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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you find yourself experiencing lower mood and struggling with motivation during the darker months? You’re not alone! It could be seasonal affective disorder or just low mood influenced by the weather and shorter days. Either way hypnotherapy can be a powerful intervention as can the other tips that follow...

Do you find yourself experiencing lower mood and struggling with motivation during the darker months? You’re not alone! For some this may just be a mild impact of the changing seasons, for others it can lead to much more severe effects. Whether it’s a small seasonal shift or a diagnosable disorder, this article will take you through some things that may ease the symptoms. If after doing this you still need further support get in touch and discover how I can help you to empower yourself and overcome it.

What is SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a recognised and diagnosable disorder. It is referred to as a type of depression which comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ as it most commonly presents with more apparent and sever symptoms during winter.  It’s worth noting that SAD can also be impacted more during the summer months, in such cases this may not be the article for you but please get in touch to discover how, together, we can help you overcome it.

How Do I Know If I Have SAD?

Keep in mind that we have a tendency when looking at symptoms of something to recognise those that *may* apply (even loosely) and overlook those that don’t. We are naturally inclined to self diagnose when looking at symptoms. That said, here’s a list of symptoms:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Low energy
  • Struggling to find pleasure in things, especially those that you would normally enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt and not feeling worthy
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping later and struggling to get up
  • Sleeping in the day and feeling tired
  • Craving carbs and junk food
  • Weight gain 

You may notice that these are in keeping with the symptoms of depression in general. What makes it SAD is these symptoms coming and going in line with the changing seasons. If you have these symptoms and are struggling to cope or if you recognise some of them and want to start feeling better and achieving more, I can help you book a call today.

If you experience some of these at relatively mild levels then the steps below will help to ease the situation. If you experience more of them and/or they are more severe, then the following will still help but you may benefit from one-to-one support.

How Do I Know If I Have SAD?

Everyone is different and depending on your own personal situation you may find different options from the following to be more helpful than others but here are the most effective solutions:

Lifestyle And Environmental

Move more

regular exercise is great for lifting and improving mood. It doesn’t’t have to be hours on end at the gym dripping in sweat, small regular improvements can help too. Starting the day with a good stretch to get the blood flowing, doing star jumps while you wait for the kettle to boil, taking the stairs and parking further away in the car park are all simple things that together can make a huge difference.

Get Outside

Getting as much natural daylight as you can, especially in the morning, will improve mood and aid your circadian rhythm.

Stress Management

Managing your stress levels can vastly improve the symptoms and may be part of the underlying cause of depression. There are lots of ways to do this, if you need more help get in touch today.

Sleep Routine

There are lots of things you can do to improve sleep. Many of these things can improve your mood themselves and better sleep will help you manage and regulate your mood in a much greater way. For more information on sleep get my free guide here.

Light Therapy

Light boxes are specially designed lamps which emit a wider range of light than standard lamps. They simulate exposure to daylight and as such can really help to combat winter SAD. You can find them online but make sure you opt for one that is UV free or UV filtered and at least 10,000 Lux. Consider one that can be positioned to shine down on you to reduce the eye glare from it. You will likely be advised to use it for an hour a day and mornings are generally the most effective time for it.

Talking Therapy

The NHS will likely refer people to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Counselling. As a therapist who uses a range of approaches including talking therapy I agree that this can be a valuable way to understand the causes and exacerbating factors and address them directly rather than focusing only on the symptoms. My approach has proven effective at helping people with depression in various forms so get in touch to see if it’s right for you too.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy can help work directly on a deeper level rather than focusing on the surface level and symptoms. It’s an effective way of helping to create positive change and build on the above measures. Hypnotherapy can be even more effective with SAD as you can create the release of the same hormones and chemicals as natural sunlight and can create the sensations you would experience in the summer months, thus balancing out the effects of SAD.


To experience this for yourself you can sign up to Relax Club now and take advantage if the UNsad audio track designed specifically to ease the symptoms of sad. Click here to sign up and find out more or get in touch if you’d prefer a more tailored one-to-one approach.

Supplements

In some cases a vitamin D deficiency may be exacerbating the problem, the Lights mentioned above are designed to help with this but many people recommend taking vitamin D supplements as well or instead.

Of course, if you feel that you may have SAD or related symptoms please do get in touch with someone. That could be me, another therapist or your GP. Either way help is available and you don’t have to struggle alone.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you find yourself experiencing lower mood and struggling with motivation during the darker months? You’re not alone! It could be seasonal affective disorder or just low mood influenced by the weather and shorter days. Either way hypnotherapy can be a powerful intervention as can the other tips that follow…

Read More »
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What Can Horror Films Teach Us About Anxiety?

Spooking image

What Can Horror Films Teach Us About Anxiety?

Spooking image
Do you like scary movies? Have you ever considered that they could actually help you manage and reduce anxiety? Like them or not, there’s some great lessons we can learn from how we respond to them. Read on to find out more…

Do you remember a time when you watched a scary film, or stayed up telling ghost stories in the dark and felt scared afterwards? Maybe you enjoyed it at the time or maybe you were just trying to be brave.

I remember, as a child, sitting around a campfire in the middle of the woods hearing all sorts of different spooky tales in the flickering firelight. I didn’t find any of them particularly frightening at first. There was a moment where I didn’t think I was scared and then realised I was clutching my hot chocolate a lot tighter than I would if the tension of the story wasn’t gripping me more than I was willing to admit to myself in the moment. Even so, it was just a little tense, not really scary.

