Chronic Pain and Beliefs


Pain

Your experience of Chronic Pain is not just about the physical sensations. There are many psychological aspects to pain including what you think about pain, and how you think about it – which I mentioned in my blog – Pain and the Power of Words https://yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/pain-and-the-power-of-words/

The psychological aspect to your experience of pain is based on your own beliefs – the meaning you give to pain.

  • Control

Do you believe you can control your experience of pain and manage how it affects your life? I use hypnotherapy to show people how they can learn to manage their own pain experience and gain control over it using self-hypnosis techniques. This gives you the power to change your perception of pain, lower the intensity of pain and lessen distress and depressive thinking

  • Acceptance

Helping people to explore their pain using mindfulness techniques is the first step in accepting that pain is only one component of your experience. Pain sensations are transient and can change. It is still possible to lead a satisfying life, and practising pain reduction is helpful but not necessarily central to this

  • Disability

When people believe they are disabled by pain they will necessarily behave that way. You need not be disabled by pain. Activity can reduce the experience of some pain (i.e. pain stimulated by physical damage) – despite common thinking that it will make the experience worse. For example, weak muscles are more likely to spasm so limiting activity only makes pain worse long term. Exercise to lengthen and strengthen muscles can stop pain getting worse

  • Fear of Harm

It seems common sense to believe that pain is a signal of physical damage so activity should be limited or avoided altogether. However, when pain becomes chronic, the intensity loses its association with the amount of physical damage. Gentle exercise such as stretching is in fact beneficial rather than causing harm

As you can see, your beliefs about pain guide your behaviour and therefore impact on your long-term health. Your beliefs will determine the strategies you use to cope. Maladaptive coping strategies include guarding yourself, resting and constantly asking for assistance to do things, believing these behaviours will help you avoid further possible harm. This limits your life and can lead to distress, withdrawal from society, anxiety and depression.

Adaptive coping strategies are the answer – including pacing yourself so you never get overwhelmed by pain, learning how to gain control over your perception of pain, learning ways of coping when pain flares, and encouraging regular gentle activity to encourage mobility.

Do you recognise any of your own beliefs about pain? Would you benefit from shifting your thinking?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

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Pain and the Power of Words

Pain and the Power of Words


Chronic Pain

I’ve been working recently with people who suffer with chronic pain. Working together over several sessions we have experienced success in reducing the perception of pain and alleviating the suffering, as well as formulating new habits such as pacing so that the problem never reaches the point of overwhelm and is manageable.

What struck me about working with these people are the stories they tell about themselves and their pain experiences. They seem to have one thing in common – a person in authority in the medical profession has told them that the pain will always be there, it is something they have to live with and it will probably never go away. They can take medication but this in itself has unpleasant side effects, particularly when the dose needs increasing over months or years as they become tolerant to it. Again, they have been told that this is inevitable.

As a hypnotherapist I am very aware of the power of words. Let’s step back and think about the effect of these negative, disempowering messages. Set them in the medical context, delivered by an expert  – who has the patient’s full focussed attention, and it’s not difficult to see how these words have mesmerised them and affected the beliefs they now have about the pain. Negative hypnosis in action!

Did you realise that pain is not just about physical sensations? There are many psychological aspects to pain. What you think about pain, and how you think about it, has a huge effect on your experience. Catastrophising is common and is a consistent predictor of the level of pain and suffering experienced. When someone thinks that they cannot learn to manage pain themselves and are stuck with it, and then is constantly focussed on that pain and ruminates on that negative experience, it is no surprise that they experience higher levels of pain, possibly depression, anxiety, distress and even disability.

When people learn to use adaptive coping strategies rather than only relying on the doctor, hospital specialist or science itself to make them feel better, huge improvements can be experienced in terms of the intensity of pain, physiological functioning and activity levels. This can be done with the right professional help.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Why having friends is more important than you might think!

Why having friends is more important than you might think!


friends

There’s one thing you can be sure of in life – that things change – and that includes having friends or a lack of them! Many of us are lucky enough to go through school making new friends, who often go on to share our good times and bad and sometimes become a part of our lives for many years more. Later in life we make friendships at work. Often we find ourselves part of larger social circles of friends through interests or just going to the same places. If we have children there are often other parents we see every day, dropping off and picking up at nurseries and at the school gates perhaps, and we fall into easy friendships over the years.

