What happens when we ‘give up’ alcohol? I imagine that most of us think our lives will suddenly become a lot bleaker, that we’ll have less fun and that we will become boring as hell – the type of person that other people side swerve at a party. When we think of ‘giving up’ something we immediately think that we’re losing out and that whatever alcohol currently gives us – whether it is a false sense of bravado at a party, or a cut off point from the kids in the evening for some ‘me time’ – is going to leave a gaping black hole when we stop drinking. I know I thought this – although I felt tired, had low immunity, sore muscles and anxiety and although I lied through my teeth to the doctor about how much I drank (usually settling on a realistic sounding 10 units a week) – and the fear of having to live with that perceived blank space was what kept me drinking. Most of my clients are the same – they know instinctively that drinking is affecting them in a range of negative ways, but they’re too scared to stop because they’ve become reliant on what they perceive to be all the benefits of consuming alcohol, such as being able to handle social situations, shutting off from the pain in their lives and ‘treating’ themselves. Once you’ve stopped drinking, after the first few days or so when the psychological and physical cravings may be particularly strong, you’ll probably start to notice that you sleep better, than your anxiety levels drop and that you have the time and energy to do things that you may never have done before (or neglected for some time). But what else is there? When you’re not clocking out large chunks of the day with booze, you may be forced to have a better look at your life, which can be scary. It’s important to ask yourself, what else do I want from life? What can fill the blankness? What can I do, or gain, now that I’ve stopped drinking? This can be anything from small treats, like spending your ‘drinking’ money on a massage or a new pair of jeans, to thinking about how you might use that energy to do something fun, or to go even further and think what job opportunities might be available to you now that you’re a calmer, energised and more financially responsible person.
Available to Ayr clients only, HypnoBand fitted for £100! Please call for details.
I have a new office in Ayr – providing hypnotherapy for Ayr, Prestick, Troon and surrounding areas. I am based at the very comfortable Ayrshire Counselling and Therapy Centre in Wellington Square. Please give me a call if you’d like to arrange an appointment. I’m really looking forward to working with Ayrshire clients following a move to the area!
April’s edition of the very popular Psychologies magazine features my work as a coach with Clem Felix. When she contacted me, Clem was considering HRT because of overwhelming issues in her life. After our work together, she worked on issues which had been bubbling under the surface for many years to explode during perimenopause. We also worked on diet and lifestyle and those changes which were useful to her NOW – and not as the person she was twenty years ago. If you’d like to change your life in a similar way, please contact me for a free consultation.
Course dates announced for intensive two week diploma which will run in Dunblane. Starts 3rd August 2015 and ends 15th August 2015.
Thoughts at this time of year turn to getting fit and weight loss.
Summer offer – 2 intense Hypno-Band sessions, nutritional information & CD for £100
So how does it work? Virtual gastric bands are fitted in a state of hypnosis, which helps you to accept those suggestions that I am making. In this relaxed, creative and accepting mode – as long as you are motivated and willing to accept what I am saying – you will accept that you have had a gastric band fitted. The band is fitted by suggesting to your subconscious mind that you are experiencing operation conditions. The experience is enhanced by sounds and smells associated with a hospital setting so that your subconscious mind accepts it as being a very real experience.
As with a physical gastric band, you will find yourself unable to eat large amounts as the stomach will feel smaller and will feel fuller quickly. The sensation is not painful, but if you try to eat through it, discomfort may be experienced – just as with a real gastric band.
The “fitting” of the gastric band is combined with suggestions about behavioural change and increasing confidence which help motivate you and help you fully commit to your weight loss journey. I also offer nutritional advice and teach you self-hypnosis so that can enhance the work you have done with your hypnotherapist following the session. With motivation to succeed, and particularly for people who tend to eat large amounts or may have problems recognising those signals which tell them it is time to stop eating, the virtual gastric band can be a good way to completely change eating habits.
Think cool! Beat the hot flushes…
Up to 85% of women going through the menopause experience hot flushes. Although flushes do not pose any serious risks to health, many women find that they seriously disrupt social and work life – understandable, given that they may be accompanied by anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate and facial and bodily reddening. Hormone replacement therapy and anti-depressants may be prescribed after a visit to the GP, but both come with potentially undesirable side effects. The good news is, you can reduce the frequency and severity of flushes! Research conducted by Baylor University, Waco, the College of Education, University of Texas and the School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis has shown that techniques including visualisation, relaxation and having a mental ‘safe place’ to go to can all help manage hot flushes.
All you need to do is ‘THINK COOL’.
T is for Time out: Hot flushes can come on suddenly and can cause embarrassment, anger & anxiety – some flushes can last for a few minutes, which feels like an age when you are experiencing one. Taking ‘time out’ let’s you gain control of the situation. It might involve removing yourself physically from a situation, or practicing some of the techniques outlined below – most of which can be done in the busiest of environments.
H is for Harmonise: It is easy to feel disconnected from your body, particularly when it is behaving in a way which seems unusual or out of control. Although hot flushes may be caused by hormonal changes, they are often made worse by unresolved feelings of anger and resentment, which sometimes only surface at the time of menopause. This is a good time to connect with your body. What is it – and your flushes – trying to tell you?
I is for Imagine: Close your eyes and imagine, or visualise, something which makes you feel beautifully cool – walking into a swimming pool or enjoying a cool shower, perhaps. Practice visualising this feeling when you are nice and relaxed, and think of a word which sums up this cool feeling for you. The next time you feel yourself flushing, close your eyes, say your special word and visualise that cooling experience.
