surviving_christmas1Staying indoors, eating and drinking too much of – well, almost everything, healthy or not, ‘locked’ together with difficult family members for longer than usual.. while trying to please everyone. Sometimes the festive season can be very trying. My seasonal survival plan may just help.  (IF you need more – see the freebies at the end.)

  1. FAMILY & FISH – have one thing in common; they go off after a few days! So try to arrange to be together for no longer than a couple of days. At the very least, arrange a break from each other doing your own thing – go for a drive, a long walk, do some simple DIY or other project, go to the cinema or to the pub if you have to!xmas_swim
  2. GET OUTSIDE – It’s all too easy to loll around, feeling full, stodgy and half-awake watching banal telly; don’t! Get out in the fresh air, go for a walk, or something even more strenuous if you are inclined.
  3. IT’S YOUR MIND – Your feelings and emotions are fed by your thoughts, so when things get a bit too much, choose to focus your mind on the more pleasant aspects or the bigger picture (like how important your family is to you). Try the HELICOPTER method (see the box).frowningchild
  4. KIDS ARE BONKERS – they are meant to say just what comes into their heads; only adults monitor and suppress themselves. Some adults are still childlike, some oldies regress, and others are, well, a bit wonky. Try not to take any unpleasant remarks to heart. If all fails, try my boxed fixes.
  5. THEY’LL NEVER BE FIXED – those annoying feature people have are not going to change just for you; it’s hard enough for a trained therapist with willing clients, so don’t waste your time barking orders to the waves not to come in. Try the ‘helicopter out’ trick shown in the box.
  6. AVOID OLD RECORDS – parents and siblings will tend to pull you back into your childhood self, both good and bad. Choose not to hear their attempts to play the same old past records with your feelings and emotions; you have learned better tunes to dance to.
  7. ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE – set up mental protection, just like how a computer is protected from unhealthy or malicious invasions: see the PROTECTIVE FIELD.
  8. DRINK & EAT LESS! Obviously. Avoid overdoing the chocs, coffee.
  9. GIVE IN – Don’t try to be perfect, or do it all yourself; make a simple checklist or plan, and ask for help rather than hinting or complaining.
  10. MENTAL DETOX – as well as getting up and out with physical exercise, do a mental refreshment exercise like the one shown, which is my favourite from ‘Energetic NLP’. See the box.
  11. LET IT OUT – if it all gets too much, then accept it; go outside out of earshot and simply let it rip with a big raspberry or even a scream. Come back when you are calm again.
  12. REMEMBER it’s only XMAS – not your whole life! Keep a perspective. It’s just a difficult MOMENT In TIME, like bad weather, the worst will always pass.
    pudPS IF YOU WANT MORE – TRY ONE OF MY FREE HYPNOSIS AUDIO DOWNLOADS! http://abetterlife-uk.com/free-hypnosis-audios

Free Hypnosis Audios for Xmas

Free Hypnosis Audios for Stress, Weight Control, Sleep Better, Chronic Pain and Alcohol Drinking

As it’s that time of the year for giving, I’ve pulled together for you ALL the hypnosis recordings I’ve made available to download, free. Some are studio quality, and some are simply ‘working recordings’ that you can try as they are. Follow the links:
stress CDStress Reduction

hypnoticgastricbandv5Weight Control

sleepcd Sleep Better

QUITTERNEWStop Smoking 7-day Challenge

painyoutubeChronic Pain Relief

Control Your Drinking


Alcohol, Health & Getting Control

What’s the ‘truth’ about alcohol & health?

I’ve looked at a selection of articles and documents to identify the truth about alcohol and health. Here’s my short guide to help you review the evidence on the impact, risks and benefits of alcohol on your health. I am also offering a free hypnosis audio to help control problem drinking.

The bottom line seems to be that blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question because of alcohol’s complex effects on the body and the complexity of the people who drink it. 

The Drinkaware charity gives simple practical advice on taking an honest look at yourself as well as taking back control. One strong theme is – particularly on how you can go about getting control back.


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The Risks

The Chief Scientific Officer is oversimplifying things when she said that any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone (1). The evidence we have does not actually back this up.

The RCP report concluded that advising on ‘safe’ levels of alcohol consumption is difficult and that there was ‘insufficient evidence to make completely confident statements about how much alcohol is ‘safe’ (2). However, the report argued that it is essential that this was not used as an excuse for inaction, and this is where they chose to put their emphasis. Note that this is a subjective judgment, albeit well-intended.
The truth is the detailed report by Public England shows that the amount you drink, how often, individual factors such as your general health, your age and genetic factors all play a part (3).  These are very significant. Their concerns also took into account factors like mental wellbeing, the effect of drinking on your family, relationships, employment, crime and disorder too.
So the scope is wide, as you would expect for setting government policy. This quite different from YOUR particular personal risk. Their focus is on RISKS, because that was what they were tasked to do: This review was commissioned by the Department of Health, which asked Public Health England (PHE) to provide an overview of alcohol-related harm in England and possible policy solutions. NB benefits are not mentioned.


It’s worth giving this a special mention.You know the idea that the more we drink the tolerant we get? Well, yes, kind of  – but here’s the rub – the damage is still the same. Do you see? In other words, your TOLERANCE is really only affecting how you FEEL when you drink; but the physiological effects – including POTENTIAL DAMAGE – remain the SAME.

