Health and Wellness

Erika Slater Head and upper torso image2Health and Wellness is all about what we do on a regular basis to maintain our physical and mental condition – essentially, how we take care of ourselves.

We know now that it’s not just about paying attention to our physical health by eating healthy and nourishing foods to fuel and heal our physical body, but also how we treat ourselves mentally and spiritually. Quality sleep, daily quiet time practicing mediation/mindfulness, and being compassionate and kind to ourselves is as important as doing the same to others.

The quality of life starts with having a sound body and mind and the selection of materials you’ll find here cover insights into natural therapies, our mind-body connections, nutrition and weight management, stress, slowing the aging process and much more.

Enjoy the articles.

Coronavirus COVID-19 FREE Hypnosis Online Resources

By Erika Slater
covid-19-virus microscopic image

covid-19-virus microscopic image

 

******UPDATE ON IMPACT OF COVID-19: Free At Last Hypnosis office in Mashpee is open to see our hypnosis clients only. You can schedule an in-office appointment or virtual appointment using Zoom. Contact me at 508.269.0109  if you need and want my help.******

In this special post about Coronavirus COVID-19 you’ll find some FREE practical hypnosis resources you can use immediately to cope better with any stress or anxiety you feel about the uncertainty of this time.

For many vulnerable individuals it’s proving to be overwhelming, stressful and causing them much anxiety. Add to this the fact there’s a mountain of false claims, conspiracy theories and misinformation about how the virus started. I urge you to ignore all the fake news and instead follow the CDC -Center for Disease Control guidelines and focus on staying safe.

This will pass and we will get through it all together.

I’m not qualified to comment on the science behind this virus and how it came to be but if you’re interested you can read more here to understand a more realistic assessment of the life of COVID-19.

So, as a business owner facing a shutdown of my offices what can I do to help you?

Firstly, for existing clients who have already booked appointments and don’t want them deferred or cancelled I’m performing those sessions online. I’ve been providing hypnosis online for two years now as an alternative for folks travelling long distances to me, so its well established offering in my hypnotherapy business.

You can discover more about how online hypnosis works by watching a brief video produced by a fellow hypnotherapist from the UK here >>>

At this time it’s worth mentioning that if you’re considering quit smoking or vaping then now’s a good time to get serious about stopping. Because Covid-19 attacks the lungs, those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape may be especially threatened. To review this further discover more about stop smoking programs using hypnosis here >>>.

Secondly, in the last few days, I’ve put together FREE resources to help my clients and businesses and their friends and families get through the COVID-19 crisis. They are simple and not elaborate resources as I feel people need straightforward help.

 

FREE HYPNOSIS RESOURCES TO HELP WITH COVID-19:

1. Free Download MP3 SessionStop Touching Your Face” – I’ve also developed a special FREE 30-minute hypnosis session that can be downloaded and played on any hand-held device or computer to help people “stop touching their face.” Studies suggest that people touch their face as often as 16 to 23 times per hour (1). And every time you touch your face, there’s the potential for bacteria and viruses to be transferred to the areas around your eyes, nose, and mouth, where they can infect you and cause disease.

But self-face touching is, by and large, an unconscious behavior. So, while medical professionals and CDC guidelines emphasize not to touch your face most of us just can’t stop on demand. This FREE session is aimed at helping to reduce the impulses to unnecessarily touching your face. There is no registration to get this session. Listen to and/or download the session here >>> To download click the link and when it starts playing click the three dot icon at the end of progress bar, and click download.

2. Free Download session for stress relief and relaxation. This is a 30-minute session you can download and replay as many times as you want or need to help boost your immune system. That’s right at this time your immune system needs all the help it can get to combat the stress put on it by the uncertainty of these times. You can either watch and download the Stress Relief Video here >>> or listen and download the Stress Relief MP3 Audio here >>>.

 

VIDEOS:

Here are some short videos covering different topics that are impacting most of us today. I hope you get something out of each.

4. Video Coping with Uncertainty. This is a short video to help you remain positive in these uncertain times.

5. Destination Happiness – Keeping Relationships Strong. This short video offers tips to ensure we come out of this crisis with strong and positive relationships with our spouse, kids, family and friends…

Please do take advantage of these resources.

If you have any questions regarding them then please reach out via my contact page at my website here >>>  or call me at 508.269.0109 and if I don’t answer leave a message and I’ll call you back. You can also email me directly at erika@freeatlasthypnosis.com

Most importantly, stay safe and well.

 

Erika Slater CH
Director
Free At Last Hypnosis

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How to Improve Mental Toughness – Tips and Using Hypnosis

By Erika Slater
Mental toughness pills in a bottle

Mental toughness pills in a bottle

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The importance of quality self-talk and how to reverse the damage you’re doing to achieve mental toughness.
  2. Changing your beliefs and thinking patterns to support the outcomes you desire.
  3. Practical tips and actions to build-up your mental toughness muscle.
  4. Further reading, studies and resource links around increasing mental toughness.

There are all kinds of toughness and the most visible is physical toughness, but I’d argue the more valuable is mental toughness. Physical toughness reminds us of athletes with tuned muscles that allow them to run faster, hit harder, endure or lift more. But mental toughness is what they use and need to get them to be master’s of their own bodies and thinking.

As a simple example for you my experience with smoking cessation clients who achieve their goal of quitting and remain smoke free, those who’ve a high degree of mental toughness are most likely to succeed.  This is also why my programs embed reinforcement of mental toughness into the hypnosis sessions.

Physical toughness can deplete over the years as we get older, but mental toughness can endure until our last breath. But getting it doesn’t come easy, and it can mean shaking off ghosts of attitudes and perspectives that undermine how we view ourselves and the outside world.

Our type of self-talk is an excellent indicator of where we are in our mental toughness campaign.

Psychologists and neuroscientists estimate individuals engage themselves in self-talk at an average rate of 150-300 words per minute. That’s a lot of words running through your brain everyday – 45,000-51,000! And depending on the type of self-talk it can directly impact your ability to develop mental toughness [1].

You see your brain is set up with neural pathways which create highways as you take in new information or talk to yourself? That’s right! You have ‘self-talk highways’ in your brain you become familiar with over time. In fact, you become so familiar with them they get imprinted in your mind!

By engaging in your ‘self-talk’, these prominent neural pathways become etched in your brain whether they’re positive or negative. If you have positive thoughts, they get stamped on the positive highway. Conversely, when you have negative thoughts they get engraved on the negative highway.

You get so good at this over time you literally put your thoughts on autopilot. Your ‘thoughts’ self-drive you onto the neuropathway you’re accustomed to using, albeit good or bad. Just as you can become a creature of habit with your driving, so you can also become a creature of habit by the way you think.

The bottom line here is which lane of the road you choose to ride your thinking onto: the good, or the bad lane? Negative thinkers automatically drive in the negative lane of the highway without even realizing they’ve crawled onto the ramp. This is because they’ve developed negative thinking patterns for so long.

On the other hand, positive thinkers know how to control their thoughts by scrutinizing and recognizing their negative thoughts, and heading them off before they lead them astray. They take control of the wheel of their mind and imagination at all times, and choose to drive in the positive lane.

Just as you build muscles in your body, you build ‘mental muscles’ by exercising them with the way you continually think. These ‘mental muscles’ get stronger over time and possess a ‘muscle memory’ or mental toughness.

 

WHAT IS SELF-TALK AND MENTAL TOUGHNESS?

Woman talking to her reflection in a mirrorMental toughness can best be described as you being the ‘master of your mind!’

There are different views on how and what constitutes mental toughness. Some experts on positive thinking might assert mental toughness is having the ability to control your thoughts. When a negative thought flows into your mind, you quickly identify it and remove it before it can take root, and lead you to a chain of negative thinking patterns. You might call this ‘taking your thoughts captive’, in that you control your thoughts.

It sounds simple, “Hey, what is so difficult about controlling my thoughts?

It’s actually more difficult than most people think because many people become ‘lazy thinkers’, they just casually go with the flow of thoughts as they pop into their heads. But mental toughness asserts one must take direct control and inventory over their thoughts. You just don’t let them free-flow as they come into your mind. Instead, you notice them as being active, assess them, and make the proper change to them. Since this takes work, almost like going to the gym and building physical muscles, most people shy away from making this change because it takes time and effort on their part.

Interestingly, what they don’t realize is it took time and effort in the beginning to put them in a negative mind set. If they apply the same principles, but reversing the way they think for a short period of time, then they can change the way they think for the long haul.

Mental toughness is becoming aware – an awareness of your continual thinking patterns – of unfavorable or negative ones. To be mentally tough, you need to engage yourself by creating awareness of your self-talk. What are you telling yourself about through your thoughts and actions?

All thoughts we have can best be described as ‘self-talk’. We speak to ourselves in microseconds before we even speak out loud. In fact, most times we don’t even speak out loud what we’re thinking, especially when we’re alone, or in a situation where we’ve to remain quiet. Even though we don’t speak, we still think – we continually talk to ourselves visa vie by the thoughts we have.

This is self-talk!

 

SELF-TALKING TO OURSELVES:

At the beginning of this article I said psychologists estimate people engages in self-talk roughly at the rate of 150-300 words per minute?

What is the quality of the words you’re continually speaking to yourself about? The more you engage in self-talk, the more prominent the neural pathway becomes etched in your brain. So, choose your words wisely! You’re either your biggest advocate… or your biggest enemy, depending on what you’re are telling yourself. Psychiatrist Grant Brenner feels there are six hurtful labels we use in describing ourselves and others, and which can become themes to our self-talk [2] – these are “Lazy, Bored, Hypocrite, Spoiled, Stupid, and Selfish.”

Too many people are perfectionists in their self-talk. They’re constantly criticizing themselves for thinking, acting or ‘being’ a certain way. This undermines mental toughness as they become their own worst audience, constantly listening to their deprecating thoughts. It never seems to let up, rather they keep the cycle of analyzing – criticizing going on in your head… keeping the negative neuropathways alive by constantly “burning rubber” on them!

Are you familiar with the term, ‘Paralyses by Analysis?’ This means you continually brow-beat, over-think, analyze until your “blue in the face”, or ponder things to a “pulp” until your brain/mind is tired of thinking about it. Often times this leads to mental burnout. Before it ever gets to the mental burnout stage, it leads to, and creates, negative thinking patterns based on the rehashing and mental rehearsal of negative thinking. Perfectionist thinking ironically then undermines mental toughness, rather than, as perfectionist-thinking talk goes, strengthens resolve by being “tough” on themselves.

Interestingly, the more you try to be ‘the perfect thinker’, the more you seek out flaws or negative aspects for the way you’re thinking. It becomes a vicious cycle as you get caught up in a ‘thinking loop’. You’re like a dog chasing its own tail, and you go around in circles in your mind. The wise dog knows its tail belongs to them and identifies it as such and moves forward.

The same should be done with thoughts and choices. Once they’re made, you move forward. This is a sign of mental toughness!

 

ARE YOU A PERFECTIONIST?

Recovering perfectionist written on a napkinHow do you know if you’re a perfectionist or not?

For starters, do you include the following words when you are self-talking; should, must, better, always, have to, one hundred percent, only one way, when referring to yourself and how you should be? If you do, then you’re using absolute terms to define you, and how you should speak, act, or perform, in front of others, including yourself.

What you’re doing is setting up potential ‘mental/emotional breakdowns’ because you believe you need to be perfect all of the time, as after all, you start irrationally believing your thinking is perfect. You’re in essence setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself which says, “When I’m not achieving 100% and being perfect, I’m failing, as there is no room for errors.”

