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Emotion Blog Series #1: Anxiety and Concern

27 Jun

Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about a real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.

Concern is the healthy version of anxiety.  Concern is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a healthy belief or attitude about real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.


Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion

You can be anxious or concerned about many things.  Commonly people can be anxious or concerned about:

  • Success and failure
  • Approval
  • Criticism
  • Negative judgement
  • Making mistakes
  • Achievements
  • Anxiety itself
  • Emotional problems
  • Things not be just so i.e. perfectionism
  • Disorganisation
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Death
  • And so on

How do you know if you are anxious or concerned?

When you feel anxious you will tend to exaggerate the overall effect of the threat or risk.  You will think terrible things will happen.  You also think that you won’t be able handle and deal with the bad thing if it was to happen.  For example, you will think that you won’t be able to handle failure.  You will tend to see the glass as half empty so your thoughts will be pessimistic focusing on the negatives.  Your thoughts will also be unhelpful to you and you will not be thinking in a constructive way.

When you are anxious you feel like avoiding and running away from the threat.  So if you are anxious about negative judgement, you may feel like avoiding doing anything that puts you at the risk of being negatively judged.  You will also feel like running away from the threat mentally by, for example, keeping yourself extra busy so you don’t have to think about what you are worried about.  You will also know if you are anxious because you may be doing superstitious things to get rid of what you are anxious about.   When you feel anxious you are more likely to get rid of the feelings by drinking too much, or medicating yourself in other ways.  Another sign of anxiety is assurance seeking, checking and asking people ‘do you think everything will be OK?’

If you are in a state of concern, the healthy version of anxiety, then you will tend to think in a more realistic way, keeping the effect of the danger or threat in perspective and you will have a balanced view about your ability to handle the problem if it was to happen.  You thoughts will be more solution focused and helpful.

In a state of concern you will tend to face what you are concerned about as opposed to avoiding it.  You will not be seeking constant assurance from others.

Think about what you deem as a risk or a threat and work out from the above explanation if you are anxious or concerned about it.

If you deem that you feel anxiety about some threats then mirror the concern attitude and behave in accordance with the behavioural tendencies of concern.  Repeat them until your notice an emotional shift.  This will feel uncomfortable and unusual at first.  This will means making your thinking realistic and letting go of avoidant behaviour.

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.

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…

Anxious about heading back to school

12 Sep

Do you remember as a kid, heading back to school after enjoying those 6 week holidays? Ahhh, I remember (especially when being very young) that the summer lasted forever, and that when it was finally over, I dreaded heading back to school. For me, I simply didn’t want the summer to be over, but for many children, this is a time of great anxiety.

Back to school

Anxious about heading back to school

There are lots of things that children may be anxious about, for example, heading to a new school, or into a year where they know they have important exams coming up – such as GCSE or A-Levels. Other possible anxieties include:

  • Making new friends
  • Seeing friends they haven’t seen since school term ended
  • Seeing the school / class bully
  • Being in a new school
  • Being cool
  • Coping with the study demands
  • Fear of failure, in terms of study, exams, or even sport
  • Anxiety of being anxious

For most children, once they are back to school and back in the swing of things, a lot of these anxious feelings go, but for some, they won’t…

If anxiety persists

If anxiety persists, it can lead to all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms or acting out behaviours.  Some common issues include tummy aches and sleep problems, but anxiety can lead to out-and-out refusal to go to school.

Most children can overcome their anxieties with the help of their parents.  Therefore, talking about their worries and helping them to feel safe and secure is often very helpful. Here are some tips…

Help your child overcome their anxiety

  • Communication with children should start early if at all possible.  Parents should talk about school in a light and fun way, perhaps recalling funny and interesting stories of their own.  School experiences should be talked about as well as expectations.  The child should be encouraged to talk about their thoughts and feelings so solutions can be worked out in advance.
  • We should  remember that children pick up on our own emotions, and this can amplify feelings of anxiety further. How many of us get a lump in our throat when we wave goodbye to our child on the first day school?  It is important to remember that children can pick up on these small things, increasing the state of anxiety. Therefore, parents should smile, hug and kiss
    and wave goodbye.  It is important to create a light and positive state so the child picks up on this instead of anxiety.
  • Parents can shop for school supplies with their children, making it a good opportunity to chat about school in a healthy, relaxed and fun way.
  • Ensure you allow enough time in the morning routine to get your child to school in state that he or she is ready to start the day of learning.  Rushing and shouting only increases an anxious child’s anxiety
  • For younger children it’s important to let them know in advance what is happening. Young children do not comprehend time scales in the way older children do and its important to  continuously signpost their week so they know what is happening.  We do not like the unknown and the anxious child struggles with it more and surprises can be very hard to manage when you are in a state of anxiety

Children who become very withdrawn from their family and friends, experience loss of appetite and become lethargic may be experiencing depression. Any dramatic change in mood and behaviour that persists should be seen as a sign and advice from a professional may be appropriate.

What about you?

If your child is leaving home for college for the first time and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by sadness and loss you may be experiencing a healthy negative emotion, but if your emotional state persists for weeks and weeks then you may be experiencing unhealthy negative emotions like depression. You can learn more about this by looking at our website

Tips for dealing with Holiday Anxiety

22 Aug
Suffer from holiday anxiety?

Suffer from holiday anxiety?

Holidays are a funny thing. We normally really enjoy our holiday once we are there, but numerous studies have shown that the build up to a holiday can actually be pretty stressful.