That means, tolerance really is an ENEMY of your health and well-being – do you see? The Drinkaware charity talks about ‘RESETTING’ your tolerance which you can do. How? By cutting back significantly or even better, committing to an alcohol holiday for your body.

Affects on the Body

This article gives a nice and easy at-a-glance overview of what alcohol does (4): http://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body

Here’s the list of places inside you that are affected:

  • Central Nervous System – of course, your balance, co-ordination, mood and behaviour
  • Excretory System – especially pancreas and liver can become inflamed

  • Digestive System – from your mouth all the way to your colon; salivary glands and irritate the mouth and tongue, leading to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. Heavy drinking can cause ulcers in the esophagus, acid reflux, and heartburn. Stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining

  • Circulatory System – poisoning the heart cells, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart failure

  • Sexual and Reproductive Health – for both men and women

  • Skeletal and Muscle Systems – bone and muscles weakness over time

  • Immune System – vulnerability to viruses, germs, and all types of illness; and especially pneumonia or tuberculosis and many forms of cancer.

Now, there may be some benefits too, which we’ll look at now.

The Potential Benefits

A large study reported in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that: Regular alcohol intake has both risks and benefits. In analyses using repeated assessments of alcohol over time and deaths from all causes, women with low to moderate intake and regular frequency (greater than three days/week) had the lowest risk of mortality compared with abstainers and women who consumed substantially more than one drink per day. (5) 

And, as regards a healthy lifestyle, we have found that light to moderate alcohol consumption was one of the five most important modifiable contributors to lowering the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and total mortality. 

Another interesting large study in the journal of Social Science and Medicine concluded: Our findings are generally consistent — especially for younger women — with an accumulating body of research demonstrating positive associations between moderate alcohol use and health, even after accounting for abstainer bias. (5)

Beyond the heart, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes occurred less frequently with moderate drinkers than non-drinkers.

Red v White? Beer v Wine?

Some studies have suggested that red wine – particularly with a meal – can give more cardiovascular benefits than beer or spirits. The tend to be comparisons between countries, where coronary heart disease is less common in “wine-drinking countries” than in beer- or liquor-drinking countries.

Red wine may contain more substances (other than alcohol) that could prevent blood clots, relax blood vessel walls, and prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, so called “bad” cholesterol), a key early step in the formation of cholesterol-filled plaque.

In practice, though, beverage choice appears to have little effect on cardiovascular benefit (6). Equally, the conventional belief that cholesterol is a cause of problems is increasingly looking doubtful; there is evidence that it may be an effect rather than a cause, and even beneficial (7).

What is Moderate Drinking?

In the older guidance, moderate drinking was defined as within the limits shown below. You still need them to figure what the research means when it uses terms like moderate or heavy drinking. Beware though, it varies in the literature.

MEN 21 Units 21 single shots of spirits, 9 and a half pints,  14 VERY SMALL glasses of wine; ten TYPICAL 175ml glasses wine; seven LARGE 250ml glasses wine; two and a bit bottles.

WOMEN: 14 single measures of spirits; seven pints; nine VERY SMALL glasses of wine; seven TYPICAL 175ml glasses of wine; four and a half LARGE 250ml glasses wine; one and a half bottles.

This is really good Alcohol Units calculator:



The bottom line seems to be that blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question because of alcohol’s complex effects on the body and the complexity of the people who drink it.

Because each of us has unique personal and family histories, alcohol offers each person a different spectrum of benefits and risks. Whether or not to drink alcohol, especially for “medicinal purposes,” requires thoughtful review and balancing up the benefits and risks (8). Here are the factors to consider

  1. Your personal overall health related to your individual risks for alcohol-associated conditions. If you are slim, physically active, don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, and have no family history of heart disease, drinking alcohol won’t add much to decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  2. If you don’t drink, there’s no need to start. You can get similar benefits with exercise (beginning to exercise if you don’t already or boosting the intensity and duration of your activity) or healthier eating.
  3. If you are a man with no history of alcoholism who is at moderate to high risk for heart disease, a daily alcoholic drink could reduce that risk. Moderate drinking might be especially beneficial if you have low HDL that just won’t budge upward with diet and exercise – although the link between cholesterol and heart disease is increasingly being questioned.
  4. If you are a woman with no history of alcoholism who is at moderate to high risk for heart disease, the possible benefits of a daily drink must be balanced against the small increase in risk of breast cancer.
  5. If you already drink alcohol or plan to begin, keep it moderate—no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women. And make sure you get plenty of folate, at least 600 micrograms a day.

References/ Links

  1. Government announcement on new guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-alcohol-guidelines-show-increased-risk-of-cancer
  2. Summary of Evidence by the Royal College of Physicians: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/writev/1536/ag22.htm
  3. Detailed Review by Public Health England:
  4. The Effects of Alcohol on the Body: http://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body
  5. Growing evidence of benefits: https://health.spectator.co.uk/the-evidence-keeps-on-growing-alcohols-health-benefits-are-no-old-wives-tale/ 
  6. Type of Alcohol: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/is-wine-fine-or-beer-better/ :
  7. Cholesterol not linked to heart disease: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2016/06June/Pages/Study-say-theres-no-link-between-cholesterol-and-heart-disease.aspx
  8. Balancing the pros and cons: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/

Instant Spider Phobia Treatment Charity Fundraiser

Hate Spiders? An article in the Telegraph says that September is their typical breeding season – so watch out! OR… get a free instant spider phobia treatment with me, Richard Walker, your experienced local Hypnotherapist.