The stories came to an end, the fire was allowed to start burning low and it was time to go to bed. I remember heading off to go for a wee and it was only then that I began to feel scared. It wasn’t the stories themselves that made me feel that way. None of the stories even really related to being out alone in the woods. It was partly the atmosphere around it all but more than that it was that I was aware that I didn’t want to be scared. I was only young and I wanted to prove to myself that I was big and strong and able to hear the grown-up scary stories (that probably weren’t really very grown-up at all) without getting jumpy or frightened.

It was this very thought that really caused me trouble. The focus on not feeling scared made me hyper aware of every thought and feeling that could relate to fear. I began moving faster to get to the toilet block faster. This made my heart beat faster which, in turn, made me notice my heart beating. I took this as a further sign that I was scared which served only to make my heart race even more. The shadows of the trees, cast by the moon, spread ominously in front of me, my eyes opened wide taking in everything and searching for more things that I might be frightened by, desperate to not get more scared but ultimately making it worse for myself.

“You have nothing to fear but fear itself” feels incredibly relevant as I look back at the way my fear spiralled. Had I not been so determined to prove to myself that I could handle those stories and not get scared I probably wouldn’t have got myself anywhere near as worked up as I did. I believed that feeling scared meant I was weak. In reality, I don’t think it’s possible to be brave if you don’t have some level of fear to be brave in the face of. I didn’t think that way at the time though.

How does this relate to what horror films can teach us about anxiety?

It’s often the case that people become more scared after the film is over. It makes sense really, during the film the fear is proportionate to the setting and you know that the fear is a response to the film. The fear has a place and can be explained away more logically. After the film ends there is more space for awareness and you are more likely to look for other causes of fear and concern. To the point where you can find them in places where they are not. The curtains moving, the shadow cast on the wall that looks like a figure looming over you, the shapes that seem to make an evil face staring at you. They are all created in your mind because you are searching for threats due to the heightened state of awareness. When you’re watching the film, the only stimuli you need to look to are on the screen.

I think this parallels a common experience that people often have with anxiety. Firstly, not wishing to acknowledge it means that we keep ignoring it and pushing it down (ironically adding to the combat and threat perceived by the part of us that feels vulnerable already). The longer we succeed in ignoring it, the bigger the problem feels by the time we can no longer ignore it. By then, it feels too late to do anything about it. Recognising it sooner makes everything so much easier to deal with than waiting until it’s even more of a problem.

The scary thing itself (or the perceived cause of the anxiety) is often no where near the level of concern as the fear (or anxiety) that we feel about it. Because we worry about how the anxiety may affect us, we become hyper-aware of any signs of growing anxiety and allow them to impact us even more than they otherwise would.

How can we use this understanding to improve the situation?

Just changing the way you think about it, being more accepting and acknowledging how you are feeling can help in itself. Rather than fighting against it and expecting it to get worse, looking at it for what it is and letting go of it.

The threat is not real

Much like the scary film, the cause of the anxiety influences the way that you feel, but it doesn’t have to. The perceived threat is not the problem, the belief that it’s a problem is what causes the anxiety. Worrying about worrying creates the problem. Feeling scared from a ghost story is perfectly acceptable and seeing it that way makes the fear far easier too accept and therefore gives it less power. It’s the same for anxiety.

Physiology

When you finish the scary film but still feel fear, your body is preparing to fight or run away. As there is no real threat there is nothing you can fight or run from. The same is often true with anxiety. The stimulus that led to the anxiety in itself is not likely something that requires a fight or flight response. Recognise it for what it is and by all means find a constructive way to release some of the excess adrenaline that has built up as a result.

Key lessons about anxiety form scary films

The way that we respond to fear from scary films can help us to find some good short-term coping strategies to reduce the impact of anxiety. (I say short-term as any ‘tool’ or ‘technique’ which focuses on the symptoms is limited compared to addressing the cause and eliminating the anxiety in itself – get in touch when you’re ready to do that and I can help you).

Leave the light on

One of the best ways to feel more comfortable if you’re scared is to leave a light on. It allows you to see what’s around you in more detail. It gets rid of the scary shadows that are easy to misinterpret. Shining a light on the situation that has led to feeling anxious allows you to see it for what it is. It can be illuminating to change your perspective. It’s much more useful that closing your eyes and trying to ignore it.

Remind yourself it's not real

One of the great things about horror films is that you know they are not real. Reminding yourself of that can make it easier to keep your cool. It’s the same with your anxiety. Most of the time it’s related to worrying about stuff that hasn’t even happened. The subconscious doesn’t know the difference between reality and imagination so when you imagine everything going wrong you react physiologically as if it’s really happening. Reminding yourself that it’s not real can help ease this and calm you down. Take the time to focus on the moment and your immediate surroundings instead.

Look after someone else

Many people find that when then have someone else to care for (for example a child or partner) who needs support they are better able to ‘step up’ and overcome their own fear in order to be there for someone else. You can find someone else to support, imagine there is someone else or even speak to yourself in the way that you would speak to someone else. If it’s what you think someone will need to hear then the chances are it’s what you need to hear in that moment too.It’s definitely better to show yourself some love in those moments than to beat yourself up and feel bad for feeling the way you are feeling.

Take your mind off it

First, acknowledge how you are feeling, accept it for what it is and listen to what it’s telling you. Once you’ve done that you may find it helpful to take your mind off it. If you’ve been scared by a film then you’ve probably tried to think about less scary thoughts. Trying to not think about the scary thing is hard but deciding on some positive things that feel good instead can be helpful. Just make sure you have accepted the feeling first and recognised it for what it is otherwise you’ll just be ignoring the feeling and making it worse.