So what happens when children are grown or away making new lives for themselves, we change jobs or get made redundant or retire, we move house or area, or marriages end and all those familiar social circles disappear? Those old reliable friendships change. Sometimes we are left without any friends close by and we wonder to ourselves, “How did that happen?” Without realising it, we can become disconnected and experience loneliness for the first time in our lives.

As human beings we all have a number of basic emotional needs, which are essential for our well being. Throughout life, these needs are usually met by our work, our life at home and the interests we have. As our lives change however, these needs can become neglected and before we know it there is an impact on our sense of well being. The good news is it is amazing how many of these emotional needs can be met by regularly seeing friends! Here is what I mean:

  • We need to give and receive attention. We have evolved as social animals and we need human contact to stay mentally healthy. This is why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in jails! This attention can come from regular contact with our friends and having a balanced social life
  • We need to notice our mind/body connection. We are not machines and need to pay attention to good nutrition, sleep, rest and exercise. We can go walking with friends, do an exercise class together or perhaps even swap healthy recipes
  • We need a sense of meaning and purpose and to feel that we contribute to the broader community. Friends can help us to set goals or work towards something that we would like to achieve. Friends can help each other with charity fund raising or volunteering opportunities
  • We need to feel challenged and express our creativity so we have a sense of competence and achievement. A friend can help us to try something new that we perhaps haven’t considered or thought we could do – a new class or hobby or even an outdoor pursuit. We continue to learn when we mix with other interesting people from different backgrounds and life experiences
  • We need a sense of autonomy and control. Sometimes we can feel that life is out of our control and we need to get a handle on at least part of it. Friends can remind us and help us to relax and provide a helpful perspective on what areas of life we can control
  • We need a sense of status within our social groups. This can come from work or doing something helpful in the community. It can simply mean being recognised for being a good parent, grandparent, son or daughter. It can also come from being a good friend
  • We need to have some privacy as well as feeling secure and safe in our environment so we can develop as fully rounded people. A good friend can help us to see how we can improve this area of our lives – whether we need to change where we live or cut ties with people who make us feel insecure in some way
  • We need friendships and close relationships where we can be ourselves, share our ideas and ask for help when we need it. Many people are without supportive families so good quality friendships are even more important. We need to be emotionally connected to other people

I work as a psychotherapist and see so many people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. When we explore what is happening in their lives there are always emotional needs that are not being met. Friendships can help to fulfil so many of these needs. Friendships are important. Social Media and Internet access means there are now new ways to make friends that perhaps you haven’t considered. Regular groups have sprung up where like-minded friends meet for coffee or lunch reflecting the need many of us feel for that human connection. I recommend checking them out to anyone who is beginning to feel lonely or isolated. New friends can be only a mouse click away!

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I specialise in helping people with depression and anxiety. You can contact me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

 

Inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is BWRT?

Inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is BWRT?


What is BWRT? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it before now. BWRT stands for ‘Brain Working Recursive Therapy’ – quite a mouthful! It’s a new model of psychotherapy and a relatively small number of therapists around the world are registered as Practitioners. However, it is getting rave reviews in some psychotherapy circles as clients report how long standing difficulties are dissolving quickly and easily in one or two sessions. Obviously this result is fantastic for those clients and is the main reason why I became interested in learning more about this new approach.

Often people want a quick fix and this is not something a therapist is always able to help them achieve. I won’t lie, I was very skeptical about BWRT when I first heard about it. How could long standing anxieties and phobias suddenly be resolved without you even having to disclose the details of distressing memories? All the BWRT Practitioner needs to know is the outline of the problem and what you would like to change.

My aim has always been to help people overcome their difficulties in the shortest time possible so I felt that if there was a successful way to help resolve particular issues more efficiently then I needed to offer it. I followed the development of BWRT at a distance for several months, still unsure about it’s efficacy. A few months ago my professional body, the British Psychological Society approved the BWRT training course as Continuous Professional Development for members and this endorsement reassured me that BWRT was robust enough to add to my therapy toolbox. I completed the course and passed my theory and practical Practitioner assessment last month. I am now a registered BWRT Practitioner with the BWRT Institute, one of the first 400 practitioners in the world to use this new therapy and the first to provide it in York, England.

So what is this new therapy all about?

BWRT is based on the latest discoveries in neuroscience that have allowed us to better understand how the brain works. During the BWRT process you are encouraged to overwrite old outdated automatic patterns that trigger your unwanted symptoms. Unlike other therapies, you don’t need to share anything you would rather not discuss. This is hugely appealing to people who do not want to disclose sensitive or intimate information and have been put off seeking any professional help for this reason. I only need to know how you feel in problematic situations and how you would prefer to feel instead.

