Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and Sleep
The importance of sleep is becoming more apparent within our world however for many people the ideal of 7-8 hours sleep each night can seem like an unachievable goal as our busy lives keep our minds buzzing late into the night or from early hours of the morning. Insomnia is a growing problem and can all too often be linked with increased stress, anxiety and daily demands and pressure. The trouble with insomnia or a poor sleep habit
is that this lack of sleep will actually lead to an increase in anxiety, stress and in many cases a general decline in an individual physical health. This is because sleep is actually our natural antidote for anxiety, stress and low mood. There is more to this however as recent scientific research shows that sleep can also strengthen our immunity and is essential for our physical as well as mental well-being.
How hypnotherapy helps with insomnia
It could be viewed as a bit of a “chicken and the egg” scenario. Many of my clients will report an improvement in their sleep pattern and along with this an improvement in their motivation, self-esteem and energy levels. They will report a general increase in their mood together with a reduction in their anxiety levels. I often find myself wondering what actually came first, the anxiety or the insomnia as neuro-scientific findings now indicate just how much affect sleep has upon a individuals overall health. I think anyone reading this will know how a day after a good night sleep turns out compared to a night when they were up keeping the owls company. It makes a huge difference and it doesn’t take long for our mental state to decline when insomnia strikes.
Brain waves, hypnotherapy and sleep.
There are 4 different brain waves to consider when understanding how hypnotherapy can help with insomnia. Each state has its own characteristics that indicate the specific level of brain activity together with a unique state of consciousness.
Beta – this is the brain frequency we are within throughout a large part of our waking day. It is associated with a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical thinking. This beta frequency is also associated with anxiety stress and restlessness. This is not usually a helpful frequency to find yourself within as you lie awake at 3am or when initially trying to go to bed.
Alpha – These brain waves are in effect when we are in a state of deep relaxation. Daydreaming, meditation and hypnosis all achieve this brain wave state. Within this state the individual has access to their subconscious mind. The imagination can be freed and new more positive thought patterns can be embedded without the constant critical voice of the conscious mind bombarding us with anxious thoughts, negative words and a list of reason why making a change is simply not a good idea!
Theta – These brain waves are present during deep hypnosis, deep meditation and during light sleep. This includes the magical realm of REM sleep. Understanding the role of REM sleep is crucial when it comes to gaining clarity on why lack of sleep can cause your mental state to decline.
Delta - Delta waves are present within deep sleep and in some cases very deep hypnosis and meditation. This is the slowest of brain waves and is associated with rest, repair and regeneration. It has recently been proven that within this state the brain actually gives itself a good clean as toxic waste gets flushed out of our brain by the release of cerebal fluid. During this state there is no conscious awareness and the subconscious is left to run free.
R.E.M (dreaming) sleep
As mentioned above neuro-scientific findings have now identified that one of R.E.M sleeps key functions is to process the events of the previous day. This includes events that produce anxiety, stress and other negatively charged emotions. These events are held within the subconscious part of the brain. During R.E.M sleep the brain works through and processes these events as they are transferred to our more rational, problem solving part of the brain. In essence the emotional experience is taken out of the equation. Many people can relate to this as quite often a problem that seemed to cause you a lot of anxiety and upset will often appear more rational and less important following a good night’s sleep. I believe this is where the common phrase “sleep on it” may could well have come from. This could help to explain why the onset of insomnia can cause an increase in anxiety as these processes are not worked through within the night. As a result you can wake up, or get up after a lot of tossing and turning, carrying these anxieties with you into the next day and in all likelihood the many days that follow. Even if you do manage to sleep a bit in the night the brain uses up a lot of energy during R.E.M sleep and quite often this energy will wake you up in the middle of the night amidst the anxiety and worry that the previous day’s events had provoked. This night time waking is different to when a loud noise waking you up as it can be incredibly hard to get back to sleep.
An important point to mention here is that the more anxiety and emotional events that need processing during sleep the less time you are going to spend within the deep (delta wave) part of sleep, which as mentioned above is crucial for brain and body regeneration and repair, hence why the immune system can become compromised.
So, how can hypnotherapy help?
