Self help for depression

Self help for depression

ALISON RALPH

Do you want to know more about self help techniques for depression? Are you trying to avoid medication or help yourself alongside medication? Read on to find out more about how you can help yourself when experiencing depression. 

Considering it is a very common mental health condition, ranging from mild symptoms to very severe, depression is misunderstood by many. Many people suffer in silence or with very little support from those around them. When depression is mild, lifestyle choices may be able to help you and it can sometimes be the small changes which make the big difference! 

Exercise

When we exercise, serotonin and endorphins are released in the brain and this triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections. Exercise also helps us to feel achievement, may get us outdoors and activates a different part of the brain to what we may have been using all day. Any form of exercise can be useful so if its just taking a stroll around the block or a spin class at the gym, it all makes a difference. 

Sleep

Sleep has a huge affect on mood and if you are not getting enough, it can worsen depression. To ensure good sleep, take a look at information about sleep hygiene using this link: 

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/10-tips-to-beat-insomnia/

Social support

People who are experiencing depression often cut off from social contact as they find it hard to be around others and exhausting to communicate, however it is important to have contact with others for support and company. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and supportive as this can really help to improve your condition. 

Stress reduction

Stress only makes depression worse and so it is important to look at the factors in your life which are causing you stress. Can you make changes to lessen this stress? This could be relationships, work or anything in daily life. You may not be successful in eliminating all stress but reducing it is equally useful!

Each of these suggestions may not help each and every person but you may find, as some of my clients have, that just one change can make a huge difference. 

If you are reading this blog and feel you need some immediate support the below phone numbers are useful.

  • Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) operates a 24-hour service available every day of
    the year. If you prefer to write down how you are feeling, or if you are worried
    about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at
    jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK.
    Calls are free and the number will not show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation that supports teenagers
    and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Written by Alison Ralph

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Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing

ALISON RALPH

All last week on my Facebook and Instagram pages I focussed on hypnobirthing; what it is and some of my favourite hypnobirthing techniques. I am a private hypnobirthing instructor and offer sessions face to face in Macclesfield and online.

So what is hypnobirthing and how could it help you or somebody you know?

Hypnobirthing is a technique taught to pregnant women and their birthing partners to help them experience a calmer pregnancy and birth. It uses breathing techniques, teaches relaxation, explains the different stages of pregnancy and birth and so much more! In this blog I will give you some of my favourite ideas and techniques for creating that calmer environment for you and baby.

A calmer space

The thought of a hospital might make you feel uncomfortable or sick but there are things you can do to make it more comfortable for you. Pack your favourite pillow or blanket into your hospital bag so you have a home comfort in the room with you. Take your favourite smell on a scarf and talk to your midwife about any other home comforts you are allowed to have in the hospital room. If you are having a home birth, make sure you have all these wonderful things around you and you can even light some of your favourite candles!

Music

Music is one of the best things to get your senses going. A certain song or piece of music can create nostalgia, sadness, calming or happy feelings and so on. Chose certain songs to have playing before you go into hospital and get creative. I had a client in the past who had calming music for most of baby’s birth and towards the end they had rock music to really spur them on!

Breathing 

Deep belly breathing is the key to your relaxation. If you can learn this then it will set you up for a more comfortable experience. Breathing deeply activates the part of our nervous system that deals with relaxation, and this breath lifts the diaphragm, creating more space for your baby to do what it needs to do!

Breathe in through the nose a long, slow breath, inflating the belly as you do. When it comes to the outward breath you breath out of your nose and allow the belly to relax down. This can be used during and in between lighter contractions.

Special Place

To help you get into a more relaxed state of mind and bring your focus to something else, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in a very calm and special place. It may be somewhere you have visited before or somewhere you create in your imagination. You want to use each sense here to stimulate different parts of the brain. Notice what you can see in your place, the things you can hear, anything you could touch and so on. 

Using these techniques can make a huge difference to an experience which is the unknown and no matter how the birth of your baby pans out for you, these techniques can be used to help you feel more relaxed so you can enjoy your baby when he or she arrives!

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Self-hypnosis- how to use it.