BWRT allows you to choose and create a new response to previously difficult situations so that you feel, think or behave in the way you really want. Once the process is complete, the old symptoms are simply no longer triggered.

The mind boggling title ‘Brain Working Recursive Therapy’ describes the recursive looping process that the practitioner uses during a session to get you focussed on your symptoms and then to create and reinforce your new chosen response. The BWRT Institute reports that results from two years of worldwide testing experience have been encouraging and suggests that the changes made by clients are permanent. Furthermore they report no evidence of symptom substitution. All very interesting and amazing stuff!

Only Certified Practitioners have been trained to deliver BWRT and all have to adhere to a strict ethical code. Find out more at http://www.bwrt.org

You can read more about BWRT on my website at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com/bwrt.html

I currently offer BWRT appointments at my clinic in York and I am exploring the best way to offer sessions via SKYPE. You can contact me via my website.

Looking inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is EMDR?


Toolbox1

In my therapy practice I offer a range of different psychotherapeutic approaches and techniques so that I can use the most appropriate tool from my toolbox to help a client with their own individual issues. Good psychotherapists are committed to continuous professional development and undertake additional courses each year to keep their skills up to date and to stay abreast of new methods, models, techniques and research in the world of psychotherapy. Perhaps you have been seeking therapy or are just interested in what is available?

If you have ever checked out various therapist websites you are probably bewildered by the strange sounding therapies and techniques they offer. Whilst hypnotherapy is now very common, other evidence-based therapies such as EMDR are less well known. I trained in using this form of therapy a few years ago, when I felt I needed an extra tool in my toolbox for dealing with distress in a fast and effective way. In this blog I am talking about EMDR and how it can be invaluable in helping people overcome serious distress.

So what is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a powerful psychological treatment method that was first outlined in the 1980’s by Dr Francine Shapiro, a clinical psychologist. Shapiro developed the EMDR therapeutic approach based on specific principles, protocols and procedures with the goal of reducing distress in the shortest period of time.

Substantial research has demonstrated the benefits of EMDR in treating psychological trauma and (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is now commonly used to help the victims of large-scale catastrophes around the world including experiences of war and natural world disasters. However, it is also used to help people overcome the distress experienced from childhood abuse or neglect, assaults, surgical trauma, road traffic and workplace accidents. For example, train drivers who witness fatalities on the line are treated with EMDR as it can relieve their distress quickly and effectively. It can also be used to help people experiencing emotional distress with other issues including anxiety, phobias, grief, divorce, illness, performance anxiety, self esteem or any distress from the past, which is still impacting on day-to-day life.

So how does it work?

Being involved in a distressing event can feel overwhelming and the brain may be unable to process this information in the same way as it would an ordinary memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level. Recalling the distressing memory, which can sometimes be triggered when you least expect it, can cause you to intensely re-experience whatever you could see, hear, smell, taste or feel at the time of the event. Sometimes the memory is so disturbing that you avoid thinking about it so you don’t have to experience the distress. In PTSD, people experience flashbacks and nightmares that are as intense as the actual incident that created the distress.

EMDR aims to identify and process dysfunctional and unhelpful behaviours, emotions, cognitions and memories arising from recent or past trauma and distressing life experiences. The theory behind the treatment proposes that unprocessed traumatic or distressing information produces dysfunctional reactions. These unprocessed memories are stored in separate unconnected memory networks in the brain. In EMDR, bilateral stimulation allows you to make connections between these neuro-networks causing spontaneous insight and change, resulting in learning and relief of emotional distress.

For example, let’s suppose someone was bullied at school and instead of the brain making sense of that experience and letting it go, the distress experienced is stored in a separate memory network along with all the emotion, beliefs and physical sensations that were there at the time. When something happens perhaps 20 years later that the brain interprets as being similar in nature (perhaps a boss at work makes a negative comment) the brain makes sense of it by linking to the old memory and all the associated feelings come flooding back. This person may not understand why the boss being negative triggers such a distressing reaction in them because it is happening automatically and is beyond their control. In EMDR, that old memory can be processed appropriately as you learn what you need from it and let the rest go. The original memory is transformed and stored in this reconsolidated form so the person can’t be triggered any more.

