Fear of public speaking and social anxiety
For many people, a fear of public speaking ranks as one of the most common dreaded fears. If you are an extrovert and love attention, then you are more likely to take these presenting matters into your stride. But for the shy introverted speaker, life can be very, very different. Hearing “don’t worry, it’ll be fine...” is meant with good intentions, but it can seem so patronizing.
A fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is a form of social anxiety. You can have a fear of public speaking yet still be comfortable displaying physical skills in public or meeting new people. But if these situations also cause you to feel nervous, then your social anxiety is considered to be more acute. When you suffer severe social anxiety, public speaking can cause you to panic and can be the source of major distress. In work, during those meetings of great importance, it can cost you your job. More importantly, if you have social anxiety and general anxiety, it can be a source of depression.
Fear of public speaking: The socially anxious experience
Does this seem familiar to you?
The racing heart beat; the familiar “knot” in your stomach and the nausea are just the start of the affairs when you are told that you have to speak in public. It’s rarely something that you volunteer to do. Who wants to be publicly shamed and disgraced in front of your wider family, peer group or colleagues? The agony has started long before the presentation date, yet there is this impending doom that beats as each day draws closer. Your sleep is restless.
The socially anxious speaker hates being the focus of attention. If you could guarantee that your presentation will impress your audience then it might not seem so bad. But to be in the spotlight when you are struggling to be coherent is degrading. The harder you try to mask your symptoms the more “visible” you become! There is nowhere to hide from your fear of public speaking.
Can you avoid giving your presentation? When you look back on your life, I’m sure you would have done all you could to skive those early childhood school presentations. You tried to feign a tummy ache (which was probably anxiety) in the hope that it would convince your parents that you needed a day off school. But even moving through the educational system, a presentation would have been demanded as part of an assessment somewhere. And when they gave out the subject titles, you had to pick the “dull” subject that you knew nothing about and would send everyone to sleep. You did the best you could to make it interesting, but the “yawns” of boredom is what you learnt about the experience. The seeds of fear and humiliation have been sown!
So in work, you’ve disguised your fear. You’ve delegated the presentation to a subordinate member of staff because “it’s good for their development!” But those small business meetings demand that you to give a short introduction of yourself; you can’t pass the buck in this situation. This is enough to get you flustered and put your professional reputation on the line. And when you’re tenth around the business table, the time moves so slowly. You don’t even remember a word of what is being said by the other delegates. You are deafened by your own internal voice of worry.
Even socially, you cannot escape the personal request from a loving family member to “say a few words” during their moment of pride. At weddings or formal occasions, there’s nothing like being expected to say a few “stammered” mutterings to ruin your day for you and lose your social esteem.
Why is the fear of public speaking such a problem?
Unfortunately with performance anxiety, when you are stressed and place too much importance on using a certain part of you, it’s that part that can “lock” and become dysfunctional. So the tennis player’s shoulder tightens, the pianist’s fingers become stiff and the singer’s voice becomes strained. It’s as if that precious part of you is fired with excessive nerve impulses and is out of control at the worst possible moment.
For the socially anxious public speaker, anxiety “grips” the ability to speak. The diaphragm muscle tightens making it hard to breathe. This causes your words to become stammered, misplaced and forgotten. Your throat can become dry and constricted. Your voice can become overly quiet or sound choked. In short, it’s an effort to get your words out.
But it’s not just the voice that is overwhelmed. The mind can be affected too. It can distort your awareness of time. The things you want to end quickly, take forever. Waiting for everyone else to finish their presentation (so that you can start yours), can take an eternity. You then build up more anticipatory anxiety. But when you are giving your own presentation, your brakes have failed. It’s as if you are chasing a prize for the fastest presentation. In your confusion, you abandon your bullet points for a “speed-read” of your notes. Your eyes and head drop down into your script in desperate hope that if you can’t see them, they won’t be able to see you.
Stress can also affect memory and concentration to the level that you lose your purpose. You become forgetful, disorganised and distracted. Other phrases for the latter can include being “spaced out”, distant or self-absorbed. This can happen at any moment of the proceedings. Some get overwhelmed immediately before or during the presentation. But even after the presentation, the trauma keeps you in a daze for...days!
Another important issue for the socially anxious speaker is prejudging the audience as experts. You believe that they can see through your inferiority. You are convinced that they know more than you about your subject and you are about to be exposed as a fraud.
If the presentation involves questions and answers, this will be the key moment of public humiliation. You believe you will be asked intellectually challenging questions that you don’t even understand! Never mind being able to remember the answers, the question is so complicated, that you remain petrified as if they’ve sent you an electric shock. So you stall for a repeated question because you have developed temporary hearing loss!
Not only do you believe that the audience know more than you, but you imagine that they have X-ray vision. They can see every symptom of your anxiety: the blushing, the excessive perspiration and the hand tremors. These are somehow caught on camera with a powerful zoom lens and are being broadcasted on a screen behind you. Even the internal anxiety symptoms e.g. heart racing, nervous diarrhoea and “jelly like legs” can be seen and judged as out of control.
Your fear of public speaking is contained in a higher negative belief that anxiety is a sign of weakness. This only serves to make matters worse for you. It prevents you from gradually working through your fear because you (wrongly) equate anxiety with incompetence. It’s a non-starter and you don’t feel very well!
Compounding your fear of public speaking with anticipation
The anticipation of something can be more traumatic than the stress of the actual event. When the notice has been given of the presentation, anxiety can weigh you down, causing you to procrastinate, cling to unhelpful comforts (food, alcohol, cigarettes etc.), lose sleep and generally become forgetful and distracted. Your heightened state of anxiety draws you deeper into fearing the worst on presentation day. The stress symptoms can then peak immediately before the presentation.
Contingency plans to proactively deal with what might go wrong are left open-ended as a vulnerable fear, rather than something that you can act on and make the situation feel safe. Stress levels can be so high that the moments before and during the presentation can seem like going through the motions on auto-pilot. Unless your presentation is recorded, there is very little recall of your experience.
Even after the presentation, the distracted emotional state makes you immune to absorbing any positive feedback. Regardless of whether it has gone well, your self assessment is still biased since you based your measure of success on the feelings of anxiety. You were anxious, so you must have failed. The presentation has traumatised you yet again and is something you must avoid if given the opportunity.
Breaking the fear of public speaking
Does this seem like part of your routine? For the socially anxious person, this is probably déjà-vu. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. The best way to deal with your fear of public speaking is to confront it, armed with some helpful techniques. You can tackle your fear of public speaking in small progressive steps. This will help you to focus on it as a series of skills that can be learned, rather than seeing it as a cycle of events that submissively drags you through a bush full of thorns.
Hypnotherapy can be used to control your anxiety, re-frame past traumas and visualise your confidence. My expertise as a qualified teacher/trainer will also help to ensure that you are using effective techniques that get the best out of you in your preparation and on the day of your presentation.
Looking for some more self help tips? Overcome your fear of public speaking with a series of public speaking tips.
For further information on treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Fear of Public Speaking
Fear of public speaking Cardiff: DefinitionA fear of public speaking can be defined as a feeling of anxiety (prior to and during) any form of verbal communication given to an audience. It can also be termed as speech anxiety, presentation nerves, stage fright and glossophobia. Fear of public speaking is a form of social anxiety.
Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Formal and Informal settingsA fear of public speaking can affect many situations both formal and informal. Most people can recognise the formal settings when you have given a talk using prepared material in school, college or your workplace. Other formal situations can include giving speeches at weddings, funerals and association meetings. A fear of public speaking in informal settings may not have previously prepared material but can have “rehearsed” content e.g. telling a joke to your peer group. Some speakers who rely heavily on scripted material can feel anxious because you are required to speak “unscripted” about you e.g. when introducing yourself at the start of a business meeting. Anxiety can also be experienced in seminars when “speaking from the heart” about a very personal issue, fearful that sensitive issues may be judged by other delegates. Stage performers can exhibit confidence as the “expert” singing or playing your instrument but you can also suffer some stage fright during specific aspects of your show. “Chatting” to the audience can seem daunting because you are making an informal connection with your audience. You don’t have your music or instrument to hide behind. For those with chronic social anxiety, the fear of drawing attention to you is enough to create a panic attack. So even giving an account of your holiday to a few members of staff in the staffroom and then finding the staffroom going quiet because everyone is “tuning in” can be traumatic. For the confident speaker, it can be difficult to appreciate what someone with chronic social anxiety suffers when when they have a fear of public speaking.