Hide behind the sofa

Another common thing for people to do when scared of a film is to hide behind the sofa or under the duvet. While this may not help directly with anxiety, the idea of building a safe place where you feel more comfortable is a good one. This could be a physical place or simply a place in your mind for you to ‘visit’ when you need that space and calmness.

A scary film and anxiety are not really the same thing but there are some clear similarities that work well for the purposes of this example. The ideas here are simply some positive coping strategies that may help you. Better still, of course, would be to overcome the anxiety all together and deal with the root cause rather than just battling the symptoms. If you’d like help with that, book a free initial consultation today and see if I’m the right fit for you.

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Spooking image

What Can Horror Films Teach Us About Anxiety?

Do you like scary movies? Have you ever considered that they could actually help you manage and reduce anxiety? Like them or not, there’s some great lessons we can learn from how we respond to them. Read on to find out more…

Read More »
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How To Overcome Sleep Procrastination

Are you procrastinating sleep?

How To Overcome Sleep Procrastination

Are you procrastinating sleep?
Looking to overcome sleep procrastination? You've done it too, right? Stayed up to watch "just one more" episode on Netflix or just one more game on your phone and before you know it - it's the early hours and you're dragging yourself wirily to bed, already regretting your choices? You're not alone - but it doesn't have to be that way.

You've Done It Too, right?

When it comes to seep procrastination we are often our own worst enemies. There are so many different, creative ways that we get in our way. It could be by staying up late to watch “just one more episode” of that show you’ve been watching – even if it rarely is just one more. Maybe you’re an expert at procrastinating with pointless games on your phone. There’s the gamers of the world who love to convince themselves that it’ll just be five more minutes multiple times before eventually crawling into bed shortly before sunrise, knowing they will regret it in the morning. And then there’s those nights where we get lost in a rabbit hole on YouTube or wikipedia that starts with looking up a question about King Henry VIII and somehow leads on to discovering that there are human cyclists using echolocation (like bats and dolphins) to find their way around. (Seriously, google it – but not at bedtime).

Maybe you’ve experienced one of those many examples of sleep procrastination. Or maybe you’ve witnessed a child taking it to expert levels with their pointless questions at bedtime and suddenly needing a drink an hour after they should have been in bed.

Why Do We Procrastinate Sleep?

So what makes us put it off for so long? What stops us embracing bedtime and how do we change this?

It makes sense to start by exploring WHY we do this in order to better understand it so that we can find the solution. The first thing to note is that it is absolutely ‘normal’ to experience this. There may be a number of different causes but you are definitely not alone and you are not ‘broken’. It’s a standard part of human behaviour when we are young and incredibly common to experience it again in adulthood.

Here, we will take a look at some of the most common reasons (or excuses) with some tips on how to overcome the related procrastination. 

Technology

Technology has a huge part to play in this behaviour. Spending time at night looking at screens, in itself encourages our brain to want to do more of them same. The constantly changing pixels and the effect of the blue light all encourage our brain to be more active. This leads to more looking at screens and so the loop continues.

Tip: Set an alarm as a reminder to switch off notifications and leave your phone alone in the run up to bed.
If you have an iPhone you can set sleep times and schedule ‘do not disturb mode’. On Android you can download apps that allow you to do the same.

You could also benefit from planning a specific activity in the lead up to bed that doesn’t need technology, such as reading, colouring or meditation. Maybe even a Relax Club track.

Social (And Other) Media

Along with the technology itself the apps we use are all designed to feed our desires as humans so that we use them more. Facebook want’s you to keep using Facebook, TikTok wants you to keep scrolling, Tinder wants you to keep swiping and let’s not even mention some of the other popular websites on the internet. These apps are all designed, with human behaviour in mind, to keep you hooked and engaged.

It’s very common for people to get into the habit of scrolling through while already in bed. Sometimes we don’t feel that tired yet so we decide to “just scroll until we feel more sleepy”. The problem is, the flickering screen keeps our mind active and often we don’t notice how sleepy we are.

Tip: The same as above apply here. Also, make sure you put your phone down on the other side of the room before you get into bed. (If you normally charge your phone at night move the charger now to remind you to change the habit) This will stop you scrolling when you’re already in bed, including if you do wake in the night. This can also help you start your day better but that’s a whole other blog post.

Too Busy To Sleep?

Work pressure, personal to-do lists and not enough hours in the day. Sleep sometimes feels like a necessary evil that we don’t want to have to make time for. As if it’s this thing which just sucks away our time which could be better spent working on all the other areas of life that we want to devote more time to. Particularly if we don’t manage stress well through the day. Of course, we would actually be more productive and work more efficiently if we did prioritise sleep but reason and logic aren’t always at their best late at night with a looming deadline.

Tip: Sleep makes you more productive. Prioritising it is a choice. Rather than looking at it as something you have to do, remind yourself that it is something that allows you achieve more and perform better.

DECIDE to prioritise it.

FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out has a role to play in sleep procrastination too. In this day and age, with 24 hour access to much, if not all, of what we want and the connected age where there is always *someone* we can connect with or *something* we can engage with.

You could, of course, end up missing out on something because you didn’t get up sooner or feel as good as you would from sleeping well, so staying up late really may not save you from missing out anyway.

Tip: Longer fun isn’t always more fun, you can end the night earlier and still have great positive memories and staying up late also means missing out – missing out on valuable sleep, rest and recovery.

