Archive | December, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy 2012

23 Dec

Christmas is upon us, so from all of us here at The Hypnotherapy Team and the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH), have a great Christmas and enjoy the new year. Remember what Christmas is all about, invest in your relationships, have realistic expectations and enjoy…

We look forward to seeing you all in 2012…

Christmas Holiday Anxiety

20 Dec

Once we get past November the 5th and our firework displays, our mind soon focuses on Christmas. What to get the kids? What to get for your secret Santa? Who is visiting who for Christmas day or Boxing Day? How much food should we get in? Hmmm….Oh and do we have the money for all this?

Christmas is a very unique time of the year. For the majority of us it’s a time of great excitement and expectation. However, it’s also a time associated with high anxiety and dread. This year, with the current tough economic climate having a big impact on our wallets, many of us are experiencing worries about just how much Christmas will cost. Handling that Christmas budget can turn an occasion that should be of celebration into one of great stress.

Christmas Holidays

Have realistic Christmas Expectations



Christmas is a time of great expectations. We are aware of gift and entertainment expectations from our kids, from our friends and family and this can be fuelled even more by peer pressure. We even place on ourselves great expectation, for example providing that perfect Christmas lunch (see our post on dealing with a stress free Christmas lunch –

We demand that perfect Christmas experience, and ensure this Christmas is just “how it should be!” Demanding of ourselves that everyone should be able to get what they want at Christmas, and also what we want them to have, places greater strain on our budget. That drive for the perfect Christmas often sees us making decisions with our hearts and not our minds, placing too much on our flexible friends, the credit card.


Don’t get caught up in the hype

At Christmas it’s very easy to get caught up in all the glitzy shop windows, the gifts, and the luxury food. Getting caught up in the hype can be dangerous. If we do end up placing too much on our credit cards, we find that the New Year is not such as happy one, as we start it with added debt to deal with.

Through all the hype it’s very easy to miss the actual point of Christmas. Rather than investing in gifts, shouldn’t we be investing in our relationships?


What to do

First off we must all recognise our own situation and that the economic situation is affecting most people. Accept this reality and reduce your Christmas expectations accordingly. Most families when presented with the actual facts, that times are tough, are highly supportive and understanding. It is when we try to deny the reality we are in that issues arise. By trying to hide stress and tension, families often start to fail to communicate and are denied the opportunity to be supportive and caring for each other, and isn’t that one of the deeper meanings we all search for at Christmas? If Children are told they cannot have this year’s latest computer games console but are also given a reason as to why, they are able to respond with understanding and love. Most children are not obsessed with “things” at Christmas, but the attention and time spent with their family away from the usual work routine is something they care about.

By accepting reality; reducing unrealistic expectations and demands; by not getting lost in all the Christmas hype, we are able to budget for Christmas accordingly. We can invest heavily in our relationships, and ensure this Christmas is a highly rewarding one, while at the same time, remove anxiety and the stress associated to money and debt issues that could otherwise start 2012.

Christmas family strain

16 Dec

How many films have been made all about the stress of family life over the Christmas period? Quite a few. Many of these films are comedies, and most end with everyone enjoying their family Christmas. But the reason we find these films so funny, is because we can relate to that Christmas family stress all too easily.

Family can be a real strain at Christmas

Family can be a real strain at Christmas

On a serious note, many of us actually get highly stressed and feel anxious about Christmas, and these anxieties maybe about one of the following:

  • A need to have everything run perfectly and for everyone to appreciate your efforts
  • A need for other people to show the manners that you expect them to have
  • A need for everything to be easy and comfortable

You may have just read that list and thought to yourself these are all reasonable expectations. But if you are feeling anxious about any of them, then something isn’t right…


What’s reasonable?

It is reasonable to want things to run perfectly. It is reasonable to want all family members to appreciate your efforts. It’s reasonable to want all family members to behave appropriately and it is reasonable to want everything to be easy and comfortable. Anxiety is, however, triggered when you transform your wants and desires into needs and demands. When this happens, everything HAS to be the way you want it or else.

This type of thinking is at the heart of anxiety and stress, and at Christmas time, this can be amplified. At Christmas you become anxious about family members who are not acting warmly towards one another; or family members you may have problems with; or family members who behave in a passive aggressive or discourteous manner; or family members who do not chip in and help or simply a family member you just don’t like very much.  It’s these scenarios that we find in many Christmas films, and they are scenarios we all relate to on some level.


How to manage those anxieties

If you find you are anxious or stressed about any of those family scenarios or issues, then how do you manage that anxiety? Well here are a few pointers that will help you manage your anxieties better:

  1. Accept imperfection. No one is perfect and your Christmas day does not HAVE to be absolutely perfect. Remembering this will help you feel more relaxed.
  2. While it would be fantastic that everyone showed appreciation, you certainly do not need it to have a great time. It’s not a reflection on your worth, unless you make it so. If you do, then you will feel stressed, so don’t judge yourself negatively.
  3. Remember that you don’t control other people. If someone acts in a way that you are not happy with, don’t get too stressed about it, rather address the situation, calmly but firmly explaining why that behaviour is unacceptable. Remember, if it’s not a major thing in the scheme of things, you can choose to tolerate it.
  4. You are in control of what you say and do. Imagine the things you are worried about, and think in advance of ways in which you can deal with those things. Most of the time anxiety is maintained because we spend mental energy trying to ensure the bad things don’t happen.
  5. If you really aren’t looking forward to being with a particular family member, then remember that it’s only for a limited time.
  6. Always remember the bigger picture and meaning of Christmas. The message is always there –  celebration, peace and good will to all. Make sure you don’t lose sight of this.
  7. Focus on what’s important, by doing this it enables us to handle tensions and stress far better

Our unrealistic expectations are often provoke Christmas stress.. So set realistic expectations and look to enjoy the Christmas period, with family and friends.