Fear of public speaking Cardiff: CausesWith figures suggesting that a fear of public speaking is the most common fear in the world, it justifies the belief that very few people are “born” public speakers. If you are one of the minority that enjoys giving presentations, you are probably extrovert, are knowledgeable in your field of expertise and/or you have found a way of altering the perception of your fear. Any mild anxiety that you have experienced in your journey has been overcome with effective practise and by learning the necessary presentation skills. So why are some people more prone to a fear of public speaking than others? One or more of these issues could contribute to your fear.
• Personality types or traitsAnxiety - Those with general anxiety and social anxiety are more likely to have a fear of public speaking. You tend to worry and see the negative side of situations, believing that things will ultimately go wrong! You rarely get past your “what if...” scenarios. You struggle to cope with anticipatory anxiety, increasing your stress symptoms (muscular tension, loss of sleep, IBS etc.) as the presentation draws near. You then focus on these symptoms, believing them to be visible to your audience. This distracts you from giving your presentation. After the event, you deny any praise because your anxiety overwhelms your interpretation of the presentation. Perfectionism – You set excessively high standards in your presentation expecting everything to go flawlessly. You exhaust yourself trying to reach these standards and may neglect other obligations (and relationships) en route. You rarely delegate because you cannot trust the standards of another person. Any mistakes in your presentation are harshly criticised (mainly by you), causing you to double your effort next time. You then become more anxious about your ability to keep achieving perfection in the future. You are aware of how much effort the presentation took out of you in this attempt. You fail to accept external praise on your methods because the (often unobtainable) goal is all that matters. Lack of self-confidence – You distrust your own judgements and doubt your ability to achieve your goals. You tend to set low targets because you are risk aversive. You keep well inside your comfort zone because you have a fear of failure. This justifies avoiding the presentation in the first place. You are easily swayed by the opinions of others as you approach the presentation date. Rather than learning from your mistakes made during the presentation, you try to hide them because you are ashamed of them. You worry about the criticism of others but ironically, you are too embarrassed to accept their praise. Even if you did give a good presentation, you shrug-off the praise, claiming it was the work of others. Inevitably a lack of self-confidence can affect all that you do. You believe that you lack confidence in your presentation subject-matter. So rather than talking freely in your presentation, you worry that others know more than you. You believe that they will pick holes in your presentation and your lack of knowledge. Low self-esteem – Since you believe that you are not good enough, this perspective is projected into all that you think, do and say. Your presentation preparation is plagued by self-doubts; you are unsure whether the content is good enough. Your low self esteem may be directed onto parts of your body (low body esteem). Standing in front of an audience means that this part of you is in full view. It only serves to heighten your embarrassment. If you feel inferior about your voice, your anxiety will “strangle” any attempts to project it adequately. Fear of embarrassment – A fear of embarrassment belongs to the domain of social anxiety. The fear of humiliating yourself in front of your audience is your overriding worry. Your anxiety symptoms take over and become “visible” to your audience during the presentation. Amongst many symptoms, your hands shake, you become more forgetful and you “lose” your voice. Fear of attention – Another issue that is part of social anxiety. You fear drawing attention to yourself or being stared at by others. You worry what people think or what they might say. Standing on a “stage” has few hiding places; a tall lectern might do the trick, but just being there causes you to feel self-conscious. As a coping method, you avoid looking at your audience. Ironically, they will stare at you more because they feel excluded. Your emotions are compromised because if your audience looked outside the window during your presentation, you would think that they are disinterested or bored. Fear of rejection – A person who fears rejection is likely to have self-esteem issues and social anxiety. Your deep need for acceptance puts you in the centre of any situation. You perceive that, if an outcome is favourable, then you are confirmed as good enough. But when the outcome is adverse, then you believe that you are unworthy. It is all “personal” because you have instilled this self-limiting belief. You dismiss the learning of any skills or the opportunity to grow through practise. You may have moments when you can “de-personalise” this rejection, but it ultimately slides back to you – the person. So in situations like presenting as part of an interview, you won’t take the risk because it exposes the fear that you may not be good enough; it exposes your fear of rejection.
• Previous bad experienceYou learn from your experiences. But when an experience has been disastrous, your stress/anxiety responses become firmly attached to the incident. It re-surfaces when you anticipate tackling that same situation again. So when you’ve been ordered to give a presentation to cover an absent colleague at the last moment and know very little about the subject-matter, unsurprisingly the presentation goes wrong. If you are then fired on that unfortunate performance (harsh, I know!), this trauma causes anxiety to flood you when you need to give another presentation in the future. The bad experience has left its mark on you and set up your fear of public speaking! Not all learning is directly related to the situation. A fear of confined spaces e.g. lifts, can be attached to a fear of public speaking because indirectly, it is a situation that you cannot easily get away from when you feel anxious. You feel “stuck” on stage which indirectly reminds you of being in a lift.
• Inadequate preparationConfidence grows with the knowledge of how to do something and successful practise. So when you are taught how to prepare and deliver a presentation, the belief that you can succeed will grow. When you are given your presentation title you are more likely to “do your homework” and prepare sufficiently to achieve the desired goal. However, when you are terrified of the outcome and have been left to do your own (ineffective) preparation, it is quite reasonable for anxiety to take over and avoidance to kick in. The person who then believes that you ought to be able to give a presentation “by now”, evades any methodical preparation. Panic sets in and nothing is prepared for the big day.
• You fear your audienceYou give authority to the opinions of others. You believe that others have grounds to criticise either the content of your presentation or your credibility to be presenting it. So your mind is dominated by what they are thinking rather than what you can do in your presentation. You worry about the implications of saying something controversial or simply “messing up” and making a fool of yourself. You cram in too much information fearful that it appears incomplete. It is likely that you are trying to impress your audience and are overly-focused on their reactions. But you reject any potential positive feedback. You see a room full of people that are better than you, laughing at your comedy of errors! Since you doubt your own credibility (low self esteem), you are waiting for confirmation that you don’t deserve to be on the stage. You hesitate to “know your audience” in advance, because even if they are your peers or your subordinates, they have gone the extra length to research something that you know nothing about. You are ashamed to admit that you don’t know a topic in your presentation, so you try to bluff an answer. You are waiting to be exposed as a fraud. When you know that there is a genuine expert in the audience, your anxiety is overwhelming.
Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Do you have a fear of public speaking?Being apprehensive or nervous before and during a presentation is quite normal. If you give presentations on a regular basis, then it’s likely that you have overcome any acute anxiety symptoms. So what qualifies as a fear of public speaking? Firstly, you will have significant levels of anticipatory anxiety that dominate your life weeks before the presentation: • You are preoccupied with what you believe will go “wrong” on the presentation day. • You appear slightly detached, “daydreaming” about your worries. • Sleep is often disrupted and the quality of sleep can be restless. • You become more reliant on comforts e.g. food or alcohol. • Ritualistic habits dominate as you try to distract your mind from the anxiety. • You divert any practical attempts to work on the presentation by completing unimportant routine activities (procrastination). • You seek avoidance strategies to ease your anxiety e.g. delegate to a subordinate member of staff, postpone the date, feign illness etc. • Anxiety symptoms (see below) develop in moderate levels leading up to the presentation. You have a fear of public speaking if, close to the presentation day and throughout the presentation itself, you suffer with one or more of the following stress/anxiety symptoms at an acute level: • Blushing • IBS • Panic attacks affecting your pacing (tendency to rush) • Profuse sweating • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat) • Uncontrollable shaking • Stammering • Difficulty breathing (hyperventilating) • Dry mouth • Memory loss • Muscular tension particularly around the vocal cords affecting your speech. • Nausea • Feeling faint • Increased frequency of habits (fidgeting) • Feeling claustrophobic (confined to the stage)
Treating your fear of public speakingThese are some common methods of treating your fear of public speaking and controlling the anxiety that inhibits you: • Self help methods - These involve gradually building up your confidence and skills giving presentations in “safe” situations. When starting, consider your ideal topic, audience and location where you can decide the conditions. In this chosen situation, making a mistake would be trivial. Think of it as a practise of a practise. For some of you it might literally start in front of the mirror. Public speaking tips can guide you through your early stages of learning. • Join a public speaking class – If your company is unable to give you training in public speaking, then you can learn the art from a public speaking trainer in a classroom setting. Public speaking skills are taught in groups and you will gradually build up to giving a presentation at the end of the course. If you are encouraged by other people going through the same experience as you, then a public speaking class could help your presentation skills. • Treat your anxiety through your GP – Anxiety can be debilitating. When anxiety affects your ability to communicate, then controlling it is essential for a fear of public speaking. Discuss with your GP how anxiety can be treated with medication. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, your GP may also be able to arrange counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
How can hypnotherapy help you fear of public speaking?Hypnotherapy can be an effective way of treating your fear of public speaking in a number of ways: • Control your anxiety – Hypnotherapy is a natural treatment. Once you have learnt relaxation techniques in the form of self-hypnosis, they can help you cope with your anticipatory anxiety. You can learn to utilise them during your presentation to reduce your anxiety symptoms listed above. When used strategically, they can also moderate the pace of your dialogue and assist with your voice projection. Hypnotherapy relaxation techniques can help you to appreciate how much your symptoms are part of an anxious cycle perpetuated by you own emotional state. By controlling your anxiety, you can develop your presentation skills without your mind being preoccupied with your symptoms. • Identify unconscious causes of your anxiety - The negative stored experiences in your mind can be indirectly associated to your presentations. These create spontaneous anxiety symptoms e.g. previously embarrassing yourself by falling over when you were in a crowd can be negatively stored as “crowds = anxiety and embarrassment”. You didn’t give a presentation in that past situation, but now you are anxious when giving a presentation because your mind is triggering the “crowds” link. When you are unable to identify why you are struggling with presentations, you will continue to create random anxiety symptoms until you can identify these causal events and releasing the negative emotion from then. Regression hypnotherapy can be used to facilitate this process. • Reframe direct past traumas – Past traumas caused when you have previously given presentations are the negative building blocks that pull your mind into your stressed awareness. Your mind stores these adverse experiences in an attempt to keep you safe from experiencing yet another trauma. Hypnotherapy techniques can be used to reframe the meaning of those traumas reducing your anxiety symptoms in your fear of public speaking. • Visualise your peak performance – You have probably been told to “think positively” by many people. But when anxiety and a history of past traumas shape your awareness, it can be difficult to visualise what you want to achieve. In hypnosis, your mind can readily accept suggestions and positive imagery. This can help focus your mind towards your goal and give your mind an imagined experience of a presentation that has gone well. • Change negative beliefs about yourself and presentations – Some of the causes of your fear of public speaking (listed above) can be quite deep rooted and self-limiting. You may view some these causes as overwhelming “facts”. By analysing these negative beliefs, they can be treated so that your mind can be more receptive to accepting positive suggestions. When these changes are reinforced with practise of your presentation skills, it can accelerate your potential to speak in public.
Fear of public speaking: summaryOvercoming your fear of public speaking doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a determined and courageous decision to want to develop skills in the face of anxiety. By finding a “safe” audience to practise with, your confidence can grow as you learn to master your skills. Be prepared to make mistakes and persevere. Train your mind to role-play any character that deflects the attention away from you. Hypnotherapy can assist your fear of public speaking on many levels. As a qualified and experienced teacher/trainer and clinical hypnotherapist, I can help you develop your presentation skills and reduce your anxiety associated with your fear of public speaking.
For further information on treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff and presentation anxiety in Cardiff, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Anger Management in Cardiff
What is anger?Anger is a basic and normal human emotion that you can feel on a daily basis. Anger is not problematic in its milder form of irritability; feeling angry is nature’s way of telling you that you have perceived a threat, a wrong-doing or an injustice. Uncontrolled and persistent anger however can be harmful. It can be detrimental to the individual’s health, and damage family, social and working relationships. When anger is unrestrained, it can show itself in situations where innocent people can be hurt or even killed. Examples can include road rage, domestic abuse, and individual and gang violence. With anger, property can be damaged with complete disregard.
What happens when you are angry?Anger is a heightened state of arousal that prepares you to deal with perceived threats. When you are angry, stress hormones are released to alter the functioning of your mind. Your mind is alerted to the perceived threat in a distorted way. The rational intelligence normally used to handle situations is swallowed up by a primitive “caveman” logic to either attack or be defeated. Your body also responds to the stress hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body, increasing your heart rate and causing your breathing to become more rapid and shallow. Non-essential functions like digestion are de-prioritised. Blood flow is diverted to voluntary muscles as if preparing you to go into battle and strike out. With higher levels of anger you are a machine poised to deal with the perceived threat with very basic “animal” instincts. Not all anger is primitive however. You can get angry and then rationally evaluate the most appropriate response. Even when anger is moderate or calculated, these same physical reactions can still take place. But there is more interpretation and analysis of how the situation is affecting you and how you externally want to deal with it. Cognitive processes help you to assess the injustice of the situation. Behavioural processes consider how you express the anger. It can include changes in your facial expressions and posture. Physical expressions involve acts of aggression towards people and property e.g. slamming doors. Your verbal expression of anger can include speaking more forcefully and quickly, with a raised tone.
Where does anger come from?Anger is a basic human emotion. How angry you are, how you process your anger and how long anger persists after a experiencing a threat can vary between individuals. Your anger level is also influenced by a number of internal, social/cultural and situational variables. Internal factors: Most studies consider anger to be a secondary emotion and a response to pain and fear. Thus it is generally believed that anger is learned rather than something you are born with. However, there is some evidence that pregnant mothers exposed to stress can affect the developing foetus’ own stress response system and influence the child’s own temperament. This would support the view that you can be born predisposed to certain emotions like anger, as if setting up a template of emotion. What you learn after birth will then reinforce this template. Early developmental issues in the young child affect communication skills and can create a general disposition to be angry throughout your life. Being able to verbally express your anger in a calm way becomes a frustrating experience and is replaced by aggression. Social/Cultural factors: Your emotional template is mainly developed from your parents and family culture. How your family deal with anger can teach you what is an appropriate way to express your own anger. This continuous transfer of anger culture would suggest that it can remain in families through generations. Cultural factors can also affect gender differences with expressing anger within the family and in wider social groups. Stereotypically, men are encouraged to express their aggression to assert their masculinity particularly in youth culture, whereas women are discouraged from displaying their aggression to appear more feminine. Women tend to talk about their feeling of anger and stay angry for longer. Hormonal differences may explain some of these gender variations. Situational factors: The specific situation can trigger different levels of anger in different people. Take for example being stuck in a traffic jam. The level of anger you experience can depend on
- The reason for the traffic jam
- The importance of the journey
- Your relationship with the other people at your destination
- Your ability to communicate to those people the reason for your delay
- The disposition and needs of your passengers etc.
What affects the intensity of your anger?When classifying anger, a scale of 1 to 10 is commonly applied to rate the degree of anger felt or expressed. At the lower levels there is irritation and aggravation, at the upper levels hostility, aggression and rage. Revenge (as a form of anger) can be used at all levels. The intensity of your anger is dependent on the history, internal, external and situational factors:
- Your history of anger and history of the event
- Your general disposition and current stress levels
- Background cultural factors
- How much you rate the severity of the perceived threat
- The relationship with the perpetrator and their apparent intentions
- Your analysis of the circumstances surround the event
What can cause you to get angry?Modern living rarely needs the primitive “fight or flight” anger response that our ancestors once used for survival. The threat of survival has evolved into the threat of losing one’s self-esteem. How you define your esteem can mean different things to different people. But modern anger is usually stimulated when there is a perceived threat to:
- Your physical well-being - The aftermath of an attack can create a deep feeling of anger to get your revenge on your attacker and level the score.