And it is hardly surprising – there are a lot of things to be anxious about…

Do any of these seem familiar to you?

  • Anxiety about your passport? Have you remembered it? Has it expired
  • Anxiety about flying
  • Anxiety about leaving pets behind? Will they be looked after properly?

For most of us, anxiety emerges as we contemplate the uncertainties of the future. So, when we are talking about holidays, it is the uncertainties involved in reaching our destination, and not being sure what it will be like. We speculate about the possibilities that might befall us, and we tend to set our radar to notice only threats and dangers. We spend our time ‘worrying’ with ‘what if?’ questions, which we nearly always answer negatively.

What if my passport gets stolen and I am stranded? What if my dog doesn’t like being in kennels? What if I can’t handle the 12 hour plane journey? … And so on.

‘Worry’ is a thinking style which is circular, non-productive, and negatively biased, and which maintains anxiety, and helps to focus attention on potential negative outcomes. When we make ourselves anxious about holidays or holiday preparations, we exaggerate, for ourselves and others, how bad those outcomes might be, and we underestimate our own ability to deal with the possible feared outcome. Possibility becomes probability and we begin to experience the familiar symptoms of anxiety – increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and a racing sensation in our heads, and on and on.

So, seeing as August is one of the busiest months for holidays, the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy have put some tips together to help you with any holiday anxiety – so you can just get on with the business of enjoying your holiday.

  • Mindfulness Meditation is one possibility. It helps us remain in the present rather than worrying about the future. (Find out more about our Master Class in Mindfulness here).
  • Be organised and don’t leave packing to the last minute.
  • Accept the possibility of risk and uncertainty.  Of course it is possible that things can go wrong but in reality most of the things we worry about don’t happen and even if they do they are usually not as bad as we had imagined.  Most of us liked or still like adventure stories. See your holiday as a mini adventure.  All adventures contain risk.
  • Develop a sense of resiliency to the possibility of things being challenging.  See yourself being able to cope rather than thinking ‘everything must go smoothly and everything must be easy’.

If you are really struggling with anxiety about your holiday (for example anxiety about flying), you may want to be consider seeing a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness, which a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist will use as a tool to achieve a state in which unhealthy beliefs and self-defeating behaviours can be re-thought. A more rational and healthy assessment of potential threat or danger is encouraged and a more adaptive view of our own ability to deal with the potential challenge is developed. The use of a relaxing hypnotic trance is often used to aid belief change and to help in achieving a change in potentially damaging and habitual behavioural patterns.

If you have any questions about holiday anxieties, please do ask them below, and we will do our best to help

Combating the anxiety enemy within

7 Jan

In today’s modern world we don’t seem to be able to take time out and relax.
It seems we are working harder, working longer, staying connected and
“plugged in” more each day and spending less time relaxing. Is it any wonder
then that many of us are suffering some form of Anxiety?

Elizabeth Machnicki, is a therapist in the Costwolds, who achieved a Diploma
from the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy
>  last November. She contributed to an interesting article in the
Independent ( Supplement ‘Depression and Burnout, dated Dec 2010) all about
anxiety and so I thought I would share some of the article with you.

Anxiety disorders come in a number of different forms, and you can include
well known disorders such as OCD, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder
and panic attacks.  Anxiety problems are rarely experienced on their own,
all too often they occur along side other conditions, such as depression.
The one common thread though, is the massive impact anxiety can have on our
day to day lives.

Some facts and figures are always interesting at this point. 1 in 6 adults
at any one time will be affected by mental distress (Office for National
Statistics). According to MIND, around 300 people out of every 1,000 will
experience mental health problems every year in Britain, of these 230 will
visit a GP and 102 will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem. 6 of
these people will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals. Mixed anxiety
and depression (according to the Office for National Statistics 2000 survey)
is experienced by 9.2% of adults in Britain. That is a pretty high
percentage. So what are some good ways to combat anxiety?

Well I personally like to try and make myself relax, typically through some
form of exercise or spending some quality me time alone, have a nice
relaxing hot bath and more typically do brief self hypnosis which is incredible.
Other good things to try are swimming, Yoga and anything in general that
makes you feel more relaxed. But for some, anxiety will still be a problem.

Typically anxiety can start with feeling stress or under pressure. Often
early warning signs include not being able to sleep, worrying more, and
going over things more and more in your own mind.

So what happens if you start to suffer with an Anxiety disorder? Is there a
solution to Anxiety? Well the treatment with the best-established and most
thorough research is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on the
dysfunctional attitudes (for example negative and self-defeating thoughts)
that we have. The cognitive component looks at our thoughts, and how best to
deal with the bias we create with regards to how we think about certain

In the article, Elizabeth explains how CBT though can be expanded to
Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), which combines the benefits of CBT
and clinical hypnotherapy. CBH gives both structure and flexibility to
therapy, which allows for a far more holistic and tailored approach. This is
what we teach at CCBH, the college of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy,
which Elizabeth attended. CBH is action-orientated and solution focused,
aiming to not only help the patient, but to equip them with the tools to
help combat against such symptoms in the future. Elizabeth also points out
that CBH is also very relaxing and provides the opportunity for positive
thinking and imagery, for example seeing themselves in the future – being
happy and as they would like to be.

So what do you think of CBT and CBH? What is your experience of it for
treating anxiety? We would love to know your thoughts. If you want to know
more about practising CBT or CBH, you can always contact us at the College
of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (