Taking a Blogging Break

When life gets busy, sometimes it is necessary to prioritise. This is part of the approach I discussed last week, in terms of building resilience to overcome the everyday obstacles of life.

In that vein, I’ll be taking a blogging hiatus over the summer. While I’ll still be available for client sessions, I have priorities besides blogging that I need to focus on for the next couple of months.

If you want some help setting your own priorities and sticking to them, why not get in touch: 07561 231 281 or email ceejaymccracken@gmail.com.

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How To Navigate Life’s Winding Roads

Problem-solving for particular issues is a great skill to develop. Yet, life has its ups and downs, its twists and turns, that must be faced everyday.

While there will always be practical things you can do to navigate these, perhaps the biggest strength you can draw on is your inner resources. Chief among these is resilience, the ability to bounce back after minor (or not so minor) setbacks, and to carry on with determination and enthusiasm.

Build your resilience

Problem-solving and building your external resources in the form of support networks are practical, action-based ways to respond to adversity. However, possibly the most important thing you can do to help overcome life’s road blocks is to build your inner resilience.

This may also be part of the previous point, about finding a support network. Finding someone to help you build your resilience can really help move you towards your goals.

Whether you plan to build resilience on your own or with help, what aspects help you develop the inner strength required to overcome obstacles?

Increase your self-confidence

If you can look at problems as something manageable, as opportunities rather than challenges, then you are more likely to come up with solutions.

For instance, remember problems you have faced before, and how you overcame them. Think about the skills and capacities you have.

Stay flexible

As the brainstorming exercise for Disney’s creative problem-solving shows, you need to stay capable of seeing different options. Getting locked into rigid ideas will box you in. So, think about how to stay adaptable. A playful attitude helps with this 🙂

If you are stuck with a problem, take a time out to get your body moving, or to do something fun. Many successful people build in ‘breaks’ on purpose throughout the day, to freshen their minds and approaches.

Get clear on your goals

It’s easier to find a way forward when you know what really matters to you. Sometimes, you find yourself fighting through road blocks, and then realise you have let these divert you from your actual course. Or else, you may find that if you focus on the big picture, rather than your next step, you can get to your goal a different, less blocked way.

What is it that you are really trying to achieve? For example, if you want to get a new job, what is the end goal? Do you want to be earning more money, or doing something more stimulating? Are you hoping for a better set of colleagues, or a more pleasant work environment? It may be that getting a new job isn’t actually the best way for you to achieve your goal right now. Perhaps you really just need to ask for a raise, or suggest the company hires a new catering firm…

Be organised

If your energy is dispersed in many different directions, it is very hard to move beyond obstacles. When things get tough is precisely when you need to focus your energy most specifically. A big push can get you over the hump, whereas if you fritter your strength away doing a bit of this and a bit of that, you may not have what you need to deal with the adversities you are facing. So, get clear, and then be organised and focused on what is most important.

To-do lists can help with this, or a clear timeline of when things need to be done by. Get clear on your priorities, too.

Let go of negativity

If you focus on what you can’t do, or on how big those rocks are, it saps your vitality. Releasing fears and worries, doubts and concerns, can help you get clear and focused, as well as increasing your feeling of self-confidence.

One way to up your positivity is some kind of gratitude practice of exercise. Think about the good things in your life, what truly makes you smile. Of course, this won’t in itself solve your problems. However, when you feel more positive you are also more creative and energised. That way, you are better able to solve your problems yourself.

How hypnotherapy and coaching can help

Coaching is a great tool for helping you get clear on what your real goal is, and the coaching session can be the perfect time to work on problem solving, goal setting, and being organised. Talking over what has worked in the past can also help focus you on the positives, and build your self-confidence.

Hypnotherapy is also perfect for all aspects of resilience building.

When you are in a light trance state, you are more in touch with your subconscious, which is the creative, imaginative, playful part of yourself. You are also more clear and focused, and can bring to mind aspects of the past that can help you now. And you can find and build other inner resources, to increase your self-confidence further.

Hypnotherapy has some wonderful tools to help you visualise your future as you want it, too. That way, your subconscious can provide answers about how to achieve it.

And hypnotherapy or hypnorelaxation can also be used to release negativity. For instance, try this brief meditation to release blocks:

What To Do When Life Throws Stones In Your Path

Have you ever had one of those days/weeks/months/years when life just seems to keep throwing stones in your path?