- Your self-image and social status - This can be defined as how you see yourself and how you believe others see you. A nasty comment that defames you can cause anger particularly when it is untrue. It can have an impact on your reputation.
- Your family - When your child is being bullied at school, anger can be a response to your own feeling of helplessness. Naturally, you would want to protect them from harm, but you are not able to be present in every situation.
- Your social group - A criticism given to the football team you support or pop group that you like can spark a verbal or physical argument. Youth culture is known for having a strong social group identity that links with one’s self image.
- Your property - Your possessions can act as extensions of your identity. The sentimental or monetary value of possessions often defines people. The modern car is an example of how some people like to present their image. Damage the car and you damage the owner’s ego.
- Your boundaries - You like to know the rules that govern what you can and can’t do. When you know where you stand in life, you feel safe even if you don’t agree with the rule in principal. When a change takes place, you can feel angry. A teenager who has a curfew set by their parents can feel angry about the rule change if it does not equate with his/her offence. “It’s not fair” is a common angered response.
- Your privileges - Losing something that helps you to feel special or that gives you some advantage can invoke an angered response. Cuts made in work organisations create “hot” air in the staffroom. The mistake that generates the anger may be caused by taking the privilege for granted in the first place.
Types of angerAnger can take various forms. Some types are overt, but the more hidden forms of passive anger are not always recognised so easily.
- Behavioural anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is physically expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. It includes acts of physical violence and abuse.
- Verbal anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is verbally expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. When this anger is used maliciously, this type of person can be insulting and critical of others, destroying their self esteem. Facial and postural gestures accompany verbal anger.
- Persistent anger: This describes people who tend to be angry with life in general. There is no apparent trigger, just a continuous exhibition of anger. The expression can be verbal or behavioural, intense or mild. You know where you stand with this person.
- Explosive anger: This person would be defined as volatile. They can explode with rage for no apparent reason and then be calm. They are unpredictable and may choose innocent victims. Their anger can be verbal or behavioural.
- Critical anger: This verbal anger aims to judge and others and point out their mistakes. The comments make others feel ashamed and embarrassed about themselves or their abilities. Other people’s self-esteems are destroyed in an attempt to repair their own scarred self-esteem.
- Passive anger: This subversive form of anger uses sarcasm to hide suppressed anger e.g. saying “now what type of brain were you born with?” The angry person tries to disguise sarcasm by saying that the offended person is just being sensitive. Passive anger can also take the form of avoidance to get back at someone e.g. not attending an invitation to a party at the very last moment. Someone who favours passive anger likes to avoid confrontation. Or passive anger can be “expressed” by giving the silent treatment e.g. after a row with your partner. Saying nothing may be the better option than saying something that is offensive. But it is still an indication that you are angry.
- Distressed anger: This anger is a reaction to overwhelming distress in this person’s life. They are not coping with some of the bigger life changes like a new job or a break up in a relationship. They are constantly tense and lash out at people when any extra demands are placed upon them. The anger is a general reflection of high stress levels.
- Vindictive anger: This is probably the most common form of anger. The “injured” party seeks to get “even” after a perceived threat. It can take the form of direct “tit-for-tat” behaviour or by indirect forms of revenge where you withhold something that they may need.
- Self-directed anger: This form of anger accompanies self-blame, self-harm and low self-esteem. A person who uses this anger struggles to be assertive and handle situations confidently. They see view most situations as major conflict. So the only way to turn is inwards directing the anger at oneself. Examples of punishment include eating disorders and cutting oneself.
- Calculated Anger: When someone isn’t getting their way, they use anger as a way to over-power the other people in the situation. They may be defined as “control-freaks” who expect people to comply with their orders. When someone protests about their plans, it intensifies their anger.
- Suspicious anger: This person feels angry because they are jealous of others and are paranoid that other people will take what “belongs” to them. This jealous anger typically surfaces in relationships. The angry person has trust issues and tries to possess their partner. When their partner is seen innocently talking to other people, they are accused of flirting and face accusations of infidelity.
- Constructive anger: On a personal level, this type of anger is about being assertive. It considers the needs of all parties in the situation. Constructive anger emphasises communication and negotiation to resolve situations and reduce any future disharmony. On a group and organisational level, it aims to make positive change from situations, decisions or actions that have been mismanaged. Examples include the formation of movements, unions and associations.
Treatment for anger using hypnotherapyFor many people, anger can seem like an internal eruption that is out of control. Any habitual response develops that way, particularly when you have been subjected to abusive anger as a child. Changing the way you express your anger can help protect your relationships, your career and your health. Hypnotherapy can help you deal with your anger at different levels. Hypnotherapy is more than just a way of relaxing. There are a number of steps that can help you to change your expression of anger: Understand the nature of your anger: There are very few situations where anger is just about anger. When it is related to the present situation, it is dealt with in a controlled manner. Most of the time, anger is a response to suppressed underlying issues that you are not ready to deal with or may not want to want to deal with. Your anger acts as a front to a deeper pain. Fear of rejection, worthlessness, embarrassment, shame, and jealousy are some of emotions that can fuel anger. These issues can relate back to childhood. Without understanding the background, your attempt to control it will seem as if you are swimming against the tide. When a small wave comes along, it’s enough to knock you back without the energy to control it. There are many situations that can signal that your anger is about something else. One situation is when you struggle to admit that you are wrong and will aggressively defend your viewpoint. You fail to compromise because you fear that you will be judged as inadequate. When anger is your way of life this can also indicate that there is something else that is sustaining your anger. Identify your anger warning signs and triggers: Deep-rooted negative beliefs and can act as catalysts to your anger. They can rapidly take you from being in control to out of control. When you over-generalise, you will consider one threatening situation to mean this happens to you all day, every day. The angry person exaggerates by saying “this always happens to me!” Narrowing your internal choices by using modal verbs (have to, should, must) can also cause anger. You can probably recall situations when you have said “I’ve got to complete this by today.” You have then built up anger when you haven’t met these demands. Anger can be triggered when you convince yourself about a negative event without getting all of the evidence. Typical situations include mis-reading an expression on somebody’s face and then thinking catastrophic consequences. Who is responsible of your emotions? You are responsible. And when you take ownership of your emotions, you are in a better position to control and change them. But a blame culture has mistakenly encouraged placing the responsibility for your feelings on someone else. This can easily trigger your anger when you share this view. It’s a common phrase when people say that “you made me angry, it’s your fault!” Only they can reset your emotions when you feel angry or anything else. It’s a disempowering outlook to have in life and is likely to short-fuse your anger when someone else makes a mistake. Some of these anger triggers can be physical stress responses that take you over your body. Feeling the tightness in your abdomen and chest, your heart racing and rapid breathing can transform a calm temperament into an angry one. By recognising some of these signs that your anger is building, you can take active steps to make changes before the anger escalates. You may already know certain people, places or situations that can trigger your anger. But rather than blaming them, identifying how they affect you can help you choose how you interact. You may avoid certain topics of conversation with aggressive people because it generates anger. Avoidance can be a useful short-term fix for many situations, but it can help you manage your emotions during times of general stress. Learn ways to keep calm: When you understand the nature of your anger and can identify the signs and triggers, you can then learn ways to deal with your anger before it hits the upper limits. There are certain methods that are helpful at in the heat of the moment. They include deep breathing exercises and developing the courage to walk away from the scene. Anger that persists after the event can benefit by evaluating the importance of the situation and the way it is impacting on your emotions. What else can I do about the situation? Can I communicate my anger in a more constructive way? What outcome do I really want? These questions can help you divert your mind away from unnecessary aggression. An ongoing situation that angers you requires constant anger and stress management. Breathing techniques and progressive relaxation can help reduce physical tension. Frequent exercise is another way of venting these symptoms. Develop constructive ways to express your anger: When you recognise that your anger is worthy of the situation and that there is a way to resolve it, you can then direct your anger in a more constructive and assertive way. Focusing on the immediate situation prevents you from bringing up past irrelevant issues. It also minimises blame. If the situation allows for you to reflect on it, walk away and explore all of the possibilities. Consider if there are any ways to create a win-win situation. This will help to preserve long-term relationships. The other person will be grateful that you are valuing their needs. If you are particularly angry and intend to confront this situation head on, evaluate whether it is worth the emotional intensity. Being selective with your conflicts will help others note your seriousness rather than it being “yet another tantrum!” By being selective, it can also help you to appreciate when it’s better to let something go. Courageously walking away from anger can be considered as a “win”, particularly when you have evaluated how much a situation can draw on your long-term resources. When you have walked away from the situation, it can give you (and the other party) an opportunity to assess the value of the relationship. An apology can restore broken relationships when it is genuine. Forgiveness can then be considered where an on-going workable partnership is in both the party’s interests.