Self-hypnosis – how to use it.

ALISON RALPH

I teach self-hypnosis to all of my clients because there is a great benefit to using them. When you think of self-hypnosis you might think of sitting down in a quiet space for a period of time and using relaxation techniques, however not all self-hypnosis is like this. Self-hypnosis can be used at any time of the day through any experience. For example, breathing techniques can be used to calm the body. 

Self-hypnosis not only allows you to feel relaxed in times of stress or panic, but it can divert the brains attention to a different focus so the worrying thoughts are pushed away.

If you would like to try it yourself then set yourself up somewhere comfortable and quiet, where your less likely to be interrupted. The more you can repeat this process the more likely it is to work for you in everyday life. 

  1. Breathing 

Take a long, slow deep breath in through the nose and as you do, fill the belly up with air. Then release the air out through the mouth, again long and slow. Breathing activates the part of the nervous system which helps the body with relaxation. 

2. Special place

This has to be my favourite of all self-hypnosis techniques. Imagine yourself in a place which is special for you. A place where you can see yourself relaxed and comfortable. Maybe a place with lovely memories for you or a magical place you create with your imagination. When you are in this special place, engage all of your senses. Notice any relaxing sounds, see the colours or landscapes around you and notice any familiar smells. 

3. Affirmations

Affirmations work fantastically well and allow you to create new beliefs about yourself and put them into the subconscious. You may want to chose one for yourself related to a goal you are focusing on, such as ‘I will eat healthily today’ or to hep calm yourself ‘I am fully relaxed and calm’. 

Self-hypnosis may be able to help with:

  • Lessening pain and stress during childbirth
  • Promoting relaxation and better sleep quality 
  • Enhancing memory
  • Overcoming anxiety and stress
  • Building confidence and improving self esteem

You can listen to calming sounds at the same time as practising self-hypnosis. It is a skill that takes practise so it is important to be patient!

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Want to know more about how hypnotherapy could help you on your weight loss journey?
Find out how I can help you by getting in touch on:

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info@alisonralphhypnotherapy.co.uk​

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Weight loss Top Tips!

Weight loss Top Tips!

ALISON RALPH

As a hypnotherapist I work with people on a regular basis with weight loss, whether that is privately or in groups. During this time I have learnt about those things that work and those that do not. 

When people come to me for hypnotherapy I advise them against the popular diets that can be accessed in society because these diets are very restricting and can often only be maintained in the short term. When working with weight loss using hypnotherapy, the goal is to change the mindset so that you chose to eat a healthy diet subconsciously for the rest of your life!

So what are those strategies which I have learnt along the way and have been successful for a number of my clients?

1. Alternative changes

For one week, write a food diary of everything you put into your body (try not to lie to yourself) and after that week look a 3 changes you could make. These should not be huge changes but subtle ones. For example, if you are a big tea or coffee drinker and have milk and sugar, cut the number of cups down which you drink in a day. If you are somebody who has carbs for every meal, only eat carbs for 2 meals in the day. These must be changes which are realistic for you and achievable. 

2. Hunger Scale

This is one of my favourite strategies and one that works really well. Are you somebody who never feels hunger because you are always snacking between meals? Next time you go to grab a snack, visualise (or have a physical scale in front of you). The scale should have the numbers one to ten on them and if you hunger is 9 or below, you don’t eat. You wait for your next meal so that you feel hunger and you can enjoy that next meal. 

3. Water

I’m afraid it has to be in there. Drinking more water has many benefits and if you don’t like the taste of water then you could put a piece of lemon or lime in there to give it a little flavour. 

4. Positivity

Positive thinking is a must when trying to lose weight! If you have a bad day where you eat some chocolate or a bag of crisps, don’t beat yourself up, wake up the next day with a new attitude. Tell yourself that you can and will achieve your weight loss goal. 

Remember, healthy weight loss will not happen over night, (two pound a week loss is ideal) it is a journey, so be prepared to walk the path of that journey. Give yourself achievable goals, not unrealistic ones. For example, your first goal could be a loss of 1 stone and once this has been lost you can create a new goal. 