Negative Associations With Sleep

It may be surprising to you how many people have strong negative associations with sleep. This plays a role in encouraging procrastination without even acknowledging that there’s a reason for it. It could be as simple as not wanting to go to bed because you associate bedtime with being uncomfortable, tossing and turning rather than sleeping. It could be that going to bed was seen as a punishment when you were younger and you’re still holding on to that now. It could even be a more serious association like relating sleep with past trauma such as abuse (if this is the case, please do get in touch – it doesn’t have to be this way).

Tip: Decide instead to enjoy the process of going to bed. Do something different to create a new association and focus on the relaxation in bed rather than the ‘battle’ of getting to sleep.
Take the focus off of sleeping by enjoying a visualisation or relaxation track instead.
If it’s something more serious, get in touch to see how I can help.

Control

Sometimes staying up late is about taking control over yourself and your own time. Again, this can be learned from childhood or it can become a way of coping with having less control of your own time as an adult. For example, when people have children they may stay up late as it feels like the only time they have exclusively for themselves. It may be that you’re in a relationship and don’t get enough time for you without your partner – this was especially true during lockdown.

Tip: find a way to build in ‘you’ time that doesn’t require staying up so late and disrupting sleep. This could be dedicated time for you at the weekend, in the mornings or through the day. It may not be practical to take hours at a time for you but little and often can have a huge positive impact too.

Self Sabotage

Sometimes people put off going to bed as a way of holding themselves back. It may be a collection of the reasons above being used as excuses where the reality is that sometimes we don’t feel we *deserve* to look after ourselves properly.

Tip: recognise it for what it is and give yourself the permission to sleep. If you need more help with self sabotage, get in touch.

Taking the time to question what stops you sleeping and explore the reason behind it can provide a positive solution in itself. Realising how you think about sleep and recognising that it’s actually a really key part of self care may help you to make different choices.

A little planning can also be a powerful thing. Deciding in advance, when you have more energy and clarity to make healthier choices, to change your habits can make it easier to make that change a reality. Set an alarm to remind you about bedtime. Use apps that force your phone into do not disturb mode or even block out social media apps at certain times. Take action NOW to create a better future.

Sleep Better

Looking for more tips and advice on how to enjoy better sleep and start feeling better? Register now to join me for this free sleep webinar.
FREE WEBINAR

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Boost Focus – Boost mood – Boost positivity

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Are you procrastinating sleep?

How To Overcome Sleep Procrastination

Looking to overcome sleep procrastination?
You’ve done it too, right? Stayed up to watch “just one more” episode on Netflix or just one more game on your phone and before you know it – it’s the early hours and you’re dragging yourself wirily to bed, already regretting your choices?

You’re not alone – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Read More »
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Don’t Pay Attention To This Title!

Why positive language is important

Don’t Pay Attention To This Title!

Why does positive language matter?

Why positive language is important
The language you use matters! If somebody else spoke to you the way you speak to yourself - How would you feel about that person? If you wouldn’t like someone else speaking to you that way, why do you speak to yourself that way?

The Language We Use Is Powerful.

The way we speak has the ability to influence people and to produce results from ourselves and others that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Yet so often we use it to create results which are not what we would choose, normally without even realising we are doing it. Read on to explore the power and impact of positive language and some simple changes you can make which can have a profound impact.

Toxic Positivity

Positive language is about choosing words which focus on the outcome you desire rather than on avoiding the undesirable. Often when people talk about positive language they make reference to toxic positivity which you can read more about here.

Using positive language well is not about lying to yourself and saying everything is fine when it’s not. In reality – life is not all rainbows and kittens – so why pretend it is? It’s okay to not be okay and it’s unrealistic to expect for everything to always go your way. The key to an empowered life isn’t pretending everything is fin when it’s not but about choosing where to put your focus. If things aren’t perfect you don’t need to pretend they are but you can choose to focus on making it better.

Positive focus and especially positive language is about directing your attention not toward what you don’t want but toward ideal outcomes and how to achieve them.

Expectations Influence Results

There have been many studies showing that when people believe themselves to be ‘lucky’ they are more likely to spot opportunities that those considering themselves ‘unlucky’ miss. As Henry Ford famously said “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” It’s easy to talk about belief and share positive quote, but the key to creating a shift in those beliefs lies within the language we use.

It's All About Suggestion

Suggestions are around us all the time. Some blatant as a billboard advertising someone’s favourite ‘fast food’ and some more subtle that you may not even see as a suggestion. They all have the power to influence us

 Imagine yourself walking into a room full of people you know. Someone turns to you and says “Hi, you look great!” I recon you’d respond quite positively, maybe even just imagining that made you smile a little? Image the same situation but someone asks “Are you okay? You look tired.” Instantly, you are likely to feel more tired. It’s almost as if you do a mental scan of your body looking for signs that you are tired (but ignoring the signs that you are awake as irrelevant to the statement). You likely end up feeling worse and probably more tired.

In both of those examples above, the person speaking to you influenced using ‘suggestions’ with their choice of words (even if they didn’t mean to). Of course, someone you know has more impact than a billboard and the closer they are to you, the more impact they have. Your parents growing up, for example, probably had a greater impact with their words and actions as did anyone you gave ‘authority’ too. But there is one person who’s opinions have more impact on you than anyone else: YOU.

Listen To Yourself

When your language and the way that you speak to yourself spurs you on and encourages action you’re more likely to achieve far more than if you are pulling yourself down, beating yourself up and telling yourself you’ll never make it.

Because your own voice is internal, it has far more power than the words that other people use. It’s a little like having ten other people following you around repeating those words back to you. Would you be able to complete a task to your best ability with a group of people around you talking you down and berating you?