The treatment phase of the EMDR protocol can seem a little strange when you first encounter it. Alternating eye movements (or sometimes tapping or sounds) are used to stimulate the brain into reprocessing the frozen or blocked information that is being triggered and creating the distress. This bilateral stimulation allows you to re-process the distressing memories more appropriately, so they lose their intensity and can be stored in the same way as normal memories. The effect is believed to work in the same way as we naturally process ordinary memories during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or dream sleep when your eyes move rapidly and repeatedly from side to side. After treatment, past memories no longer cause you distress, allowing you to respond adaptively in the present and in the future.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

In my therapy room, I start with a history taking session during which I assess your readiness for EMDR and develop a treatment plan. Working together, we identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include recent distressing events, current situations that elicit emotional disturbance (triggers) and related historical incidents.

I always ensure that every client has adequate methods of handling emotional distress and good coping skills before any processing work takes place. Hypnotherapy techniques can be great for doing this effectively and the bonus is that you learn and practice some valuable skills that can be used in everyday stressful situations, as well as during or between sessions.

Once an initial target has been identified, it is processed using EMDR procedures. This usually involves you identifying a specific visual image related to the memory, beliefs about yourself in that situation, and the associated emotions and body sensations. There are other ways of using EMDR where you don’t have to openly share distressing information with the therapist, so before any processing starts we decide together which way of working would be most beneficial for you.

When the processing stage begins you are asked to focus on aspects of the memory whilst simultaneously moving your eyes back and forth following my fingers as they move across your field of vision for 20-30 seconds. You may be asked instead to listen to alternating tones or use a tapping device, which you hold in each hand to experience the bilateral stimulation, which enables the processing to take place. You are then asked to relate whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. This is repeated numerous times throughout the session. As the memory is adapted appropriately you will notice things changing and the associated distress subsiding until it disappears. Depending on the complexity and severity of the distress, it may take several sessions to process the old memories in a fully adaptive way.

After EMDR processing, clients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated, or greatly decreased, and that they have gained important cognitive insights. Usually they cannot recall the old memory in the same distressing way again. Importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes generally result in spontaneous behavioural and personal change, which can be further enhanced.

When I first experienced EMDR I was blown away by it’s effectiveness. I have since used it very successfully for treating many clients including people suffering from the effects of phobias, anxiety, relationship distress, and road traffic accident traumas.

I have completed all 4 parts of an EMDR Association approved course and supervised practice in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. Training on an approved course is restricted to mental health professionals who hold current registration to provide psychotherapeutic services (such as British Psychological Society membership). I am pleased to be able to offer this service to my clients alongside my other services.

If you are interested in EMDR there is a link on my website to find out more: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com/links.html

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. You can reach me at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

How can I help my loved one through Depression?


distress

I see many clients with depression in my therapy room. They bravely recognise that they need help and take those first tentative steps in coming along to see me, unsure whether anything can be done to help them. I always take time to explain what depression is and how it is maintained so they can begin to see a way forward, armed with a renewed sense of hope that this mind state can be beaten with the right help. I have also noticed that they get frustrated with well meaning loved ones who don’t understand what depression is, or the best way to help. I have been asked on many occasions if I have some information that they can share at home to help those around them understand and be supportive. I put some information together a few years ago, adapting things I have learned and useful tips I have read that worked for previous clients. As such I can’t remember all the original sources now, so apologies if I haven’t acknowledged any authors. In this blog I just wanted to share this information to help people. Perhaps you can share it to help someone you know.

What is depression?

When your loved one starts therapy for treating Depression you naturally want to support them in the best way you can. In order to do this effectively it can be helpful to gain an understanding of what Depression is, how it affects someone physically and mentally and what you can do to help.

General understanding of depression is confusingly coloured by many myths: it’s caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; it’s anger turned inward; it takes a long time to come out of; it stems from childhood events that have to be explored before progress can be made, etc.

The rapid increase in the incidence of depression is one of the reasons we know that depression isn’t a genetic disease. Over the last 30 years, a large body of research evidence shows that most depression is learned, brought about by the way we interact with our environment. We know that the majority of people exposed to adverse life events do not develop depression. So, we know it is not caused as a result of the specific events we experience, but by the way we respond to them.

Sleep and Depression

The role of dreaming is key to a full understanding of depression, and why practical therapies help. We all dream for about two hours a night, even though we often don’t recall it when we wake up. Evidence shows that the function of dreaming, which occurs predominantly during REM sleep, is the metaphorical acting out (not the resolving) of unexpressed, emotionally arousing concerns. Dreaming allows the arousal to be discharged and frees up the brain to deal with the concerns of the following day.