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Want to know more about how hypnotherapy could help you on your weight loss journey?
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Coming out of lockdown anxiety

Do you have anxiety about coming out of lockdown?

ALISON RALPH

You may be wondering why you have all the similar feelings about coming out of lockdown as you did when it all started. 

Don’t worry, this is completely normal! What became your new normal is about to change again and so the subconscious is taking you back into that survival mode. You have so many questions about various things you might face in the world outside of your bubble. You may also be creating your own scenarios in your mind – the imagination is your best friend but can also be your enemy!  

So what can you do to help yourself?

  1. Write down each worry and deal with them separately. For example, if you are worried about going back to work, get to know what they are doing there to minimise risk to yourself and anyone else or talk to them about support. If you are worried about facing the supermarket then chose a quieter time and day to go. 
  2. What worries can you and can’t you control? Write a list of the worries you can control and those you cannot. Try to focus on the ones you can do something about and push the others to the back of your mind.
  3. Calming breaths– I think that calming breaths work for everything! Sit somewhere quietly and really focus in on your breathing. How your chest feels as it rises and falls and really allowing your body to relax. 
  4. Pick out the positives – focus on the positive elements of the lockdown easing and again, try to put any negatives to the back of your mind.
  5. Remember! You coped with change before. When the lockdown began there was a lot of change to daily routine and for many people a sense of pain and anxiety. Remember, you overcame and you can use the positives from this to cope with the new change. 
  6. Don’t be hard on yourself! It is important to remember that we are going through a world pandemic and therefore you need to look after yourself. Take time out for you and practise good self care.

If you feel that you could benefit from hypnotherapy to help with any anxiety then please contact me by calling: 07719032346 or email: info@alisonralphhypnotherapy.co.uk

Let’s talk caffeine

Let's Talk Caffeine

ALISON RALPH

Why should I reduce my caffeine intake and how can I do it safely?

Caffeine is a contributor and sometimes the cause of many issues people face such as, insomnia and anxiety. It is the most widely used drug in the world with coffee and tea being the leading way to consume. Caffeine causes us to have a short burst of energy by changing the chemical reactions in our brains; producing more dopamine which makes us more alert and supressing melatonin which helps to regulate our sleep and wake cycle.

Unfortunately, the body builds up a tolerance of caffeine and so to feel any affects from it we have to increase our intake. The problem with this is that the body thinks it needs this intake of caffeine and so reducing it, if not done safely, can create side affects such as headaches.

So why should you reduce your caffeine intake?

Caffeine essentially is a drug. It messes with the brain and prevents it from doing its normal job- surely that is enough for anyone to reduce their intake?

Caffeine can cause symptoms of anxiety if large amounts are consumed, such as a racing heart. This can then cause the anxiety to escalate. So, if you are struggling with anxiety, reducing your caffeine could help.

Caffeine can cause other issues such as difficulty losing weight, irritability, headaches, insomnia and increased heart rate.

So how can I reduce my intake safely?

  1. Ingredients – caffeine is found in more foods than we realise. Study the ingredients in your foods and know which ones have caffeine in them so you can choose whether to consume them or not.
  2. Decrease gradually – you must reduce the intake slowly because if you do not you might experience side effects. So, start with taking out two cups of coffee if you are somebody who consumes 6 a day. Take the ones out which you don’t rely on so much.
  3. Try something new – Try changing your tea/coffee or what ever else you are consuming, with something that doesn’t have caffeine as an ingredient.
  4. Go small! -if you are somebody who has a large cup each time you have a coffee or tea, change that to a small cup each time.
  5. Self-discipline – ask yourself “Do I really need that cup of coffee/tea?” and if the answer is no, skip it. Maybe stand up and have a little walk instead or a drink of fresh water.

If you would like to find out if your caffeine intake is unhealthy then use this handy diagnosis tool: https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-addiction-diagnosis

Do you need help to safely reduce your caffeine or with other issues related to this such as insomnia or anxiety?

Contact me now for a risk-free solution.

Email: info@alisonralphhypnotherapy.co.uk

Phone: 07719032346

Protecting your mental health during lockdown

Protecting you health during lockdown

ALISON RALPH

Muddling our way through these difficult times is a challenge for everybody whether they have mental health issues or not.