From the first contact with me you will be provided with an audio to listen to each night when you go to bed. This audio acts as a form of self hypnosis and will quite rapidly take you down from the overactive thinking mind (beta wave) to the more relaxed, less critical and more creative mind (alpha wave) state. This in itself can help an individual relax and fall asleep with more ease as you stop obsessively churning through the events of the day (this is often why people find themselves unable to fall asleep, in effect they are unable to switch down their brain from beta to alpha wave)
The audio itself is aimed at installing new more positive habits of thought due to the fact that when in the alpha and delta wave of awareness you have direct access to the subconscious mind (where all habits are stored and ingrained) It is now believed that 95% of our actions throughout the day are driven by these habits of thought within the unconscious mind. We are basically creatures of habit and leading the majority of our lives under the influence of past experience and past emotions. The 5% of the time when we are using our more rational, creative and positive conscious mind we are often stopped in our tracks as the unconscious habits of thoughts and behaviour come up with all the reason why change is not safe and not possible. When experiencing high levels of anxiety or low mood we can almost lose touch altogether with the positive part of our conscious mind as the individual becomes stuck within the constant adrenaline filled arena of the fight, flight and freeze response which is triggered by the primitive part of our subconscious mind, the limbic system.
Therefore to make changes within our lives we need to gain direct access to the subconscious mind and create more positive, life affirming and encouraging habits of thought. Once this is achieved instead of unconscious negative feedback we receive much more supportive messages from our subconscious mind. This is where the audio really starts to come into its own. The audio is filled full of positive ideas, visualisations and suggestions which, when in the alpha and delta wave of awareness our subconscious mind can absorb without interference. When listened to repeatedly the individual cannot help but install more positive habits of thoughts, which will create a much more positive sense of self and life experience. So not only will the audio help you relax and get to sleep but it will also work on changing those anxiety producing negative thoughts which are likely to have caused your insomnia in the first place.
The individual weekly sessions also encourage the client to think more positively however the client is much more conscious of the fact they are doing so. This works extremely well as the client begins to consciously recognise negative thought patterns and is able to stop them before the anxiety builds. They will become accustomed to consciously focusing on possible solutions instead of focusing on the problems itself. Each session finishes with some relaxing hypnotherapy which, together with the night time audio, acts to strongly reinforce this work and will encourage the client to experience life from a much more positive, confident and self assured view point.
Have you been trying to make positive changes only to find they don’t last?
Whether you want to improve your physical health, mental health or your relationship with yourself or others, you will need to first understand the power and influence of your habits.
Habitual thoughts, behaviours and interactions will often lead us down the same familiar path of frustration and procrastination and leave us feeling unable to bring in and sustain the changes we are seeking to make. The good news is that once we can recognise these often unconscious and habitual patterns we can then seek to exchange them for more productive, empowering and positive habits that will then provide us with the ability to make changes and feel more in control.
If this all sound too familiar then please read on to discover how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help.
The power of habits when making a change.
Did you know that your brain is essentially lazy? That’s right! It may sound a little absurd however it’s true. Your brain thrives on repetition and taking the easy option. Its primary function is to protect us and keep us out of danger. The brain isn’t concerned about whether your thoughts are negative or positive or whether these thoughts then lead you down a path of chaos and turmoil or a road of ease and control. Over time negative thoughts and negative outcomes can become firmly embedded as you create more and more neural pathways within your brain that support and encourage these thoughts and behaviours. Negative thinking becomes a trusted habit of the brain, which the brain will firmly hold on to and repeat despite any attempts you may make to suddenly change these thoughts or behaviours that are no longer serving you.
So why does this happen?
The second thing to understand about your brain is that it can be extremely resistant to change.
The brain feels secure where it is and because you are still alive and breathing it believes it is keeping you safe and therefore fulfilling its primary purpose.
Imagine for a moment that you are stood at the top of a mountain about to ski down it. You see the path before you that you have been down so many times before. This path is well worn and has a familiarity that keeps you travelling down it. It feels safe and easy. Well this path can be compared to a neural pathway in the brain that has been created over time by your negative thinking habits. However you have now reached the conclusion that this path is keeping you stuck, frustrated and unable to function and live the way you want to.
Negative habits of thought, if left to their own devices, can lead to anxiety, depression and a very restrictive and repetitive life experience.
Are you ready to create a new and more exciting ski slope?