In depression, however, this process goes dramatically wrong. Instead of having about 25% REM sleep, and 75% slow wave sleep (which boosts energy levels in the brain), these proportions become inverted. A depressed person has far too much REM sleep and too little slow wave sleep. The prolonged negative self-examination and rumination, which depressed people experience, creates high levels of emotional arousal and a greater need for discharge during dreaming. This increased discharge activity also depresses and exhausts the brain, leaving the dreamer lacking energy and motivation next morning. Depressed people tell me in therapy that they wake up from sleep feeling exhausted.

Emotional Thinking

Depressed people spend too much time worrying and as such, they are misusing their own imagination. I call it negative self-hypnosis. All this emotionally arousing introspection also prevents them seeing their life situations objectively. High emotional arousal inhibits the logical part of the brain, and blocks rational thought. A depressed brain is a stressed brain.

To the emotional brain, everything is either black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, safe or dangerous. This is because high arousal locks you into a negative, confined viewpoint. It is only the rational part of the brain that can inject the shades of grey and see the bigger picture.

People who aren’t habitual black and white thinkers can snap out of this negative emotional state fairly quickly. People who have a tendency towards endlessly analysing the negative aspects of their lives, catastrophising every little setback and conjuring up more, are more likely to stay locked in their depressive mind state. People who tend to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong, applying a negative thinking style to everything, are the most likely to suffer from depression.

How does Depression feel for my loved one?

Winston Churchill used to refer to depression as like a Black Dog. Having a Black Dog in your life isn’t about feeling a bit down, or sad or blue. At it’s worst, it’s about being devoid of feeling altogether.

  • It can ruin your appetite
  • Anger may flare up at any provocation
  • It can be difficult not to take anger, criticism, negativity and apathy personally
  • It likes to wake you up with very repetitive, negative thinking
  • You may have noticed they’ve lost the sparkle in their eyes
  • Displays of love, affection and intimacy may be out of bounds
  • They may create endless lists of everything that is wrong with their life
  • They may hatch plans that they believe will fix everything
  • Laughter doesn’t come as easily as it used to
  • It makes them say negative things
  • They may have real difficulty firing up and getting going
  • They may have become ultra-sensitive and cry more than usual
  • Doing anything or going anywhere requires superhuman strength
  • It can make them irritable and difficult to be around
  • Activities that used to bring them pleasure may suddenly cease
  • Although exhausted they may not be able to sit still and relax
  • A tendency to find the negative in everything may become the norm
  • There may be signs of over-indulgence

How can I help my loved one?

You may well be right when you say. ‘It’s all in your head!’ but don’t say it. Never tell them they’re ‘just looking for attention’; it’s demeaning and hurtful. They’re not looking for attention but they are probably in need of it.

If you’re genuinely worried about someone, organize a group of close friends or family members to make some sort of contact each day. It can be to help out, have a coffee or simply to say hello.

Pointing out the lovely weather is annoying and pointless.

Don’t push them into things they don’t want to do and then make excuses for their behaviour. This only feeds the despair and keeps denial alive.

They can’t just ‘pull themselves together’. If people could just ‘snap out of it’, they would. No-one ever chooses to have depression.

Learn about the condition together; knowledge is power and validation is a great healer.

Help them to develop a strategy to simplify their life both at home and at work. Stress is one of the biggest drivers of depression.

Encourage any form of regular exercise.

Be sensitive about how you approach the subject; a lot of people aren’t used to talking about their mental health.

Being thoughtful and kind will never go amiss but don’t try and jolly them along, it can often make them feel worse.

If they’re old enough, inform any children about what’s going on. They need to know that the depression isn’t here to stay. Children often think it’s their fault so reassure them that it’s not.

Together, try and learn to recognize triggers and early warning signs. Also know when to give each other a bit of space.

Try not talking. Just listen. Really being there for someone without opinion or judgement is one of the best gifts you can ever give.

Agree to a course of action to get rid of the depression. Don’t just ignore it and consult a professional if you haven’t already.

As a care-giver, compassion, empathy and understanding are vital, but recognize that you alone don’t have the power to rescue your loved one. Professional help is often what’s needed.

Depression in any relationship can be confronting, frightening and frustrating but navigated together, your relationship can become deeper, richer and better for it.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I specialise in helping people with depression and anxiety. You can contact me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Tips and Tricks for keeping your Stress under control


ok

Stress is your emotional and physical response to pressure and happens when you feel unable to cope. Many people lead demanding lives and stress can arise from life events, illness, living conditions, work, relationships, and money worries. in fact the list is endless because people have different ways of reacting to and coping with stress. A situation which is overwhelming for one person, may not concern someone else in the same way.  Even those events which you see as enjoyable can be stressful, such as holidays, moving house, starting a new job or course, pregnancy, parenthood, and family get togethers like Christmas.

