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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

5 Oct

Guest Post by Moya Layton

Irritable Bowel Syndrome commonly referred to as IBS, is a widespread and distressing functional bowel disorder, which carries a considerable burden both for sufferers and the medical profession alike. About two in 10 people in the UK have IBS and it’s twice as common in women as men. Although not life-threatening, IBS can be extremely debilitating for those people who suffer from it. The pathophysiology of IBS is uncertain and currently no single cause explains the condition, which is characterized more by symptoms, suffering and disability than by any demonstrable organic abnormality.

IBS can develop at any age, but most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 35. Symptoms may come and go and you may not have any symptoms for months and then experience a sudden flare-up. Common symptoms include, abdominal pain, feeling sick, indigestion, headache, backache, combined with an altered bowel habit that can be either constipation or diarrhoea predominant or a mixture of the two.

Although specific IBS symptoms may respond to certain medications unfortunately to date no single medication or class of medications has been demonstrated to be consistently successful in relieving the full spectrum of IBS symptoms. Traditional treatments for IBS include dietary therapy, antispasmodic medication and antidepressants; however it is important to note that only 25% of people who suffer with IBS symptoms respond to these traditional treatments methods.

A new understanding of IBS

Currently IBS being redefined as a disorder of brain gut dysfunction that does not fit into a specific psychiatric or medical condition. Doctors therefore are now moving from the disease-based model to a biopsychosocial understanding of this disorder. This model proposes that biological, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviours), and social factors interact to play a significant role in the initiation and perpetuation of the disease or illness.

Cognitive Behavioural hypnotherapy combines hypnotherapy, clinically proven to relieve symptoms, and cognitive behavioural techniques, to directly address the maladaptive thought processes and behaviours that emerge from and perpetuate IBS. This therapy approach exemplifies this biopsychosocial
understanding.

Hypnotherapy for IBS is widely recognised as one of the success stories. Response rates to treatment have been identified as 80% or more in most published trials with evidence suggesting that individuals who respond to hypnosis treatment for IBS can generally look forward to years of reduced bowel symptoms.

It has been also been identified that many people with IBS frequently suffer from anxiety and depression and worry excessively about their illness and symptoms. The combination of cognitive behavioural techniques with hypnosis therefore allows the client to directly focus on changing these maladaptive thinking patterns. Clients learn how to modify their beliefs about illness, chronic pain and discomfort. They also learn how to challenge the catastrophic thought processes they may be experiencing about the social and occupational consequences of their gastrointestinal symptoms. This allows them to change their morbid pessimism about their condition and any perceived helplessness about their ability to cope with this disorder.

If you already work with clients who suffer from IBS or wish to see clients who present with IBS or are simply interested in the subject then the Moya Layton CCBH Master Class on IBS is for you.

IBS is a complex and multifaceted disorder and the effective use of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy will teach you how you develop a well-established effective therapy programme for your client. This therapy not only addresses the IBS symptoms themselves, but also challenges the distorted dysfunctional thinking patterns that underpin and perpetuate this chronic and distressing disorder allowing clients to understand that they can finally gain control over their symptoms.

 

IBS is a complex disorder

Coping with the Recession using Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

28 May

It seems quite a while ago that the “Credit Crunch” sent us spiralling into a recession, one which is proving rather stubborn to get out of. For many people recession can contribute to a number of mental health issues, the most common being anxiety and depression, triggered by the worry of uncertainty relating typically to job security and cash flow.

 

Recession can put us under a lot of stress

Recession pressures

Unfortunately just the word ‘recession’ contributes to any financial problems; this is partly due to our own thoughts and feelings. When we hear ‘recession’ we automatically become anxious regarding money. Recession evokes uncertainty in our minds, and though we deal with many uncertainties on a daily basis, such as “is the train going to be on time today?”, we generally don’t react well to long term uncertainty, especially about significant events such as “is my job secure?”, “will I be able to continue to pay the mortgage?”, “am I going to be able to provide for my family?”.  When the level of uncertainty in our lives is increased, we can experience an immediate threat to our well being, which can trigger negative stress responses (such as anxiety, frustration, anger and depression.)

In a recession all these negative stress responses can be seen right across the economy of a country. Those who are self employed become worried that businesses will hold off on employing them for a particular project; businesses are worried about consumers holding back on their spending; and consumers are worried about job security. All that negativity results in consumers holding onto their money, spending less, businesses revenue decreasing and therefore not employing other businesses / contractors to carry out work or projects for them. So all of the fears have become true, largely because of what people are thinking.

 

Breaking the cycle

Our state of mind dictates how we feel, so modifying our very own state of mind has massive impacts on how we actually feel about any challenges we may face.  Epictitus, stoic philosopher, neatly summarises this principle of emotional responsibility by saying “People are not disturbed by events but by the view they hold about them”. This is a poignant observation when applied to our state of mind about recession at both a micro and macro-economic level.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy provides us with many skills and techniques that equip us to change our state of mind and ultimately how we feel, so we can handle any recession worries, and continue to move forward in our lives. If we let ourselves think the world will end because we may potentially lose our job, then we will be in a state of anxiety about our jobs. If though, we remember that the world is still turning, that supermarkets are still stocking food and the sun will rise tomorrow, then we are able to feel concerned rather than anxious or panicked about potential adversities.  Being in a state of concern helps us deal with these issues and move on but being in a state of anxiety leaves you stuck.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), we say that unhealthy beliefs are at the heart of our emotional problems and behavioural thinking problems. They simply don’t help us achieve our aims and goals, rather they leave us vulnerable to self sabotage, become irrationally angry, depressed and block us from actually finding solutions to our problems. 