We often use language patterns that hold us back without even realise that we are doing it. Like when we tell a toddler to not kick off their boots and they go ahead and do just that. If we talk about how cozy their feet must feel in those boots, they are far more likely to keep those boots on. This is all easy for me to say, as someone who has studied human behaviour and psychology with over 15 years of practice in empowering people through the use of language but I want to make it easy for you to improve without the years of training and experience. Here are my top tips to improving your language:

Don't Say Don't

This is probably the simplest and most powerful change you can make to your language. Every time you say ‘don’t’ you are focusing on the very thing that you don’t want rather than the outcome you desire. For example, stop saying “Don’t Forget” and replace it with “Remember to…” It’s amazing the difference this small change can have. “Don’t run” becomes “Slow down” and “Don’t think about that pink elephant…” (you just thought of one, right?) Becomes “focus on this red hammer” instead (made you forget about the elephant again… until you read this sentence). There are other ‘don’t words’ too, like “stop” for example.

Anything that leads to you focusing on the thing you DON’T want can be instantly improved by changing it to the thing you DO want.

Always Avoid Always

Always is an absolute. The implication being that if you have ‘always’ struggled with this or ‘always’ been bad at that, you always will be. This is only true if you choose it to be. You could decide to turn that around and continue to get better at those things instead.

Never Say Never

Similar to always, ‘never’ feels very permanent and so, even if we are talking about the past, our mind has a tendency to project this into the future.

Try Not To Try

When you talk about things you did in the past you say you did them, when you talk about things that didn’t work out you may say you tried them. Why put the expectation of failure into your future? We all have a friend that will “try and make it” but not turn up, right? Follow Yoda’s advice on this one. “Do or do not, there is no try”

These are guidelines not rules. Use them to highlight opportunities to improve your language but remember…

No-one ever beat themselves up into being nicer to themselves.

If you notice your said “don’t forget” instead of focusing on remembering. Pause, smile and repeat the sentence in a positive way instead. Celebrating that you’ve noticed the opportunity to improve is far better than telling yourself off for the mistake. Mistakes are how you learn and each time you correct your language you are making it easier to notice and correct it in the future too.

 

Know someone else who could benefit from reading this? Go on… give it a share. 

The home of

Get a weekly burst of positivity and mindset-boosting activities!

 

Looking for a POSITIVE and SUPPORTIVE community on Facebook?

Click the image below to join now.

Arrange a chat or
book a consultation to see if
Duncan is the right person
to help you to
EMPOWER YOURSELF
and embrace positive change today.

Enjoy the benefits of hypnotic relaxation and professionally designed meditation tracks in the palm of your hand.

Sleep better – Feel better – Focus better
Boost Focus – Boost mood – Boost positivity

Check out my other articles:

Why positive language is important

Don’t Pay Attention To This Title!

The language you use matters!

If somebody else spoke to you the way you speak to yourself – How would you feel about that person?

If you wouldn’t like someone else speaking to you that way, why do you speak to yourself that way?

Read More »
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What Are Cognitive Biases?

What Are Cognitive Biases?

What Are Cognitive Biases?

How to make better decisions...

What Are Cognitive Biases?
Would you love to make more rational decisions? Do you sometimes look back on the choices you've made or the things that you've said and wonder what on earth possessed you to act that way? Understanding Cognitive biases can help you to improve your decision making processes. Read on to discover how.

Would you love to make more rational decisions?

Do you sometimes look back on the choices you’ve made or the things that you’ve said and wonder what on earth possessed you to act that way?

To help you make more rational decisions, I’m going to help you discover the cognitive biases that are already affecting your decision-making processes.

Cognitive biases  have an enormous impact on our decision making and a huge impact on our lives. The best way to control for that impact is to be aware of it.

The more mindful of cognitive biases you become, the easier it is to pick up on them and you’ll be able to make more rational decisions. If you can account for, allow for and understand the impact of those biases, you can begin to take more control of the choices you are making.

What Are Cognitive Biases?

Cognitive biases are something that we all have, something that we all do as human beings, they are effectively shortcuts that help us make decisions.

Where Do Cognitive Biases Come From?

There’s a lot within how we act and how we behave that ties in with our caveman ancestors, our animalistic selves.

Part of what we are designed to do is preserve energy because we want to get the maximum gain possible for the minimum amount of effort.

Ultimately, our biggest driver is to survive and part of that is the three Fs: we need to feed, we need to fight (protect and defend ourselves and our tribe) and we need to fornicate to continue our bloodline (you didn’t think I would use a different ‘F-word’ did you?) Those are the things that matter most to us on that deeper subconscious level.

Our brains are one of the organs that take up the most energy, so we want to minimise the amount of unnecessary work for our brains. As animals one of the ways to reduce the amount of brain energy used is we take a lot of shortcuts. Some of these are simple, obvious ones that are quite sensible, but others we have taken a bit too far.

On a basic level, these shortcuts are building an understanding of the things around us and how they work, for example, sitting on a chair. Every time we see a chair, we know how to sit on it; we don’t have to look at it, examine it and work out how to use it.

What's The Downside Of Cognitive Biases?

We have taken these shortcuts beyond this basic level and in this modern world, things are more complicated than we were initially designed for. Thanks to our ability as humans to communicate and be self-aware, we have a great foundation with opportunities to grow and develop ourselves in any direction that we choose. A big part of us being self-aware is that we also make mistakes, we are fallible.

This leads us to cognitive biases, They come in to play when we need to make a decision. That could be a decision we don’t even realise is a decision, making a snap judgement about a person, or identifying something as a threat, all of which happens before we are consciously aware we are doing it.

