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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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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What exactly is Hypnotherapy?

What exactly is hypnotherapy?

ALISON RALPH

Hypnotherapy, although extremely effective as a treatment, is not widely known or understood. Many people immediately think about stage hypnosis or hypnosis they may have seen on TV. So what exactly is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy can be broken into two works – ‘Hypno’ and ‘Therapy’.

Let’s deal with the word ‘Therapy’ first. People come to hypnotherapy because they want help and support with some aspect of their life. For example, they might want hep overcoming anxiety or for pain management. The hypnotherapist will therefore allow the client time to talk about their problem and will guide the client to talk about how it is affecting them in day to day life, the first time they experienced their problem and triggers for their problem. This is completed in a private and highly confidential manner. The therapist and client then work together to devise a for sessions. Within the sessions, the aim is to allow the client to achieve goals and overcome obstacles with a change of mindset. 

That leads us to the second word -‘Hypnosis’. Hypnosis is simply, a deep relaxed state of body and mind. You will be guided into relaxation using different techniques, including the calm voice of the therapist. I have had clients explain the feeling as ‘a massage but without the physical touch’. Once you are in the deep level of hypnosis, the subconscious mind is receptive to change and the therapist can talk about the goals and changes you want. 

Hypnotherapy is a partnership between the therapist and client and by working together, changes can be made!

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Face-to-face Vs online sessions

Face-to-Face Vs Online sessions

ALISON RALPH

Back in March I went from having a busy private practice to no clients at all, almost over night. I was forced to make the decision to go online (luckily I’m not afraid of technology). I was however afraid of the effectiveness of the sessions and whether I could guide somebody into hypnosis in the same way.

I suppose part of this decision is down to the individual person and their perspective of therapy, however I have personally found that sessions are just as affective.

The first sessions I conducted were great and the clients experienced great mindset changes and this speared me on to keep going. Some people seem more able to be hypnotised in the security and comfort of their own surroundings. I’ve now helped so many people over the computer and I’ve decided to keep going with this into the future. 

All you need is a comfortable and quiet environment and your laptop or tablet! 

I use a website called Whereby. You can find it here: www.whereby.com. The room is private and confidential and we can see each other via video. I sometimes give handouts to my face-to-face clients and these are sent to you via email. 

People who prefer face-to-face sessions comment that they like the fact they are going somewhere for that time-out they need. The environment is calm and comfortable, with candles lit and warmth. 

If you are reluctant to go for online sessions but it would be easier for you, call me for a free chat. If you begin sessions but feel that online is not for you, you can always change to face-to-face or stop sessions completely. If you go ahead, it may just be the change that you need!

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Hypno-Gastric Band

Hypno-Gastric Band

ALISON RALPH

I am excited to announce that I am now qualified to deliver the Hypno-Gastric Band in Macclesfield, Cheshire. 

This is a fantastic hypnotic treatment for those who want to lose weight. 

So how does it work?

Have a watch of this short video of me explaining a little more about the treatment. 

Hypno Gastric Band

As mentioned in the video, I will be offering an introductory price so that I can practise my skills and some of you can benefit from a discounted price! 

So if you want to find out how powerful the mind can be in terms of weight loss, this may just be the treatment for you!

 

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Let’s talk face mask anxiety

Let's talk face mask anxiety

ALISON RALPH

Today the government have enforced a policy where we must all wear face masks when we enter a supermarket. If we don’t we could be fined up to £100.

For some this is a mere inconvenience, but for others, this can be the cause of anxious feelings and in some cases, even panic attacks.

So what can you do to help yourself?

Get to know the facts.

When we increase our knowledge about something, less anxiety can be created because we are not using our imagination to fill in the gaps. Look at the facts about why we should be wearing them and how they can protect us and others.

Getting to know about your feelings is also important. Make a note of how you are feeling and if in a particular situation those feelings were worse or lessened. Plan your next action according to these feelings.

Exposure.

What is really important to know if that the more you do go out with your mask on, the easier it should get. You could begin by having a walk around your house wearing the mask and then move outside into your garden. Pushing yourself to go further each time.

Breathing

I often talk about how breathing techniques can help and this is no different in face mask anxiety. Focus in on your breathing, taking an inward breath through the nose and then out of the mouth. This tricks the brain into thinking you are in a relaxed state and so the brain will respond with feelings of relaxation. 

