12 Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Learn how to become calmer and more confident

Are you feeling overwhelmed?  Would you like to reduce stress in your life? These are my twelve top tips to becoming calmer and more confident.

1. Stress is a habit and habits can be changed

You may not have thought of it this way but how you deal with stressful situations is a habit that you’ve learned over the years. Like any habit, it’s possible to unlearn it and learn a new way of responding. For example, most small children cry when they fall over and graze their knee but it’s unusual to see an adult do the same. At some point the habit of crying changes and the distress lessens, even though falling still hurts!

2. Believe you can change

When it comes to overcoming any problems, people who believe they can change tend to fair much better than those who consider it’s a problem they’re stuck with. Resist saying things like “I was born this way” or “this is just how I am” or labelling yourself as a “stress-head” or an “anxious person” or something similar. Remember your stress response is reinforced through habit and all habits can be changed.

3. Think about stress as a good thing

We hear so much about how unhealthy stress is for us that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s wiser to avoid stress altogether. Even if this were possible, it wouldn’t be the best solution. Research suggests that our stress response system is strengthened through practice, rather like exercising a muscle. However, just like exercising a muscle, we need to get the balance right to prevent fatigue or injury. That’s why it’s good for us to experience some adversity in childhood, such as falling down, so that we can develop emotional and physical resilience. When we see stress as an opportunity to strengthen our stress response, it becomes a good thing and less threatening. Stress is only bad if you think it is!

4. Focus on the positives

When people are stressed they tend to be constantly bombarded with negative thoughts. You can break this cycle by consciously focusing on the positives in your life. Write down 3 positive things and 1 thing that you’re grateful for at the end of every day. This will help you reconnect with what’s good in your life. At first you may find this difficult but it’ll get easier with practice.

5. Breathe…

If you notice yourself becoming stressed, practice 7/11 breathing to calm yourself. It’s a simple technique that involves breathing in for the count of 7 and breathing out for the count of 11.

If 7/11 feels difficult initially, try 4/7 instead. The main thing is to breathe out for longer than you breath in. The more you practice, the easier and more effective it becomes.

6. Learn how to relax

Learning how to physically and mentally relax is a great way to reduce stress and calm the body and the mind. You could try Yoga, mindful meditation, take relaxing walks in the countryside.

7. Check you’re meeting your physical needs

People often overlook the fact that our bodies function better when we meet certain basic needs. When these needs aren’t met the body becomes stressed. For example, you might notice you feel more grumpy or stressed after a poor night’s sleep. Sleeping well, eating regular, nutritious meals and drinking enough to stay hydrated is important. Taking care of yourself will give you more spare capacity to deal with life’s challenges.

8. Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol

Research suggests that caffeine, which is a stimulant, can make stress worse. Switch to de-caffeinated varieties of tea, coffee and soft drinks.

Many people have a couple of drinks to help them sleep. Unfortunately, it’s been found that alcohol actually gives you poorer quality sleep, which means you’ll have less spare capacity to deal with stress.

9. Priorities, priorities…

Not enough time in the day? Too much to do? Rarely achieve your goals? Then it’s time to get realistic and re-evaluate your priorities. Set yourself smaller, achievable goals and this will give you the confidence and motivation to keep moving forward.

10. Make time for what you want to do

Are you always running around after everyone else? Is there little time left over for the things you want to do? If that’s the case, then plan some time in your diary that’s just for you. It’s not selfish, it’s self care!

11. Say “No” occasionally

Most of the people I’ve come across who suffer with stress tend to find it difficult saying, “No” when it’s appropriate to do so. Start with refusing small requests. Then as your confidence grows and you feel more comfortable, you can build up gradually. You’ll be surprised how easy it’ll become and how good you’ll feel.

12. Try clinical hypnotherapy to reduce stress

Clinical Hypnotherapy can be extremely effective in helping people to reduce stress. Hypnotherapy focuses on reducing your negative thought patterns and reconnecting you with the positives in your life (even if you can’t see them right now!). It aims to reduce stress by building your resilience to life’s challenges, increasing your confidence and helping you to learn how to really relax. If this sounds exactly like what you need, then give it a go!