Last year our wet summer really bumped up the numbers of spiders sneaking in for shelter.  So what for this year? Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Steve McGrail, from Pro-Kill Environmental said “swarms of  ‘sex-crazed’ spiders are already making their way indoors as mating season begins. Some of the spiders could be as ‘big as mice’.”

I met one person who fled their car on a motorway at the appearance of one medium-sized unwelcome freeloader scurrying out to see the view. That’s far from funny.

How to get this free instant treatment? Well, the good news is that you won’t have to confront a spider as part of the treatment. So what’s the catch? Only that you to agree to my filming your amazingly quick treatment.  And give a donation to charity – Level Trust of Luton, who help local kids with very basic school necessities, like uniforms and stationery.

The next session will be scheduled Wednesday evening 28th September in Harpenden.  NOTE: You must book to attend at –
NOTE I do ask a small non-returnable deposit of ten pounds (to the charity) just to help make sure we have more serious bookings. Ten places max – when it’s gone it’s gone.

Natural Chronic Pain Relief

Looking for Fast All Natural Relief from Chronic Pain?

Are you suffering from persistent back pain, neck pain, joint pain – or some other lingering pain? If you are, I imagine you have tried almost everything. Are you willing to try something very different yet surprisingly fast and effective? Right now? I’ll be honest with you, I have not yet had it not work when I’ve demonstrated it – as long as it is chronic pain.

Cause of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain used to mean pain that has lasted 6 months or longer.  But now we mean pain that has outlasted the original cause, which has since healed. Think of it as beyond its ‘sell-by date’, typically 6-8 weeks old. We are not thinking here about current damage or illness. So it may include upper or lower back pain, shoulder pain, including ‘frozen’ shoulder, or persistent pain in your arms or legs or hands for example, including some forms of repetitive strain injury and the like. The technique may possibly work for some kinds of tension headaches.

sportsinjurystockimagesProfessor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine Dr John Sarno said back in 2004 that, “What is actually causing the pain [in] people is not the herniated disc, or some of those other structural things, but a condition of mild oxygen deprivation, which is brought about by the brain simply altering the blood flow to a particular area. This mild oxygen deprivation is  what causes pain in muscle.” Even more importantly, “this is a result of negative emotions which have not been attended to at the conscious level.”

In simple language, chronic pain is the result of ignoring negative feelings.

So what’s the answer? Yes, pay attention to your negative feelings which most likely are right now out of your awareness. I’m serious. Are you willing to do this? Right, get ready. Make sure you fully commit to this – don’t mess about.

  1. Rate your current pain. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is the worst it has ever been, how much are you feeling the pain right now?
  2. Now, go inside and find what emotion are you feeling right now?
    NOTE: a real basic raw feeling word  – like angry, sad, fear, hurt, guilt.
  3. Say out loud, “ I am feeling [emotion]”.
  4. Check the rating – it will have dropped.
  5. REPEAT the steps until the pain drops to 0 or 1.

You would expect to find a few different feelings. They may repeat. It should not take very long at all. Repeat this whenever the pain recurs, and in any case checking in on your emotions daily for a full week, so you develop a natural habit of awareness.

THAT’S IT! Let me know how you get on.


Image courtesy of StockImages at FreeDigitalImages.net

Hypnotic Gastric Band for Slimming

The Hypnotic Gastric Band

Restricting your stomach size by surgically fitting a real Gastric Band is rather a drastic step – with very real risks (see references below). But what if you could simulate it under hypnosis – and feel satisfied with less food? Interesting? In fact, research results on the effectiveness of the hypnotic, or ‘virtual’ gastric band are awaiting publication. Certainly I was surprised with my own results using it with clients even in a workshop setting.

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For some fifteen years I’ve been successfully using hypnosis to help clients get into healthy eating patterns. Hypnosis can be a very effective way of seeding new habits, by making suggestions which sit deep in your mind. There are many different ways to do this, and different people have different reasons why they are not in control of their eating. In other words, people differ, don’t they? And what motivates one person may differ from the next.

That’s why I created my end to dieting on-line weight control programme, at enddieting.co.uk because it lets you discover which ways will ‘hit the spot’ for you. It gives you instant access to hypnosis recordings, and guides you on how to get the best out of them. And, I’ve included the Hypnotic Gastric Band to the selection of specialised hypnosis audios. That’s in addition to how to overcome self-sabotage, resistance, snacking, clearing your plate and other common problems.

Stroh, C., Hohmann, U., Schramm, H., Meyer, F. & Manger, T. (2011). Fourteen-Year Long-Term Results after Gastric Banding, Journal of Obesity, vol. 2011, Article ID 128451, 6 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/128451

Madura JA, Dibaise JK. Quick fix or long-term cure? Pros and cons of bariatric surgery. F1000 Med Rep.2012;4:19.

Stop Smoking 7-Day Challenge

QUITTERNEWRichard has proudly supported the British Heart Foundation’s annual No Smoking Day for some years. As part of this, he developed his 7-Day NoSmoking Challenge, which you can access for yourself right now!

