Neural Pathways to Happy

Neural Pathways to Happy

Would you like to know a simple 5 minute practice that could help you feel happier, enjoy better health and make more progress towards your goals?  There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the simple practice of gratitude has wide reaching positive effects on our well being.  In this post I’d like to share with you some of those benefits and the neuroscience behind practising gratitude. First, lets understand what gratitude is   Gratitude is not a Pollyanna style of being blindly optimistic about every situation.  Research shows that whilst gratitude enhances positive emotions, grateful people don’t deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.  Gratitude is about noticing and appreciating the positive in life, and it seems to be that the more you practice gratitude the more things you’ll have to be grateful for. So what are the positive benefits to our well-being by practising gratitude? Results of numerous research studies shows that people who keep a gratitude journal are more likely to: Have fewer health complaints Exercise more regularly (on average 1.5 hours more a week) Feel more optimistic Have higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy Display more pro-social behaviour – such as empathy, generosity and offering help or provide emotional support to others Feel happier and have overall more satisfaction with their lives Be more connected with others Make more progress towards their goals Get better quality sleep and awaken feeling more refreshed (this sleep study consisted of adults with neuromuscular disease – so people with clinical impaired sleep) Do you think that’s a pretty impressive list?  Well there’s more, gratitude has...
Fertility & Childbirth – Julie’s Story

Fertility & Childbirth – Julie’s Story

One of my highlights this month was meeting the beautiful newborn baby of a fertility client.  Julie came to me last year for hypno-fertility sessions to create the optimum conditions for fertility and conception, and for support alongside the medical assisted reproductive treatment she was undertaking – which in itself can be pretty stressful. One of the great things about being a Hypnotherapist is you get to share in your clients joys and successes.  I was thrilled when she told me her wonderful news, they were expecting a baby!  And even more delighted and honoured when only a short time after his birth she contacted me to arrange a visit for me to meet her gorgeous son Sahan. Before his birth, she came to see me again, but this time as a birth client!   Because Julie had already completed the hypno-fertility sessions with me and had been listening to my pregnancy relaxation audio we were able to condense two sessions into one.  Unfortunately in the late stages of pregnancy Julie experienced complications and severe pain from pelvic athropathy – making it virtually impossible for her to walk (which I imagine was especially hard for the usually very active and energetic mother and business women)  so we never got a chance to do another birth hypnosis session. Not all childbirths go to plan Sometimes medical intervention is vital for the health and safety of the baby, mother or both – this was the case for Julie. Not all births go to the desired plan – no matter how much you prepare (with birth hypnosis, pregnancy yoga, etc), however these preparations...
Reese Witherspoon sees Hypnotist for sex scene jitters

Reese Witherspoon sees Hypnotist for sex scene jitters

There are often elements of our life or work where we feel less confident, inadequate, or would like to increase our skill level in.  For actress Reese Witherspoon it was filming the sex scenes in her upcoming block buster “Wild”. Because the Hollywood actress wanted to nail (excuse the pun) all aspects of the role, as part of her preparation she had hypnotherapy to calm her nerves and boost her confidence with the sex scenes, which were outside her comfort zone.  Reese told  Vogue Magazine that she wanted her portrayal of Cheryl  Strayed “to be truthful, I wanted it to be raw, I wanted it to be real”.   Hypnotherapy boosts performance In Reese’s case it was feeling calm and confident filming the sex scene – I imagine most people would feel a bundle of nerves getting naked on the big screen!   But what other aspects does Hypnotherapy help with?  Pretty much any skill or personal attribute you wish to improve so that you can shine at work, at home or on the sports field. The possibilities are endless, and include: Feeling confident and at ease at social gatherings Being more open and connected with friends and family Buildingmotivation and commitment to exercise goals Gettinginto the zone quicker Increasingconcentration and focus Feeling more calm and relaxed during meetings or presentations Improvinga particular part of your game So how does Hypnotherapy help? Part of the work I do with clients involves identifying and changing limiting beliefs that could be hindering the client’s goal.  It could be they feel inadequate in social gatherings which prevents them from contributing to conversations, or...
Preventing and Managing Gestational Diabetes with Hypnosis

Preventing and Managing Gestational Diabetes with Hypnosis

One of the benefits of hypnotic relaxation is its effect on lowering blood glucose levels – helping you to prevent or manage gestational diabetes.  Simply adding quality deep relaxation to your daily routine can make a huge difference to the health of your pregnancy and give your baby the best possible start to life. Stress and pregnancy It’s quite natural during pregnancy to experience some stress about this huge life-changing experience – ranging from anxiety about childbirth to worries about the financial implications or readiness for parenthood.  Stress is “a state of tension that occurs when there are too many demands in the environment or when we experience or anticipate experiencing a situation that is perceived as threatening, unpleasant or unfamiliar” (Nejad & Volny, 2008). When we experience stress the sympathetic nervous system (in the central nervous system) arouses and activates the stress response, more commonly known as “fight or flight” designed to protect us from danger – although in modern society the stress response is more likely to be responding to juggling our family responsibilities and work demands than it is from predatory animals! Regardless of the stressor the body kicks into action, and part of that involves increasing and sending more glucose into the bloodstream, ensuring a quick source of energy to mobilise the body to take action i.e. fight or flee. So, when you are stressed your blood glucose levels rises, increasing the risk for gestational diabetes. The good news However, just as the body has the natural ability to arouse and prepare for action through the sympathetic nervous system, it also has a ‘recovery’ mechanism...
Trouble Sleeping?  How Hypnosis Can Help

Trouble Sleeping? How Hypnosis Can Help

To release the hormones involved with dropping off to sleep your brain needs to feel relaxed. We are wired for survival, and this can sometimes prevent us from sleeping This has been great for our evolution, because it wouldn’t have been very useful to human survival if our ancestors were able to easily drop off to sleep when there was a predatory tiger prowling around the cave. Unfortunately, worrying about deadlines or what we have to do the next day is no different to the prowling tiger in terms of how our brain works. The function of our brain’s protective limbic system is to interpret everything coming through our senses, including our thoughts, as either “safe” or “threat” – and if it’s the latter it sends signals that trigger the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response.  So despite our evolution from cavemen, the primitive part of our brain still prevents us from sleeping even when the danger isn’t real. In contrast to the fight or flight response we have a “relaxation response” activated through the parasympathetic nervous system which returns our bodies to balance. We can deliberately activate this restorative mechanism through deep relaxation  And when we are relaxed the sleep-inducing chemicals help our brain to become more and more sleepy, and we gradually drop off to sleep.  Worrying or even excitement (anyone with kids on Christmas Eve can probably attest to this) can hinder this process as it triggers the sympathetic nervous system. Not feeling sleepy ?…Hypnosis helps you relax and improves the quality of your sleep You can learn to elicit this relaxation response, helping your...