An example is you may believe “I absolutely should not have been made redundant. I have been though, and it’s now the end of the world. It’s unbearable and proves I’m useless”. This type of belief is common with people suffering with depression following redundancy. In this state of mind, it becomes very difficult to think clearly or to think of possible solutions, it is even more difficult to actually motivate one’ self.

With Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy you have access to tools to that help you change that depressive and negative mindset. Using our redundancy example, think about this alternative: “I really would have loved not to be made redundant, but I have, and I accept that I have. This isn’t the end of the world though, I’m still alive and my worth does not depend on whether I am employed there or not”. This type of belief enables you to feel emotionally sad, but enables you to move on, think of a solution and motivate yourself to move forward.

People who suffer with depression as a result of financial worries can seek counselling to help them. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) counselling builds on the proven techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and teaches how to change the way we think, to move from a negative belief system and mindset, to a more positive one, enabling us to think clearly, address our problems and overcome depression and stop it from re-occurring.

If you are interested in learning CBH to help with counselling, then visit www.ccbh.org.uk

Coping with exam stress

4 May

It is May, and that means it is the time of the year when many students, of all ages, are facing exam stress. But remember that a little bit of stress can actually help you perform better. So in this blog we talk about some tips to help you manage your anxiety and make sure that your exam stress is healthy…

Handling exam stress

Anxiety over exams is quite normal – ensure your exam stress is healthy though…

Remember…

Feeling stressed is normal – often exams do not happen in isolation to the rest of life. We think we have a lot to lose if we don’t achieve good results, whether it’s family approval, the next step in a career, or moving on through education. Often exams trigger beliefs of low self as you think “I am not good enough” or “I am stupid”. You may well know you have not done enough work to pass.

Stress when controlled at the right level can lead to peak performance, so allow yourself to experience that beneficial elevated arousal response rather than a negative one. Feeling relaxed and chilled out is more likely to be an avoidant strategy or self denial.  Exams are about having the appropriate level of arousal to perform well.

Top Exam Stress Tips

  • Start revising in good time.
  • Remind yourself you can only to do your best.
  • Get Organised – pull the right information together; know your syllabus and what is expected of you. Bring all your notes up to date.
  • Make a timetable which is compatible with your exam timetable, no point revising Math when it’s Geography the next day.  In your timetable, divide each subject into separate topics; include R&R time, any other tasks that are required to be done.
  • Take and continue your sport and exercise, and if you don’t normally exercise it’s a good time to start simple walking – it’s a great way to regain the optimum level of stress for that peak performance. If you meditate or practise yoga, continue these activities – they are known to help controlling negative stress.
  • Find a good place for study if you can.
  • If you are struggling with a topic try teaching it to someone to see where your gaps in knowledge are. Endless notes are not that helpful if you do not understand it.
  • If concentration is your issue – try scheduling short periods of time with small breaks in between. Each short period is ideally focused with a clearly identified topic. Blocks of three hours at a time is usually less effective than period of an hour with short breaks.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks if you can. It is better to drink water or fruit juice and eat healthily, keeping sugars and fast carbs to a minimum.
  • Learning to breathe deeply and slowly is a simple and effective way to gain control of your physiology and this prevent the stress response getting hold. When we get stressed our breathing elevates as does our heart rate. This can lead to profuse sweating, clammy hands, and dizziness.
  • Studying with friends can be helpful if you are lacking motivation or struggling with some concepts and encouragement between students can be very helpful, so a balance of individual revision and some group revision may be helpful to you.
  • Ideally keeping good sleep habits is helpful however if you do not get your normal amount of sleep its useful to remember we can function reasonably well for short periods of time with less sleep and short naps.

Exam Techniques

  • Know what exam it is and when – nothing worse than turning up for French to find its History
  • Organise your necessary supplies for the exam ahead of time with any spares.
  • Last minute revision can work for some people some of the time, however it’s probably not a useful strategy for an extended exam period.
  • Ideally eat before the exam to keep your energy supplies available and combat anxiety feelings.
  • Remember to breathe slow deep breathes as you go into and sit through the exam; it will help to keep your mind clear and remain calm and focused.
  • Read the question and allow time to understand what is being asked of you before answering.
  • Ideally time your exam so you can read through and make any amendments to the questions answered.
  • When you have finished one exam focus on the next one, wasting valuable time trying to evaluate what you have just done is a job for the examiner, not you.

 

Are you struggling and find anxiety is beginning to get the upperhand?

If you or your child/partner is becoming increasingly anxious about their exams, you should be aware of the negative thoughts and behaviours that maintain anxiety as opposed to healthy exam stress.

  • With young people, exam stress may well be covering up underlying anxiety in relation to their peer group and the desire to “fit in” with their group of friends and their anxiety may be based on the fear of rejection or appearing “stupid”.
  • For many, the over exaggeration of the consequences of failure are the anxiety where a belief that “I must not fail, it would be the end of the world which would be unbearable and mean that I am stupid”
  • These kind of demanding beliefs lead us into anxiety and disturbance as our self talk becomes more and more critical.  It is important to challenge these negative beliefs and thoughts with more constructive ones based in reality.
  • Facing your fear by identifying them and if you think it is possible you won’t get the grade you want, explore ways to accept that possibility.
  • Check your thoughts of exaggeration, “Oh No, I’ll never get it all done” or “It’s impossible to do well now, everything is ruined”. Challenge these thoughts and bring them into reality.
  • Your personal worth is not based or conditional on your exam results. If we assumed it did though, then consider the worst case scenario and imagine how you could deal with that situation and you will begin to reduce your fear.
  • Avoid becoming overwhelmed by the task ahead by planning and splitting the topics into manageable chunks.

Finally keep things in perspective; nothing is the end of the world except the end of the world itself.

Good Luck and enjoy the challenge!

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…

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