Richard says, “we know that with support, smokers are more likely to succeed in quitting.” That’s why he is making his 7-day Challenge available to you.  “The Challenge contains all the guidance I regularly give to my one-to-one stop-smoking clients, before we meet for the one-off hypnosis treatment. It sets them up for success.” Richard tells of how some clients quite before they even have the treatment!


Sign up to his 7-DAY CHALLENGE to receive one supportive email each day, with challenges and tips to help you on your way to becoming a quitter. BONUS: Free Audio Guide and Hypnosis for quitting now included.

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As an extra incentive, get yourself sponsored! Collect the equivalent of 10p per cigarette saved each day for a month. Then donate that to a good cause – the British Heart Foundation at https://www.justgiving.com/Abetterlife-QUITTER

Why not consider Hypnosis to help you Stop Smoking

Hypnosis is increasingly being recognised* as one effective way to help you quit. Recent client Rebecca, a 32 year old professional, said “It’s now been a week since our appointment. I have not once wanted to smoke, in fact I have not really thought about it at all. It’s only really been when people have asked me at work if I’m coming outside for a smoke that it has really come into my head and my response has been “don’t be silly, I don’t smoke”.

Read more about what research says about the effectiveness of hypnosis and other methods for stopping smoking here http://abetterlife-uk.com/hypnosis-for-smoking

*Lynn, S., Green. J., Accardi, M., & Cleere, C. (2010). Hypnosis and Smoking Cessation: The State of the Science. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 52(3), 177-181.




6 Steps to Slimming with Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

6 Steps to Slimming with Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis has been around much longer than calorie counting, dating back to the 1700’s – and beyond to ancient tribes and healers.  Hypnosis is really a guided meditation, which allows you to relax and focus inwards, to turn away from the conscious chattering mind. In this state, you can allow appropriate, beneficial ideas and suggestions to filter through into your subconscious, to form a lasting impression there – like a memory. Hypnotic language is, at its best, persuasively constructed language and ideas. This is the key to the power of suggestion to motivate you to change you eating patterns (or even to increase metabolism).

If you would like to know more AND get a free hypnosis audio to help you, then download my free CD below.

Step 1:  Set a Strong and Clear Goal

The single most important step is get absolutely clear on what you goal is. And it should NOT be about weight. It might be “lighter on my feet” walking or playing sport; or slimmer in jeans and a T-shirt. Get the POSITIVE result (and forget about weight). This is something to think about and write down. Now, here’s a secret that you probably won’t hear anywhere else. You need to ask yourself, “why bother”? Seriously. Go out into the future, to where you have achieved your new size and figure, and ask, what does this make possible for me going forward? It needs to have strong and positive feelings too – so find them and really get into them. Determine what you would like to come out of this hypnosis process, what weight would you love to be in an ongoing way? Write this down too. These two features of your goal you should really obsess over. They are crucial steps in helping you to succeed and focus the unconscious mind using the power of hypnosis and hypnotherapy for slimming and weight control.

Step 2:  Face the Facts

Don’t kid yourself or hide from the truth of your current habits. You have to face the facts before you can turn things around. For seven consecutive days, write down everything that you eat and drink, at the actual time. Also, note how hungry you are on a scale from 0-10 as well as your emotional state and thoughts. Emotional state means feelings, like bored, stressed, relaxed, anxious. It is essential that you complete record with no omissions. If you don’t, then you know that you are not putting in 100% commitment. No excuses.

Now, I am going to give you the stripped down guide here. The core messages. Of course, many of us prefer to be guided through something like this, because otherwise we may wander off-course. Or miss a key point of detail. And you would like to try out hypnosis for yourself to really get things moving. If that’s you, you might like to find out about my Weight Loss with Hypnosis and The Hypnotic Gastric Band programme. The free CD is on my website at

Step 3:  Create your Personal Mantra

Based on the facts you found, did you find you snack? Or eat things you shouldn’t, like sweet or sickly or processed junk? Or too much? Create suggestions like “I choose to eat fresh, healthy, nutritious food”. You can be specific, about fresh vegetables and salad. Or “I have no desire to snack; now desire to snack on (crisps/sweets/cakes/bread/etc).” Or “It is my choice to eat the right amount of healthy, nutritious food”. Construct your own, but note that they must be constructed in the present tense and must be positive actions (with the exception of the “no desire to snack” mantra). You can use a combination of any or all three, and repeat these suggestions like “mantras”, and certainly in your hypnosis sessions.

Step 4:  Relax!

For most, slimming seems like impossibly hard work but with hypnosis the best results come when you relax and allow your unconscious mind to do the work, not your body.  Commit to relax and you can create the body you want. Get my free anti-stress CD to help if you need it.

Step 5:  Visualisation with Hypnosis

Did you know that the subconscious is a real sucker for “pictures”? And feelings and emotions. Maybe you’re one of those amongst us who think you can’t visualize. Let me just ask you, do you know what your TV looks like? Your car? Right – however you did that, is your personal way to visualize. Simple.  So, imagine you goal in the future, and also, how GOOD it feels. Get that picture, no matter how fuzzy, and really pay attention to the great thoughts and feelings. Experiment with making the picture bigger, or brighter, or nearer; add sounds; do whatever makes it most compelling and feeling great. Repeat your “mantras”; together this will reprogramme your thoughts and behaviours, and counter old negative feelings.hypnoticgastricbandv5
Step 6:  Be Persistent

To succeed you must commit to action. You can’t just think about it – you have to follow through and do it.  Schedule and block time in your calendar for your hypnotherapy sessions.  Make them as much a priority as brushing your teeth or shaving or going to work.  It takes effort and time but it’s worth it.