Well the good news is that you can! Better still, it really is pretty simple once you know how. The even bigger and bolder news is that once you have created this more conductive and supportive ski slope the old and worn out one will simply get covered with snow through lack of use and cease to exist!! That’s right you can create more positive and life affirming neural pathways in the brain and before you know it you will be left with no choice but to embrace you more positive and supportive habits of thought and resulting behaviours and outcomes.
Baby steps or giant leaps?
The key to making creating new habits is to do so with baby steps. A giant leap will often start you off for the first day or so however you are likely to be met with a lot of resistance as your brain hits you with all the reason why you shouldn’t proceed with these changes. The brain identifies these changes as a threat and an unwelcomed disruption to its current ease and familiarity. As it senses this threat your brain will access all of your previous experiences and failures and remind you of them incessantly.
A perfect example of this is witnessed when you stop and consider all of the New Year Resolutions that you have set yourself in the past. The chances are most, if not all have been abandoned by the end of January, if not before!! This is due to the fact that you have set the bar to high, the changes you want to make are too sudden, too big and too scary for the brain to accept as a safe option and it will talk you out of making them. The creation of new habits is more important than the enormity of the change you set yourself. Baby steps will create the change as they are not identified as a threat and are quite honestly easier to maintain.
For example, if you decide that you wish to become more physically active it’s important to first make physical activity a habit – (something you simply can’t not do). To achieve this you need to take small steps and to set small, nonthreatening goals. Rather than trying to commit yourself to hitting the swimming pool for an 1hr 3 times a week the goal of going swimming 3 times a week for at least 10 minutes. It may sound a bit pointless however the likelihood of being able to follow through with this is much higher and you will soon find that this activity has become a habit for you to the point that even on the days that you feel tired and like you can’t be bothered an unconscious prompt will get you down to the swimming pool as not going is simply no longer an option.
You could easily take this example and apply it to any change you are seeking to make. If you have a list as long as your arm of jobs you need to do set yourself the goal of doing one job each day, rather than pressuring yourself to get it all done at once. You are much less likely to experience feelings of resistance and failure as procrastination takes over and encourages you to watch some telly instead. As you progress and continue to take these baby steps you will also find that you start to feel more confident in your abilities to follow through with your goals and achieve the changes you seek. This is because you are not being flooded with a sense of failure each day but with a sense of achievement and success.
How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help significantly in this process.
Now I believe that most, if not all of you, reading this will agree that what’s been said sounds quite logical and in its simple essence it truly is! When we are working from the logical, positive and problem solving part of our brain the creation of new habits is simple as we tend to experience less interference from our more primitive, emotional and negative part of the brain.
When we are experiencing low mood, anxiety or higher levels of pressure and stress then it is this primitive part of the brain that will often start to run the show and any access to logic and the ability to find solutions and make changes becomes for the most part shut down.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy’s primary focus is to help guide the client out of their primitive brain and into their more positive, logical and goal orientated part of the brain. In doing so not only does their anxiety lessen significantly but the client will also find it a lot easier to create more life enhancing and positive habits of thought and behaviour.
Do you ever experience panic attacks? Then read on for some tips on how to manage them and on how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help.
Panic attacks can be terrifying to say the least. Having experienced them in the past I know that at their worst they will make you feel as though you are about to drop down dead from a heart attack!
I realise now that it is highly unlikely that an individual will experience a panic attack without a build up of anxiety and stress first. It is the continual build up of stress and anxiety that escalates into that final eruption of panic. This anxiety may build up over time or there may be a situation coming up that you associate with panic, fear and uncertainty.
In many cases the actual trigger of the panic attack may be completely unknown. This is because during your last panic attack your brain had desperately been searching for the cause of perceived danger and threat. In reality the stress and anxiety levels would have been increasing steadily throughout your day to the point where your cork pops and panic takes over, however your brain needs to find a cause for this reaction. If whilst at a busy supermarket, for example, your eyes fall upon a tin of beans whilst you are mid panic attack your brain may well create an unconscious pattern match that links a tin of beans to danger. The next time you have had a stressful day and the cork pops, this final eruption may be triggered unconsciously when you happen upon a tin of beans. However this time your eyes may come across a fluorescent strip light amidst the panic attack that follows and so a new pattern match of fear is stored in the brain. These pattern matches are unknown to us and are stored in our unconscious and primitive part of the brain. With this in mind an individual who experiences panic attacks can start to find life extremely hard to navigate and may become more and more avoidant of the world outside.
