Monday, 29 August 2011

Inspiring – Walking with the Wounded

I have often asked myself: what is the difference between someone who takes life on and someone who accepts their fate?

My wonderful Grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz ( German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp 1940–1945, her story is told in her book, From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Back ). Her whole family managed to survive. She was on the first train out of Thessaloniki Greece and could speak both German and Greek. The family ended up being translators for the Germans and through a combination of a lot of luck and strength of mind, she and her immediate family (father, mother and brother) all survived. Unfortunately not all of her extended family and friends had the same fate. She only passed away last December and managed to lead the most fantastic life; full of love and laughter. Undoubtedly Auschwitz left her with her demons, haunting her throughout her life, but nevertheless she was the most positive person I have ever met. She had an amazing strength inside of her, understanding anyone’s problems and helping them to find their own inner strength to succeed, whilst still having the courage to challenge situations that she felt weren’t right. She also had an amazing ability to forgive, even hosting the German ambassador for dinner in her later years. What was always clear to me though, was that she survived and succeeded because of how mentally strong she was.

And in life today there are countless examples of mental strength. Lord Alan Sugar for one; starting life in a council house and without a lot prospects, he is now a household name, having become a multi-millionaire along the way and at the age of 64, shows no signs of stopping. I look at the amazing troops to come out of war having suffered life-changing injuries both physically and psychologically, now taking on incredible challenges like Walking with the Wounded and I find myself asking again “what makes them stronger, more focused than others?"

We all know the people who seem to always find misery, they seem to never be happy despite the amazing house, car, husband, job, children etc. What makes them so different? Could it all be perspective?

How is it that some people give up and accept that they will never walk again whilst others fight until they can walk, defying the laws of medicine? Like Sergeant Steve Young from the programme, Walking with the Wounded on BBC , he was told he would never walk again after having suffered a broken back whilst serving in Afghanistan. He defied the medics and four months after his injury was walking again. Sergeant Young then undertook the challenge of a lifetime; along with his teammates they became the first team of unsupported war-wounded amputees to reach the Geographical North Pole, in only 13 days they managed to combat the most torturous conditions.

I watched the 1st episode of the programme in awe and felt humbled to see these men taking on a challenge that most able-bodied people would find near impossible. Although they all had times where they battled with their inner-demons, having to come to terms with their injuries and adapting to their new life, they all managed to remain upbeat and focused, remaining a team, helping each other along the way.

I have been very blessed with my life, I have had my fair share of challenges which I hope has made me a better therapist but I have always found the inner strength to overcome what life has challenged me with.

The more I work with people and the more I learn, the more amazed I am by the power of the mind. We live in a world of technology, a world where we are becoming less and less aware of the little things in life, of our body’s natural rhythm. We take for granted so much of what we have, only stopping to look at something when we no longer have it. We strive for goals, reach them and then strive for the next one. Rarely stopping to enjoy the wonderful life we have created.

When I look at people like my Grandmother, Lord Sugar and the soldiers, the only answer I can come up with is that they have mastered the biggest tool we all have available to us. They have managed to work with their minds in a positive way. If we understand what drives us, if we work with our minds and bodies rather than against them, we can achieve amazing things, things we never thought possible. The mind is the most powerful tool you can ever have, more powerful than any computer. It has the ability to make you believe you can achieve anything.

Look how powerful it can be if we start on a negative spiral for example. We can imagine things so vividly even though the chance of them happening are less than 00.1%, but we still feel the physical and physiological responses as if it had already happened. Or there are the psycho-somatic cases when you tell your brain you are ill and it starts to give you the symptoms as if you really were.

Of course although our bodies are amazing machines, there are times when you must accept that your amazing machine is not going to recover to the extent that you want it to. You may never be the person you were before, but a fantastic thing to learn is that if you work positively with your own mind, you can see that the person you are now is as brilliant and in some ways better than the person you were before. If we all worked in a positive way the world would be an even more inspiring place - all that aggression that people have could be funneled properly to achieve something good.

I am not meaning to sound too idealistic; we all have our down days, but the trick is to make those fewer and more far between.

Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP are amazing tools in helping you understand what drives you, helping you to become a more positive person. So many of my clients turn their lives around even though nothing has physically changed; they still have the same car, job, house etc, but simply their perspective has changed. Rather than allowing themselves to focus on the few tiny things in life that aren’t quite right they start to focus on all the things that are right, giving them the strength to challenge themselves and take on tasks they never thought possible.

To find out more about Walking with the Wounded and the amazing work they do please take a look at their website

© EKTherapies

Monday, 22 August 2011

How Does Stress Affect Your Body?

Stress is a word that is commonly used today but how much do we really know about how it affects our body and our moods?

One simple description of stress is as a state when a person has insufficient resources to meet his or her demands.

  •  Too many demands + too few resources = stress, distress
  • Too few demands + too many resources = boredom, apathy
  • Demands match resources (or match resources at a stretch) = coping, interest
Each person deals with stress differently, depending on the resources available to them and the way they approach the situation. You can put two people in the same situation and they can produce different reactions. One may cope well with the situation where the other might struggle or even collapse emotionally.

A certain level of stress or challenging yourself is needed in life to keep you on your toes. Think how actors get butterflies before they go on stage, the adrenaline in their body begins to pump and they get the buzz for doing their job. This adrenaline helps to keep their performance fresh and exciting. Once the performance has finished the adrenaline levels go back to normal in their body as they relax after the show. This is a normal/healthy level of stress, keeping you driven and motivated to do the task at hand.

The effects on your body can be :
  • Pupils dilate
  • Mouth goes dry
  • Neck and should muscles tense
  • Heart pumps faster
  • Chest pains
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Leg and arm muscles tense for action
  • Breathing faster and shallow
  • Hyperventilation
It also has hidden effects too:  
  • Brain gets body ready for action
  • Adrenalin released for flight or flight
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Liver releases glucose to produce energy for muscles
  • Digestion slows or ceases completely
  • Sphincters closes or relaxes to empty bowls
  • Cortisol released, this depresses the immune system
These effects are all part of the fight or flight mode. They are helpful in daily life, helping us to be ready to deal with situations. Like when you’re in the car and you hear the screams of an ambulance siren warning you to get out of the way. You start to look for a way to move your car and you realize you are bumper to bumper. You enter the stress zone, inside your body the alert goes out. “Attention all parasympathetic forces, urgent! Adrenalin is beginning to pump through your body, the chemical cortisol has just been released mobilising all internal defences.
Your body is full of adrenaline ready to tackle any situation that comes your way, your senses are heightened, you're“running on adrenaline”. This is the stage that people get in when they perform “superhuman” acts of strength, like a mother lifting a car off of her child.

When the danger finally passes or the perceived threat is over, your brain starts a reverse course of action attempting to bring your body and mind back into balance. This is when you tend to feel your heart pumping and you feel "wow that was an adrenaline rush".

Our bodies are built to deal with this level of stress, it is a vital part of our survival.

The problem comes when we continue to keep our bodies in the heightened state, stress state. Our body/mind can’t differentiate between a real threat and a perceived threat. You can get the same chemical reactions just by thinking about a stressful situation, for example, a bill needing to be paid, going over a situation you experienced – reliving it in your mind or worrying about an upcoming situation; then when it happens it was so much better/easier than you thought, but all that energy you spent worrying about it has had a harmful effect on your body. Our body tries to rebalance but the hormones are still flying around, gradually they begin to have a permanent effect on our health, long term health problems start to develop.

The wonderful thing to read is that you can control this; you can learn what your stressors are and how you can de-stress yourself.  A hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP session can help you by working out a range of mechanisms with Erika which will equip you to deal with stress better for the rest of your life.

Here are a few ways you can start to do this:

  • Write down your personal strengths and support network· Things you are good at and people respect you for; your areas of good experience, etc
  • Family, friends, networks; powerful contacts; resources you can draw on – assets, your standing etc
  • Next, list your personal weaknesses and limitations in your life· Areas where you’re aware that you are not strong, or things that people fairly criticise you for;
  • Lack of resources – where others at your level have access to these resources, or where the absence of resources impacts on your situation
  • Bad situations – where you experience problems with your job or relationships, or where you have a poor living or working environment

Then brainstorm the opportunities available to you:

  • Work through strengths you’ve identified. Ask yourself how you can draw on them to manage stress
  • Work through the weaknesses you’ve identified. These are opportunities for positive change and for development of new skills