Consistency and persistence are what it takes to achieve any goal in life. Persistence and repetition is also what helps you wear down and overcome any inner resistance or self-sabotage. Of course, this is precisely what a skilled and well-trained professional hypnotherapist should help you overcome more quickly in a one-to-one treatment plan. Just as such resistance fundamentally is no more substantial than a memory,  so it is that it can be “unlearned” in perhaps only a few sessions …so stick with it.

Everyone has within us already the power to achieve great results.  Hypnotherapy and hypnosis will bring you the results you desire, want and need.  Today is your day.  The hardest part is to start.  Make this your day and being one step closer to your desires.  If you want me to guide you why not

9 Solid Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

Insomnia is not getting enough sleep, either because you can’t fall asleep or you can’t stay asleep. Most of us suffer the occasional bad night’s sleep, but when it goes on for three or more weeks it can be very concerning, potentially dangerous (since it affects your ability to do things properly and safely) and can affect your health.

If you are not suffering from a diagnosed physical or mental health problem, or adversely affected by medication, drug or alcohol, then the next things to consider are your environment, lifestyle and routines, which may be contributing to the problem.  Making changes here will very often resolve your sleeping problem, and you can easily find lots of advice to help.  The following tips for getting better night’s sleep are a good start.

Getting the Basics Right: 9 Solid Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

If you have sleep problems, you should start with this checklist first..

  1. Regular exercise – even 20 to 30 mins of activity helps, and not necessarily all in one session! E.g. a brisk walk, a bicycle ride or a jog, scheduled in the morning or early afternoon.
  2. Use light and dark to set your body clock – make the room dark when you want to sleep (or mask your eyes); when you get up, open the blinds/curtains, go outside or if not, turn on the lights.
  3. Don’t nap – if you must nap, do it early afternoon for 30 minutes tops.
  4. Alcohol, caffeine, smoking – alcohol affects sleep quality and may wake you, and caffeine effects can linger for twelve hours.
  5. Food and drink – fatty or rich food may keep you up; spicy or acidic foods may cause stomach trouble and heartburn; drinks may result toilet trips!
  6. Your bed! – Is it appropriately supportive/large enough? Consider a quality pocket-sprung or memory foam mattress. Reserve your bed for sleeping – not reading, watching telly etc.
  7. Sex – Sexual activity before bed is well-known to help with sleep.
  8. Your environment – is where you sleep really conducive to rest and relaxation? Consider noise, temperature, clutter and even decor.
  9. Sleep “APPS” – the following may be worth a try: http://sleepyti.me helps you set the correct bedtime for when you want to wake up, and sleepcycle.com uses your phone to actually monitor your sleep.

The Inner Game for Good Sleep
If you are still having problems, there may be things on your mind – some of which you may have tried to ignore or put out of your mind. This aspect is very well suited to treatment with hypnotherapy and NLP.

Read more about the How to Train Your Mind For Better Sleep and the Inner Game for Good Sleep in my short post which also gives you instant access to two free Hypnosis Audios to help with insomnia and getting a better night’s sleep.

Imgage courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Train Your Mind for Better Sleep

Training your mind for better sleep: the Inner Game for Good Sleep

Sleep problems and fatigue are the most common complaint, affecting over one quarter of all adults. Now, before we look any deeper, it’s fair to say that most of these problems can be helped by making fairly simple practical changes in your environment, lifestyle and routines. See for example my short blog post 9 Solid Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep. In case you’re in a hurry, at the bottom of this post I’m also giving you access to two free Hypnosis Audios to help with improved sleep and overcoming insomnia using hypnosis.


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If you tried those changes, and still have problems, then perhaps it’s time to explore your mental approach. (Assuming you are not suffering from a diagnosed physical or mental health problem, or adversely affected by medication, drug or alcohol.) For example, are there things on your mind that are bothering you? Some of these things you may have tried to ignore or put out of your mind; but the truth is, they are still there. This inner game for a good night’s sleep is very well suited to treatment with hypnotherapy and NLP.

Remember, good sleep cannot be forced! You can’t bully yourself into sleep. Good sleepers go to bed because they are tired and need to rest; they fall asleep. Bad sleepers TRY to sleep. Even good sleep has moments of almost being awake. Bad sleepers get disturbed by this.

The bottom line is, bad sleepers are focussing on the wrong things, and that’s what they get. Undoing these patterns is the key. In other words, give yourself permission to rest and learn to relax. Of course, many of us have busy and stressful lives, but even so, the key is in the mind and how you use it and train it. And since you have ruled out anything medical, you can now be assured that there is nothing actually wrong with you. Somehow or other, you are keeping yourself from having a good night’s rest.

Start by paying attention to what runs through your mind. Our thoughts and self talk can become so familiar, that you pay no attention to them. But they very much affect your mood and behaviour patterns. A good idea is to start a thoughts diary. Every quarter hour, pay attention to your thoughts and note them down. Do this for a few days at least, but certainly long enough to include restless nights. Do you notice any patterns?