We have certain structures and systems, shortcuts, in place to make the decision-making process easier for us. This evolved from really simple examples, like if someone is smiling, we assume they are happy and that makes them less of a threat.

These processes can get in our way as well, we can trip up and stumble over different things, which can get confusing. One of the most obvious examples of a cognitive bias is cognitive differentiation. An example is when we drive, we see loads of cars but we barely notice them unless the driving is poor and then we end the journey thinking that everyone was driving ‘like a nutter today’, completely forgetting all the drivers that were sensible. This is just one example of the many cognitive biases that are out there and lead us down different paths to making decisions.

Where Can You Find Out More About Cognitive Biases?

I’ll be regularly posting blogs  which will cover one bias in more detail each time, so make sure you are signed up to receive them all.

You can check out my YouTube channel for my videos on cognitive biases:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8H_l1_C5_gIgY6KF9dBzKQ

You can join my Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/MindAffinity

Feel like you keep making “Stupid Decisions”?

Check out my blog post: https://mindaffinity.co.uk/why-am-i-so-stupid

Watch the Cognitive Biases Introduction Video

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What Are Cognitive Biases?

What Are Cognitive Biases?

Would you love to make more rational decisions?

Do you sometimes look back on the choices you’ve made or the things that you’ve said and wonder what on earth possessed you to act that way?

Understanding Cognitive biases can help you to improve your decision making processes. Read on to discover how.

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Why Relying On Willpower Will Fail You

Change you habits without willpower

Why Relying On Willpower Will Fail You

With 9 Tips To Enjoy Positive Change

Change you habits without willpower
If you’re currently relying on willpower for something you may not want to read this. Reading this will make it much much harder to make the change you want to make if you’re relying on willpower alone. If willpower is working for you, please scroll on now (but come back to this if it doesn’t work out). If relying on willpower is hard work and you’re wondering why you’re “so weak” and keep giving in to temptation or habit then this blog is for you…

There I was, tucking into that third slice of cheesecake. It had been a long day and I had worked hard all week. Tomorrow was my day off and I was tired. I had told myself that I wouldn’t keep doing this. I needed to loose weight and get healthier but there I was having gone back for ANOTHER slice. But it’s okay, I’m tired and that means my willpower is weaker than normal. And I really have worked hard all week, I deserve this relaxation. Sat in front of the T.V. feeling full but still eating, I fool myself into believing that this IS what I really want and that I DO deserve it, even though I’m already aware of the regret and disapproval I’m feeling about my choices.

It’s important to be nice to yourself though and I know that willpower is limited, I can only do so much so I may as well forgive myself, go with it and try again tomorrow…

Except that’s simply not true. It’s all a myth and a great way to justify my choices. Hey, It leads to extra cheesecake so it can’t be all bad, right?

This is a familiar story. It may not be about food, maybe it’s quitting smoking, eating healthily or cutting out other bad habits. If you find yourself relying on willpower and struggling, there is another way. I know there is because it has worked for me and countless clients I have worked with.

What is willpower?

When people speak about willpower they are likely talking about it as a kind of determination to NOT do something. It’s something that takes energy and is required for you to ‘win’ a battle against some kind of drive, urge or habit. This is a very traditional way of looking at willpower but it’s based on the theory of ‘ego-depletion’ which gained scientific popularity in the 90s but is actually a bit outdated and inaccurate.

Willpower And Ego-Depletion

Ego-depletion is probably not a new idea to you, even if you’ve not heard it called that before. It’s simply the idea that as we go through the day we exhaust our limited mental energy reserve requited to maintain our self control and without it we run out of willpower. It makes sense, right? You can see how this would lead to bingeing on cheesecake at the end of a ‘long’ day.

There was a study conducted where subjects in a room with a plate of fresh cookies and a plate of radishes were instructed, as they waited for a puzzle, to eat either ONLY radishes or ONLY cookies. Not eating cookies being used as a way to ‘drain’ people’s resistance/willpower. The subjects were then asked to complete an impossible puzzle, Those who restricted themselves to only radishes gave up on the puzzle much quicker than those who had eaten the cookies.

It was concluded that this proved that we have a limited supply of willpower and that it depletes and decreases with overuse. Subjects had ‘used up’ all their will power by not eating to cookies and so gave up more quickly on the puzzle. Those that ate the cookies lasted longer as they had more willpower to commit to the task.

This study was a good one and the results have been supported in a number of studies and meta-analyses. There has been much further study based upon these findings BUT…

This has all be brought into question and a number of studies attempting to replicate the effects have not been able to do so. The initial meta-studies didn’t account for studies that weren’t published  and there have been a number of other concerns. Correlation (a link between two things) doesn’t always mean that one thing causes the other. BELIEVING that you can exhaust your willpower, however, has a great deal of influence over your decisions.

It turns out that this belief can be harmful in itself.

Set Yourself Up To Succeed

So if this traditional view of willpower and ego-depletion is so harmful – not least because you are effectively setting yourself up for failure, then what should you do instead?

I’ll break this down into some simple steps that can make it a lot easier to change your habits but before I do, let’s not gloss over the importance of the above. Realising that willpower doesn’t work in the way we think it does has the potential to be empowering in itself. We can free ourselves from being restricted by this limiting belief that we may not have even realised was holding us back. Isn’t that freeing in itself?

A New Way Of Thinking About Willpower

If we are no longer thinking about willpower as a limited energy which will ‘run out’ then we need a new way of thinking about it.