Merry Christmas…

A Happy Survey

9 Dec

Recently in a survey we held with Top Sante, we attempted to measure people’s happiness. A tricky one you may wonder, how do you measure happiness? Well to answer that, we need to know what happiness is.


How happy are you?

Happiness is a reactive response to circumstances – we aren’t happy, for  example, when we stub our toe. Often “happiness” measurements in the field of psychology are a measure of wellbeing or our quality of life. Demanding to be in a constant state of happiness is just not possible – it’s essentially inconsistent with our own reality. So in essence, “happiness” is a choice we make about how we feel about our quality of life and our wellbeing, both mentally and physically. With this in mind, we were able to create a number of questions, grouped together, in order to measure our “happiness”.

Here are some interesting points from the survey….

Cheerful and in good spirits

One of the questions within the survey made a basic statement, “I feel cheerful and in good spirits”, to which the respondents had 6 options to answer. A good result from this question was that no one answered “Almost Never” to this statement, phew. Interestingly the majority of those questioned (38%) opted for the “Somewhat Frequently” response, while 18% answered “Almost Always” – lucky them…

Curiously as we get older it seems we are more likely to opt for the “Somewhat Frequently” response, with 10 times as many 36-40 year olds opting for this response compared with 18-25 year olds.

I enjoy new activities

Our happiness is not just about our emotional health and well-being, it’s also about our physical well-being. To get a sense of physical well-being, our survey asked how much “I enjoy new activities”.

Here it seems the younger we are, the more likely we are to enjoy new activities, perhaps that saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes from us not wanting to try new things as we get older. However, these results could also mean that as we get older we know what we enjoy and equally, we know the kinds of activities we won’t enjoy. Again, the “Somewhat Frequently” response was the most popular (38% respondents selecting this option).

Feel how you think

When unpleasant, frustrating things happen, we can hold two sets of beliefs about them. Healthy or rational ones lead us to feel sad, annoyed perhaps even regretful, while unhealthy or irrational beliefs lead us to feel anxious, depressed or self denigrating. If we have healthy beliefs, then we will be able to move on, and be happy again.

Another important aspect to our emotional and mental well-being is monitoring our progress in life. It’s good for us to set regular time for personal reflection, to check how we are doing and to ensure we haven’t regressed into some old habits, or ways of thinking we are trying not to do. If we are progressing well, then we will be happier with our day to day lives and our accomplishments.

The way in which we think, is the way we feel. So essentially, we are saying that happiness is a choice you can make…

10 Tips for a stress free Christmas Lunch

2 Dec

Christmas can be a tough time, the office party (not embarrassing yourself), flying elbows while doing your Christmas shopping, and of course, planning and cooking your Christmas lunch – especially if you have family and friends coming to yours!

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Lunch. Don't let it stress you out...

The whole idea of the Christmas Lunch can actually cause a lot of anxiety and stress, as we try to ensure that everything goes perfectly. So here are our top 10 tips…

  1. Plan realistically. Don’t demand perfection with your Christmas lunch, and in any case, what would perfection be? We recommend you adjust your expectations to what is reasonable on the day, taking into consideration Christmas Eve and morning, and how long you want to spend preparing and cooking on Christmas day…
  2. Reflect on past experiences. Reflecting on past experiences will help you form good plans. We all learn from mistakes and experiences in our past, Christmas lunch is no different. Remember shortcuts that have worked in the past, and how you and others, have managed the excesses of Christmas spirit.
  3. Have a contingency plan. Obviously, worst case scenario, something goes horribly wrong, you have a power cut, the Turkey has been cremated or it all simply goes “belly up”. So, have a backup menu, something you know doesn’t take long, and is enjoyed by you and your guests. No matter what, you will be sitting down to Christmas lunch with a smile.
  4. Remember not everyone will like everything. Everyone has different tastes and things they like and don’t like. Whatever they don’t like or leave, is in no way a reflection on you or your food. (I won’t eat the sprouts for example).
  5. Don’t take it all too seriously. Enjoy the day, relax, don’t take lunch too seriously or yourself.
  6. Ask for help. If you need help, then ask for it…
  7. Remember the kids. Ensure children are catered for (within reason). Also remember to have something to occupy them. Christmas day is really exciting, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to sit through Christmas lunch, being rather well behaved (though desirable).
  8. Who cares if you have forgotten something? If you forget something, then don’t let it bother you, it’s not the end of the world or a complete catastrophe unless YOU think it so.
  9. Keep perspective. Remember this is only lunch!  It doesn’t HAVE to be perfect we are human and fallible after all.
  10. Christmas is about celebration. Remember Christmas is about celebration of family and Christian values, enjoy the day no matter what. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. And over all these virtues put on love, which blinds them all together in perfect unity”.

So there you have it, our top 10 hints and tips on enjoying a stress free Christmas lunch. We hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year…