Hypnotherapy: When is professional help needed to treat your anger?Hypnotherapy can be an effective way to treat your anger, although it is unlikely that you willseek hypnotherapy for occasional irritability. Some of the warning signs that your anger is out of control include: · Anger is affecting your relationships. Aggressive (verbal and physical) behaviour canbe detrimental to close family relationships and friendships. Self esteems can be destroyed when you are taking out your frustration on people close to you. It can shatter the confidence and feeling of security of those who witness your anger.
· Anger is affecting your jobCompetitive work situations and unnecessary change can create anger in your workplace. When you are an angry boss, it may scare your staff into completing their tasks, but it can harm relationships, affect job satisfaction cause unnecessary health issues.
· Your anger is creating constant physical tensionSuppressed anger or unresolved anger from long-term issues can cause insomnia, high blood pressure and depression. There are numerous other health issues that can develop when it left unchecked.
· Your anger is causing you to physically strike out at people.Physical violence that stems from rage is a clear indicator that some professional help is required. It may help you from being arrested.
· You avoid too many situations because of your angerSome tactical avoidance may help you to manage your anger in situations where there is a strong trigger. Avoiding too many situations in fear of an outburst however means that anger is still dominating your life.
How can Hypnotherapy help your anger?Much of the anger that is expressed at a particular moment has an unconscious association. If it was conscious, you would control easily by yourself. Hypnotherapy can treat your anger in the following ways:
· Hypnotherapy can help you understand the nature of your angerHypnotherapy can be used to identify relevant past traumas that are surfacing when you are angry. By re-framing the emotion behind your past traumas, hypnotherapy allows you to be more focused on and in control of the current situation. You can then feel released to deal with the situation constructively and express your anger calmly. Suppressed criticism and feelings of worthlessness can be an example of a typical past trauma treated with hypnotherapy. With hypnotherapy, your mind can make the important link to what generates your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you identify your anger warning signs and triggersHypnotherapy can help you to identify your internal and external signs and triggers. Anger can seem like an “either or reaction”. One moment you are dealing with the situation and then the next moment you are boiling over with rage. When it happens unconsciously, trying to analyse it afterwards can seem a little too late. With hypnotherapy, the intense visualisation allows your mind to revisit the situations as if being there in slow motion. Depending on the hypnotherapy techniques used, the hypnotherapy consultation can ensure that you are detached enough to learn from the experience without feeling re-traumatised. Hypnotherapy can also employ symptom reversal techniques to alter the physical reactions that can generate your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you to stay calmHypnotherapy has the advantage over other therapies because the relaxation techniques are part of the hypnotherapy induction. When stress levels are high, you are generally more irritable and your potential to learn is inhibited. But more importantly, hypnotherapy can plant effective calming techniques into your anger ritual, positively disrupting the negative chain-reaction. Hypnotherapy also incorporates breathing techniques into the anger programme which is suggested by most anger management therapists.
· Hypnotherapy can help you develop constructive ways to express your angerHypnotherapy can help you to react more calmly and bring your anger under control. You can then learn to appreciate the demands of the situation and the people involved. Hypnotherapy can help you to walk away from the situation or help you to focus intensely on solutions for both parties. Being assertive ensures that the needs of each person are taken into account. Use hypnotherapy as your preferred choice of treatment for your anger issues. Each hypnotherapy programme is individualised for your emotional and behavioural transformation. Benefit from hypnotherapy to treat your anger.
For further information on treating anger in Cardiff using hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety CardiffThese practical ‘coping with anxiety tips’ are a starting point to lift you out of your ceaseless cycle of worry and place you into somewhere brighter, ready to embrace life. They have been written using experience from my hypnotherapy practice in Cardiff. The majority of my hypnotherapy patients have anxiety-related issues. Quite often it is the main focus of their therapeutic goal. Anxiety is the apprehension about something that is you think is going to happen. It is usually based on something that has gone wrong before. That past situation is now buried in the depths of your mind, yet it feeds into your irrational prediction that the outcome is going to all go wrong again. Let’s face it; in reality, it hardly ever happens that way. But the past event lies there to protect you from danger (fight or flight response) with such force, that it disables you with inaction. Your mind is stuck in worry mode and it needs help coping with anxiety. So, what can you do? Here are my practical ‘coping with anxiety tips.’
Coping with anxiety tip #1: Learn to breatheThis is a fundamental ‘coping with anxiety tip’. It’s something that you just “do” and you have heard people say it in passing, “take a deep breath.” But breathing properly to reduce anxiety is something that few can master with effect. When someone around you is anxious, pay attention to where they are breathing from. It’s likely to be high in the chest. Then consider how quickly they are breathing. They will be ventilating with short, rapid breaths. This can prolong the feelings of anxiety and make your symptoms worse. Learning to breathe for relaxation has the effect of calming the nervous system and lowering the stress responses. Read this article on breathing techniques to reduce anxiety for more details. Once you have begun to use breathing techniques, you can learn to centre your mind. In a more relaxed state, it’s easier to access other resourceful ‘mind’ techniques that can help you when coping with anxiety. In a hypnotherapy course, this is a core technique that is incorporated into the early part of the hypnotherapy treatment. View it as life-skill beyond hypnotherapy. It is useful for coping with anxiety and many more emotional states.
Coping with anxiety tip #2: Do some physical activityDid I say the ‘E’ word? No, that’s because exercise (oops, I said it!) doesn’t have to be a regimented activity in the gym. If it is and you enjoy it, then go ahead and do some. You may be someone who likes your exercise to be self-directed. So you go on each exercise station problem solving or exorcising (pun intended!) your worries whilst doing something repetitive. Have you noticed how some people sit at an exercise station, daydreaming until someone walks past and “wakes” them into their next set of repetitions? This happens with any activity that has a repeated movement like running or swimming. For those with muscular tension, any activity that has an increased level of effort involved like using weights or circuit training can release physical tension associated with anxiety. Combining these elements with something competitive can help your mind to be absorbed in something else. This can be by playing a racquet sport with a friend. You may even employ a personal trainer who helps to personalise the “no pain, no gain” process. If “exercise for exercise sake” just seems pointless, then physical activity can be disguised as something more sociable and fun. Try dancing, swimming, brisk walking and chatting with a friend, or try something as part of a hobby like light gardening. What is important with the physical activity is that you place extra physical demand on your cardiovascular system. This in turn will trigger more forceful breathing so that the diaphragm muscle is brought into play. This breathing response links with ‘coping with anxiety tip #1’. You are again breathing abdominally, but the exercise is initiating the relaxation response rather than it being a conscious process. In my hypnotherapy consultations, my hypnotherapy patients who exercise say that it helps them when coping with anxiety and releasing physical tension. They feel much better after having done some physical activity. Coming from a health, fitness and coaching background, I would recommend exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s more than just a ‘coping with anxiety tip’.