Willpower is more like an emotion. You can run out of Joy or sadness. You can’t have used up so much anger in the day that you have no choice but to smile at someone for punching you in the face. Much like other emotions, your beliefs and thoughts, your surroundings and circumstances and your chosen responses all work together to influence your willpower at any given moment.

If I don’t want to write a blog that I’ve been meaning to write, I’l easily find myself procrastinating and scrolling thorough Facebook. As with any other emotional state, it’s important to recognise how you are feeling. This gives you the chance to question and understand why you are feeling that way and what influences are acting upon you. It could be stress, hunger, boredom, or any number of other things that are acting upon you to influence how and why you are feeling that way. 

If I’m writing something that excites me, I don’t find myself running out of willpower to complete it or struggling to stay off social media. I just get stuck into what I’m doing and get lost in it. Before I know it, an hour or three have flown by and I’m still going.

Forget about willpower and setting yourself up for a fight and start creating the right positive influences around yourself and being more aware of what is having an impact on how you feel in that moment.

What To Rely On Instead Of Willpower

Here are some things you can do that will make it far easier to change your habits.

Focus On DOING Rather Than NOT DOING

If you spend your time and energy focusing on the things you DON’T want to be doing then don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a constant battle to not do it. Instead decide what you DO want to be doing instead. What activity can you replace the unwanted behaviour with that moves you closer to your goal rather than further from it. Make it enjoyable, make it something that you WANT to be doing.

Change The Way You Think

You can’t directly control how you feel, or even what you think in any given moment. You CAN influence yourself to think differently about things and in doing so, how you feel in certain situations. Remind yourself of your new outlook on willpower and use your new understanding to explore new thoughts and behaviours that support you better.

Believe In Yourself

Building your self belief will make it far easier to change your habits. This isn’t done through beating yourself up but through BUILDING yourself up. Remember to celebrate your wins and victories, look at what you HAVE achieved and know that you don’t need to fight yourself to get to the results you are working towards. You can and WILL get there, one step at a time.

Be Nicer To Yourself

The language you use and the way you talk about and to yourself have a huge impact on your ability to achieve positive change. Think about the way you talk to yourself and what changes you can make to be nicer to yourself. (Check back here soon for a post on how to do this better).

Make It Easy

Just because willpower doesn’t work the way we thought it did, doesn’t mean you should just leave things to chance and attempt to make you decisions when you have least energy and are at greatest risk. If you know that getting home from work has traditionally been a weak point for your healthy eating or that moment after a meal is when you are most likely to crave a smoke those are the times to target most. What can you do to replace the behaviours in those moments and what can you do IN ADVANCE to make those times easier for yourself?

Make It A Priority

There’s often so much going on in our busy modern lives that even the most basic self care can take a back seat. If you really want to make a change, make it a priority. What can you do first thing in the morning that builds a positive change? Start the day with it as a priority and it’s easier to maintain it. Plan around your new habit rather than trying to fit the change around everything else. MAKE it work. Decide in advance that it matters enough to do this.

Create Accountability

Sometimes just the act of telling the world that you are making a change can be enough to feel like you have some positive pressure to make it work. Use social media to make it public. Scary but powerful. Or find accountability though friends and family. Maybe a daily or weekly check-in with someone else who has a similar goal or wants accountability for their own goals could suit you well.

Mindset Is Everything

Your mindset around the changes you want to make plays a huge part in how easy it is to succeed. There are a number of things that you can to to maintain and improve on that including meditation, mindfulness and related things. You may find Relax Club to be an invaluable tool in helping you maintain your mindset and enjoy positive change. Find out more here.

Hypnotherapy

Of course, working one-to-one with a professional therapist with a wealth of experience in empowering people to enjoy positive change isn’t necessary for you. It could make things a lot quicker and easier for you though. If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you speed up the process and enjoy it more, book a free chat with me here.

Know Someone who could benefit from this blog post? Why not share it with them and help them to embrace positive change without the constant willpower battle.

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Arrange a chat or
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EMPOWER YOURSELF
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Enjoy the benefits of hypnotic relaxation and professionally designed meditation tracks in the palm of your hand.

Sleep better – Feel better – Focus better
Boost Focus – Boost mood – Boost positivity

Check out my other articles:

Change you habits without willpower

Why Relying On Willpower Will Fail You

If you’re currently relying on willpower for something you may not want to read this.

Reading this will make it much much harder to make the change you want to make if you’re relying on willpower alone.

If willpower is working for you, please scroll on now (but come back to this if it doesn’t work out).

If relying on willpower is hard work and you’re wondering why you’re “so weak” and keep giving in to temptation or habit then this blog is for you…

Read More »
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Why Am I So Stupid?

Why am I So Stupid‽ Blog post image

Why Am I So Stupid?

And What Can I Do About It?

Why am I So Stupid‽ Blog post image
Does it sometimes feel like you just keep making ‘stupid choices’ and bad decisions?
 Do you feel like you’re constantly beating yourself up for being so stupid? You are NOT alone and you CAN change it. Read on…

Most, if not all, people have asked themselves at some point “why am I so stupid?” Or similar. Maybe you keep making the same mistakes and just don’t seem to be able to change you behaviour. Maybe it feels like you can’t get through the day without saying something embarrassing. Maybe there’s a whole load of different reasons you find yourself asking this question, let me help you find the actual answer to the question.

Spoiler alert! – You’re NOT stupid.

What Does It Mean To Be "So Stupid"?

Before we answer the question, let’s actually look at what the ‘stupid’ really means.