Finally, consider real-world practical opportunities open to you if you took advantage of those opportunities, to improve your stress management

  • Look at managing your time and your expectations for the day - are they realistic?
  • For threats, consider consequences of leaving your weaknesses uncovered· Consider damage to relationships, career and happiness that would come from failing to manage stress
  • Use this consideration of the downside as a spur to ensure that you take stress management seriously

These are just a few things you can start doing today. To find out more about how you can manage your stress levels further, finding time in your day and coping mechanisms that you never knew you had, contact Erika and find out how Hypnotherapy, CBT and NLP can help you to take the steps to a more relaxed happy you.

© EKTherapies

Monday, 15 August 2011

Stop Smoking on Your Terms

It wasn’t that long ago that you could smoke anywhere. Many of us remember the days when smoking was an accepted thing, even being advertised on TV with cigarette brands being proud sponsors of the Grand Prix or Snooker tournaments. But with the introduction of the UK smoking ban in 2007 stopping you being able to smoke indoors in public places, it has now become less and less socially acceptable to smoke. Cigarette packets now carry shocking images on them to convince smokers to give up and as a further deterrent the government has also increased taxes on tobacco which has in turn raised the price of a packet of cigarettes. The question still remains though that if smoking is so bad for you then why do the government allow cigarettes to be sold at all?

Councils in the UK are now talking about making it illegal to smoke in certain parks and even in cars containing children. This move has already taken place in New York, which earlier on this year became a no smoking zone, with a $50 fine if you were caught smoking.

The UK is slowly becoming less and less tolerant of smokers.

Why wait until the government tells you that you have to stop smoking? Make the decision for yourself, take the plunge today and find out how you could become smoke-free in a positive and focused way. There is no need for nicotine patches or gum, the nicotine from your last cigarette will be out of your system within 48 hours: all you need is your commitment and a one off Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP session. You are 10 times more likely to remain a non-smoker if you give up using Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP, this is because during the session we will look at all your smoking triggers and make sure you have the coping mechanisms, motivation and determination to become and remain a non-smoker.

“Having been a smoker for over 14 years I am very pleased to say that after my hypnotherapy session with EKTherapies, six months on I am still not smoking. It has been extremely easy (most of the time) and I now very rarely think about it. I am very happy that I am now a full non-smoker! So thank you so much, everyone is amazed at how easy I have found it.” Kate, London

“I haven't touched a cigarette!! Today is my 16th day as a non-smoker - I'm so proud of myself but don't want to get complacent. The first few days were really tough, but since then it has got easier and I think about it less and less. I've even been out with people at work or pub and have just stood with them whilst they smoke and it’s actually been fine . I'm starting to feel better in myself, have a bit more energy and plan to start jogging next week. So thank you very much! I'm still taking it one day at a time but those days are getting easier.” Lisa, London

I am not saying I agree with the notion of banning things; I believe that we need to educate people and then leave them to their own freewill. I understand that with smoking, people do have issues with second-hand smoke or with littering caused by cigarette butts being left on the ground. But by banning smoking it becomes an underground and exciting thing to do. I am not supporting it either; being a non-smoker I don’t personally enjoy walking through a cloud of someone else’s smoke but I accept that as part of city life. I am sure there are things that I do that not everyone likes either.

To find out more how you can become smoke free in a positive and focused way on your terms before the government forces us to do so, please contact Erika for a no-obligation chat.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Drinking: Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP can help you take control

According to official figures alcoholic liver diseases in under 30s has risen by half in the last ten years. Whilst there is nothing wrong with having a drink or two, it is important to make sure alcohol doesn’t have a hold on you; you can have just as much fun on a night out without drinking.

With doctors warning of the growing impact of alcohol on young people’s health, after findings have shown a quarter of the population drink too much, I thought I would share an article with you from The Sunday Times by Minette Marrin. Full artcle at: 

“As a scientific materialist, I have always been sceptical about alternative therapies. There may just be something in black boxes or Rolfing or homeopathy, but there just isn’t enough evidence - or in some cases any evidence - that they work. There certainly isn’t enough scientific evidence about any of them to justify chancing National Health Service money on them. All the same, hypnotism seems to have done something remarkable for me.It began when my GP, who is a friend and knows I love medical talk, was discussing treatments of fashionable obsessive compulsive and eating disorders: he remarked that hypnotherapy seemed to work surprisingly well for some people. “Does it work for drinking?” I found myself asking. He replied that it was worth trying and recommended someone nearby.