For example, you want to change job, but there are no interesting jobs in your area. Or you apply for jobs, only to get turned down after the first interview. Or you get to the final interview stage, only to be pipped at the post by someone younger/older/insert adjective of choice.

Or perhaps you are looking for a new relationship, only for your best friend to hook up with the guy or gal you liked. Or you’re sick and tired of online dating after your profile got accidentally deleted, or hacked, or flooded with ‘offers’ you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Or you keep getting into relationships that just don’t work out, leaving you even more disillusioned

Or maybe you want to move home. Lawyers, surveyors, estate agents. ‘Nuff said.

So, what can you do when life continually chucks rocks at you?

Look at every problem as having a solution

First off, there are always options. You may not like some of them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You need to consider these, and choose the best option for you at this time.

If you don’t like the options you have, consider how you could make them more palatable.

Secondly, there may be options you haven’t thought about. Try a brainstorming exercise to help you find new possibilities.

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Walt Disney talking with some of his creatives

Walt Disney’s approach to problem-solving

Walt Disney, despite his many faults, had a great approach to problem solving. He suggested keeping the steps to a solution totally separate. That could mean having different people handle each step, or really getting into the role of each kind of problem solver.

The three roles or steps he distinguished were: the Dreamer, the Realist, and the Critic. And after they’ve done their bit, you need to decide what you are actually going to do: create an action plan.

The Dreamer

Here’s where you brainstorm. It can be a good idea to warm up to this by doing something playful, by moving around, and generally getting yourself unstuck physically and mentally.

Then, be as creative and as silly as you like. Think of as many possibilities as you can, without censorship. Nothing is too daft, at this stage!

The Realist

Now, it’s time to think about what is actually possible. What would be needed to make any of those ideas work? Who could help? When would it have to happen? Think about the reality of putting any of those solutions into effect.

If something is totally impossible, you’ll have to cross it off your list. Still, you may find that some of that dreamer playfulness helps you come up with realistic possibilities to make something unusual actually work.

The Critic

Finally, the critic comes to spread gloom and doom. “That’s not possible because…” “Worst case scenario, you end up with…” “What about if X happened?” “What’s missing?” “What are the weaknesses of the plan?”

By digging into the downside, rather than optimistically going along with something because you’d like it to be possible, you make it more likely that what you choose will actually succeed. There’s a skill to seeing the weaknesses in a plan, a strength to not letting your enthusiasm run away with you.

Action Plan

Taking into account everything you’ve thought about with your different hats on, which solution works best for you? Which solution is feasible? What do you want to move forward with?

You may not find the ‘perfect’ solution in this way. However, at least you will be clear about what the best path for you is right now. Sometimes, you have to take the least bad option and just run with it.

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Find a support network

When things are tough, it can also be really helpful to get some support.

That might be financial support (think bankers, or parents, or mates who’ll buy you a beer). It could be strategic support (financial advisers, CV specialists, coaches), administrative support (accountants, payroll specialists, a PA – virtual or otherwise, a dating site), or logistical support (removals firms, friends who have friends who are also single). It could be emotional support (therapists, family, friends).

Consider what support you most need, and who can provide it. Will you need to pay for help? Can you find someone knowledgeable from your existing network? How can you get the most from your interactions?

Coach/Hypnotherapist

You may want to consider what a coach and/or hypnotherapist can contribute, in this regard.

Coaching

A coaching session is a great way to create the focus for problem-solving. Your coach can help you find greater clarity around what the exact issue is, and what your end goal is.

For example, if you want a new relationship, are you looking for intimacy, companionship, sex, someone to help pay the bills, someone to grow old with? Maybe you think all of the above, with a sense of humour thrown in for good measure! Still, it can help to get clear about what your priorities are.

Say you’re looking to create a more fulfilling career for yourself, your coach can help you problem-solve around what you need to do and in what order. You might use Disney’s Creative Strategy, but what will help you with the brainstorming? A coach can suggest techniques to assist at every stage, such as using visual cues to bring your playful side onboard while brainstorming, or creating a timeline to assess the practicality of something.

Hypnotherapy

When facing problems, it can sometimes be hard to see beyond the current issues. Hypnotherapy can help to get you in touch with your subconscious, which is a more creative and focused part of yourself.