When we talk about being stupid or not what we are normally referring to is intelligence. This is generally measured in IQ (Intelligence Quota). This is the first mistake that people make with this question… Often when we ask “Why am I so stupid?” We are asking the wrong question. If we were really stupid then we would be unlikely to look back and realise the error we made. It actually requires intelligence to reflect back on our actions, question them and come to the conclusion that we could have done something better.

Chances are, you’re reading this because you find yourself feeling stupid but have the intelligence to notice it and question it. Questioning and researching – that sounds pretty smart to me.

To put it another way – whatever made you ask the question “Why am I so stupid?” Was probably nothing to do with being stupid. You’re not stupid.

Emotions Aren’t So Stupid

One ‘guideline’ (because guidelines are better than rules) I have in my clinic for my individual clients is that we replace the word ‘stupid’ with ‘silly’. See, a lot of the things we do are silly. Overreacting, getting in a flap, making nervous errors, repeating old habits and behaviours and generally making ‘silly’ mistakes – These are all silly things that people often feel stupid for, but aren’t anything to do with logic and intelligence.

When we feel a certain way or impulsively act upon a feeling or stimulus it’s often caused by past learning or old beliefs. We generally know how we would prefer to act, especially when looking back on it rationally, we just don’t act that way in the moment.

Judging your logic and intelligence based on your emotional reactions is inaccurate and unfair. It will make you feel far worse than putting it in context and realising that it’s not your intelligence getting in your way. It’s your learned behaviour, habits and beliefs.

In short – you are not stupid.

Forgive Yourself

No one ever beat themselves up into feeling better about themselves. If you’ve been feeling stupid the chances are you’ve been pretty mean to yourself about it to. That’s normal but that doesn’t make it right. Recognising that your errors are guided by emotion and not logic should make it easier to see that it’s not about you not being good enough, it’s partly about you not being good enough TO YOURSELF. If a toddler repeated behaviour that wasn’t acceptable you wouldn’t beat them up the way you beat yourself up, would you? You’d probably be a lot more patient and understanding, knowing that this will help them learn. If a toddler does just get yelled at without fully understanding why it can be detrimental to their development and they are less likely to learn from the situation because they will be too overwhelmed with the emotions to really engage the logical think required to reflect on it. You’re not so different.

Beating yourself up makes it harder to think rationally, making you feel even more stupid but… You are not stupid.

Learning Not To Be So Stupid

If your mistakes were caused by stupidity, then you would learn from them and wouldn’t find yourself repeating them so readily. But there’s good news – You can learn to be less silly too. The first step to take that will make it much easier to learn and grow from your mistakes is to forgive yourself, as above.

You can’t change the past. What is done is done and will never not have happened. You can, however, use the past to change the future. Once you forgive yourself, it becomes much easier to focus on learning and growing from it. If you’re struggling to forgive yourself then focusing on learning from it, may make you better able to forgive yourself as you begin to grow from it anyway.

Every silly mistake is another opportunity for growth and learning. The “stupid” mistakes I’ve made in the past have become a part of the person I am today and I have learned a LOT more from my mistakes than I have ever learned from things going to plan.

The very fact that you landed here shows that you are looking for answers. This implies that you are not as stupid as you think.

Awareness Isn't So Stupid

It took self-awareness to decide that this blog was worth reading. You’re already on your way to improving.

Awareness plays a huge part in turning things around too. How can you expect to improve something if you don’t know what could be improved? By being prepared to forgive yourself you make it easier to recognise and notice your emotional reaction before you take action. Being aware of how you are feeling and reflecting on how you were feeling when you made questionable decisions in the past makes it much easier to choose to respond in different ways going forward.

Take the time to reflect (without prejudice) on how you were feeling at the time, what may have caused those feelings, what other times you displayed similar behaviours. The more aware you are of how and why your reacted the way you did in the past, the easier it will be to increase awareness of how you are feeling (and reacting) in any given moment now and in the future.

By now, I’m hoping you are aware that you are not stupid.

Accept The Stupid

Okay, so I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t think you’re stupid. That said, we can all make foolish decisions from time to time. Some more than others. On some occasions we may even do things which are more ‘stupid’ than they are silly. That’s okay too!

Part of being human is being fallible. We all make mistakes and poor choices but no decision can truly be described as a bad decision until after the fact. We are really good at judging our behaviours and decisions by the outcome. It seems like sound reasoning, right? Wrong. The problem here is that after the result we have more information than was available to us at the time. ANYONE who has had the same experiences as you, with the same beliefs etc would make the same choice in that moment as you did. Regardless of how it turned out you did what felt best in the moment. Whether that was based on emotion rather than logic or a lack of understanding of the bigger picture. it’s just part of being human.

In summary, you are not stupid but you may sometimes act as if you are and that’s okay.

Know Someone who could benefit from this blog post? Why not share it with them and help them see that they aren’t so stupid after all?

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Get a weekly burst of positivity and mindset-boosting activities!

 

Looking for a POSITIVE and SUPPORTIVE community on Facebook?

Click the image below to join now.

Arrange a chat or
book a consultation to see if
Duncan is the right person
to help you to
EMPOWER YOURSELF
and embrace positive change today.

Enjoy the benefits of hypnotic relaxation and professionally designed meditation tracks in the palm of your hand.

Sleep better – Feel better – Focus better
Boost Focus – Boost mood – Boost positivity

Check out my other articles:

Why am I So Stupid‽ Blog post image

Why Am I So Stupid?

Does it sometimes feel like you just keep making ‘stupid choices’ and bad decisions?

Do you feel like you’re constantly beating yourself up for being so stupid?
You are NOT alone and you CAN change it. Read on…

Read More »