When you are constantly under pressure, the stress hormones remain in your body, leading to the symptoms that let you know you feel stressed. It’s important to recognise these symptoms early and prevent serious health issues such as high blood pressure. Everyone gets stressed from time to time – it’s a natural reaction to a threat or danger or prolonged pressure, so it’s a biological part of all of us. However, what is important is how you choose to manage stress. Some people adopt unhealthy coping strategies such as comfort eating, drinking alcohol or smoking which take a further toll on health. There are simple things you can do to give yourself a sense of control and help you to cope in a healthy way.

The first step is to identify what makes you stressed:

  • Where am I when I’m feeling stressed? What am I doing? Who am I with?

Even if there is little you can do about some situations, making some small changes can make a big difference. In stressful situations remember to Pause, Take a breath, and Don’t just react automatically. Ask yourself:

  • What am I reacting to?
  • Is it helpful for me to think this way?
  • What is within my control?
  • Is there another way of looking at this?
  • How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months time?
  • What is the most helpful way to respond for me and others?

I see many clients who are struggling with stress and anxiety in their lives. Common to all of them is the lack of knowledge or skills for controlling these feelings. There are lots of tips and tricks for helping you keep stress levels under control:

  • Deal with problems as they happen. Bottling up your feelings allows them to grow until they overflow
  • Slow down. You don’t have to do things at 100 miles an hour. Eat, walk and drive more slowly. If you don’t get as much done as you would like, there is always tomorrow. Act ‘as if’ you are relaxed: slow down your speech, relax your shoulders, and don’t fidget. This will also affect how other people will react to you
  • Do one thing at a time. If you have too much to do and can see no way to cope with it, see if you can divide it up and then tackle the bits one at a time. Prioritise and then do the worst thing first
  • The words ‘must’ and ‘should’ create pressure. Work out what you can realistically cope with and be content with this. You don’t have to be Superman/Wonder Woman
  • If people expect too much of you, you don’t have to accept their targets. Learn to be more assertive and say ‘No’
  • Stress can make you hard to live with and create problems with those close to you. Nurture strong, confident relationships which give you people to confide in and help you fight stress
  • Talk to someone – if you don’t have a supportive relationship or someone to confide in, there are lots of professional therapists who specialise in helping people with stress
  • Treat yourself as you would a good friend. What advice would you give?
  • Help others – people who help others become more resilient themselves. This can be as simple as doing someone a small favour that costs nothing
  • Shift your perspective by noticing what you have to be grateful for. Problems are often a question of perspective
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings – get them out of your head
  • Accept that there are things in life you can’t change – people get ill, people die, people lose jobs. Bad things happen and everyone has to learn to accept them as a part of life. Focus on the things you can control instead
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and cut down on high sugar foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets which may fuel anxiety
  • Caffeine can make you feel alert but the effects of too much are the same as those of stress and anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system. It can be found in: coffee, tea, Coke, Fanta, aspirin, cold remedies, headache tablets, energy tablets, drinks like Pro-Plus and Red Bull and even in chocolate at a low level
  • Stay hydrated by drinking more fresh, clean water
  • Some people believe that smoking helps them relax, but nicotine is a stimulant. The reported relaxation effect of smoking is nothing more than deep breathing when you inhale. Practice the breathing but lose the cigarettes
  • Make some time for relaxation, fun and enjoyment. If you think you don’t have time for this – you need it the most!
  • Learn Mindful Breathing (see my blog on ‘3 Quick Relaxation Exercises’)
  • Listen to music – sing and dance along to something upbeat, or relax to something calming and emotion-free
  • Physical exercise – get active even if you just go for a walk. Doing something physical completes the stress cycle and allows those stress hormones to dissipate, so you feel better
  • Get out in nature to feel uplifted – go to the park or for a walk in the countryside
  • Find a hobby or interest that gives you a sense of achievement – adult colouring books or doodling zentangles are great for feeling creative. Don’t know what they are? Look it up. Challenge yourself with something new
  • And finally….RELAX! Do some deep abdominal slow breathing or listen to my free 10 minutes Relaxation track on http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com to instantly feel a little better

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I can be reached via my website at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com