Negative night-time thoughts

People who keep themselves from sleeping tend to run a night-time internal monologue which tends to fall into one of three basic kinds; which are you?

  • clockwatcher you might say “Oh no it’s nearly half past twelve and I can’t get to sleep. I’ll not get enough rest” and “Now it’s almost one o’clock – I’ll be shattered tomorrow”
  • doom-monger you magnify the negatives; “Oh no I can’t sleep and I’ll feel terrible. Everything is going wrong for me. I can’t even sleep. It’s just one bad thing after another” etc.
  • planner – you’ll lie there trying to solve all your problems; “I have to sort this out or I’ll be in trouble. What if I try to …or say such and such.. but he’ll say …” until your head almost explodes.

Countering negative thoughts

This is the place where hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help you sleep. Decide which kind of negative talk is most like you, and construct opposing, positive statements, or self-suggestion for your mind.

If you are a clockwatcher, then simply give yourself permission to rest for a while. Just rest. Practice muscle relaxation, by alternately tensing and relaxing each of your muscles, starting from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Or download my self-hypnosis routine for rest and relaxation. Say to yourself, “I choose to allow my body to rest. Relaxing is more important than time and I choose to let my mind relax too.”

For the doom-monger, pick out some good things that happened during the day. Perhaps you received a compliment, or did a good job, or you were asked to go out with some friends who appreciate your company. Say to yourself “some nice things happened to me today, and more nice things will happen tomorrow”, because they certainly will. It’s a bit like counting your blessings.

Planners need to learn that there is a time and place for everything. Early evening, write down all of your worries, until you can’t think of any more. Leave the list outside the bedroom. At night, repeat this self suggestion, “I choose to put away my problems at night. I will deal with them properly at a better time.”
As a last resort, get up and go into a different room, and maybe even carry out some trivial but boring chore, like sorting out a cluttered drawer (but nothing energetic).

How Hypnosis and NLP can help

Therapy using hypnosis – hypnotherapy – can help with insomnia three ways:
1. Teach you to relax, using self hypnosis to train your mind
2. Stop negative thought patterns at night
3. Treat underlying causes of stress which may be keeping you awake
4. Help recover lost REM using self hypnosis

A properly trained and experienced hypnotherapist will assess your particular case and propose a treatment programme designed for you. In my case, I carry out that assessment in the first one-hour session, and we go from there.

Image courtesy of num_skyman at freedigitalimages.net

Slimming with Hypnosis

After all the festive nosh and sitting around, the truth hurts. Did you get that unpleasant discovery of being a little too podgy even to enjoy retail-therapy clothes shopping in the January sales?
It’s that time of year again where many of us are wondering how to get back into shape.  The latest fads are the two fasting diets – the alternate day and the “five and two” diets. They look worth doing, if you can make it stick. But there’s the trouble; how to overcome temptation and really get your mind on your side.  That’s the, err, meat and gravy work of hypnosis, so to speak. Find out how to get your mind on side to help you get a grip on your eating using hypnosis.

Most people have probably tried every imaginable diet, weight loss program, pill, shake, meal replacement, starvation method and exercise gadget under the sun (we don’t always admit to it!) to try lose weight… But failed. You become discouraged and frustrated.
Here’s a different solution > find out more about how to put an end to dieting and overcome self-defeat.


“Am I Stressed?” Four Stress Tests

How stressed are you?

It’s not always easy to know if you are indeed stressed. It doesn’t have to mean “stressing out” at people. It can go “inside” where it can do far more harm. Here are four kinds of stress test for you to use.

1. This 30 second test has been created with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy for National Stress Awareness Day. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24756311

2. This Simple ten-question test to assess how stressed you are is on my site.

3. This one helps you detect and track your stress symptoms over time:  Track Stress Symptoms

4. This one is the classis Stress vulnerability test for the impact of Life Events

Want to know what is stress really? It’s not what you might have thought. I explain it clearly in my article http://abetterlife-uk.com/what-are-the-facts-about-stress-how-can-you-reduce-stress/


Detecting & Coping with Stress

In an earlier article I explored the question of what is stress really. This gave insights on how to avoid stress. Here we will look at detecting and coping with stress. This is the approach that I use in my stress workshops at a local NHS hospital trust.

Stress can creep up on you, and to catch it early you will need a method to detect it, so that you are aware of it. That’s the first step in my ABC approach to detecting and avoiding stress.

Awareness is about paying attention to emotional and physical changes, asking others who know you, maybe completing a questionnaire, and possibly seeing the doctor if you are seriously concerned.

There are various self-analysis questionnaires you can do, ranging from the quick and simple to the more formal. I have listed some with links at the end of this article.

A good idea is to track the symptoms that you are experiencing month to month. Use the two tables of physical and emotional symptoms that I gave in my previous article, simply circle those which apply to you, then repeat in a month’s time. Are there more of fewer circles?

Balance prompts you to get a wider perspective. Stress can often arise when we get too drawn into an issue, and we lose sight of other aspects in life which, on balance, you may realize is not really so bad. Mentally “step out” and imagine looking at yourself from above any situation which is bothering you. How does it look from there? What can be learnt? Also, look at other aspects of your life, and other activities that you take part in. Let yourself recall past good times, or upcoming events that you are looking forward to.