I cannot count on my fingers the number of people I have spoken to lately who have heightened levels of stress and anxiety due to the restrictions of lock down, even as they begin to ease.

There are some ways that we can help ourselves to manage the feelings that have been created from these unusual times.

Restrict social media and the news.
It can be guaranteed at present that whenever you turn the news on or look on your social media page it will be full of debate, possibly a large amount of negativity and when we feel that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, our hopes are shattered.

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media and watching the news will allow you to filter the bits that you need to know, meaning that it doesn’t sabotage your goal of staying positive.

Keep to a routine
Before all this began you were more than likely getting up at the same time each day, eating breakfast, getting the children and yourself ready for the day, taking children to school or making sure you arrived at the gym/ work on time and so on. Routine motivates us and keeps us focussed.
Your new routine could include exercise and spending times outdoors or reading a book.

Be kind to yourself
Remember, we are living through a world pandemic. You are likely to feel anxious or stressed, this is our bodies natural reaction to help us survive. So run yourself a bath, tell yourself that its okay to have a low day, buy yourself gifts and nurture yourself during this time. You’ll thank yourself in the future!

Exercise
Whether it is a walk outdoors, a long cycle or a fitness video indoors, take some time out to exercise. Exercise releases the feel-good hormones in our body, meaning that we will be more motivated and more able to stay positive!

Set yourself achievable goals
Spend any spare time during lockdown redecorating your house, learning a new skill, maybe even changing careers but make sure the goal is achievable! Set yourself a week by week timetable and include the goal in this timetable to ensure that you can complete it over a couple of weeks. When you have achieved a goal, it will make you feel great and positivity a little easier!

Anxiety – Top Tips

Anxiety - Top Tips

ALISON RALPH

When you are experiencing anxiety, it can cause you to feel loneliness, a sense of being trapped, scared and in a state of panic. You may feel physical reactions to the anxiety such as, dizziness, increased heart rate, lightheaded and general feelings of low mood. When in this state, it seems impossible to bring your self back round to your usual way of thinking and feeling.

Anxiety is a natural reaction inside of us, triggered by the subconscious mind to keep us alive. It kicks in when there is a perceived danger, or what it perceives to be danger. The subconscious is built up of patterns and behaviours from our previous experiences and the subconscious uses these.
So how can you make these reactions easier to bear?

Top tip number 1: Knowledge
It is thought that the more we know about anxiety and its function within us, the more we can control it within our bodies. If you do choose to read about it, I suggested using the NHS website or another reputable website. In short, do not just google information!

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/

Top tip number 2: Breathing
If you can learn a relaxing breathing technique it will allow the body to relax. I teach my clients deep belly breathing. As you breathe in through your nose you fill the belly with air and then as you continue the breath you fill the lungs with air. As you release the breath out of your mouth you empty the air form the lungs first and then deflate the stomach.
This not only gives you something else to focus on but activates the parasympathetic nervous system – that’s the part of the body which helps us to relax.

Top tip number 3: Affirmations
Chose two affirmations to repeat in your mind, even at times when you are not anxious. These should be affirmations which promote calmness in the body and give you the confidence to be in control. One of my favourites is: I am calm, I am confident, I am in control.

Top tip number 4: Diet and lifestyle
Believe it or not, the things we eat can have an impact on our anxiety. Eating too much sugar and having too much caffeine in our diets can activate the feelings of anxiety so the restriction of these can have an impact. If you like a drink or are a smoker, this can also influence anxiety. Finally, lack of sleep can cause us to feel more anxious so making sure you get your required hours is a must!

Top tip number 5: Favourite place
This is my favourite way to forget all about the anxiety and one which I use with all my clients. If you sit back and close your eyes, use your breathing technique and at the same time build up an image in your imagination of your favourite tranquil place this can help relaxation and encourage you to think about something other than the anxiety. This could be a place you have been to before or simply one made by your imagination. Examples are a favourite holiday destination, the beach or your garden.

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Want to know more about how you can take control of you anxiety of stress?
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