This creates an immense amount of pressure on yourself! When you engage in this type of thinking, it’s hard to let the tiniest of mistakes go. You may like to think you’re ‘mentally tough’ by thinking about something over and over, however it’s quite opposite. In this situation though you’re not mastering your thoughts but instead your thoughts are ‘mastering’ and controlling you.

You become the dog chasing its own tail around in a circle!

 

HABITUATED THINKING PATTERNS:

Break bad habits written on parchment paperThe root cause of lacking mental toughness is individuals becoming fixated in their negative, habituated thinking patterns. Over time the thought process becomes etched in stone on negative neural pathways. These places an individual in a position of weakness when it comes to their own thinking patterns and styles.

Does habituated thinking have to be this way in your life?

Absolutely not! It’s one thing to notice and admit the way you’re thinking isn’t productive, or getting you what you want, or where you want to go in life. It’s another to actually say to yourself (remember self-talk) “enough is enough and I’m ready for a different type of self-talk!

Only then, will this motivate you to produce the changes you want!

In an earlier article “Pattern Interrupt – Breaking the Habit” [3] I talk about a method of overcoming habituated thinking patterns using pattern interrupt. It’s a common technique used to change habits. Examples of natural interrupt which happen on a daily basis are unexpected noises, movements, other people talking, or when we engage in activities that relax or calm such as working out, going for a long walk, meditating, or even taking a different route to or from work. Basically, anything that helps get us out of a rut our current thinking has us in.

But doing it deliberately is more difficult because it requires monitoring of your own thoughts and when you detect yourself slipping into a thinking pattern you want to change, catching what you’re doing, and interrupting it by “reversing direction” or doing an activity that forces you to concentrate on something else.

Practice makes pattern interrupt a viable solution for helping with mental toughness when it comes to changing the way you think.

 

MENTAL TOUGHNESS – TIPS TO IMPROVE IT!

In order to become mentally tough, you’re going to have to change the way you think, which will create changes in the ways you feel and behave. This can and will be achieved in a variety of ways, but will only come about when you’re committed to making these changes!

You need to own your thoughts!

  1. Always remember you’ve the right to think whatever you want. The truest mark of mental toughness is learning to think for yourself. True, many of us are influenced by what others are telling us on a daily basis, especially messages from loved ones, or those closest to us. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself, what you think and the outcome of the decisions you make. Make decisions based on the thoughts you choose!
  2. Always keep things in their proper perspective! Too many people live with ‘end of the world” mentalities when something goes wrong in their lives after making a decision. Everyone makes mistakes and even the strongest thinkers with the best mental toughness will make mistakes. Mental toughness is about keeping things in perspective and then moving on. Don’t let mistakes define you, or dictate your future!
  3. Always do your best to live in the present! Remember, the only thing you’re in control of is the present moment. Thinking and worrying about the past won’t change it. You can only focus on what and how you’re thinking about in the present moment. See yesterday as the past no matter what, and move on to tomorrow as you will always have things to do, with places to go and people to see!
  4. Focus on the positives! There have to be things you’ve done well in your life throughout. You didn’t get as far as today because you made a ton of mistakes and never learned from them. If you’re going to focus on anything from your past, focus on your successes and achievements. Use them as inspiration and motivation to move you toward achieving new and better successes!
  5. Deal with your setbacks in a positive manner! To be successful, you need to overcome your setbacks and learn from them. Everyone will make mistakes at things they try. The key is to re-define and label your ‘setbacks’ as feedback or learning experiences. Use them as opportunities to change the way you think and act. Remember, as Thomas Edison put it best while inventing the light bulb – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Too many people don’t realize how close they are to achieving goals or dreams, when it’s truly within their grasp!

It’s never easy to live with mistakes, especially when they impact you and loved ones in a significant way. Dealing with your own thought process and self-talk is extremely important for determining how fast you’ll bounce back, and also for dealing with mistakes you may encounter in the future.

This is mental toughness!

 

CAN HYPNOSIS WORK TO CREATE MENTAL TOUGHNESS?

Hypnotherapist holding patient wrist in her office during sessionTraining your thinking to be mentally tough can be challenging. Most people grow comfortable and even stagnant in their negative thinking patterns, which do more damage than good. Using hypnosis to create mental toughness can help you break free from the patterns that weaken your thinking!

How does hypnosis work then? It stimulates the mind to create a new set of cognitive scripts by tapping into your unconscious mind. One’s unconscious mind goes on autopilot and takes you down the same neuropathways. Hypnosis has the ability to disrupt your ‘auto pilot’ negative thinking patterns. It’ll help to create new positive pathways. These new pathways will help create positive thinking! It pushes you in a new direction in which the thoughts you now create will be different!

Benny Johansson and Lars-Eric Uneståhl2 performed a study “to examine the effects on health and stress, measured by an alteration in plasma cortisol and DHEA-S, in connection with proficiency after mental training, among healthy individuals in job involvement at the same work unit” [4]. “Integrated Mental Training (IMT), developed by Uneståhl in the early 1970s, is a systematic and long-term training of mental processes (thoughts, images, attitudes, emotions) aiming for peak performance and wellness. The training develops ‘Alternative Systems of Control’ by using ‘Alternative States of Consciousness’, mainly self-hypnosis.”

The findings of the study “indicate that implementation of integrated mental training in everyday life offers a practical tool having sustained impact on physiological and psychological well-being. By managing and conditioning changes in perception and emotional responses, a substantial affective balance in cortisol/DHEA-S ratio can be achieved with considerable effects on stress reduction, emotional stability, performance and health outcomes” [4].

This scientific study provides insight into the benefits of mental training and how it can impact our body chemicals which help with mental toughness training. The use of self-hypnosis in the study demonstrates a method of helping to implement a mental toughness program.

Self-hypnosis can be learned, and most professional hypnotists can teach it. Contact some local hypnotherapists and discuss your goals with them and choose one with experience in developing mental toughness in others and you feel is a good match for you.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Building mental toughness is about exercising your brain muscle. As physical exercise grows our body muscles so we get stronger and can run faster for longer, so, challenging your thoughts and beliefs supports mental growth and provides the basis for increasing mental toughness. High performing athletes adopt training for both physical and mental toughness.

The quality of our self-talk is critical to turning an attitude steeped in negative talk to one of achieving positive outcomes by changing the words we use in self-talk. Learning from mistakes and looking for improvement is positive but looking for perfection for most if us usually translates into “trashing ourselves”, and makes us mentally vulnerable instead of tough.

Changing our self-talk to be more positive is one step, but equally important step is our beliefs and patterns. Constant negative self-talk is usually an outcome of beliefs as this leads to patterns of talk and behavior impacting our growth of mental toughness. So, beliefs about ourselves and changing those to be more supportive of our “new you” will in turn change our self-talk. The link between beliefs and self-talk is strong and each compliments the other in an interactive process. At first change can be small but expands exponentially as self-esteem and confidence grows.

Achieving mental toughness can be a life changing experience and this article suggests attitudes and ways to support moving towards it. Become a student and study and learn from others who model the kind of toughness you want to achieve. Hypnosis can also help you achieve mental toughness and because I believe it important to succeed at making significant changes it’s part of most of my in-office and online Special Hypnosis Services Programs which you can learn more about here >>>.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS:

[1] How to Construct Effective Self-Talk – Psychology Today >>>

[2] 6 Hurtful Labels to Stop Using on Ourselves and Others – Psychology Today >>>

[3] Pattern Interrupt – Breaking the Habit >>>

[4] Stress Reducing Regulative Effects of Integrated Mental Training with Self-Hypnosis >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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How to Get a Natural Anti-Aging Attitude to Feel Younger

By Erika Slater
Portrait of a smiling senior woman

Portrait of a smiling senior woman

There is a term that exists in today’s society referred to as ‘ageism’. Personally, I consider this term condescending in its tone as it refers to older people in a negative, stereotypical manner. It assumes when you reach a certain age you’re ‘past it.’

What does “past it” even mean in today’s society? Past what?

Young people picture seniors as needing walking canes, inflexible and bent over, and shuffling along both in the house and outside. The sun has set on them.

When people are called weak, feeble, frail, and even useless just because they’re ‘older’, they’re being labeled based on this stereotype.

This is both wrong and sad!

But what is even sadder is when older people ‘buy” into this stereotype, believing it to be the truth they start behaving and living accordingly.

Image is one thing, but attitude is everything.

Attitude is based on an ‘inside job’, it’s what you believe to be true about yourself, and what you’ll act out and thereby become.

Isn’t time to develop an anti-aging attitude so you don’t fall into this trap and never feel old.

While I’m not going to suggest at 70-years of age you can expect to win the next Olympic Games Marathon, or play in right field for the Boston Red Sox – at the moment Mookie Betts has that one locked-up anyway – but I certainly have seen 70-year-old clients in my hypnosis business who look lean, fit and have the skin of a much younger person.

But it’s not how they looked that dictated how I viewed them, but their attitude of themselves and how they feel about their life.

So, how can you do the same?

 

DON’T GET SOLD THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH:

Mature woman applying anti-aging creamDon’t buy into ‘Fountain of Youth’ elixirs and creams, and even cosmetic surgeries, as making you feel younger. The irony of it all is, many ‘feel old’ already and this is why they’re engaging in these methods to try to stay young looking… but they still, sadly, feel old.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about how you look and by all means use products and eat healthy foods that preserve your looks, but don’t use them and expect to replace how you feel.

The problem is not with their bodies growing older, as much as it’s with our attitude and outlook on life growing old.

Have you ever heard of the expression, “You’re only as old as you feel or believe you are?” Age is nothing more than a chronological number.

And how, and what, you perceive it based on your attitude, can and will make you feel much ‘older’ if you let it!

The question is… are you willing to remain ‘forever young’ at heart? Are you willing to feel more youthful again?

Did you know feeling, being, and acting positive can make you not just feel energetic, but also make you feel more youthful? Life is too short at any age to not be mindful of your time. It’s how you live in your life which make it more enjoyable… or merely tolerable.

When people reach certain ages, it appears some believe life is no longer about enjoying, rather about enduring and existing…waiting it out!

This can’t be further from the truth. Many people get a second life after 60-years and achieve a lot more in their next phase of life than they did in their first 60 or 70 years.

How did they do this?

It all came down to their state of mind – their attitude!

 

GETTING TO A YOUTHFUL STATE OF MIND:

Confident older woman with hand on faceHow can you go about getting this energy, vigor and positive state of mind back?

Eating well and keeping fit are foundational for keeping your body in good order as it ages. You need to do this, but on their own, neither of these will get you to the attitude and state of mind you need as well.

Meditation or Mindfulness, Yoga, and Hypnosis are all ways to help you to get into a Natural Anti-Aging Attitude. There’s nothing to stop you doing all three, but I’d recommend you pick one to start and see how it goes for you, and add the others once you’ve mastered one.

I’ve put some links in the resource section below on these ways to get you started [1] [2] [3].

Naturally I think Hypnosis is a great method for achieving this and you can do hypnosis at any age.

In fact, what better time to do it than in the here and now, especially if you now have the time!

Why not make better use of that time and begin to feel younger?

Hypnosis can help you feel younger again by nixing the negative thoughts and attitudes you have about your age.

You see, one’s mind can become patterned into thinking a certain way when it does so for a period of time. If at some point you reached an age you or someone else thought was ‘old’, or that you were ‘getting older’, and should start thinking, acting and feeling a certain way according to that age, then you might have set that as the parameter for how you are act and feel going forward.

It becomes your state of mind.

However, hypnosis can tap into your unconscious mind and help eradicate those preconceived notions of ‘feeling old’, and implant new and lively perceptions of yourself thinking, feeling and acting young or younger!

While affirmations are sometimes used incorrectly there is a right way of using them [4], and these can be reinforced in a hypnosis session particularly to create a positive attitude about your life, future and age.

Getting started on hypnosis is as easy contacting a local hypnotist and finding one who will teach you self-hypnosis so you can make it part of your daily routine moving forward. I teach self-hypnosis to many of my clients as a way for them to reinforce and expand what they originally came to see me for help with. If you’d like more information on working directly with me then check out my Hypnosis Services here >>> which I offer online or in-office depending on where you live.

An alternative is to download a hypnosis session to listen on your MP3 device. You can check out a hypnosis session on obtaining a positive outlook on life here >>> [5]

 

A FINAL WORD:

Western culture generally celebrates and promotes the promise of youth, at the expense of our seniors.

This isn’t so true in many eastern cultures where the old are revered and respected for their experience, wisdom and past and ongoing contributions. You could say its all about a state of mind, and instead of believing what is fed from our culture about expectations for our age, we need to start taking charge about our own attitude of our age to meet our own expectations rather than what others expect of us.

If you intend to live well into your nineties – as I intend – then having a longevity attitude today is more likely to help you get there.

Let me know how you enjoyed this article.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR ANTI-AGING:

[1] Increasing or Starting your Meditation Motivation >>>

[2] Introduction to Mindfulness – Part 1 >>>

[3] Hypnosis is Yoga for the Mind – Flexibility for Your Brain >>>

[4] Do Affirmations Really Work? – The Good & Bad of Affirmations >>>

[5] Transform your life with a positive attitude >>>

Natural Anti-Aging – Turning Back the Clock to Feel Younger >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Coping with Being a Caregiver for an Adult Family Member with a Serious Mental Illness

By Erika Slater
Couple coping with unhappy situation

Couple coping with unhappy situation

Developed countries are shifting their mental health policies
away from hospital-based care towards community-based care,
and family caregivers play an essential role in making living in
the community with a severe mental illness possible.”
LUCAS KU Leuven/EUFAMI Survey 2015

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. Practical ways of coping with being a family caregiver for an adult with a serious mental illness to reduce stress, avoid burnout, and achieve a balanced life.
  2. The benefits of support groups for caregivers and the leadership role you play in the professional team supporting your loved one.
  3. How to work with medical professionals and other service providers so you get access to information and seen as a member of their team.
  4. Further reading and resources around caregiver coping strategies, support groups, and life balance so you provide quality care without burning out.

If you’re a caregiver for a family member with a serious mental illness, then you know it can be a demanding and stressful role leading to burnout and negatively impacting both your life and that of your loved love. I know this from personal experience.

More is expected of family caregivers, who’ve become a pillar in the recovery of their patient alongside formal caregivers. There’s no greater stress than caring for a loved one with mental illness. So, anything you can do to reduce your stress and burnout potential is of paramount importance in helping to provide quality of care to your loved one.

As a family caregiver survey cited later says “The balance between taking on the role and responsibility as a carer for a relative with severe mental illness and preserving one’s own quality of life is fragile.”

The unpredictable nature and actions of those with mental illness, even when on medication and in treatment, keeps your anxiety level high. But to throw your hands up when the going gets tough isn’t an option, as that’s when they need your help the most. I’ve also seen the negative impact of being a martyr and trying to do all the caregiving oneself. This has its own set of problems and impact on your loved one.

Your caregiver role is critical but at times it can seem your input to treatment is ignored by medical professionals and access to critical information is barred, which only increases your stress and anxiety level.

In this article I’m going to offer suggestions that have worked for me and others dealing with your situation. I’ll discuss practical coping strategies you can interject into your life daily to help reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed, overburdened and in danger of burnout.

 

COPING SKILLS FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS AND HOW TO LEAD A BALANCED LIFE:

Unhappy and crying womanThe amount of effort put into supporting someone with mental illness can be taxing on a caregiver. Stress comes in all shapes and sizes, and can affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are still learning from scientific research the negative impact on our immune system from chronic stress, especially as we age and our organs become more susceptible to breakdown. [Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller – Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry] – see link in resource section at end.

Enduring stress over a prolonged period will affect one mentally. Simple mental tasks become more difficult to complete because your circuits become over-ridden with worries.

It’s not uncommon to begin forgetting the simplest tasks or get side-tracked, even overlooking important appointments.

Being a caregiver to a loved one who’s suffering from mental illness can be debilitating emotionally. Many caregivers develop feelings of helplessness, haplessness and hopelessness which start to facilitate the phenomenon of depression. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience crying spells on a regular basis. Often, caregivers will break down and become overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, and this can lead to burnout.

Signs of Burn-Out and Depression:

According to Dr. Peter Sacco, “Burn-out occurs when highly committed people start to lose interest and motivation due to physical, emotional, or psychological exhaustion.” This most often happens under the following conditions:

1. You’ve been under very intense pressure for a long period… way too long!
2. You find it impossible to say no to others and additional responsibilities. You feel you owe people or must help them.
3. You possess a perfectionist personality and the need to do things 100%.
4. You’re biting off more than you can chew, in that you’re trying to do too much while lacking too little resources.
5. You’re emotionally drained because you’re letting those around you suck the life out of you.

When burn-out leads to depression, then the caregiver has taken their condition to a higher and dangerous level requiring their own treatment. Links to two articles for further reading on this topic are “Depression and Caregiving”, and “The Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout… Do You Have Them?”, can be found in the resource section below.

Managing Your Self-Care:

Mature woman chatting with friend in coffee shopNurses and health care aids are trained to deal with others and taught to be objective. When you are caring for a loved one, it’s hard to remain objective and disallow your personal feelings from creeping into your frame of mind. Professionals can walk away from their jobs and enjoy their personal lives. However, when you care for a loved with a mental illness, your personal world literally becomes re-created by the mental health status of your loved one!

Family caregivers are under a constant barrage of trying to establish a routine of caring and having a life of their own, battling to get services for their loved ones, fighting with them to take treatment, turn-up for appointments, and relapses.

It’s stressful regardless if your loved one lives in your household or they live independently. Out of sight isn’t “out of mind” when it comes to providing caregiving. So, managing your own self-care is important to provide a balanced life.

In a booklet put out by NAMI Cape Cod it discusses the value of self-care (as they say – often referred to as ‘Put the oxygen mask on yourself first‘) and offers a set of suggestions to ensure you’re creating your own self-care program. (See link in resource section to contact NAMI Cape Cod to obtain your own copy). I’ve extracted some of their suggestions here:

  • Maintain your friendships or develop some new ones.
  • Indulge and nurture your hobbies such as: exercising (walking/running with friends, biking, gym workouts), reading fun books, seeing movies, building things/woodworking, cooking/baking, knitting/quilting, eating out.
  • Accept all invitations for parties and celebrations. Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Identify and express your feelings through journaling.
  • Make getting enough sleep a priority.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Become active in the community and/or in your church

There must be time for yourself. If you don’t manage your stress, then, no one else will. So, choose a few activities from the list above.

Reduce Confrontation by Learning New Approaches with your Loved One:

Dealing with a person with mental illness isn’t a cake-walk. Logic and reasoning with them can be futile at times causing frustration and harsh words on both sides. The fact is, they don’t see the world the same as you do, and frankly, you’re in a better position to adjust your perspective than they are, and in effect relieve the tension and your stress, and likely get a better outcome.

In Dr. Xavier Amador’s excellent book “I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help!” he discusses approaches and the words to use when dealing with somebody with mental illness. Dr. Amador had a brother with a mental illness and developed his approaches based on personal experiences and dealing with his patients. The aim is to diffuse confrontation and it offers ways to adapt your perspective to those of a person with mental illness, so they feel they’re listened to and respected. The approach takes practice and a willingness to see the illness through their eyes even if their logic and reasoning is flawed to you – to them its their reality.

Mindfulness, Meditation and Hypnosis:

Hypnotist hypnotizing womanI put these three together because they’re different aspects of self-care and not mutually exclusive. While mindfulness has become “avant garde” these days don’t dismiss it as a personal therapy approach. There’s a reason why its become popular. Mindfulness can be a quick win for you at times of stress and frustration when free time is limited.

The concept of closing your eyes and centering yourself in the present without wearing critical sensors or blinders, and where the mind can be in a state of tranquility reduces stress quickly and allows a fresh start to the rest of the day.

I’ve included a link below to an introduction to mindfulness resource “Introduction to Mindfulness – 4-Part Series.”

Wikipedia defines meditation “as a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.” Meditation, then, can be used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception and wellbeing. I’ve generally found meditation requires more practice than mindfulness and so attending some classes helps.

In the context of coping skills for family caregivers then hypnosis can provide relief in both stress and improving outcomes with the mentally ill. Hypnosis, then, can provide aspects of both mindfulness and meditation but also provide resources and tools to help with interactions with your loved ones and others. Often, our habits dictate reactions to events, people, and situations. If these learned reactions don’t help the situation or cause you to be frustrated or stressed, then hypnosis can help change outcomes.

Generally, most folks benefit from seeing a hypnotist for a few sessions to get started and learn the skills of self-hypnosis, so they’re able to perform hypnosis on themselves without ongoing visits to a hypnotherapist. If you’re new to hypnosis, then check out the link in the resource section for my introductory article called “What is Hypnosis and How Does Hypnosis Work?

 

SUPPORT FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS AND PLAYING THE TEAM LEADER:

Members of support group sitting and discussing issuesAlways keep open the network of support systems you already have. Whenever family and friends offer to help, seize it! It’s common to become so fixated with caring for your loved one you lose track of the boundaries which separate you from them. Some individuals develop a “martyr” complex sacrificing their lives for their loved one, believing they should be the only ones offering care and not ‘burden’ others. In the long-term this is a mistake. Accept help from others and be humbled enough to reach out for support!

There are support groups for families dealing with mentally ill members. There are plenty of people in your shoes, and in my experience, I’ve found just being able to talk to folks dealing with similar situation helps to ease the burden.

There are several support groups in North America and Europe. If you live in USA, then the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is nationwide and provides local support. NAMI also runs free programs and one of these is the Family-To-Family Program. While a commitment of time it provides education about mental illness and practical advice on coping. You also get the opportunity to meet and hear how others are dealing with illness in their family. NAMI also runs local support groups for family caregivers that meet regularly and offer an ongoing opportunity to have an empathetic ear to your situation. For more information about your local chapters and programs see the NAMI link in the resource section below.

I include here a reminder to manage the healthcare team of your mentally ill family member. You should consider their primary physician, psychiatrist, therapist, nurses, etc., as part of your team, which could also include other professionals. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them as support for you. Of course, tap into your primary physician, therapist, counselor, or hypnotherapist to help balance those focused on you, rather than your loved one.

Getting medical professionals to view themselves as part of your team can be tricky and at times frustrating. But, for your long-term well-being and that of your ill family member, it’s critical you’ve a group of medical professionals that recognize the importance of your role and treat you with respect and embrace your input into the medical welfare of their medical patient. Don’t hesitate to move on from providers who ignore your input.

 

WORKING WITH MEDICAL PROFESSIONS AND OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS:

Mature woman chatting with counselorHIPAA has introduced an unnecessary barrier between family caregivers and the medical community. Professionals, to protect themselves, often interpret Federal and State medical privacy laws conservatively, so you end up feeling “shut out” of the conversation of what is going on, and the treatment prescribed. This can lead to tension and frustration with those who are supposed to have your loved ones best medical interest at heart. The fact is there’s nothing in HIPAA, or any state laws, prohibiting medical professionals from listening to information you have about your loved one. While they may choose not to release information to you, they have to listen to you.

However, being confrontational all the time isn’t going to endure you to any professional.

Better you adopt a stance to be a constructive part of the team and offer information and help. At the end of the day you’re the overall leader of your loved one’s team. The medical team is just one aspect of the care they need.

If possible get your loved one to sign medical release forms so you can be present in medical visits and consultations, and receive copies of any records and documents. By having this at the start it helps avoid absence of communication and reduces your stress and frustration level. States differ on the process and terms but consider guardianship if this helps you with ensuring ongoing care for your loved one. This requires their consent and you’ll need the help of a lawyer. In Massachusetts, you have the option of being a “Roger’s Monitor” covering the medication as part of the guardianship.

Keep a journal of visits containing dates, names and telephone numbers, and list of medications and details of treatments agreed. This way you’re not relying on memory and have a permanent record of everything in one place. This may seem trivial but it’s important to you and is helpful information to share with any new medical professional joining your team.

Sooner or later you’ll encounter the police. Anticipate this and make yourself and loved one known to the local police before an event happens. In Massachusetts special training is offered to police on dealing with people with mental illness. If you call when a crisis occurs request a CCIT or CIT-trained officer to be dispatched, or at the minimum explain you’re dealing with a mental illness issue. The police are there to help you, and your loved one, and to avoid a tragedy. When they arrive stay calm, provide them useful information, and then step back and let them do their job. They can escort your loved one to hospital if necessary.

Let me conclude this section by citing from the LUCAS KU Leuven/EUFAMI Survey 2015: “The greatest need of family caregivers lies in the recognition they’re a full partner in care, and in the need to be listened to and taken seriously by professional caregivers. Family caregivers know what it is to live with mental illness through their daily experience with the patient. They especially worry about the future and what will happen with their ill relative in the long-term. These worries need to be taken seriously.” The survey is called “Experiences of Family Caregivers for Persons with Severe Mental Illness”, and I’ve put a link to it in the resource section below.

Another excellent resource for you which although focused on providing a manual for a family dealing with a schizophrenic member is applicable for other disorders is “Surviving Schizophrenia – A Family Manual” by E. Torrey Fuller. His words and explanations have helped me through many worrying times.

I set out to provide you practical ways to cope better being a family caregiver and managing your stress through interactions with your loved one, and medical and other service providers. But, it’s primarily about having a balanced life beyond your role as a family caregiver. Remember… You’re not alone.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

There are no clear-cut strategies for being ‘the perfect caregiver’. Simply put – you need to keep your life in balance. You need to learn to keep things in perspective and keep stress in check before it overwhelms you.

At the center of coping skills is having a activities that keep fun in your life. Avoid isolation from friends and other family members and take care of your own mental and physical health. Adopt the airline tag line of “putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.” A positive and healthy you are the best way to provide ongoing quality care for your family member.

Seek out help and support for your caregiving role. Contact NAMI, or similar organizations, to find a local support group and education programs and attend them to gain insight into how others are coping with similar situations. Build your own support team of friends and relatives who you can lean on to help in times of additional stress or when you need a respite.

Look at medical professionals and service people like the police as team members and managing the encounters by building a positive rapport with them so you get access to information about your loved one, and setup for positive encounters in times of crisis.

Consider therapy for yourself to cope. This could include mindfulness, counseling, hypnosis, or all of these. Self-hypnosis can be learned and so seek out a local hypnotist who can help you benefit from its control of your stress and anxiety and achieve a life balance. You can check out my various Hypnosis Services I offer here or contact me directly if you want to learn more about hypnosis and how it can help you by completing the form here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO BEING A CAREGIVER:

Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry >>>

Depression and Caregiving >>>

The Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout… Do You Have Them? >>>

Experiences of Family Caregivers for Persons with Severe Mental Illness >>>

NAMI Cape Cod & Islands >>>

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Main Site >>>

I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment. – Dr. Xavier Amador >>>

Surviving Schizophrenia – A Family Manual – E. Fuller Torrey >>>

Introduction to Mindfulness – 4 Part Series >>>

What is Hypnosis and How Does Hypnosis Work? – Erika Slater CH >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Crush Your Aversion to Going Gluten-Free and Sticking with it!

By Erika Slater
Gluten free goods and grains with words no gluten written in white flour

Gluten free goods and grains with words no gluten written in white flour

In this article you’ll find discussions and answers to:

  1. Why you would want to go gluten-free and what it means?
  2. What’s Celiac Disease and intolerance to gluten?
  3. The challenges in going gluten-free and strategies for overcoming difficulties to stick with it.
  4. Further resources for help in becoming and staying gluten free.

Over the last 10 years there’s been a lot of talk about ‘gluten-free’ diets being healthier for you.

Conversely, gluten has been made a ‘culprit’ in leading to health issues for some people. So many processed and staple groceries people buy contain gluten.

If that isn’t enough, many people are ‘hooked’ on the products, partially because they’re habituated or addicted to gluten.

More and more health professionals are asking their patients to steer away from gluten products and start using healthier alternatives. For some, making this change is difficult for a myriad of reasons.

Is it really hard to go gluten-free, and why would you want to anyway?

 

WHY WOULD YOU GO GLUTEN-FREE AND WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT?

Diagram showing impact of celiac disease on small intestineLet’s start with some basics. What is gluten?

Many people hear gluten is bad for them, but have no idea what it is exactly, or what ‘foods’ it’s found in.

Generally speaking, gluten is the name for the proteins found in wheat, semolina, spelt, rye, barley and triticale – which is a hybrid of rye and wheat. The purpose of this protein found in grains is to help foods maintain their ‘shape’, basically serving as a “glue” to help hold the food together.

I’ve been eating “glue” you may ask?

Well, in a way yes. But these are naturally occurring proteins in grains and so you’re not eating something you can use to put up a kitchen hanger or piece together some broken ceramics. Funny you may think.

However, for those with Celiac disease gluten is no joking matter and can damage their small intestine if consumed.

Gluten is found in many of the foods folks pick up at the grocery store and consume daily. They’re in what many people consider to be staple foods for the family meals. Some of the more common foods gluten can be found in are; breads, cereals, soups, pastas, salad dressings, beer, malts, food coloring’s, pastries, and many snack foods, etc.

Still more foods contain “hidden gluten” or gluten used in unexpected ways. So, it’s important to be vigilant when checking the ingredients on the packaging.

Why is gluten bad for so many people?

Consuming gluten can trigger symptoms of celiac disease.

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. It’s hereditary, meaning it runs in families.

Celiac causes inflammation in the body and also creates digestive issues and tissue damage to the small intestines. This results in a lot of discomfort for anyone who cannot tolerate gluten. They are likely to experience chronic headaches, skin rashes, swelling, diarrhea, bloating, tiredness, constipation and even depression.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the more prevalent disorders individuals suffer from who have gluten allergies. It’s estimated one percent of the population suffers from it.

Gluten allergies are no laughing matter for people! It has tremendous implications for stress and requires serious lifestyle modifications.

For those individuals who suffer from these allergies, it’s a foregone conclusion they must eliminate gluten from their diets if they wish to feel good physically. But sometimes it’s difficult to eliminate the foods you love, almost like a smoker, or alcoholic, trying to give up their habit or addiction.

For more specific information on Celiac disease and other allergies, and what it means to go gluten-free please read the articles I’ve put in the resource section below at end of this post.

If you consider the foods we mentioned earlier containing gluten such as bread, pasta and cereals then these are what many as kids and adolescents grew up on! So, giving them up, or finding tasty substitutes will be hard, and even if you do find alternatives then sticking with the alternatives will also be difficult.

But it’s not impossible and this next section offers some help…

 

CHOOSING AND STICKING WITH YOUR GLUTEN-FREE DIET:

Woman with cookie and text saying gluten free cookiesBecause many people today are looking to go grain-free and gluten-free for health reasons then more and more alternatives are available then ever before.

For example, we don’t east pasta in our household but a family member loves it but doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables, so we buy pasta made from vegetables such as zucchini and broccoli. It looks and tastes fine and satisfies the need to eat “pasta” – it really looks like it – and also achieves the other goal of eating more vegetables.

Buckwheat flour can also be used to make pasta and buckwheat is a great alternative to grains. Buckwheat can also be used to make breads.

Many bakeries today offer gluten-free breads.

If you have mild allergies to gluten then eating sprouted grain breads as alternative to white flour grain bread can help reduce reaction without substituting gluten altogether.

The main criticism leveled at gluten-free foods is… the taste.

The fact is they do taste different. But it has more to do with our expectations and habit tasting – I think I just made that term up – than the real taste. So, what do I mean?

You can get to a point where you accept and like a taste. It may take some time and dedication but eventually if your health matters enough to you, you can grow accustom to a different taste. For example, I always took cream in my coffee. Then I moved to whole milk and now onto less fat in my milk. Each change has thrown a new taste at me and so I’ve done it in steps.

Effectively, its taking the new food, or change in taste, long enough to form a new taste habit.

This is likely to be the same for most gluten-free alternatives you’ll find. Accept it will taste different and providing it doesn’t make you have an averse reaction then you’ll overcome it. Think more about what you’re giving to your body and less about what you’re giving up.

In neuroscience an effective strategy for overcoming thoughts that get in the way of you creating new positive habits is called pattern interrupt. I’ve written about the techniques associated with this strategy in an earlier article and put a link to it below in the resource section.

So, what do you do if you’re still struggling or in danger of not sticking to your gluten-free diet?

Hypnosis is a viable avenue to take if you’re looking to modify your eating habits and conquer your love of gluten-filled food products.

Hypnosis can do this in a few ways.

Two strategies for outcomes can be aversion and another is positive reinforcement.

Hypnosis can turn you off to certain foods containing gluten such as breads or cereals. A hypnotist can place in your unconscious mind suggestions to create aversions to these foods. Every time you think about them or see them, you’ll not want them. In fact, the thought of them creates a negative emotional reaction – sometimes even physical.

Hypnosis can also be used to reinforce eating healthy gluten-free foods by creating a positive emotional reaction supporting your consumption of them, and speeding up the acceptance of them for you, and of course helping you stick to your diet. My own weight loss hypnosis service program helps people stay on their diet whatever they chose.

Regardless of whether you go down the hypnosis path of aversion or positive reinforcement, the Gluten problem is solved quicker for you.

Let’s do a recap for you…

 

CONCLUSIONS

Gluten-free products are available these days in most supermarkets. This has come about because of the demand and number of people that must eat gluten-free because they’re allergic to foods containing gluten, or because it’s a choice to avoid grains which our bodies have trouble digesting.

Gluten-free products do taste different and for some folks sticking to such a diet can be troublesome and challenging.

Our taste buds can be acclimatized to different tastes and it tends to be food association that impedes us in acceptance. For example, pasta has distant shapes and when it doesn’t taste the way we expect for that shape then it makes it more difficult for us to stay the course. However, we can interrupt this thought pattern by using various strategies and one of them is hypnosis.

Hypnosis can help cause aversions to gluten-filled foods, or create reinforcement in our unconscious for healthy gluten-free foods. It can also speed up the acceptance process.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO GLUTEN-FREE:

What is Celiac Disease? >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Lose Weight? And Keep It Off! >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Overcome Sugar Addiction? >>>

Introduction to Emotional Eating Disorder >>>

The Most Important Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss >>>

What is Orthorexia and How to Overcome it >>>

Short Program Sugar Addiction Hypnosis Service >>>

Going Gluten-Free – WebMD >>>

All About Fat Loss and Benefits of Red-Light Therapy >>>

 

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Why is it So Darn Hard to Cope with Stress? Ways to Reduce It

By Erika Slater
Business person under stress from colleagues

Business person under stress from colleagues and not coping!

How can you cope with stress? Stress is part of living and while we can’t eliminate it we can reduce it – here I discuss how you can reduce your stress.

In today’s world it seems stress is at an all-time high!

We live in an extremely fast-paced technologically-advanced time period when most people are living their lives expecting things to happen at the drop of a hat, or this is how others expect them to live.

Stress comes from all sides as we live an “overloaded life”: our family commitments, our job commitments, and even our friend commitments. Our plate or cup “runneth over.”

So many people live their lives based on ‘quantity’, trying to achieve the most they can, while putting in the least amount of effort, instead of getting the truest ‘quality’ from living their lives.

What this means is folks are spreading themselves too thin, and this means they’re feeling worn down and weary, and this makes coping with stress extremely difficult. Often times, people compromise their value – what their lives are truly worth – in order to attain ‘value’ in the form of things; money, objects and even people.

This way of living will stress you out!

The fact is stress isn’t going away anytime soon. Even our pre-historic ancestors had stress. The stress of getting to the next meal before being eaten themselves. The constant battle for food and shelter, and companionship.

But as life became “easier” this stress of survival was replaced by other modern-day stresses. But even if stress can’t be eliminated completely from our lives there are ways of coping better with it.

 

THE IMPACT OF MODERN DAY STRESS ON YOU:

Too busy on clock and asking what stress?We know from many studies what stress does to our bodies and health. A body under severe and constant stress that isn’t coping well breaks down our immune system and leads to many health issues and diseases.

The Mayo Clinic describes these common effects of stress on us (see the resource section below for link to full article)…

“… stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.”

So many people find it extremely difficult to cope with stress because they defer their thoughts and feelings connected to their stress to a later date.

What I mean by this is many can feel they’re already stressed out, or know they’ll be stressed out, but will worry about it later… much later. The problem is when ‘later’ comes, they’re already in way too deep, drowning in their stress and weariness, they can’t seem to find a way out.

When it gets to that point, it starts to make them not only feel vulnerable, but hopeless as well.

Then there are those in denial or kid themselves they thrive on stress…

There are individuals who will argue tooth and nail with you they don’t have stress. Their life is perfect and they deal with it perfectly. Oh really?

Yet others will tell you they get the most accomplished by being stressed out, or “Work best under pressure!” I’m sure that is the case for many, and there is truth to that, but for how long can you keep that ‘pressure’ on yourself before the lid blows off of… your sanity?

When you engage in that kind of lifestyle, there’s always a price to pay; your mental, emotional and/or physical health and well-being.

Many people don’t know how to cope with stress and so they choose to turn a blind eye to it, or accept it as a ‘lifestyle’. But as we’ve seen this is dangerous and even medical science is telling us we do this at risk to our overall wellness.

But it doesn’t have to be so darn hard to cope with stress. With some simple changes and techniques, you can change the collision course with your health you’re on…

 

WAYS TO COPE WITH STRESS:

Relaxing woman in thoughtful pose coping with stress and anxietyFirst, I recognize you may be under stress already that’s beyond coping with just the introduction of some of these ways. If you’re already experiencing physical or mental health issues due to stress then you must seek professional help.

One of the best ways to get your stress under control is to manage it by minimizing what you’re engaging in, but at the same time maximizing your efforts to give your best and achieve your goal.

As we try and stuff so much into our day we end up just doing too many things, and either never completing them, or putting in minimal effort and getting less than desirable results.

Feeling okay about saying “no” is the recognition you need to limit your commitments to others, including family.

When you pour your efforts into just a couple of things at a time, you’re more likely to be successful, optimize your talents and skills, and achieve good results. This improves your self-esteem and self-confidence, which will result in lowering your stress and feelings of letting others down.

If you overload yourself with commitments then your own quality of life suffers as you stress out over all the things you must accomplish for others before you get anytime for “you.” This “you time” is the most important of any of the time you spend.

There’s a reason why in every airline flight safety talk you’re told to put on your oxygen mask before attempting to help others put on theirs. You can’t help others until you help yourself. So this “you time” is you putting on your oxygen mask first.

This “you time” can be a hobby or learning some new skill or knowledge. It can be doing something with a family member of friend. Meeting for coffee. It can be reading a book or watching a movie, or exercising.

The point is whatever you do it must be enjoyable and rejuvenating to you. If it becomes a chore to you then you’re back to adding another stressful commitment to your schedule! Which defeats the object of doing it!

Now if you’re saying to yourself at this point, “but I have too many people relying on me to take this you time”, then I’m afraid you’re falling into a dangerous trap of making excuses why you can’t do something that helps you, and thereby other people. If you were to drop dead today then the world will go on and these other people will cope.

Sorry to be so blunt, but you’re reading this because you feel overly stressed and continuing to do what you do today without introducing change isn’t coping better is it?

In the resource section below, I’ve included a link to a WebMD article that lists 10 ways to relax that you’ll enjoy. But I want to highlight a few of them as we round out this section…

If you find it difficult to relax then meditation, mindfulness and self-hypnosis are champion ways of taking just a few minutes each day and clearing the surface cluttering thoughts of your mind.

Whether you call it meditation or mindfulness doesn’t really matter. The concept is the same of focusing on the current moment. Find your own “Daily Practice” or “Miracle Morning” but have a structure to it and keep to same part of the day if possible.

Learning self-hypnosis and realizing it’s a tool that’ll repay you for the rest of your life can be a well… life-changing experience. It takes no longer than learning to mediate but has the purpose of changing your unconscious habits. These are habits you’ve learned over the years but unfortunately can feed your stress, rather than reduce it.

Most professional hypnotists in your area can teach you self-hypnosis. I’ve run a number of these classes myself for my clients, but more importantly, often include some basic techniques for a client in sessions while solving other issues. There are also self-study programs covering self-hypnosis if you prefer that approach, or don’t have access to a local hypnotherapist.

If you need a jump start to cope with stress better than you do today then look for a program similar to my stress and anxiety hypnosis management service here and look for a local hypnotist who can help you or contact me.

 

CONCLUSION:

Medical science teaches us reducing stress helps with our overall wellness and especially our physical and mental health. Cope with stress by implementing a strategy to manage your commitments.

Limit commitments to others and don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests for your time. Don’t be a martyr. Remember you need to help yourself first before you can help others. Say “no” to commitments that will robe you having “you time” and of completing your commitments with a quality focus.

Schedule “you time” first before any other commitments. Think of this philosophy as putting on your oxygen mask and life vest first before helping anybody else. Pick activities that you enjoy doing and relax you.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Introduction to Mindfulness – Erika Slater CH >>>

10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast – WebMD >>>

 

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Dealing with Grief – Different Forms and Ways to Live Again

By Erika Slater
Grief stricken and sad woman holding her brow

Grief stricken and sad woman holding her brow

Grief and sadness are parts of living the human experience. No one is exempt from feeling the pains that accompany grief at some point in their lives.

Grief is usually associated with a loss such as: death, divorce, finances, or a job, all of which can lead to adjustment difficulties. It’s not uncommon for grief to last a long time and become depression.

When grief becomes chronic depression then it has the ability to render someone to feel and become helpless and hopeless. If and when it should get to that point, usually outside intervention is required.

Here are ways that Grief can take all the joy out of life…

 

THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF GRIEF:

Older couple grieving together after a loss of loved oneGrief can also occur at any point in one’s life. It doesn’t discriminate.

Many kids feel their first grief through the loss of a pet. Pets, especially dogs and cats, pull up strong emotions at any age. Saying goodbye to one can have a lasting deep impression on a child.

There’s a bond we have with our pets because of their unbroken loyalty and friendship with no strings attached. They give without expecting much in return – just a safe home, affection and food. We feel we should be able to protect them from death and somehow, we let them down when we lose them.

So we mourn over their loss as much for ourselves as them.

But for older people, who have the same affinity for their pets as kids, they feel the loss of their companionship even more.

Our family suffered the loss of a dog a few years ago and one we all loved very much. In this instance we think our kids moved on from the loss faster than we did, because we did all the caring and feeding of Buddy, and received back his unwavering companionship, our loss was greater.

Another form of grief is loss of a job or a change at work “forced” on you. This is particularly relevant in the corporate world. Businesses are always looking to increase profits and be more efficient. Management decisions are made that cause jobs to be expendable… your job. It unfortunately becomes a number’s game for Wall Street’s pleasure.

Other times a new system is implemented and everything you knew before, including the value you contributed, is changed. This loss is even catered for by system implementer’s to cover the different phases of: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance.

It’s a noble intent but at the end of the day you shouldn’t expect grief counseling but more of transition help and you’ll be expected to move on quickly for the greater good of the company.

But the loss of a loved one such as a spouse, child, or a parent can be devastating and not so easily overcome.

As a case in point the current opioid crisis in America is casting a wide net of grief on people. Many counselors are overwhelmed with parents grieving the loss of a son or daughter to this new epidemic. Where I live in Massachusetts it’s a common topic in the media.

I’ve seen people who came to me for hypnosis help to stop smoking or coaching on weight loss have grief for a parent loss be at the center of their barrier to success. It can infest many different areas of our lives.

Often time society has portrayed the ‘grief-stricken widow’ as being the most vulnerable. There are just as many men who suffer from grief, many of them may not show it outwardly, and it can lead to alcoholism, drugs and other addictive behavior. They use substances and/or activities to mask and avoid their pain.

Some who are older who suffer the loss of a spouse, or parent, can be prone to becoming sad and withdrawn particularly if they’re already prone to depression. Likewise parents losing a son or daughter are at high risk for grief over an extended time as it seems so unfair to them.

Why is it some individuals can adjust to the ‘loss’ they experience, but others can’t seem to overcome it?

Some individuals, because of their psychological make-up take it harder, and the timing of the incident could render them more vulnerable to grief as they may be run down, feeling lonely or isolated, or already feeling depressed.

When these things coincide you’re more likely to have the components that can lead to feeling intense feelings of grief, and wonder if life will ever be enjoyable again.

 

OVERCOMING GRIEF TO MAKE LIFE ENJOYABLE AGAIN:

Grief counselor with young girlTime is a healer for grief…. but not completely. And there’s nothing wrong or morbid about keeping somebody in your memory particularly the memories that make you smile and thankful you were in their lives when they were living.

In order to deal with grief properly, sometimes it’s necessary to seek outside help. This is beneficial even in the short-term for those in shock. Most schools and colleges provide grief counseling when a student dies suddenly, and most companies provide bereavement days for loss of an immediate family member and offer an Employee Assistance Line for individual counseling.

But extended grief that continues to infect negatively your daily life long past the immediate mourning period, also requires you to seek professional help.

There’s no shame or weakness in getting help if it’ll help you bounce back faster, and get you on your road to recovery. Usually, all it takes is just talking to someone who has a compassionate listening ear. So many people who grieve keep everything all bottled up and it just grows and grows.

When this occurs, people become fixated on it and take it on as a quality of their lives. This is when it can become chronic depression and can lead to a mental health disorder.

When grief does turn into depression, individuals would best be advised to seek out a grief counselor or therapist to get help. When it escalates into depression, thinking clearly and rationally becomes more difficult as emotions will rule.

Your Doctor can provide medication to help you with grief causing depression, but these days more and more folks are avoiding medications that can become addictive. So, counseling should be considered your first port of call after discussing this with your Doctor.

If your grief has you constantly dwelling in the past or worried about your future then Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you focus on the present and maybe help loosen the hold on your life that grief has introduced. There are therapists who specialize in this type of therapy so seek them out to see if this is appropriate intervention for you.

Another therapy used in overcoming grief is hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a viable option for not allowing grief to develop into chronic depression. It can not only help the mind distract it from being entangled in ‘grief’, but also train it to look for, or foresee, the positives that’ll be coming into an individual’s life with time.

Hypnosis can help the unconscious mind seek out or identify signs that’ll offer hope… positive hope. Through repetition and progressive positive thought process, the signs and symptoms of grief will start to slip away. If you want to consider working directly with me on your grief through my online and in-office sessions then check out my Special Hypnosis Services Programs.

They say time heals all wounds, which is true. But sometimes waiting for that time to come can be sad, painful and tedious. Hypnosis can help mend and heal wounds and help accelerate the time spent in grief that overwhelms and destroys your joy of life.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Grief and grieving is normal. It’s a state to help us overcome the loss of something or someone dear to us. It’s also natural for loss of a job or even financial stability.

Whatever the reason there’s a normal morning period before life’s adventures await for your return. If returning is taking too long then it’s time to seek professional help.

There are specialists that can help you overcome a loss. Counseling and therapists can provide both short-term help on grieving but also are professionals you can seek out help to overcome extended stays of grief.

Hypnosis is also a viable alternative to replace your grieving thoughts about the past and bleak future with more positive thoughts about the present.

Self-hypnosis sessions you can listen to at home offer yet another alternative to making trips to a hypnotist, and more information about coping with grief and loss using self-hypnosis can be found here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO GRIEF:

What is Normal Grieving, and What Are the Stages of Grief? – WebMD >>>

Grief Isn’t Something to Get Over – Psychology Today >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Why is it So Darn Hard to Lose Weight? And Keep It Off!

By Erika Slater
girl looking forlorn at her diet meal

girl looking forlorn at her diet meal

 

So, why is it so darn hard to lose weight and keep it off? It can’t be just about diet can it? No, there’s something more fundamental going on here…

By the fact you’re reading this article I know you want to do something about losing weight. Most likely you’ve tried before (dare I say many?) and are at the same point again wondering how to make it stick this time?

People go to extremes and try various expensive weight loss programs, exercise programs, and even diet pills and ‘miracle’ supplements to try and lose weight.

Many also try various diet fads, low carb diets one moment, and then low fat diets the next, only to find themselves taking backward steps while muttering, “Why is it so darn hard to lose weight?

So, why is it so darn hard to lose weight?

Unfortunately, we sabotage ourselves most of the time, especially when the “honeymoon” period of our diet is over, and we plateau and think, “I have to eat this for ever?” But take heart in the fact you’re also the solution and eating healthy doesn’t meaning nibbling salad for the rest of your life.

There are four primary reasons why it can be hard for YOU to lose weight.

1. Your mindset is flawed – this is the problem for most.
2. Confusing information from “experts” and those trying to squeeze the “last dollar out of your wallet.”
3. Your metabolism or body chemistry is working against you – this is rare and even then you can overcome it with professional guidance.
4. Your fat cells are not opening – no matter what you do you can’t get rid of those love handles or cellulite marks.

By the end of this article you’ll understand exactly what you need to do to be successful when you decide to lose weight but this time… keep it off.

And if you go in with the right mindset… it’ll be easier than ever before.

Now easier doesn’t mean I’m going to produce a “magic wand” or sprinkle “fairy dust” over you, and you’ll shed pounds while you sleep overnight. I realize you’re smarter than that, and besides I’m not selling any snake oil.

Easier in this context means weight loss as an industry has just got way too complicated, and I’m aiming to simplify the decisions you need to make and what it’ll entail for you to lose weight and keep it off.

If this sounds like a reasonable approach then let’s get started together right at the beginning…

 

WHY IT’S HARD TO LOSE WEIGHT:

Overweight woman consulting with DoctorLet’s start with basics, and take a metaphoric “look in the mirror” on why you really want to lose weight?

There are usually two primary reasons:

1. Health
2. Look and Feel Good

Now, these are not mutually exclusive, but one is usually the main driver. Some people tag this driver as their “big why.”

Health-wise you may be concerned you’re overweight and the toll this can have on your organs and immune systems.

Maybe your Doctor, friends or family are concerned and its been recommended you lose weight. Alternatively, you may have just decided you want a healthier diet and are ready for a permanent lifestyle change.

You want to look and feel good. Despite what you may feel after reading this reason and feel it’s vain… it’s not. You have my permission to feel good about this reason because it’s a strong driver to success if you can focus on it. It’s also got to do with positive self-esteem and confidence. When it comes to self-esteem and confidence, feeling good about how you look is super important.

You may have another reason I’ve not listed, but as long as it’s a powerful driver for you wanting to lose weight, and keeping it off, that’s fine and you can keep it to yourself.

Why am I focused on having a powerful driver or a “big why” when it comes to weight loss?

Well, because after the easy “honeymoon” period of losing pounds of water in the first few weeks you’ll reach a plateau, and you’ll begin to be challenged with all sorts of temptations to steer you off your chosen path to weight loss.

So, let’s look at some primary reasons people fail to get to their right size and stay there…

 

WHY WE FAIL TO LOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF:

I could list a book of reasons but I’ll cover the main ones I often come across with my clients.

  • We “Buy” into various Weight Loss Myths.
  • Unrealistic Goals.
  • Emotional Eating.
  • Confusing Nutrition Information.

1. Weight Loss Myths:

Mature woman leaning over weight scale looking disappointedThere’s a bunch of gibberish written about weight loss based on half-truths and one size fits all.

A frequent touted myth is calories in and calories out argument. This suggests to lose weight all you do is burn more calories than you take in.

While this makes sense at the mathematical level the fact is our body is much more complicated than a simple formula. The formula works for few people in my experience but fails for those who’ve struggled for years to lose weight and they end up starving themselves of needed nutrition to fulfill the formula obligation. Additionally nobody really knows the burn rate of calories for an individual, only an average, and you’re not an average of anything!

Another common myth is to only focus on your diet. The fact is any reasonable and healthy diet can help you lose weight, but there’s so much conflicting information out there today it’s difficult knowing the right one to chose.

Keep it simple. Cut out processed foods, especially added sugar, limit diary, and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Ensure each dinner includes protein but vary where you get it from and not just meat.

The weight scale is the bible and best measure of weight loss. Not true. As you get older you lose muscle mass easier and you’ll want to get your muscle strength back. This may increase your weight but it’ll disappear fat from your stomach. How do your clothes fit and how do you feel – let that decide on your diet and fitness plans rather than just your scale.

Lastly, I’ll tackle the myth of Willpower.

I’ve heard willpower described as a finite resource you have each day. You have a full tank at the beginning and as the day progresses you tap into it and it depletes, and by the time you reach the end of the day it’s all gone. This means when you have tasks to do at end of the day which requires willpower then you’ve little available, and likely it’ll not get done, or you’ll make the “easy” decision and slip into poor habits.

Likely, you can see where this is going as regards food and eating habits.

The theory is when you get home after a long and stressful day and no willpower left then when faced with the choice of what to cook and eat you’ll take the easy way out, and eat junk and/or unhealthy quick dinners.

There’s even some sense to it up to a point. But it fails to take into account your reasons and your “Big Why.” I don’t buy into willpower being a finite resource and being depleted over the day.

Willpower is tapped into for certain activities and not all. We need it to overcome temptations or making good/bad choices.

For more on the myths that surround Willpower see the link in the resource section below.

My experience is Willpower is linked to your “Big Why” we spoke about earlier.

Have a compelling reason to lose weight and stay eating healthy and willpower will be there for you when you need it… even at the last minute of your day.

2. Unrealistic Goals:

I’m going to generalize here but not attempt to smear any one company or person. Ignore the weight loss advertising and marketing that have testimonials from folks losing 30 lbs in their first three weeks. Most of these folks had many lbs to lose anyway and its mostly water they’ve lost as well and not real fat or solid weight.

In my experience with folks, steady small loss is healthier and more realistic. It’s just not as sexy and doesn’t sell expensive dinners or services. If you lose a few pounds every few weeks – say 1.5-2 lbs – and its consistent then that’s so much better for your body than rapid loss you can’t sustain.

Think about it – 2 lbs every two weeks means in one year you’ll lose 52 lbs. Most people will be ecstatic to lose that much. The fact is at that pace you’ll be able to sustain it beyond a year as you’ve changed to a healthy lifestyle and it’ll be… a habit.

3. Emotional Eating:

Girl eating chips looking depressedMany people who struggle to lose weight do so because of emotional reasons. It’s called emotional eating because you eat for comfort rather than hunger.

There are some body chemistry reasons why people put on weight but by and large its generally too much of the wrong foods. If you accept this and that we tend to eat way beyond what we need to satisfy hunger then what remains for eating habits is around our emotions.

We may overeat because we’re depressed, sad or stressed, crave sugar or just had a bad day. We eat, and its usually poor food choices, under these conditions for comfort. It makes us feel better. Because feeling is an emotion then we call it emotional eating.

BTW: we all do it from time to time so no throwing stones from me or anybody else.

Dr. Gould has a blog full of articles about emotional eating and covers traps and tips and how to overcome sabotaging yourself. I’ve included a link to Dr. Gould in the resource section.

The point here why you fail in this area is because emotional eating makes staying on your diet difficult because… emotions are powerful, and can trump even your best of intentions.

4. Confusing Nutrition Information:

It seems these days everybody is inventing a diet. Many put together by M.D. Doctors who have specialized and studied people in their sphere of the world and determined the ideal diet for human beings. Remember the “one size fits all” myth?

Other professionals want to give you a pill for high cholesterol rather than tackling your diet and nutrition – at least they understand how difficult it is to change habits and behavior so, instead take the easy way out.

Nutritionists mostly keep to rote learning they got when they received their qualifications, and at worst this means using out-of-date information about portions and types of foods you should have, or not have, in your diet. Even the often cited government food pyramid, which was recently updated, continues to cater for the food industry and doesn’t reflect what we know about a healthy diet these days.

If I sound a little jaded to you on nutrition information from “experts” then I am. And I suspect so are you. It’s just got way over complicated. It should be easy.

If you’ve ever watched squirrels feeding then they tend to all stick to same foods – basically, nuts and fruits. I haven’t seen a bunch of squirrels all on a Paleo diet, and another bunch in a different part of the park feasting on the South Beach Diet. No, nuts and fruits are good for them.

Yes, I’m being a little cheeky and thumbing at so-called diet gurus. Because at the end of the day it’s just confusing as hell, and frankly not necessary.

Spoiler Alert: Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and salads, avoid processed foods and sugars, and get your daily protein needs from meats or other foods. Sorry, most carbs are not good for you, including breads and pasta. If you do this then you can avoid all the diet nonsense out there until you feel time is right to spice things up a bit.

 

PLAN FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND EATING HEALTHY PERMANENTLY:

So, up to now I’ve talked about all the things that likely have stopped you losing weight and keeping it off. The fact is losing weight is easier than keeping it off. Sure, folks give up before they’ve reached their weight loss goals but more don’t have a plan for keeping it off once they get to their ideal weight.

But once you’ve read this section then you’ll know what you need to do and what to expect.

1. Setting Expectations:

When I say setting expectations I’m talking about realistic expectations. You’ll shed a lot of pounds in the first few weeks on any diet. But its mostly water. You also don’t want to lose a lot quickly as this isn’t healthy and certainly not sustainable.

Aim for a steady loss of a few pounds every two weeks. By a few I mean 2 lbs. This becomes easier for you if you also exercise by walking daily. I walk an average of 2 miles a day twice daily, and speed isn’t important.