You could use an affirmation at the same time. ‘I breath in relaxation on the inward breath and I am calm on the outward breath. 

Talk it through with someone.

You may decide to talk to  a loved one about how you are feeling or a professional therapist. Voicing how you feel can help to change your mindset and allow you to feel more relaxed about the situation. 

Hypnotherapy can be a helpful tool because it works with changing the mindset, using the subconscious. You may just need one or two sessions to help you feel more in control with your anxiety. 

The norm. 

Like everything new, wearing a mask out in public will be strange at first. However, the good news is, the more that you wear it as allow it to become a part of your daily outfit, the more you will become used to it. 

If you are struggling with your child wearing a mask (11 years and older), offer them an incentive. For example, more screen time to encourage them to get used to the idea as well. 

Always remember that if you tune into your anxiety and the ways you are feeling, it is easier to take steps to improve those feelings. At these unusual times it’s best to look out for yourself and takes things at your own pace. 

 

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How to lose weight with hypnosis

How to lose weight with hypnosis

ALISON RALPH

In my Cheshire hypnotherapy clinic and online, I work with people to help them lose weight. Hypnotherapy is a natural way to lose weight and doesn’t encourage you to restrict foods in the way that diets do, it works on changing your mindset.

When a person over eats there is normally an underlying reason, for example, they may eat due to boredom, stress or emotional reasons. In hypnotherapy sessions we identify your reasons and using the subconscious mind we change these behaviour patterns so you have a different response to these feelings. 

When under hypnosis I teach you techniques to help you along the way and you are also given activities to complete to keep you motivated and on track. 

Self-hypnosis is also taught so you can practice on a regular basis, allowing the messages to imprint in your subconscious mind. 

So why work with the subconscious mind?

The subconscious mind is where all our past behaviours and patterns are stored. This is the part of us in charge of keeping us alive and safe. These behaviours can go all the way back to childhood and using hypnosis we can investigate these. 

What could you be doing now to kick start this process? 

You could identify your danger points. When do you eat the most? Where are you at the time? How are you feeling? Some of these patterns you could begin to change yourself. For example, if you eat in the car on the way home from work, replace your sugary or fatty foods with a tub of grapes or don’t have food in the car at all. 

 

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Want to know more about how hypnotherapy could help with your weight loss journey?
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Stop Smoking help

Stop smoking help

ALISON RALPH

In my Macclesfield hypnotherapy clinic I help people to stop smoking. The habit of smoking is deep rooted in the subconscious, therefore hypnotherapy for smoking can be a very affective treatment. 

There are however some self-help ideas which you can do yourself at home. These are ideas which I have given to past clients and they have been successful. 

  1. If you take one thing away from reading this post today let it be that a craving only lasts for 3 minutes! The time it takes the brain to send that message that you need the rush of feel good hormones takes only 3 minutes. So what could you do in 3 minutes? Some squats or arm reps if your into exercise, read a page or two from your favourite book or magazine, play with your dog. The list is endless!
  2. Smoking is often part of your routine, especially if you have been doing it for years! So something as simple as changing your routine can help to lessen them cravings. For example, if you wake in the morning and have a coffee with a cigarette before anything else, then get up and get dressed first, change your coffee for milk or juice. If you have a cigarette on your break at work then replace that with a walk or a chat in the staffroom. 
  3. Smoke with the other hand – it sounds bonkers I know, but it requires the brain to think different and may trigger a thought process which says this is awkward or I don’t enjoy this. 
  4. If you would like to get into the root of the cause because nothing else is working then have a think about the reasons why you smoke. For example, are you a stress smoker? If this is you, think of a new behaviour when you are stressed. For example, you could use a breathing technique or in the evening do some yoga.

 

Why am I finding it difficult to stop smoking?

Another important thing to take away from reading this post is that it is difficult to stop smoking and it is not your fault if you have tried and failed a number of times. The chemicals which are realised in the body when you smoke send a message to the subconscious mind (your survival mechanism) to say that you feel good and you are relaxed. when these chemicals leave the body the subconscious kicks into survival mode and asks for them again (hence the craving) so all you need to do is break that cycle!

If you are interested in hypnotherapy to stop smoking then please get in touch. You can email: info@alisonralphypnotherapy.co.uk or phone: 07719032346