too e.g. chocolate. It is worth taking note of your own typical caffeine intake so see the link below to what seems a useful American site, caffeineinformer.com. It lists products and the possible health benefits/negatives. My own choice, a Costa Primo (small) Short Flat White, has 277mg. For my weight seemingly I can safely drink 7.6 smallish cups of tea a day though. Phew!
Whilst I am not a nutritionist, the advice seems to be eat your evening meal 4 hours before bed and some say to avoid snacking before bedtime. The Sleep Foundation, however, says the best bedtime snack is one that contains both a carbohydrate and protein such as cereal with milk or peanut butter on toast. Protein is the building block of tryptophan which induces sleepiness and carbohydrates make it more readily available to the brain. This is why carbohydrate-heavy meals can make you drowsy. Slow release carbohydrates such as sweet potato and rice are recommended for inducing drowsiness if eaten 4 hours before bedtime. Others say that cherries are a good source of melatonin but supplements are not considered useful. Bananas and sweet potato contain the muscle relaxant potassium.
And finally, The National Sleep Foundation says that motivation to get a good night’s sleep increases sleep by half an hour a night, so start to take things in hand today! Most of us take good health for granted and it seems to me the benefits of a good sleep pattern are under-recognised.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this please “like” and share it with other friends who may benefit. :) Do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question or would like hypnotherapy/NLP support. Thank you.
NHS Choices (2015) Why lack of sleep is bad for your health
Littlehales N (2016) Sleep: The Myth of 8 hours, the Power of Naps .. and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind Penguin
If not supporting your local bookshop, Kindle purchases of Nick Littlehales' book, Amazon:
Appetite hormone/weight management research
American Sleep Association
The National Sleep Foundation (USA)
Headphones - taking light to the brain via the ears
Suction black-out blinds
Food and drink
J Clin Sleep Med. 2011 Dec 15; 7(6): 659–664 doi: 10.5664/jcsm.1476 Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals