Travel Phobias

It’s that time of year when many people are looking forward to going away for a summer holiday. But for a significant number of people enjoyment of holidays is spoiled by travel phobias and fears. There are the obvious travel phobias such as fear of flying, fear of insects or reptiles and fear of heights. Then there are the less obvious phobias such as fear of stomach upsets or vomiting.  Sattal

I could write a blog about each of these and how to get over them but having just come back from India, I am going to concentrate on fear of stomach upsets. I travel a lot and have had traveler’s stomach problems in various countries but particularly in Morocco. It might be due to eating different food, the dirtiness of the currency or just a different range of bugs and bacteria.

Some people tell you to get the stomach bug early and then enjoy the rest of your holiday but I was determined not to get Delhi Belly and I pretty much succeeded. Here are my top tips.

#1 Only drink bottled water – even in hotels. Check the seal on the top of the water bottle to make sure it hasn’t been refilled.

#2 Don’t have ice in your drinks. This may seem a bit strict in hot countries but most soft drinks and bottled waters are refrigerated.

#3 Avoid salads and fresh fruit. You don’t know what water they have been washed in. You can eat fruit that you have peeled yourself as long as you are careful about your hand hygiene (see more below).

#4 When eating sandwiches, or any food that you pick up in your hands, use a paper napkin to pick the food up.

#5 Depending on the country you are visiting, avoid eating meat. Again, you may think this is extreme but in hot countries a vegetarian diet is much healthier.

#6 Eat local fresh yogurt to boost your natural stomach bacteria.

#7 Take probiotic tablets for a week before you leave and during your trip.

#8  Keep your hands as clean as possible. Use hand sanitiser after every time you wash your hands, handle money or touch anything that you think might be dirty.

#9 Take a good look at swimming pools before you jump in, particularly in resorts outside of city locations. Health and safety regulations are not the same in other countries!

#10 Pack a toilet roll! Indian toilet rolls are the smallest I have ever seen.

These are simple precautions to take and then you can relax and enjoy yourself.

If you need any help with your holiday phobia contact me and let’s talk about how I can help you.

Memory v Story

There is a book cafe in my village once a month.  It is a chance to buy second hand books for just 50p so I have bought many fiction and non-fiction books that I would never have tried.  They also sell great home-made cakes but that’s another story!

Last month I bought ‘Kind of Cruel’ by Sophie Hanna.  I knew nothing about it and had never read one of her books.  I was amazed when I started reading it today about how much I related to the book.  In the first chapter she says:

“True memories are frail, fragmentary apparitions, easily bulldozed into submission by a robust narrative that has been carefully engineered to stick in the mind.  Almost as soon as we’ve had an experience, we decide what we would like it to mean, and we construct a story around it to make it possible.  The story incorporates whichever relevant memories suit its purpose and discards the ones that are no use.”

That’s an elegant way of saying that its not what happens to us that is important, its the sense we make of it.  Lets take the example of two drivers who nearly have an accident.  The first driver congratulates himself on using his knowledge, experience and skill to avoid the accident.  He drives away with no ill-effects.  The second drivers worries about what might have happened if the accident had occurred.  He goes over and over it in his mind thinking he was just lucky that it didn’t happen and his luck might run out soon.  He drives home but the next day he can’t get back in the car.

The difference between the two drivers is in the story that they told themselves.  This is the way that phobias can start and they can often generalise from something small or something that didn’t quite happen and start to move into other areas of you life.

The good news for the second driver is that after 20 years of not driving, he came to see me.  After a few sessions of hypnotherapy and NLP he is now confidently back on the road.  A story with a happy ending!

Frightened of Fruit?

There was an interesting programme on ITV2 last weekend called ‘My Child Won’t Eat’.  The programme followed the treatment of three children who were being treated by a psychologist, Dr Gillian Harris.  All of the children were refusing to eat ‘normal’ food along with the rest of their families.  Instead they were eating the sorts of food that parents normally reserve for treats for example chocolate, biscuits, cereals and yoghurt.
Dr Harris believes that the children have phobias relating to certain foods which means that they are actually scared to eat them.  The normal encouragement and cajoling just doesn’t work in this situation and can just creat tension around mealtimes.
This type of phobia can carry on into adulthood and  this can have an adverse effect on nutrition, growth and healthy weight control.  I have worked with weight loss clients who find it hard to eat fruit and vegetables.
So what can you do if you have a food phobia and want to increase the range of food that you eat?  Dr Harris’s approach is to encourage her clients to start by identifying one need food that they are prepared to try to eat.  Relax before meal times and picture yourself eating the new food in a completely calm state.  Then, eat a small portion of the new food.  On average you need to eat a new food about 15 times before it becomes familiar and easy to eat.
Most of all, make mealtimes enjoyable and stress free.