Shifting Anxiety and Fear the RADICAL way

There’s a lot of anxiety and fear in the air at the moment because of the challenging times we are experiencing. Human beings are generally resistant to change and we dislike uncertainty. Our brains like habit and routine but both have been disrupted.

The power of your thoughts

How we think about things, the sense we make of our situation, affects how we experience life and the emotions we feel. If your thoughts are negative and pessimistic you are more likely to feel stressed and worried, unable to make good decisions. The more you think positively about this situation, understanding that it will pass and some good may come from it, the more able you will be to think clearly and act logically.

There is an added health benefit to being able to think positively because it boosts your health and your immune system. Anxiety and worry cause the release of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Those hormones inflame your body and, in the long term, lower your resistance to illness.

A RADICAL approach to changing your thoughts

Thinking negative thoughts and feeling negative emotions such as anxiety is natural at times of massive change. As my friend, the Shamanic Healer, Daniel Guttierez says, ‘It’s alright to go there. It’s not alright to stay there.’ You need techniques to address unhelpful thoughts and move on.

Here is my RADICAL approach to shift anxiety and fear developed from Positive Psychology, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, The Work of Byron Katie and Radical Mindfulness

Recognise that you are thinking an unhelpful thought.
  • Is the thought positive or negative?
  • Does it give rise to a pleasant or unpleasant emotion? Does it give rise to anxiety or fear?
  • Will the thought move you forward or keep you stuck?
  • Does this thought lead to growth or contraction?
Acknowledge the thought and the emotion that arises.
  • Without judgement, notice what you are thinking and feeling.
  • Notice where in your body you are feeling it.
  • Accept it with compassion and kindness for yourself. It is temporary and you will take action to deal with it.
  • Be aware of the trigger for the thought. Was it something you heard or saw or felt?
Do something physical to change how you feel.
  • Shift your mood by tricking your brain into thinking you are smiling. Put a pen between your lips sideways. Lift your chin. Roll your eyes upwards and move them from side to side five times.
  • Stand in the superhero stance for two minutes. Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Put your hands on your hips. Beam your gaze out directly. Do it with superhero attitude.
  • Do your happy dance for three minutes
  • Put on your favourite happy song and sing along.
Identify a new more helpful thought.
  • What could you think differently?
  • What would ‘best you’ think in this situation?
  • What would someone you respect think?
  • If a friend was in this situation what would you say to them?
Capture the new thought(s).
  • Write down the new helpful thought(s)
  • How much do you believe the new thought(s)?
  • Notice how the new thought changes how you feel.
Amplify the new thought
  • Picture yourself believing the new thought(s).
  • See yourself looking more positive.
  • Make that image big and clear and colourful.
  • Spend a few minutes enjoying that best version of you.
Learn and Laugh
  • Notice what you have learned from the experience.
  • How could you use the new thoughts in the future?
  • How could you use this technique again?
  • Can you avoid the triggers you identified?
  • Laugh! You got through this and dealt with it.

I have talked through this technique on my Royston Hypnotherapy Facebook Page.

If you need any help with this technique or to deal with your anxiety or fear contact me.

Stay well.



Further reading:

The Work by Byron Katie

Radical Mindfulness by Daniel Guttierez

Thrive by Rob Kelly

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Dummies

The wonder of the placebo effect

The term placebo has often had negative connotations in the past.  It is almost as if something that helps the body heal itself naturally is somehow cheating or suspect.

The word placebo comes from the Latin for ‘I shall please’.  Most of us have experienced the placebo effect while taking traditional medicine.  If you have ever bought a branded medicine instead of a generic alternative, some part of your mind was convinced by the packaging or the extra cost that the branded medicine would work better.  If you believed it enough, it probably did work better.  That is the placebo effect and we all experience it.

In recent years there has been lots of research into the placebo effect in the area of pharmaceuticals.  It has shown that the size, colour, shape and the name of medications has an effect on their efficacy.  Even the smell has an effect.  Researchers found that if they wiped TCP antiseptic around the top of a bottle of tablets, the tablets were more effective!

The attitude of medical practitioners also has an impact on their patients.  The more the practitioner builds trust and rapport with their patient, the more the patient is likely to respond positively to treatment.

Bestselling author and speaker, Dr David Hamilton, has carried out a lot of research in the area of the placebo effect and you can read his thoughts at

So, in my opinion,  we should be much more open to understanding and using the placebo effect to aid our natural healing processes.

Lack of Exercise More Harmful Than Smoking?

A new report published in the Lancet today, 18 July, has concluded that a lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths across the world  as smoking.  The team of researchers was drawn from centres across the world.   They concluded that about one third of adults are not getting enough exercise and this causes about 5.3m deaths a year.

Dr I-Min Lee who co-authored the report said that “Being inactive increases your risk of developing chronic diseases”, these include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.  This does not mean that it is ok to smoke as long as you exercise.  It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by not smoking, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and taking exercise.