So how can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Help?
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy works by reducing the level of anxiety and stress you are likely to be experiencing. It helps the individual to understand their brain and how the vicious circle of anxiety and negative thinking is created. With this understanding the client can then learn how to move out of this and into a more positive, calm and rational head space. It really is that simple!
If you can reduce your anxiety and negative thinking significantly then your brain will not get to the point where it needs to go into panic attack mode.
Some clients experiencing panic attacks associated with a specific phobia, again Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help. With a specific set of techniques, the client is able to client to re-write the pattern match in their unconscious brain that associates the specific object or situation with danger. Within these sessions the client will also experience a significant reduction in their general anxiety levels. Again reducing your brains need to fall into a full blown panic attack.
Within the sessions techniques will also be practiced with the client to help them develop a robust
counter-attack tool kit!
What can help with a panic attack?
Are the thought of exams, coursework, or dissertation deadlines causing you anxiety, stress and panic?
Do you feel overwhelmed and unable to see a clear way forwards?
Help is at hand with a visit to Emily King at 'Living a Life Inspired Hypnotherapy'
Education is getting tougher, expectations to succeed is increasing, and all the while more and more young people are finding themselves stressed, anxious and sleep deprived in the lead up to exams, final submission dates and dissertation deadlines.
A little bit of stress and anxiety is a positive thing, it helps motivate us and prepare us for action. However too much off it can tip us into the arena of panic, negative thinking , poor sleep, anger, anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Young People & Solution Focused Hypnotherapy
Quite often this feeling of being overwhelmed will lead us to retreat, deny and put off any action as it all feels “too much right now”. Most people can relate to the last minute sprint to get a task done. That is not to say that taking no action for a while makes the problem go away as your brain is still aware that it needs to be done. In fact the rational part of the brain will identify that it is better to start now and do a bit at a time, however when anxious and stressed the more rational part of the brain is often set aside as the more primitive and panic based part of the brain takes charge.
Solution focused Hypnotherapy is an extremely simple and straightforward therapy that helps the client gain a greater understanding of their brain and how it works against them when it comes to feelings of anxiety, stress and overwhelm. The good news is that it also helps the client come to the realisation that it is possible to take back control as they start to access the part of the brain that is I more positive, rational and in control. The perfect mindset to have when preparing and sitting for exams or for making sure you make steady progress on an essay or dissertation that achieves the result that you are worthy off.
Contact Emily King at ‘Living a Life Inspired Hypnotherapy’ To learn more!
Following many years of working as a Mental Health Nurse it has become clear that mental health difficulties are on the increase, specifically for the younger people of this world. Anxiety, anger and depression are now hitting the younger generation hard. Many of these younger people struggle to feel in control of their lives as they believe that the power to change lies outside of themselves. It is their outside environment that is responsible for the life that they are now experiencing.
This idea is known as Locus of Control. An individual that feels the their outer world is responsible for how they experience life is said to have and “external locus of control” whereas an individual who has a sense that they hold responsibility over their own life is said to have an “internal locus of control”
The world for a younger person has perhaps gone a little crazy, family life has shifted, the pressure to succeed in education and in careers has increased and with the world becoming smaller we hear more and more about the dangers and threats that exist within it. To a young pair of eyes, and often to the oldest pair of eyes, life can sometimes feel unfair, bewildering, scary and pretty much impossible.
Many young people today have lost a sense of self control and self belief as they find themselves holding the false perception that many of their life experiences, achievements and difficulties have been created by influences outside of themselves. Whether that is their parents, peers, teachers or perhaps a past trauma that they have experienced. It may simply be down to how they believe the world to be. This will often lead to increased anxiety, anger and depression as their brain gets stuck in a loop of negative thinking and panic. Even when they achieve positive results they will still believe that the outside world, or even luck, is responsible!
If a young person can regain a sense of personal control and accountability they will naturally feel more authentic, confident, able and excited about life and the possibilities that DO lie within it. They will literally start to create their life from the more positive, rational and goal orientated part of their brain.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help shift a person’s focus and life experience as they gain an understanding that they are indeed in control of themselves and how they experience life. This can be a real game changer when it comes to the life they go on to lead.