If I had expected someone alternative looking with a beard I would have been disappointed. I was met at the door by a middle-aged man in a suit, who led me through an elegant house full of books, and spoke of an earlier career in business in the Far East. His manner was that of an Oxbridge don, though gentler. He told me he might be able to help me, and that it would quickly be obvious whether he could or not. In any case, I would need two sessions at the most. He would give me a CD and he would teach me the beginnings of self-hypnosis as well. This inspired confidence – my experience of alterative therapists, and I have trawled round many for journalistic reasons, is that they are not usually inclined to say that it will quickly be obvious if they cannot do anything – rather the reverse.

My hypnotist’s process seemed simple. We were to prearrange a suggestion for myself – I decided mine should be to refuse all drinks, except one or, at most, two glasses of wine once a week to overcome writer’s block, if necessary, when writing this column. Then he would make this suggestion to me while I was under hypnosis.

All I can say is that it worked. I am sorry to say that I haven’t used the CD or the self-hypnosis technique. Even so, through the Christmas parties, the trials of Christmas itself, the dark days of the end of December, I did not drink, except for a glass of wine a week. I still haven’t. I have sipped fizzy water. I have wanted to say no. The only exceptions – which revealed something surprising to me – were on my birthday, a week before Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve.

I feel extremely well, I have hugely more energy, my memory is better and although I haven’t lost any weight, I’m told I look much better. Best of all, I have proved to myself that I can stop drinking if I mean to. As to whether it is hypnosis that stopped me, I shall probably never know. Perhaps the sessions were just a rite of decision-making, a formal recognition that I had made up my mind. Perhaps on the other hand, hypnosis does work, at least for some of the people some of the time.”

If you feel, like Minette, that it is time to take control of your drinking and know your own limits then give Erika a call and see how hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP can help you. Remember, like Minette, you can decided whether or not you want to give up alcohol completely or just have a more control over it.

Monday, 1 August 2011

James Cracknell

I am not one to normally preach about things or tell people what to do, but I had to blog about this amazing video by James Cracknell.

I am sure many of you have heard about James Cracknell but just in case, he was born 5 May 1972 and has an OBE, he is a British rowing champion and double Olympic gold medalist. Last year he was undertaking one of his many challenging adventures when he had a life-threatening accident. James was taking part in Race Across America, a grueling 3000 miles of cycling and running across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet in a maximum of 12 days.

Here is his story...

“Today (20th July) is the anniversary of the accident I suffered whilst cycling in America. I was hit on the back of the head by a fuel truck travelling at 75mph along the Arizona desert plains (I know - that sort of stuff only normally happens in Road Runner cartoons). Bev and my parents were called to the hospital whilst I was unconscious. Despite a massive crack down the back of my head (25 staples took care of that) and significant bleeding to the frontal lobes of my brain, I am here to tell the tale. There is only one reason for that: my cycle helmet. It saved my life.I’ve put together a short film encouraging people to wear cycle helmets. Everyone gave their time, skills and facilities free of charge. Cycling is good for the planet and it’s good for us; leaving your head (or your children’s) vulnerable to a pavement, lamp-post, car or wing-mirror is not.

Shockingly the last survey revealed that only about 18% of British children and 35% of adults wear helmets, yet it is such a simple thing to do.I have no commercial relationship with a helmet manufacturer or retailer; no reason to bang on about this other than a desire to stop any other cyclist – and their loved ones – experiencing a year like mine.Please, please watch this video and to show your support by passing the link to your friends as well as followers on Twitter and Facebook. There is no agenda. I want wearing a bike helmet to become as normal as clunk-clicking your seat-belt on.

With Thanks, James Cracknell” form James Cracknell’s blog

I had to pass on his message. James Cracknell has an amazing amount of focus and mental determination to fulfil his goals. I have watched him undertake his various challenges and both the physical and mental strength he shows is incredible and inspiring. Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP can help you to train your mind and find your motivation so that you can improve your focus and determination. James has this not only from learned behaviour but also has a natural ability to be extremely driven.