N is for Nurture: So many women are used to caring for others, but forget to give themselves that same level of care. This can be a difficult time. Make sure you nurture yourself through it, whether that’s ensuring you get plenty rest, taking the time to address emotional issues which are coming to the fore or caring for yourself physically, ephors by making it to a yoga class or having a relaxing massage.
K is for Knowledge: Hot flushes may be unpleasant, but it is useful to know that they do not cause any permanent harm and to understand how your body reacts during a flush. Take action and make sure you know in advance what steps you can take to help manage flushes.
C is for Calm: Physiological changes – including increased body temperature, racing heart beat, sweating & anxiety – happen at an alarmingly quick rate during a flush. The temptation is to internally scream ‘STOP!’ – which only makes the symptoms worse. Instead, you can accept that you are having a flush and breathe through it to reach a state of calm. Bring your awareness to your breathing, taking controlled breaths into your stomach and focusing on slowing your breathing. Imagine that you are breathing in a cool silvery light, feeling the cooling sensation throughout your body until you feel calm and in control.
O is for Oasis: Identify an oasis, or safe place, where you can go in your mind when you are having a hot flush. Simply closing your eyes can take you there and will help you feel safe and protected, whilst you wait for the flush to pass.
O is for Observe: It is easy to get annoyed at yourself during a hot flush, feeling that everyone around you is looking at you. The next time this happens to you, take a moment or two to observe how you are judging yourself. Are your judgements helping? Probably not. Shifting perspective can help reduce your self judgements, and can help flushes pass more easily. The next time you have a flush, instead of getting caught up in how you feel about it, take a step back and try observing – almost as if you were someone just looking in – what is happening. Let it happen, without self judgement and without getting caught up in your physical and mental symptoms. This mindful technique helps you avoid getting into a downward spiral of a fight with yourself.
L is for Lifestyle: Maintaing a healthy weight and doing exercise, practicing yoga and meditation and avoiding certain foods such as alcohol and caffeine may all help to reduce hot flushes. Most important of all is practicing self care – even if you’ve never done so before – and that involves having a good look at whether or not your lifestyle supports who you are at this moment in time. Remember, the menopause is literally half way through life for most women, so take the time to develop a lifestyle which is going to support you for the next half!
Please to announce that I now have premises in Edinburgh, within easy reach of the City Centre, providing life coaching and hypnotherapy for women in Edinburgh.
Pleased to announce that I will now be working from Glasgow, in an office at the Centre of Therapy, 8 Newton Place, G3 7PR. Convenient for the city centre and West End.
On the face of it, my teenage son and I don’t have that much in common. His idea of a fun night is staying up for most of it, hanging about with his gang of friends, no doubt getting hold of the odd can of beer when he can. Mine is curling up on top of my electric blanket with a good book. In a slow but very definite manner, he has moved away from me towards his peer group – just as he should. And whilst we still enjoy the odd film together and chat away, our roles have changed dramatically over the last couple of years. But watching his rapid development, I realised that teenagers and menopausal women share a whole load in common.
First, there are the hormones. Yes, we all know that teenagers are full to the brim with hormones raging through their body, which are changing their brain in a myriad of ways. Some of these changes are almost too much to keep up with for the average teenager, whose body and mind are changing quicker than their rate of knowledge and understanding. And it’s exactly the same for women going through the menopause.
So what does all this hormonal and neurological development actually mean? Firstly, it means that THINGS HAVE CHANGED. A menopausal woman is no more the same to her thirty year old self than a seventeen year old is to his or her eleven year old self. Child bearing years are characterised by what Christiane Northrup calls a veil of hormones – hormones which are designed to encourage women to care for others. When that veil is removed, and replaced by a new hormonal cocktail, the woman is changed.
How this change is perceived at a societal level in Western culture is very different between teenagers and menopausal women. Whilst it is generally agreed that teenagers can be ‘trying’, teenage years are viewed as a time of opportunity to pursue careers, go travelling and engage in creative pursuits. Menopause has traditionally been viewed as a time when women stop or slow down, relegated to the status of older women, portrayed as old crones and vicious mother in laws. In reality, hormonal changes prompt women at this time to a journey of self discovery, creative output and the pursuit of interests and careers which may have taken a back seat during the child bearing years.
Another thing which menopausal women and teenagers share in common is a questioning of their life, their surroundings, their role. In addition to life transitions – such as empty nest syndrome and career developments – hormonal developments encourage women to take stock at this time, much like the teenager who moves from accepting their childhood to a burgeoning adulthood full of questions and conflicts about their current role. Many women begin to question their role in life during the perimenopause, partly as a response to shifting circumstance and partly as a response to those hormonal shifts which act as reminders that some things need attending to. Often, women who experience difficult menopausal symptoms are those who have unfinished emotional business from the earlier part of their lives. If emotional issues have been buried and repressed, it is often during the menopause – and given a hard nudge by those hormones – that these issues are brought into sharp focus.
Just like the teenager, this is a time of tumult and turmoil for many menopausal women. Change, self awareness and readjustment don’t happen easily. Most parents of teenagers accept that, although this is a difficult time for many, their child will emerge stronger at the other end. It is exactly the same for menopausal women. Trusting in the process of change, listening to those messages your mind and body are sending you and engaging in creative and fulfilling activities will ensure that ‘the change’ is one which takes you to new depths of self awareness and growth.