Coping with anxiety tip #3: Have some useful distractionsThis ‘coping with anxiety tip’ is useful when you are worrying about a problem that can’t be resolved right away and you can get stuck in worry ‘mode’. This situation can be made worse when there is nothing else to focus on. The aim is to centre your attention on something that can absorb your mind just enough to leave anxiety where it is. This does not mean fill every moment with activity however. Coping with anxiety directly is something quite different. This is just another way to temporarily manage your anxiety by ‘stepping out’ of it, aware that it will be dealt with at a different time. Call it strategic avoidance. It’s useful when you a dreading making a phone call to someone who is absent. You have planned the conversation but you don’t know how they will respond. So you keep worrying about this, filling every quiet moment with ‘what if’s’. The call just needs to be made, but unfortunately they are not available. When using a valid distraction, it’s crucial to consider:
- The level of concentration required in an activity and
- The level of importance of the activity.
Coping with anxiety Tips #4: Get talkingIs there any substance in the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”? If you have a good social circle, it can be a very natural ‘coping with anxiety tip’. Talking to people can help to lift your mood and release your anxiety. You don’t have to be given an action plan of solutions that you take with you and tick off as you deal with each one. It can just be about being placed in a situation where you are talking to someone and they are there listening to you. It can be (ideally) in person, on Skype or even on the telephone, as long as you are connecting in some way with the listener. When you can have a good “natter”, you can offload and unburden your worries and then feel free of them. It’s the emotional attachment to your worries that make them more of an issue than the issues per se. Remember that worries are perceived and only exist in your mind. When the emotion has changed, the problem can be repositioned in your mind. Talking is like unloading your heavy burdens onto someone else who has space in their worry trailer. The listener doesn’t have to be a professional therapist. As long as they are patient with you and seek to understand the nature of your issue, you can benefit from the interaction. And if you feel guilty about taking up their valuable time or “borrowing” from them, you can always return the favour on another occasion. Coping with anxiety can be a two-way exchange. Hypnotherapy consultations involve a hypnotic induction. When exploring the patient’s issues, the early part of the session is a useful opportunity for you to offload and discuss the problems related to your goal. When the situation demands it, I let this cathartic function continue, being aware that it is therapeutic in your overall treatment. It helps to build report and this helps you to be more receptive to my hypnotic suggestions.
Coping with anxiety Tips #5: Get writingWriting a letter, but not sending it, is a particularly useful way of coping with your anxiety if you have a more reserved personality. There is evidence to suggest that it is a good platform to actively process and express your feelings but in a passive way. In certain situations, processing them is all that is needed to feel better about them. Writing a (disposable) letter is typically useful for emotions likesuppressed anger, when venting it directly at the person would not be wholly appropriate. When writing a letter, no one needs to be involved in the process unless you choose them to be. So the disposable letter acts as the cathartic release of your raw emotion. You can “get it off your chest” without needing to rant at the other person and then regret it afterwards. With the emotion of anxiety however, the letter does not have to be aimed at anyone in particular. You can address it to your own mind! You recognise that your mind is generating these worries and it is getting you nowhere. So rather than being possessed by it, the letter gives you the opportunity to step outside of the worry and communicate with the anxiety. Consider that in your mind, you can go through internal discussions several times a day. Call it the process of deliberating. When there is a dominant part of you, it is that “voice” that will make the loudest noise. When you are struggling coping with anxiety, anxiety is the most dominant part of your mind. And when you can’t bargain with it, the act of writing the letter strengthens other parts of your mind, giving the writing process more power to discharge your anxiety. There’s a huge difference between dealing with something and suppressing it. By writing a letter in this style, you are acknowledging that your mind’s anxiety is doing the job that it is designed to do (if only a little too well). You are opening the lid on the anxiety box and releasing it, rather than shutting the lid on it where it usually builds up and returns with a vengeance. When suppressed, the anxiety comes to the surface when you try to relax or it plays through your dreams creating restless sleep. The way you structure the letter further facilitates the cathartic process. Avoid a letter in which you are just expanding your worries. It can drown you in anxiety and be counter-productive. Write the letter in two stages.
- Acknowledge the negative state. In this case it is anxiety. State the worries and fears you have. Detail them just enough to be able to vent them. State what they are doing to you and how you are reacting to them. Detail some of the symptoms.
- Reject the negative state and embrace its positive-opposite (antonym). State how you are taking a huge step over to the positive side and succeeding in a more favourable place. With anxiety the opposite could be relaxation, calmness, peacefulness, confidence, contentment or assurance. State what the positive side is doing for you, how it is empowering you to act and how you are making significant changes to your life.
Coping with anxiety tips: Hypnotherapy summaryThese practical ‘coping with anxiety tips’ are active ways in which you can release your mind from anxiety and the associated physical tension that is generated from it. When you can incorporate these activities into your lifestyle, they will reduce your awareness of anxiety. You can feel more relaxed and feel fitter. Coping with anxiety is an on-going process. As you would expect, a hypnotherapy course would have a much deeper impact on certain types of anxiety. A hypnotherapy course can help you to relax whilst being in a highly suggestible state. It can help plant techniques that have a lasting impression on your thinking. Hypnotherapy can also help you to reframe sensitising events that are influencing your anxiety.
For further information on coping with anxiety in Cardiff using hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Anxiety: What is it?Anxiety is a common term used to describe general feelings of nervousness or apprehension. It can vary from a simple fleeting worry or temporary uneasy mood, to a chronic incapacitating condition with distressing physical symptoms. Anxiety can affect your thinking, feelings and behavior when dealing with change or coping with demanding situations like exams. Anxiety becomes problematic when expectations become irrational and unrealistic, where even minor situations are met with a feeling of dread. Your general handling of life becomes overwhelming, affecting basic functioning like sleeping and eating patterns.
Anxiety: What causes it?There are various causes of anxiety. They can be attributed to environmental and biological issues: Environmental: Lifestyle and lifestyle changes Certain lifestyles are considered to generate higher levels of anxiety. These include when using or withdrawing from addictive substances, being in a long-term job that you dislike or being in an abusive relationship. There are recognized lifestyle changes that are considered to be stressful. These can include developing certain medical conditions (e.g. heart conditions), moving house, changing jobs, getting a divorce, suffering abuse and grieving the death of a loved one. The recency and number of lifestyle changes that you are dealing with at one time would increase your anxiety levels. Environmental: Life experiences There are many experiences that can shape your anxious thinking such as suffering traumas, abuse and neglect. These experiences can create a template of anxiety that is re-triggered when suffering similar situations later in life. In addition to this, learning to cope from anxious parents is likely to influence your own anxious disposition. When you are younger, authority figures can act as role models for creating your own anxious belief system. Biological: Genetics A family history of anxiety will increase your likelihood that you will suffer anxiety. This considers the view that you are born a ‘worrier’ with catastrophic thinking. Biological: Brain chemistry An imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between the brain cells) can cause anxiety and affect brain functioning. It’s unclear whether anxious traumas cause this dysfunction or it is something that you inherit. In my hypnotherapy consultation, I may seek to identify events that have “caused” you to deal with events in a self-limiting way. This can help reduce your internal conflict or “why” your mind has adopted this negative approach to handle problems.
Anxiety: What are the common symptoms?Each person is individual in the way you experience anxiety. Some symptoms are more prominent than others and in some cases, symptoms can be the reverse e.g. bladder shyness (difficulty urinating) instead of frequent urination when feeling anxious. Anxiety sufferers find that their condition can exaggerate other natural symptoms. This is because of the “anxious” way you tend to tune into your symptoms. For example, sweating is a common anxiety symptom and a natural response when you are hot. Socially anxious people become more nervous and self-conscious when you show common anxiety symptoms in public. In the summer, sweating in public can be made worse by sufferers of social anxiety. Many of the anxiety symptoms are common to other more serious health conditions. It is important to have these symptoms checked by your doctor just to be certain that your symptom is anxiety-related. Symptoms tend to fall into two categories: emotional and physical symptoms: Emotional symptoms
- Constant state of worry and irritability
- Feeling detached and ‘spaced out’
- Being forgetful and accident-prone
- Over-reacting to a hint of danger, predicting negative outcomes
- Difficulty relaxing and falling asleep/persistent waking
- Irritable and moody
- Problems concentrating
- Irregular rapid strained breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Persistent tiredness and fatigue
- Frequent urination and nervous diarrhoea
- Physical tension and (tension-related) headaches
- Throat constricted
- Excessive sweating
- Stomach cramps, anxiety-related IBS
- Feeling of rapid temperature changes
- Muscular twitches or shakes
- Sleep problems and Insomnia
- Loss of appetite and comfort eating
Anxiety: how is it diagnosed?Anxiety is diagnosed in consultation with your GP. You doctor will also want to establish that there are no underlying medical problems that are being masked by your anxiety. Personal questions are asked about the nature of your worries and fears, family history and any recent lifestyle changes. Your doctor will also enquire about how you are coping with your anxiety, your sleeping and eating patterns and any excessive habits which have developed. Your doctor may prescribe some medication or refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Further assessment tools will be used to help diagnose the severity of your condition. A diagnosis can then be made if you have a particular type of anxiety disorder. General anxiety disorder is diagnosed when you have persistently struggled with your symptoms for about six months.