You might want to focus on bringing to mind past solutions that you can draw on in the present, things you may have consciously forgotten.

You could also visualise the future you want to create, and allow your subconscious to ‘fill in the gaps’: suggesting ways for you to get there.

You could simply use the trance state to enhance your creativity so that you can brainstorm without getting caught up in the ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought tos’ that often block us.

In hypnosis, you can also build your motivation to push on through, and to find the fun in making things work against the odds.

If you’d like some help with a stony problem, why not call or email to set up a free initial consultation? You can contact me on 07561 231 281 or email ceejaymccracken@gmail.com.

What Is Hypno Relaxation

One way of doing it which is growing in popularity is to attend a hypno relaxation class, or even treat yourself to a private hypno relaxation session.
So, what exactly is hypno relaxation and why is it so good for you?

Fast and Effective

Hypno relaxation is a way to quickly help you reach a deep level of relaxation.  It uses hypnotic language to guide you through the process, which means you can reach a wonderful state of inner peace rapidly, and make the most of your time to benefit from the advantages of mindful relaxation.  And as you are being guided throughout, you are also less likely to find your mind drifting to your to-do list or the latest TV show you are into.  That way, the time you spend in relaxation is more effective, too.

Holistic Focus on De-Stressing

Many forms of meditation or relaxation help you de-stress in one way or another, but may not do so holistically.  For example, a massage may help to release the tension in your body, but your mind may still be whirring.  Or counting your breath may occupy your mind, yet you find yourself struggling to focus because your leg/s are getting pins and needles.
Hypno relaxation sessions take a holisitic approach, ensuring that you are relaxed in both body and mind.  You can also use the experience to find inner resources to help you cope better in your everyday life.  And the sessions can help to improve your motivation to make these positive changes, even if it’s just remembering to breathe for a minute every now and again.

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Maximise Your Mind-Body Connection

There’s a growing interest in the scientific literature in what is called psychoneuroimmunology.  Basically, there is more and more evidence of the link between your thoughts and your physical well-being.  This has been used for all kinds of well-being improvements, be it reducing hot flushes, improving IBS symptoms, or reducing the impact and frequency of the colds you may catch.
Hypno relaxation is one of the most effective ways of targeting this powerful connection.  When you are thoroughly relaxed and yet also focused on what is happening, you can make changes at a deep, subconscious or unconscious level.  These changes recruit your body’s natural ability to heal, and put it to work for you.

Find what works best for you

In a hypno relaxation class or session, you can learn a number of different techniques to help you relax, breathe better, de-stress, and recruit your subconscious to improve your physical well-being.  In this way, you get to experience these different approaches, and find which ones work best for you.  On top of that, practising these while in a relaxed state improves your ability to learn, and reinforces you motivation to put them to work in your day-to-day life.

Benefits of a Personalised Session

In addition to all the wonderful aspects of a hypno relaxation class, what benefits are there to having a personalised, one-to-one session?
In the first place, you can choose which areas you most want to focus on: physical relaxation; mental calm; health; or techniques to help you outside of sessions.  You can also let your clinical hypnotist know if there is a particular resource you want to find and make use of, a specific area of well-being you want to improve, or something in particular you want to be able to do better.
Secondly, having someone focused specifically on you means that everything in the session is timed, paced and targeted to best suit your preferences and your natural rhythms.  For example, imagery can be more everyday, more nature-based or more fantasy-based, depending on what you like and respond to.  You can choose how long a session you want, to match your schedule.  And the pace of delivery can be faster or slower, to match your body’s own rhythms.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, hypno relaxation is a fast and effective way to relax in every sense of the word.  Sessions can focus on lots of different aspects, providing a great way to try different elements and figure out what works best for you.  Hypno relaxation can not only de-stress you, but can also help you achieve a greater sense of vitality and wellbeing, as well as activating your immune system to be healthier overall.
Classes are popping up all over the place, so why not give it a go? And if you are interested in a private session, you can contact me to see if we are a good fit. Call me on  07561 231 281 or email me on ceejaymccracken@gmail.com.

Top Eight Reasons To Relax

Relaxation is something we all need and enjoy in one form or another, be it reading a book, listening to music, walking in nature, or doing nothing at all.  Yet many people don’t take time to relax on a regular basis.