Hypnotherapy to Reduce Anxiety

Optimism helps the brain protect against anxiety

A new study has found that people who are optimistic have a larger orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which is the part of the brain behind the eyes, and are consequently less prone to symptoms of anxiety.

The findings of this study provide the first evidence of how important optimistic attitudes and behaviours are to our emotional wellbeing.

The study, conducted by the University of Illinois using 61 healthy people, provides new evidence about the brain-personality mechanisms that protect against anxiety symptoms. Using MRI brain scans and personality trait measurements for optimism and anxiety, the researchers found that a larger OFC on the left side of the brain was associated with increased optimism and reduced anxiety. It also found that optimism played a mediating role in reducing anxiety in those with larger OFCs.

Previous studies, including one measuring post-earthquake stress in Japan have shown that anxiety can reduce the size of the OFC in some people who have been exposed to trauma.

Given that the OFC can reduce in size when exposed to anxiety and trauma, it is feasible that the size of the OFC could increase when people are trained to develop more optimistic responses, thus providing greater emotional resilience against the symptoms of anxiety. Future studies are likely to focus on this aspect.

How could hypnotherapy help with anxiety?

If you are suffering with anxiety, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a great way to learn to become more optimistic in your outlook and behaviour.

Stress – Could it become your friend?

Thinking about stress differently may improve your health

If you’re worried that stress may be affecting your health, this video could change your mind.  Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, suggests that stress itself is not bad for us, unless we believe that it is!  Changing our attitude towards stress could even improve our health. Watch Kelly explain why in this Ted Talk video.

Smoking Linked to Schizophrenia

Smoking may play a direct role in the development of schizophrenia, researchers suggest.

Another good reason to quit smoking!

New research from Kings College London has shown that smoking may increase the risk of schizophrenia.  People who smoke may be twice as likely to develop psychosis (hallucinations and delusions). It is not clear yet whether smoking causes schizophrenia or whether, for people who are predisposed to the condition, it acts as a catalyst.

The research study found that:

  • 57% of people with psychosis were already smokers before they had their first episode of psychosis.
  • Daily smokers are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than non-smokers.
  • Daily smokers developed psychosis about a year earlier than non-smokers.

It is thought that nicotine increases the release of the chemical dopamine, which has been associated with the development of psychosis.

Given what we know already about the health risks of smoking, it is always a good idea to give up the habit.  We also know that the brain and the body can recover fairly quickly from its ill effects, once we give up.

If you would like to give up smoking, why not try hypnotherapy.  It is fast, effective, safe and painless – no cravings or irritability.  Contact Carolyn Gillan to find out more.

Source: Smoking ‘may play schizophrenia role’ – BBC News

Welcome to Sea Change Therapy

Welcome to the new website for Sea Change Therapy. This website brings together my two former websites for counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy together under one ‘roof’.

Counselling and psychotherapy provide a safe place to talk and work things through with a trained professional. The aim of counselling and psychotherapy is to help you pin-point what might be stopping you from reaching your full potential and help you find solutions.

Counsellors are trained to look beyond the ‘surface’ problem to possible underlying causes. This may mean exploring, challenging and changing long held beliefs about yourself, others and the world in general.

We’re all individuals and as such I don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach to therapy.  I’ve found that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be a powerful alternative to traditional counselling and psychotherapy.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a gentle approach, which is less intrusive than traditional forms of counselling and psychotherapy. It uses hypnosis and the power of the subconscious mind to bring about positive and lasting changes to improve the quality of your life. It’s amazing what can be achieved by simply changing the way you think.

Whether you choose counselling or hypnotherapy as the best approach for you, you can be assured that your therapy will be tailored specifically to you and your needs.

I hope that by creating this new website, it will allow you to make an informed choice about which therapeutic approach is best for you.