Anxiety: Living with anxietyJust admitting that you have anxiety can be a problem for those suffering with the condition. Many people wrongly see anxiety as a condition for the weak-willed. The phrase that you are unable to “pull yourself together” assumes that you can just “snap” out of it. Although this is a rational recourse, it barely connects with the emotions felt when you are suffering with anxiety. There is an amount of helplessness within anxiety and it can take time for family and friends to accept this. Even if the diagnosis of anxiety is accepted by the sufferer, it can be met with denial. You may not want to take the medication because it can also be used to treat depression. Symptoms that can accompany anxiety are also easily rejected. The sufferer wants to believe that tension headaches or anxiety related IBS must have an organic cause. You endlessly pursue tests and further tests, rejecting the negative result as an error. A relative who has had an organic condition diagnosed e.g. heart problems might generate a further medical anxiety (hypochondria). In this state, you panic about your own anxiety symptoms, making the symptoms worse (panic about panic).
Anxiety: Approaches to treatmentMedication Depending on how your anxiety affects you, your GP will prescribe suitable medication. It is usually in the form of benzodiazepines for short-term severe anxiety, antidepressants for chronic anxiety or beta blockers for physical anxiety symptoms. Self-help Self-help methods can include making changes to your lifestyle to moderate your feelings of anxiety. This can include exercise, changes to your diet and talking to people in self-help groups for further support. CBT and Counselling Your doctor can refer you to a therapist to help you cope with your anxiety. There can be a waiting list for treatment depending on your location.
Anxiety: Treating anxiety with hypnotherapyThere is evidence-based research to show that “hypnosis is an efficacious treatment for state anxiety...and anxiety related disorders”. In my hypnotherapy practice, the majority of my patients will be suffering with some form of anxiety. Quite often it is the main therapeutic goal. Hypnotherapy can: Teach you how to relax A key benefit of hypnotherapy is that each consultation involves deep relaxation, reducing immediate levels of stress and anxiety. In this relaxed state, you are more receptive to suggestions that I will use for your treatment. Hypnotherapy can then be used to enhance your learning of new approaches to problems that are causing you anxiety. Hypnotherapy also teaches you to how to relax for yourself. Self hypnosis involves using breathing techniques to lower your anxiety levels and gain more control over your own anxious thinking processes. Hypnotherapy can: Identify and reframe sensitising events Hypnotherapy can be used to uncover and reframe sensitising events that have taught you to think in an anxious way. The effect of these past traumas can create negative fixed ideas that continue to fuel your anxiety. Here is an example of how it can be used: A patient who had a recent promotion was experiencing extreme anxiety during meetings. She was becoming progressively more self-conscious and dreaded the self-introduction usually required at the start of each meeting. Formal presentations however did not generate the same intensity of anxiety, nor did they create the same anticipatory anxiety. The treatment started with helping her to control her anxiety-response. Since some of the symptoms remained however, her past experiences were investigated further. Using regression, a suppressed past experience was identified when, as a teenager, she chose to give a talk to her class about a very personal issue. The delicate subject-matter caused her to feel exposed however and the risk was met by her peers taunting her. Her suppressed embarrassment was surfacing during her present meetings when she was sometimes asked to “speak from the heart.” Her colleagues were oblivious to her sensitivity. The anxiety had diminished once this causal link had been made and reframed into peer group trust. She unconsciously believed that her present work colleagues were going to taunt her in the same way the teenagers did. The treatment was complete by helping her to portray a confident character even though she was speaking about herself. Hypnotherapy can: Dissociate anxiety-related symptoms Negative habits or anxiety-related symptoms can be deeply associated with higher levels of anxiety. For example nail biting can be an unwanted learnt response to comfort anxiety and stammering can triggered when the patient feels extremely anxious. Hypnotherapy can help dissociate these behavioural responses from the patient’s anxious coping strategies using direct suggestion and reframing techniques. Hypnotherapy can: Replace self-doubts with self-confidence Hypnotherapy can build a perspective of confidence into the coping of new situations. Positive and realistic thought processes can be suggested during hypnosis to strengthen your handling of lifestyle issues.
For further information on treating anxiety in Cardiff with hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
IBS: What is it?IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is a common functional gut disorder. It is diagnosed after doctors have excluded other serious organic diseases. More common amongst women, IBS can develop from young teenage and adulthood.
What causes it?The exact causes of IBS are unknown. Following a food-related illness, the sensitivity of the gut canbe increased. This can affect your body’s ability to digest food and can increase your awareness of pain in the digestive tract. Stress and anxiety create chemical (adrenaline) changes that interfere with digestive functioning increasing some of the symptoms.
What are the common symptoms?Irritable bowel syndrome is characterised by bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence and pain/cramps. Some of these symptoms can be made worse after eating food or eating certain foods that the IBS sufferer believes is exacerbating the condition.
IBS: Living with IBS symptomsHaving treated many Irritable bowel syndrome patients using hypnotherapy, IBS sufferers have a lifestyle that is preoccupied with the need to go to the toilet. It can undermine their self-confidence. At home: In the home, Irritable bowel syndrome sufferers can feel more relaxed because you have access to your own toilet and your family are (usually) sympathetic to your condition. The number of flare-ups can be greatly reduced because there is general acceptance in the home. However, you can still be preoccupied with the urgent need to go to the toilet during “peak times” especially if the house has guests. Having gone to the toilet, you constantly feel that your bowels are not completely empty and that you have to go to the toilet again. You can also pass mucus when emptying your bowels. In your desperation, you can mistakenly blame the food as a cause of your IBS symptoms particularly when under stress. The IBS diet can then be severely restricted, depriving you of essential nutrients. This may cause other health issues when dealt with subjectively. Leaving the house: Stress and anxiety can make the IBS symptoms worse particularly when leaving the house. The proximity of the toilet is a constant worry, “toilet watching” for reassurance. Certain modes of transport e.g. public transport are usually avoided if possible. Suitable toilets are landmarked on a known journey, in case the toilet is needed. Unknown journeys or journeys where stopping the vehicle when required can be problematic e.g. motorways. There can be a feeling of claustrophobia. Having arrived at a destination, social anxiety can add to the agony. “What will they think?” is a question that you would rather not consider. If visiting somebody’s house there is the embarrassment of “messing up” their toilet. The time that you might be absent and smell of the faeces (with nervous diarrhoea) further adds to IBS sufferer’s predicament. An air freshener is an essential item when flying. Some Irritable bowel syndrome sufferers prefer to meet in a public place to disguise these issues. There is some relief from being able to hide in larger public toilets. It’s no wonder that IBS sufferers can feel housebound (agoraphobic) in an attempt to control your feeling of embarrassment associated with your condition. Formal situations: The constant preoccupation with one’s bowel movements can make certain formal situations unbearable to manage. Even a family occasion with a fixed schedule can be a worry e.g. a wedding, not wanting to disturb the procession. Work meetings can keep the IBS sufferer distracted about when the meeting will finish in case the toilet is needed. Claustrophobia can develop in these situations, feeling trapped within your own anxiety. Interviews and exams tend to be stressful events in themselves. Anticipatory anxiety can keep the Irritable bowel syndrome sufferer “toilet bound” leading up to the big events. Claustrophobia is again an issue in venues with formal seating e.g. cinema. An aisle seat is needed in case of the need to leave the cinema. When the cinema is full and a centre seat allocated, it can be difficult to concentrate on the film. Accidents and near-misses: Some IBS sufferers have had an “accident” whilst away from home and fear repeating the situation. It can be traumatising, effecting how you handle future events to prevent a reoccurrence. Even if you have had a “near-miss”, you can develop a series of coping rituals similar to that encountered by OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) sufferers. You become preoccupied with prevention and “control”. Inevitably, depression can be linked to long-term IBS. Toilet phobia: Some IBS patients have OCD issues with “contamination” when using public toilets. This may have been the initial trigger for the Irritable bowel syndrome. These anxiety conflicts can mean that the sufferer rarely leaves the house. Not surprisingly, when I have treated hypnotherapy patients with these anxieties, I have treated them at their home.