So how much is enough exercise?   The Report recommends that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.  You don’t have to do this all in one session, in fact it’s better to spread it over the week in manageable amounts. And you don’t have to go to the gym, you could try brisk walking, cycling or gardening.  It’s whatever would fit into your daily routine.

Start off by setting yourself a target for the week that you know you can achieve and then schedule the time into your diary.  Next remove any obstacles to you achieving your target.  Get the trainers and the gym kit out of the wardrobe and leave them somewhere handy.  You want to get into the habit of taking exercise so that it just becomes part of what you do.

Finally make a commitment to yourself or, even better, to someone else that you are going to do this.  Remember physical activity improves your physical, emotional and mental health.

No Smoking Day – 14 March 2012

Did you decide to give up smoking at New Year?  Or have you been waiting for National No Smoking Day? 
Whenever you decide to stop it is important to be well motivated.  The first question that I ask new clients who ask me about quitting smoking is ‘Why is it important to you to stop now?’  If they don’t know or if it’s to please somebody else I tell them to go away and think about it some more.
So, what’s your motivation to stop – is it your health, your family or your wallet?  If it’s about your health or your family, there’s lots of good news – you could live up to 15% longer!
·         After 20 minutes without a cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse both return to normal.
·         After 24 hours carbon monoxide leaves your body and the lungs start to clear.
·         After 3 months your circulation improves, so walking and exercise get much easier.
·         After 1 year your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
·         After 5 years your body will have repaired 95% of the effects of smoking.
·         After 10 years your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
·         After 15 years your risk of heart attack falls to that of someone who has never smoked.

If it’s about your finances there’s more good news.  If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day at an average cost of £6 per pack, that’s a monthly saving of about £180 or an annual saving of £2190!  

There are lots of products available to help you to quit smoking.  Hypnotherapy can be used by itself or alongside other treatments and has been shown to be very effective.

For more information about No Smoking Day see

And sleep

When people find out that I am a hypnotherapist one of the most common problems that they want to talk to me about is sleep.  They either can’t get off to sleep or they wake up during the night or they wake up unrefreshed.  Good sleep is so important for our physical and mental health and that’s why I frequently blog about the subject.
I also run a one day workshop on getting better sleep.   I was preparing for one of these workshops last week and I was looking for any new material or research.  I came across this beautiful piece of music by Eric Whitacre on TED Talks called ‘Sleep’.  The music and the words are so lovely I wanted to share it.

The Best Medicine

Today, 16 January, is said to be the most depressing day of the year.  Well, I know it’s Monday, but the sun is shining and it feels like a good start to the week.
As human beings we are hardwired to look at the bright side of life even if the evidence around us suggests that the future is not looking so good.  Optimism is part of our strategy for survival and helps us to deal with financial problems, health issues and worries about our children.
This could be the reason why laughter is so good for us.  It reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and releases health enhancing hormones, such as endorphins, into the bloodstream that help to heal, rejuvenate and renew our bodies.  It can also strengthen our immune system.
Laughter can be contagious – in a good way.  The brain responds to the sound of laughter by preparing the face to laugh and smile.  If you laugh, the chances are that people around you will relax and laugh too.  So just by laughing you can improve your own mental and physical health and the wellbeing of the people you live and work with. 
What would make you have a good laugh today?  Do you have a favourite funny movie or TV programme that you could watch?  Or is there a book that really makes you laugh?  I remember the first time that I read The Diary of Adrian Mole I was incapacitated with laughter.  Even better, could you sit down with some family or friends and remember some happy, funny memories?
Whatever you do today, take your medicine – have a good laugh!

Stop Snoring!

Thursday, 7 July, 2011 15:49:15

Pat Duckworth    

Is there anything more annoying than being awake in the middle of the night – listening to your partner snoring?  They sound like they are really enjoying being asleep and you feel so miserable!  Apparently nearly three quarters of all partners sleep apart regularly because one or both partners snore (Woman’s Hour 30 June).
If you are being kept awake by snoring it’s important to find a solution both for your relationship and for your health.   Sleep deprivation over a prolonged period has devastating effects mentally and physically.
There are a number of options for treatment, some of which are less intrusive than others
·         devices you can wear in your mouth,
·         chin straps to keep the mouth closed
·          plasters you can wear across the nose to keep the airway open
·         throat sprays
·         laser treatment
·         ear plugs (for the listener)
There is an online snoring test that you can do at  This helps you to find out what sort of snorer you are and discover appropriate treatments.
As a hypnotherapist I work with both the snorer and the ‘listener’.  I help the former with hypnotic suggestions about breathing easier and I help the latter with suggestions about relaxing and not noticing the sound.  And sometimes that sound can be comforting because it means that your partner is safely asleep beside you.