Life can seem really hectic and stressful, and there is a feeling of “who has time to relax?”  Knowing just how important it is, though, may change how you choose to prioritise your time.  Here’s a run down of the top eight reasons to make mindful relaxation a regular part of your life:

1) Relieve Stress

Ask just about anyone, and they will admit to having a certain amount of stress in their lives.  And for many, stress becomes quite a bane.  Stress can cause all kinds of physical problems, too, from skin conditions to irritable bowel syndrome.  It is even recognised as a trigger for depression and other serious mental conditions.  All told, reducing your stress can improve both your physical and mental well-being

2) Restore and Strengthen Your Immune System

Relaxation gives your immune system a break from stress hormones which compromise it, such as cortisol.  More than that, though, meditation actually increases your body’s defence systems.  Studies show that T cells and antibodies, both important elements of your immune system, improve with mental and physical relaxation.

3) Provide Some Relief From Chronic Pain

While relaxing both body and mind isn’t a magic wand to remove all pain, there are plenty of studes which show that meditation and relaxation help you manage pain better.  In particular, taking charge by actively seeking to reduce your pain is an important first step.  Relaxing your muscles can help reduce the sensation of pain, while mental relaxation leads to less stress.  Stress can also lead to anxiety and depression, all of which worsen the perception of pain.  Altogether, mindful relaxation is a win-win on the pain front.

4) Improve Sleep

Relaxation has also proved to improve sleep, both in quantity and quality.  Of course, some people use relaxation and meditation practices specifically for sleep.   However, it’s striking that studies aimed at quite different goals also show improvements in sleep – both how long people sleep and how well they feel they sleep.

This is a benefit that accrues over time.  While relaxation can help in a specific instance, regular relaxation practice will affect the amount you sleep and how rested you feel long term, too.

5) Help to Lower Blood Pressure

It’s well-known that high blood pressure is an indicator of cardiovascular risk – the likelihood of suffering a heart attack.  Mindful relaxation reduces your blood pressure, not only in the moment, but throughout your day.

6) Help to Widen and Relax Respiratory Passages

When you relax, your breathing slows and becomes deeper.  Relaxation can also help release tightness in your chest muscles.  Both of these help you breathe better, which helps in a wide range of situations.  For example, it helps with anxiety and asthma attacks, and improves blood oxygenation, which helps nourish all the cells in your body and especially in your extremities.

7) Calm the Automatic Flight-or-Fight Response

While it’s very important to respond quickly to emergencies, in our modern life this response gets triggered by far too many situations.  Be it the tension of watching an exciting program on TV, or the hustle and bustle of city life, lots of everyday occurrences can cause this response.  And when we are in the flight-or-fight mode, other less urgent survival processes take second place.  So, when your fight-or-flight response is triggered too much, it makes it harder for you to digest your food well, or to conceive a baby (and it influences male fertility, as well as that of the woman), amongst many other less immediate survival concerns.

8) Unlock Emotional Blockages

Many people recognise that their emotions have a negative effect on their well-being.  Be it anger that comes out inappropriately, causing trouble with friends or colleagues, or loneliness that sees you snacking by yourself, emotional blockages can cause a lot of damage.  As for how relaxation can help, there is evidence that relaxing your muscles also helps the mind to release its tensions.  This is partly a complementary response – release of one kind triggers release of another kind.

There is also the well-documented fact that we can actually store memories in our bodies.  We talk about muscle memory with things like learning to ride a bike, or how to write with a pen.  Yet, it goes far beyond this.  Many people have had the experience of releasing a muscle through massage or a yoga class, and suddenly having a strong memory of an emotional experience rise up in them.  Our anxieties and experiences are stored in our bodies, and so releasing the tension from muscles through mindful relaxation can also loosen up these muscle memories, allowing them to become unblocked.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that mindfully relaxing on a regular basis is good for both your physical and mental well-being.  While you’ll get some of the benefits from things such as taking a walk or lying quietly listening to music, the more mindfully you relax, the better.  That might mean focusing on your breathing while you think about releasing the tension throughout your body, or it could be attending a hypno relaxation class or session, or listening to a guided relaxation.

A final thought, relaxing doesn’t need to take long.  You can devote just five minutes at a time to relaxing, either by yourself or using a guided hypno relaxation recording like this one.