IBS: Approaches to treatmentMost Irritable bowel syndrome patients will have explored a number of treatment options with various health professionals. These can include the use of prescribed medication to counter your type of IBS symptoms. Antispasmodics and antidepressants are used to alleviate cramping or pain, laxatives for constipation or anti-diarrhoeal medication is used for diarrhoea. Dietary changes can involve an objective assessment of your diet to ease related symptoms. This can mean eliminating certain problem foods where there is intolerance. Or it can involve increasing or reducing the amount of fibre in the diet. Eating habits are also reviewed to ensure you are eating at regular intervals. Lifestyle issues can also be explored where a change can influence a benefit. Light cardio-vascular exercise for example is considered helpful for the digestive system.
IBS: Research shows that Hypnotherapy can help to treat IBS symptomsHypnotherapy has been used to treat Irritable bowel syndrome within the National Health Service. Professor Peter Whorwell, a consultant gastroenterologist from Manchester has been researching the use of hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS for over 20 years. In his research using 12 sessions of Skype hypnotherapy, 40% fewer subjects had severe IBS symptoms following their Skype hypnotherapy treatment. Skype hypnotherapy was used instead of face to face hypnotherapy where travelling to the hospital was deemed as traumatic for the IBS sufferer. In other research in the use of hypnosis in the treatment of IBS, MJ Ford and A Dobbin conclude that “Hypnotherapy reduces patient anxiety and improves symptom control in the majority of patients with refractory IBS...Benefits extend well beyond symptom control and include improvements in quality of life and reduction in emotional distress.” (p. 297) In February 2008, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, who advise the NHS on effective treatments suggested to doctors that "Referral for psychological interventions (cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT], hypnotherapy and/or psychological therapy) should be considered for people with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months" (See 184.108.40.206).
IBS: How can hypnotherapy treat IBS?The causes of Irritable bowel syndrome remain unknown. However, stress and anxiety are considered to exacerbate symptoms of IBS. Following your doctor or consultant’s diagnosis of stress-related IBS symptoms, hypnotherapy can then be used to treat your IBS symptoms.
Reduction of stressWhen under stress, adrenaline is released and effects the functioning of the gut. Blood is diverted away from the digestive system to essential “fight or flight” responses. By combining relaxation breathing techniques that you can use for yourself, the stress responses can be reduced, allowing the gut to function in a relaxed state. Some of your lifestyle issues will also be explored to help you manage your stress in a more effective way.
Reduction of anxietyLiving with Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (see above) can create an anxious lifestyle dominated by “toilet” worry and panic behaviour. Hypnotherapy helps you to be more receptive to suggestions. It can be used to reframe past anxious experiences that are creating your avoidance. Hypnotherapy can also help you to visualise dealing with new situations with confidence.
Reduction of pain, discomfort and bloatingThe reduction of pain, discomfort and bloating symptoms can be related to your levels of stress and anxiety. Hypnotherapy can also use specific pain management techniques to lower your awareness of pain and cramping. Bloating and distension can be eased by relaxing muscles of the digestive tract, making it easier to expel excess gas.
IBS: IBS gut-directed hypnotherapyGut-directed hypnotherapy or gut focused hypnosis is a treatment that is incorporated into the general hypnotherapy treatment. Gut-directed hypnotherapy focuses specifically on visualisation techniques targeted at the gut’s own nervous system (Enteric nervous system). Suggestions are aimed specifically at this neural pathway which can become disrupted or overactive following acute IBS. The aim is to positively influence communication between the brain to the gut and from the gut back to the brain. In Professor Whorwell’s words, with gut directed hypnotherapy “you are controlling your gut, rather than your gut controlling you.” I have been trained to use gut-directed hypnotherapy techniques.
For further information on treating IBS with hypnotherapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Panic attacks: What are they?Panic attacks are episodes of intense, almost paralysing fear where, as a result of the “fight or flight” response, the body is flooded with the stress hormone adrenaline. Panic attacks can be triggered suddenly and unconsciously. Before the sufferer has been able to identify the symptoms as a panic attack, the sufferer can feel as if they are having a heart attack or even think that they are dying. During the early development of panic attacks, the sufferer can perceive their external situation to be quite “normal” making the panic attacks appear unpredictable and unavoidable. Having had one panic attack, the sufferer then becomes sensitised to the symptoms. Without have any coping strategies, the mildest trigger can set off a panic attack.
Panic attacks: how long can they last?They can last anything from a few seconds to several minutes, sometimes developing in waves if the sufferer believes they are unable to alter the course of the panic attack e.g. remove themselves from a “closed” situation or relieve some of the symptoms when turbulence is causing panic when flying. Sometimes the panic relates to internal or medical fears e.g. fear of having a heart attack. In this situation, panic attack sufferer is unable to distinguish between the symptoms as either anxiety or an actual heart attack. This may be have been triggered by someone they know who has suffered a panic attack. A similar situation can be created by an asthma sufferer whose asthma symptoms are anxiety-induced.
Panic attacks: What causes them?
- Physical or medical causes:
- Major lifestyle changes:
- A family trait:
- Phobias and anxious/stressful situations:
Panic attacks: What are the common symptoms?The symptoms of a panic attack are similar to general anxiety but are usually higher up the intensity scale. They can include one or more of the following:
- Intense sweating (armpits, hands, forehead or complete cold sweat)
- Shaking, trembling or feeling petrified
- Chest pain or tightness, heart pounding, beating faster, palpitations
- Thoughts of dying or impending doom
- Sudden intense anxiety or fear of danger
- Shortness of breath or shallow, rapid breathing
- Nausea, faintness or dizziness, hot flashes
- Fear of losing control
- Dry mouth, problems swallowing, throat feeling constricted
- Mind going 'blank', dreamlike sensations or perceptual distortions
- Ringing ears
- Muscle tension
- Weakness, fatigue, feeling of powerlessness
- Tummy upset or nervous diarrhoea
- Heightened alertness to danger, constantly feeling on edge
Panic attacks: Can they happen spontaneously?During the early stages of panic attacks, the sufferer may not understand them or be able to attribute any situational cause and so is left “waiting” for the next one to happen. Some panic attacks can appear to happen spontaneously but have an undiagnosed medical cause. When diagnosed and appropriately treated, the panic attacks subside. Panic attacks can happen in the middle of the night causing the sufferer to wake from their sleep. There may not be a recognised cause at the moment of happening, but nocturnal awakening can be stress-related.
Panic attacks: what is panic disorder?Whereas panic attacks can occur during bouts of stress, panic disorder is a condition where the person suffers recurrent panic attacks. They live in fear of their panic attacks which exacerbates their condition (fear of fear). Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder which is characterised by persistent worry.
Panic attacks: How can hypnotherapy treat them?
- Hypnotherapy can teach relaxation techniques
- Hypnotherapy can release negative beliefs (triggers) that cause the panic attacks
- Hypnotherapy can help identify the nature of unconscious panic responses
- Hypnotherapy can help de-sensitise the sufferer from panic-causing situations