Choice is about willingness to taking back some power.  Usually we know what we don’t like in life, but we are less good at actually thinking through what we really would like our own life to be like, in any useful practical detail. So after you have stepped back and calmed down, begin to imagine and note down what you would actually like to have your life look like, in detail.

 Even more importantly, ask yourself what did you do bring it about and to keep it? It’s no good waiting for someone else to deliver you a happy stress-free life; other people have their own worries and concerns to deal with. A good starting reframe is the so-called serenity prayer:

Further Analysis

If you really want to get serious and resolve the root of your stress, then these are the kinds of questions I would initially ask you:

  • What precisely is the problem that you are experiencing? What actual factual evidence do you have or what are the symptoms?
  •  What situations trigger it off or makes it worse, and what makes it better? When did it start? What was happening then in your life around that time? What feelings and emotions were associated with those situations? What is the relationship of that to your present situation?
  • If you tracked these feelings way back in your life, what were you earliest memories of having even the faintest of feelings like these?
  • Ask you inner, subconscious mind: What do I need to know or become of aware of in order to resolve this? What do I need to change in my life?  What aspects of my life would I refuse to change?
  • What are my greatest fears or concerns in life? (These concerns may even be the source of your greatest motivations in life.)


These are examples of tests  to detect and measure stress:

Simple ten-question test to assess how stressed you are

Track Stress Symptoms

Stress vulnerability test for the impact of Life Events



Quick Stress Test

How Stressful Is Your Life?

This self?evaluation quiz indicates physical and emotional symptoms that show how you relate to the daily stresses in your life. First, think about how you feel this month.

 Then score yourself on each of the following statements. Mark 10 points for answering “most of the time”; count 5 points for “some of the time”; put zero for answering “almost never”. You can mark ‘in between’ scores if you wish.

____      1.    I often feel tense or pressured.

____      2.    I frequently feel sad, hopeless, or depressed.

____      3.    I often feel guilty or inadequate to meet the demands of my life.

____      4.    I have difficulty falling asleep (without medication) and I don’t feel refreshed when I wake.

____      5.    I’m unable to sit still, so I move around constantly or toy with some object.

____      6.    I get so upset that I’m afraid I’m losing control of myself.

____      7.    I’m trying to work through a serious personal problem, and I worry about it almost constantly.

____      8.    I don’t feel like I can totally enjoy much of anything.

____      9.    I feel like I’m in an impossible situation I’m powerless to improve.

____      10. I don’t have enough energy to accomplish all the tasks that I should.

____      TOTAL SCORE


A total of 50 or more points indicates a need to take action to improve your coping techniques and reduce the stress level in your life.

Causes of Stress – Life Events

The notion that major events in life can set us up for stress was assessed by Holmes and Raheback in 1967, and their  Stress Scale is still the most often quoted. You can use this to get an indication of what might be behind any signs of stress that you might be experiencing, or to warn you to take steps to reduce stress.

1Holmes, T & Rahe, R (1967). The social readjustment rating scale, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11:2 pp 213-218

Events and ‘typical’ stress rating

highest risk:
# Death of husband or wife  # Divorce or marital separation  # Jail term  # Death of close family member  # Personal injury or illness  # Marriage  # Loss of job  #Moving house

high risk:
# Marital reconciliation  # Retirement  # Serious illness of family member  # Pregnancy  #Sex difficulties  # New child  # Change of job  # Money problems  # Death of close friend

moderate risk:
# More family arguments  # Big mortgage  # Legal action over debt  # Change in responsibilities at work  # Son or daughter leaving home  # Trouble with in-laws  # Outstanding personal achievement  # Wife begins or stops work  # Begin or end of school  # Change in living conditions  # Revision of personal habits  # Trouble with boss

low risk:
# Change in work hours / conditions  # Change in schools  # Change in recreation  # Change in church activities  # Change in social activities  # Small mortgage or loan  # Change in sleeping habits  # Change in contact with family  # Change in eating habits   # Holidays  # Christmas/annual family gathering  # Minor law-breaking

Do take into account that life events and social changes tend to be particularly stressful when they are:

  • Unpredictable
  • Unfamiliar
  • Major
  • Intense
  • Unavoidable
  • Inevitable

Don’t take the table too literally. It is common for people who feel stressed to search to look for some events to “blame”, but these may be the result, rather than the cause, of the stress. A feeling of not being able to cope with new duties or responsibilities, for example, may be the result of some other possibly unrecognised stress.

You can put a score to each of these events to evaluate your vulnerability to stress. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale 


To help discover the source of your stress, begin by sitting down and asking yourself whether there are any social, physical or emotional factors that are affecting you:

  • How much are you smoking?
  • How much alcohol are you drinking?
  • How little exercise are you taking ?
  • Could you be ill?
  • Is there some new element in your life?
  • Has there been any change in your general circumstances?
  • Have long-standing problems recently become worse?
  • Is someone close to you facing difficulties that affect you?
  • Do you have disagreements about someone or something?
  • Is some situation leaving you feeling that you’re not good enough or at fault?
  • Are you taking or being made to take a new role, or perhaps carrying or being asked to carry too much responsibility?
  • Do you have unspoken fears or frustrations?