Again, set realistic expectations on exercise. If exercise is a challenge for you because of health then you’ll need to focus more on healthy foods only.

I see too many people who want to lose weight set unrealistic expectations about how much they can lose in a specific time period. They forget they can’t eradicate decades of poor food choices and being overweight within a few months. Being unrealistic means when they do hit the inevitable plateau then they get demoralized, and then lose interest and slide back to an unhealthy diet quickly.

If you were running a marathon then you’d need to pace yourself to ensure you finish. Changing to a healthy diet is a long-term play. and so plan for this at the outset and pace yourself.

2. Goal Setting and Planning:

SMART Goals defined in various formsThis is a key section of this article so please read it.

I’m not a goal setting junky but you’ll find the more specific goals you set for your weight, and detailed plans you make, the likelihood of achieving them is dramatically increased.

You see, when you set goals you have to set ‘exact goals’ you believe in, and not random or arbitrary desires. To say you want to lose weight is one thing, however, to come up with an exact weight loss ‘number’ or goal is another ball of wax.

When you merely say you want to lose weight, your mind is not fixed on an exact number (of pounds) and it doesn’t really have a perfect end point to identify as being set as a successful goal.

For example, if you said, “I want to lose weight!” and then started some diet or weight loss program, then stepped on a scale one week later and saw that you lost two pounds, both your conscious and unconscious minds deemed your endeavors a success and can then stop pushing you to lose weight.

Why is that?

As far as your unconscious mind is concerned, you achieved your goal – you lost weight. After all, you just stated you wanted to lose weight, you didn’t state in quantifiable terms how much ‘actual’ weight you wanted to lose.

You have to remember specific intentions not only rule the world, but also rule your life, including your ‘weight loss.’ Always be specific in terms of an actual ideal body weight you wish to reach and set that as your intention.

Next set a time…

The problem so many people have with losing weight is they don’t set adequate or specific time parameters for both starting their weight loss program, and setting a time frame for which to accomplish it by. You need to be very specific with both of these.

First off, if you merely state you’d like to lose weight, start a weight loss program, diet or exercise program, you must set an intention for when you want to start it, and the exact amount of weight you want to have lost at the end of that time period.

The unconscious mind is your GPS.

Your conscious mind feeds it the details, and the unconscious mind plots the course and monitors progress. It literally becomes like a child fixated on getting a piece of chocolate it sees sitting on a table, and doing whatever it takes to get that chocolate.

The unconscious mind will work to reach the weight loss goal you set by conditioning it repeatedly, telling it how much weight you want to lose by a specific time.

Write your goals down and share them with somebody.

Its been proven in numerous studies – one in particular by Harvard –the mere act of writing down goals increases likelihood of them happening by 99%. Regardless what the “real” percentage is there’s enough evidence writing your goals down is a positive action to take.

It also keeps you honest to share your goals with at least one person. Sharing with a support friend of family member tends to push us as we don’t want to feel a failure or let somebody else down.

In addition to setting short-term goals I’m going to recommend you take this a little further and plan your meals for a week.

Having goals is great but planning to make your goals is better. I’m not going to write your goals for you but I would have some long-term and short-term goals. Long-term should be where you want to be in one year. If you need to lose 50 pounds then put that as your 12-month goal. Remember 2 lbs every two weeks equates to 56 lbs in one year.

Short-term could be one-month goal of losing 4 lbs or not having that dress feel so tight. Be open to having goals not tied to a scale or pounds. More about this in another section.

I’ve mixed feelings about weight scales but if you tie success to a scale then invest in a quality and accurate one. Remember our weight fluctuates throughout the day so be consistent about the time of day you weigh yourself so you’re comparing apples to apples.

Once you have your goals then plan out how you’ll achieve them. I like to plan meals one week in advance when grocery shopping. This means you don’t have to think too hard what you’ll eat that day as you have the ingredients on-hand already, and no excuses to skip your diet that day because its been a tough day, and you just can’t be bothered. Soups and salads can be prepared ahead of time as well.

As regards planning to achieve long-term goals than chunk it down to small steps. For example, if your goal is to lose 50 lbs over 12-month period then work backwards on what that means monthly to lose. This then becomes your target for one-month for you to plan.

I would recommend you have more than just one long-term goal. It could be you also want to go on a vacation somewhere where you can do new activities you want to try. It could also be related to fitting into a dress or suit you haven’t been able to wear in many years.

A lot of my clients add in daily exercise to their new lifestyle and so they plan on walking or running a charitable event in the future and this becomes their “big why” and long-term goal. But the point is they plan to get fit over a year by having and meeting their daily goal, and by planning to walk/run a few miles each day.

You may have heard of the term SMART Goals. The letters can stand for many things but generally they stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable or Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. It’s become common-place in corporate and business environment. It’s also popular with many life coaches. I’ve provided a link in the resource section below to some more information on this site to get you started. Just don’t get too carried away with it.

3. Life Style Changes:

Woman checking out nutrition information on box at supermarketThe Main point I want to make here is permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes.

What do I mean by lifestyle changes?

Its about changing the choices you make moving forward to move you towards a positive and healthy lifestyle. It’s about creating new habits supporting your goals and where you want to be.

It includes a healthy diet and portions. It includes regular exercise to support your body, and a healthy mindset to support your thoughts and feelings about yourself, others and your finances.

Some folks need all three and I call this a lifestyle makeover. Others focus on their weight and exercise. However, I’ve found that the three areas I’ve mentioned tend to be inter-related.

As this article is focused on why it’s so difficult to lose weight, and keep it off, then obviously what got you to this point with your weight is a bunch of food choices you’ll need to abandon moving forward, as they’ll not support your future goals. However, its important for you to realize that food choices also involve emotional choices which are affected by your mindset.

Those with this approach have set a long-term sustainable path that encompasses much more than constant attention to food, but instead to make healthy choices about many things automatically with no feeling of regret or feeling deprived.

4. Don’t Measure the Pounds:

I understand the urge to fixate on getting on the scales every day to measure progress. It’s natural to be happy or disappointed when using pounds as a barometer.

It’s a dangerous game though. Here’s why…

Being at your right size and weight is more than ponds. It’s about how you feel emotionally and how your clothes feel.

Example. As you mature you lose muscle mass and tend to put on pounds around the waist. The fact is losing muscle mass is not good. It means you lose flexibility and strength. These two things are needed for keeping you healthy.

Those people who realize this include weights in their exercise regime. Lifting weights helps increase muscle mass which is good for you at any age. If you also eat healthy then you’ll not necessarily lose much weight in pounds on the scale. However, you’ll shift pounds from your middle to your muscles so to speak.

The point here isn’t to get focused on losing pounds only as your barometer of progress, as the better measurement is are you fitting into your clothes more relaxed?

Reread the section where I talk about your habit of scale reading and avoid doing this daily if you can.

5. How Do You Feel?

Happy mature healthy looking women facing cameraI’ve touched on “feelings” a few times already. How you feel about your weight and health is critically important for keeping yourself on track. Eating healthy foods will not make you feel bad unless you’re allergic to something in your diet.

However, you can still feel out of sorts even when eating healthy.

If this is you then seek professional advice. You may have a medical condition that’ll interfere with your motivation to stay the course on your lifestyle changes.

Most people though will begin to feel much better on a healthy diet after a few weeks when they’ve completed their “toxic cleanse.”

Once you give your body a chance to flush out the bad stuff then you’ll be amazed at how you feel both physically and mentally.

It just takes some time, so, stay the course.

Feeling good is also achieved by being able to wear clothes you haven’t fitted into in years, or by wearing fashions not limited to oversize stock.

As I’ve repeated a few times already, don’t fall into the “how do I feel” trap of only feeling good by what your weight scale says.

6. Fat Cells and Red-Light Therapy:

Sometimes you just need a boost to get you going on weight loss!

Many people have what’s called stubborn fat, that is it seems to congregate in one or two places and be difficult to eliminate. Typically this can be around the belly and thighs, or even the chin. While folks can lose weight on diets they still seem to end up with fat in these places. Red-light therapy is a way to open the fat cells in these “stubborn” areas to release the fat into your system so it can be expelled by the system using exercise.

Also known as Laser-Like Lipo this is done using safe technology. It has proven to help people at the start of their weight loss journey get rid of fat and reduce inches in just a few weeks so they can see results quickly and get the motivation to make the long-term healthy changes needed to stay their ideal weight.

 

CONCLUSION:

Losing weight and keeping it off IS hard… especially if you don’t have a plan to get and stay there.

It means making some difficult food choices and lifestyle changes if you want the weight loss to be permanent.

There will be peaks and plateaus and an occasion slip. Having written goals you share, and an important reason why you want to lose weight, will help you through the peaks and valleys of sticking to your lifestyle changes.

Choose a simple diet based on foods you can shop and prepare easily, preferably ahead of time to avoid skipping your diet on any given day. Avoid processed foods and added sugar.

Be content with small and steady weight loss over time.

Combine diet with exercise even if its just walking a few miles once a day or every two. Be consistent and persistent.

Don’t be a slave to your scale as this only shows part of the picture. How you feel is equally important.

One of the most efficient and fastest means for getting your unconscious mind to accept your goal and set your GPS is through hypnosis. Hypnosis can help bypass the surface clutter of your conscious mind to overcome the history of failed attempts at getting to and staying at your goal weight – that feel good weight.

My diet agnostic weight loss program is available in-office or online. If you want to learn more about my weight loss hypnosis service then check it out here >>> or contact me here if you have a specific question.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT:

Emotional Eating – Shrink Yourself Blog – Dr. Gould >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Overcome Sugar Addiction? >>>

Introduction to Emotional Eating Disorder >>>

The Most Important Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss >>>

Private Weight Loss Hypnosis Service >>>

The Difference Between Interest Versus Commitment to Make Changes >>>

Self-Control – Setting Limits and Living Life in Moderation >>>

5 Myths About Willpower – Kris Vallotton >>>

Laser-Like Lipo Red-Light Therapy for Fat Loss >>>

 

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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“Now I’ve Lost Weight, How Do I Keep the Weight Off?”

By Peter Sacco
weight loss help concept image

weight loss help concept image

This article was updated in August 2017…

Wanting and trying to lose weight for many people is an increasing global trend and receiving lots of attention in the media.

Even my own hypnosis practice has seen a surge in recent years for those seeking a weight loss service using hypnosis.

Weight Loss is a big industry today with many books and miracle “cures” offered.

Let’s be honest, North Americans are considered to be one of the most obese societies in the world. Is it any surprise many are asked by their physicians to lose weight, or they themselves believe it’s time for a physical makeover?

Well, many will engage in dietary and fitness programs which will help them lose weight. Some will be successful and some wont, as they’ll revert back to their old habits because they find it difficult, or lack the ambition to carry through on their intentions.

Most will find an excuse to talk themselves out of it and quit long before achieving their weight loss goals.

The problem for most individuals is they’re creatures of habit and this is their downfall. Let’s explore this a but further before discussing ways to overcome this habit…

 

WHY WE CAN’T KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF!

woman weighing bad carb food against good carb foodAs I said reaching your right size is a journey and not a quick fix solution regardless of the diet plan and exercise regime you chose.

People give up or regain all the weight they lost for many reason but these mostly stem from their thoughts and feelings.

People go back to old ways of thinking and living because it provides them with a sense of comfort, security and safety.

Even though something may be working for someone, adding positive outcomes to their lives, they may sabotage these positive effects, either consciously or unconsciously because they view this growth as a threat.

How come you may say?

You see, when you change, it changes the dynamics of situations around you – relationships, old habits which you held as important, and your perceptions which you held as sacred truths, which now reveal weakness and irrationality in your past.