Symptoms of Stress

These are typical of the type and range of reactions you might experience under stress. Remember, everyone of us is unique – we don’t all behave or react the same way! You can use this list to note any symptoms which apply to you (i) right now; (ii)  at times in the past when things have been better, and (iii) to check again say in a couple of weeks from now. This way you can keep track of changes; watch for things getting better (good!) or getting worse (a sign that something in your life might need attention).

Emotional Symptoms of Stress1

Physical Symptoms of Stress1

 (1) Source: Prof Greg Wilkinson, Understanding Stress. Family Doctor Series. The BMA & Family Doctor Publications.


Facts About Stress & Reducing It

Stress – it seems that it lurks in almost every aspect of life these days. But what do we really mean by stress? Is it always a bad thing? What makes it bad? What are the facts about stress?

This is the approach that I use in my stress workshops at a local NHS hospital trust. Let’s begin with an over-arching definition: stress is the pressure that you expose yourself to. Actually, we are often more concerned with how we each respond to stress; your physical and emotional reactions, or stress responses. In physics we speak of the strain on the system when it is stressed. So you could argue that we should talk about the strain we experience when under stress.

Consequently, when we talk of “stress levels”, we should take care whether we mean the person’s stress responses, or the levels of pressure they are facing.
Of course, a little bit of pressure can be productive, can’t it? It can give you motivation, and help you to perform better at something. However, too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for the mind and body.

Everyone reacts differently to stress, don’t they? And some have a higher threshold than others; they can bear more strain before they experience some stress response. This idea that individuals have unique biological, psychological and social sensitivities is the core of the “stress vulnerability model” proposed by Zubin and Spring (1977). When it gets too intense, or too prolonged, the resulting stress response can be physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

The variety of possible symptoms is wider than you might have imagined (see the table below), both physical and emotional. Over time, these culminate in the majority of cases of anxiety and depression, the most common mental health problems in the UK(and mental health problems are the most common health problems in the UK). Research by mental health charities suggests that a quarter of the population will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

How does stress happen? A model of stress
When faced with a situation that makes you stressed, your body releases chemicals, including cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These invoke the ‘fight or flight’ feelings that help us to deal with the situation. However, when you’re in a situation that prevents you from fighting or escaping, such as being on an overcrowded train, the chemicals are not used and their effects are felt by the body.
The stress vulnerability model tells us that everyone is different, and we each perceive situations differently (sensitivity) and have our own physical and emotional reactions (personal responses) to a situation.

A build-up of adrenaline and noradrenaline increases blood pressure, heart rate, and the amount that you sweat. Cortisol prevents your immune system from functioning properly, as well as releasing fat and sugar into your blood stream. The real trouble starts if you keep finding (putting?) yourself back in such stressful situations over and over, or if they get more intense.

That’s when mental, behavioural and physical symptoms can develop.

Symptoms of Stress
Emotional Symptoms of stress*
Physical Symptoms of Stress*

*Source: Prof Greg Wilkinson, Understanding Stress. Family Doctor Series. The BMA & Family Doctor Publications.

How to beat stress?
Well, notice the stress has three contributors: the situation, your responses (physical and emotional) and your sensitivities to the situation.

Reduce any one of these, and you impact on your stress response. Most of us want to change the situation in some way; such as how certain people treat us, or trying circumstances such as the bad traffic everyday on the way to work, or difficult clients or customers. Such external factors are hard to influence (short of direct avoidance).

The second factor is about your individual emotional and physical responses. See the table below, for examples. You might learn to reduce these by any of a number of methods, such as taking a break, going for a short walk, getting more exercise, learning to meditate, eating more healthily, learning time management or project management etc. There is plenty of this kind of advice around (the little Understanding Stress book I mentioned above is quite good, actually).

However, the third factor is usually overlooked, and is about your sensitivities to situations. For example, if you get upset if people shout, or you can’t easily say no, or don’t like (and therefore avoid) conflict, or have a need to please others (including the boss), then you are primed for more stress. This is because the world will be the way it is, whether you like it or not, and you will suffer if you can’t assertively make your way through it and get what you want and let things go that are really about other people’s issues.

Here’s the really interesting thing; most people don’t realise that you can modify these sensitivities and bring them back into balance. Do that, and what must happen to your stress response? That’s right, it drops away dramatically. And that’s the kind of mind work that a good brief therapist can achieve in a matter of a few hours work with you.

Evening Classes in Hypnosis & NLP Autumn 2013

  • learn to hypnotise others as well as yourself, to bring about positive benefits
  • discover how to use the magic of NLP – to influence others and to make personal change.

Previously delivered by Richard Walker PhD for many years at Oaklands College and Luton Adult Education College, Richard once again offers this popular course of Evening Classes for Autumn 2013.  The course will run on Tuesday evenings. 7.15 to 9.45 pm for eight weeks, in the centre of Harpenden.

Changes in funding at the local colleges meant that they were unable to support the courses without large numbers of students. However, the course was always enjoyed by everyone, whether just for fun, or to learn how to deal with common problem like stress or weight control, or as an introduction to something more. Indeed, many participants so much enjoy what they learned, that they have gone on to qualify as practitioners in Hypnosis and NLP themselves!

Eight evenings, for just £79. Includes course booklet and notes.

Find out more by following this link to the Herts College of Hypnosis and NLP