Some individuals can’t accept what they were doing wrong all along was so bad for them once they do something correctly it leads to them feeling a type of “guilt and shame.” Because of this they revert back to their old ways to justify in some distorted way doing something wrong was justifiably correct or not so bad for them!

But for those who’ve lost the weight, what is next?

Sure losing the desired weight was an amazing accomplishment and they should receive the biggest kudos for achieving it. Losing the original weight however is only half the goal.

Keeping the weight off for good should be the end result… the continual end goal!

Anyone can lose weight, especially smaller quantities of poundage. Keeping it off however is the real challenge as this requires permanent commitment and changes.

Did you know most people who go on starvation diets, exercise programs, etc., do well for a few weeks to a few months, but eventually hit the wall so to speak with their training and eating regimes, only to put the weight they lost back on, and sometimes they end up weighing even more than before they started.

Sound familiar?

You see many people reach their ideal weight and believe they’ve won, they’ve accomplished their goal so to speak.

But when it comes to your weight the goal shouldn’t be a “point in time” scale reading.

 

HOW TO KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF PERMANENTLY:

Comparison chart for calories and nutrientsThe best way to keep the weight you’ve lost off permanently, or keep your body at its ideal weight, is through focused eating and dieting and… changing habits and your thoughts and feelings around food. This means a ‘diet’ should not be one about merely reducing calories, but rather about focusing on consuming the proper calories and enjoying the diet so you can sustain it.

This means you should be consuming the ideal number of daily calories based on your nutritional needs – proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. The key here is keeping your diet filled with proteins, carbs and fats right for your overall health and well-being.

Some individuals believe a ‘carb’ is a carb for example.

Wrong!

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. You may have reduced the number of calories you’re consuming, and this may have led to you losing weight. That is fine and dandy! The big question though is, “What food sources are you deriving your ‘carbs’ from?”

Some individuals fall into the ‘food trap’ of using certain foods as instant energy to energize or sustain them.

White sugar and processed flour-based foods are one of these culprits. Not only are they unhealthy for your body, but they can also create yo-yo-like symptoms that’ll eventually lead you back to eating more to satisfy hunger issues caused by empty calories driven by chemicals.

It’s all about the quality of what is truly in the food, versus what food is doing for you in terms of instant gratification. For some, this is living a ‘dietary lie’ or falsehood!

Instead of continuing the lifestyle that got them to their desired goal, they let their guard down and believe they can eat whatever they want now, or slack off from their exercise routines.

NOT!

This is false confidence, complacency, laziness, procrastination, etc., whatever you want to call it. One thing you can call it, is a lifestyle mindset which most likely led them to becoming obese in the first place.

 

A CHANGE OF MINDSET IS NEEDED:

Breaking Bad Habits ImageKeeping the weight off you lost is all about keeping the mindset of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, setting your ideal weight and staying at it, rather than slacking off because you think your goal is over and done with.

Or you trick yourself into believing, “So what? If I gain any weight back, I can just lose it again when I want too!”

Well, how long did it take you to lose the original weight in the first place?

How many excuses did you use to put it off to “someday I will lose the weight when I want too?” I’m guessing you mastered the art of procrastination!

One of the best and most effective ways for keeping the weight off you lost is through hypnosis.

Many use hypnosis to lose the weight in the first place, but many don’t use hypnosis to program the unconscious mind to keep you at your desired weight.

Hypnosis will not only produce confidence for your weight loss, but it’ll keep the mind diligent – arming it and keeping it active to monitor old negative thinking patterns linked to complacency which leads to weight gain.

Hypnosis can program the unconscious mind to counter or react to negative, old thinking patterns that lead a person back to complacency. Whenever the laziness starts, the unconscious mind creates a call to action to engage in positive actions as a result of positive thoughts.

Hypnosis is also great for encouraging the desire to consume healthier foods while at the same time creating aversions to ‘damaging’ or destructive foods.

Many people will tell you how much they hate eating vegetables or salads and this mindset was most likely created in childhood when they were forced to eat foods versus having the option to select it for themselves.

They’ve carried this punitive-based mindset forward, rebelling against eating healthy foods because they believe they ‘hate’ them, when they really don’t.

Hypnosis can help them overcome their ego-based disdain for healthy foods and help create to positive eating and lifestyle changes.

Furthermore, if you’ve always lusted sugars, processed foods and damaging fatty foods, hypnosis can create aversions so you no longer crave them or desire them. Did you know that with repeated hypnosis sessions you can actually learn to abhor the detrimental foods you once held sacred?

What this means is the unconscious mind is always aware of, and set to, your ideal body weight and clothes sizes! And that is something no diet program can achieve or instill and why diet programs in themselves eventually fail you.

Most hypnotists in your local community can help you with weight loss using hypnosis but there are also a number of self-hypnosis weight loss packages you can purchase online like this one from hypnosisdownloads for you to check out here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HELP KEEP WEIGHT OFF:

How to Optimize your Overall Health: Good Eating Habits >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Lose Weight? And Keep It Off! >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Overcome Sugar Addiction? >>>

Introduction to Emotional Eating Disorder >>>

The Most Important Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss >>>

How to Lose Weight Without Counting a Single Calorie >>>

14 Ways to Make Eating Your Veggies A Lot Less Boring – Prevention >>>

Can Laser-Like Lipo Help Kick-Start Your Fat Loss? >>>

 

Peter Andrew Sacco Ph.D.
Staff Editor
Free At Last Hypnosis

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The Benefits of Laughing More as an Antidote to Stress and Feeling Better About Your Life

By Erika Slater
Brother and Sister Laughing on ground

Brother and Sister Laughing on ground

Why is it as children, we couldn’t get enough laughter?

It seemed we were so quick to laugh at the drop of a hat. Everything seemed to possess some element of humor, we used it for the chance to laugh out loud, and laugh without ceasing. We laughed at the antics of others and watching TV or just playing outside.

We saw the “funny side” of everything. Even of our friends… and they didn’t mind but joined in with us!

Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, perhaps in our early adult lives, we dismissed laughter as being superfluous and not worthy of our time.

There are many theories around this from modelling other adults, to life is serious now and having “fun” and laughing is akin to wasting time.

The fact is laughter is not only something fun to do, but a necessary emotion that keeps us ‘happy’ and even healthier. Yes, you heard me right – laughter has exceptional health benefits.

Instead of laughing, too many people go through life being and looking so serious. As a matter of fact, it appears once the laughter stopped, so many people embraced anxiety, sadness or even depression as its full-time substitute. Furthermore, to quote the character, The Joker from Batman, “Why so serious?”

Have you ever heard of the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine”?

Have you ever wondered how true this statement really is? Well, here is some excellent “food for thought” on laughter…

 

THE BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER:

Happy couple with mobile phones on groundAccording to the Mayo clinic, laughter can both help you in the short-term as well as the long-term.

First off, laughter activates and relieves responses to stress.

Yes, it can bring you tremendous feelings of relaxation. Laughter can aid in muscle relaxation and stimulate circulation in your body. If your body is tight and tense from stress, laughter is a natural muscle relaxer!

Laughter can also stimulate many of your bodily organs to perform more efficiently.

Research has shown laughter stimulates positively your heart, brain, lungs and muscles. You see, this occurs from the endorphin’s released by your brain.

These are some excellent short-term benefits from laughing a lot.

There are also excellent long-term benefits…

Laughter has actually been shown to help relieve pain. You see, laughter releases natural pain killers.

Furthermore, laughter has been proven to improve your entire immune system. When you laugh, your body releases neuropeptides that combat stress that can lead to potentially serious illnesses occurring due to an overly taxed immune system.

Daily laughter can improve your mood, while at the same time combating anxiety and depression.

After all, if you’re laughing, then you must be happy in that moment and thus have not felt depressed!

Finally, laughter has been shown to increase entire satisfaction with your life. When you’re laughing often, it means you’re happy and you perceive your life as being good!

 

HOW CAN WE GET TO LAUGHING MORE?

Let’s just recap the primary benefits we touched on in the previous section of laughter:

1. Activates and relieves responses to stress.
2. Stimulate many of your bodily organs to perform more efficiently.
3. Helps relieve pain.
4. Improves your entire immune system.
5. Combats anxiety and depression.
6. Increases entire satisfaction with your life.

Happy woman and her dogsAs far as I know there is no pharmaceutical company trying to generate a drug to make you laugh more. I could give you some cynical reasons around why not but let’s not go down that path here and get too serious.

So, it’s up to us to learn to laugh more and actually go out of our way to put ourselves in situations where we can. This is the point where you begin scratching your head once you get past the obvious “going to watch people that get paid to make you laugh” – comedians and comedy clubs.

This is not enough and I’d argue not necessarily the best way for long-term changes.

As it’s going to require some focus and changes you’re going to have to do work on yourself. Changing mindset and limiting beliefs begins the process. If your current mindset is laughing and having fun is only for weekends and vacations then you’ve got some “work” on your self to do. You’ve got some deep-rooted limiting beliefs to overcome.

I’ve provided a resource in the section below to get you started on overcoming limiting beliefs.

Second step is to look around at your friends? Do you have one or two that have a good sense of humor and you enjoy their company because they make you laugh? If yes, then good… go get more. If you can’t spot any natural comedians in your friends then… go get some.

Of course, you’re the “bait” for friends so you’re going to have to be attractive to them as being fun to be around. So, that’s why we talked first about changing your mindset around laughter.

Now being fun to be around has nothing to do with you wise-cracking all the time and making others laugh. If that was true then I’d never get any friends! But I can see the humor in situations and am a good audience for other’s wisecracking and jokes. I have to be to stay married to my husband! 🙂

Perhaps it’s been a long time since you truly have seen the humor in funny situations.

Yes, life can become serious at times, but you don’t have to be serious all of the time because of that. If you’re always angry, depressed or anxious, then you’re focusing too long on those emotions, and it’s time to work some joy into your life. Joy after all is a basic emotion we all want to feel about our life… unless your name is Scrooge – and even he changed!

Additional easy ways of making laughter part of your daily routine is to read cartoons in newspapers or online, or listen to a comedy podcast on your commute to work or home each day.

Get a pet, specifically a dog. It’s really difficult not to smile with the antics and behaviors some of our pets get up to each day!

The fact is you’d be surprised at simple things you can do to change your whole mood for the day by investing just a few minutes, and knowing the enormous health benefits it will bring to you. I’ve provided a resource below covering a lot more ways to bring laughter into your daily life.

If you’re struggling to ‘just relax’ and, just can’t seem to let loose and have a good time and laugh, then you might want to try hypnosis. Here at Free At Last Hypnosis we do our best to make the sessions fun where appropriate. We leverage these concepts as a resource during our stress and anxiety hypnosis management program which you can learn more about it here >>>

Hypnosis can help your mind stop focusing on serious things all of the time, and start to open you up to situations and thoughts that’ll make you laugh… even at yourself for being so serious!

If you feel you’re ready to add extra humor into your life and laugh more then check out this self-hypnosis session where you can welcome more laughter into your life using hypnosis here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO BENEFITS OF LAUGHING:

The Truth About Limiting Beliefs and How to Overcome Them – Erika Slater >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Cope with Stress? Ways to Reduce It >>>

How to Manage the Two Sides of the Stress Coin >>>

How to Laugh More – 22 Ways to Bring More Laughter Into Your Life >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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DISCOVER HOW TO START CHANGING HABITS TODAY.

In this free audio hypnosis session, you’ll experience the power of your subconscious mind to begin to change your habits. If you've never experienced hypnosis before then this is a great introduction...