Feeling anxious? Hyped up? Wanting to slow down, but not sure how? We talk to four local businesses which have techniques to help you calm anxiety and discover a more meditative, relaxed perspective
We all experience anxiety or other negative emotions from time to time. There is no need to fear this – it can help us to get things done, it can be a useful prompt to slow down or adapt your behaviour and it can even alert us to danger.
Jessica Till explains how yoga can help deal with negative anxieties: “Yoga can be massively beneficial in lowering stress levels through controlled breathing techniques (or Pranayama) that will lower heart rate and slow breathing. Practising Pranayama can bring us into a more mediative state by focusing and clearing our minds of racing thoughts.
“Your breathing muscles consist of the diaphragm and muscles in the abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders. Around 70–80 per cent of inhalations should be done by the diaphragm so that your breathing is steady and deep. When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to take smaller and more shallow breaths.
“The actual asana – the moving, physical part of yoga – will work in time with your breathing, and also enable stress to be physically released. For most of us, we hold tension in our shoulders and hips, and yoga is a great way to ‘open’ these areas and relieve that tension.”
Another effective way to address stress-related issues is through hyponotherapy. Practitioner Christian Dunham sees more and more young people every year suffering with anxiety. “Exam stress is probably top of the list of anxiety issues. The pressure to succeed in an environment that is constantly being assessed can be very intense.
“Social media is also a big factor in raising the anxiety levels across our society. This is amplified in our youth. Everybody wants to fit in, and the pressures to do so can be intense.”
So how can hypnotherapy help? “Hypnosis is simply a state of deep relaxation that brings the mind back to a calm and balanced state,” Christian explains. “Solution-focused hypnotherapists like myself are trained in a unique method that combines psychotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy. It is based on the latest neuroscience and how the brain works. Each session follows a clear structure where we focus very much on an individual’s unique strengths.
“CDs and MP3s are also used – these are a very powerful tool that gets things moving immediately. Using them maintains the work in sessions, and carries it forward once people have reached a more balanced state.”
Another solution-focused hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Andrea Kelly has noticed the same increase in those with stress disorders where there is a negative link with social media. “A big problem with Facebook and other social media is discontent. People are comparing their lives with other people’s, which is just a tiny glimpse of their best bits.
“People are also losing sleep by spending time on social media,” Andrea continues, “and this is detrimental to their whole wellbeing.”
“The brain we now know is made up of plasticity and we can work towards changing our unhelpful patterns and behaviours and make positive changes, using the client’s strengths and abilities and helping them work out what it is they really want.
“My sessions are made up of two parts, the first the talking therapy, the second is time spent on the couch. While each person is different, I usually see clients for between eight to 12 sessions, although change can be seen almost immediately.”
Another issue that can be disruptive to wellbeing is anger. Viv Kenchington, who also uses a solution-focused approach explains: “When someone gets stressed there are only three main directions that they head in – anger, depression or anxiety. Anger is a natural response – but one that is not very helpful or acceptable in most situations.”
“When angry, a chain reaction happens in our brain that finally results in stress hormones being released such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. The effects are negative on one’s wellbeing.
“Each session is tailored to the individual, but there is no need to separate out road rage from work frustrations, it’s all coming from the same place, just manifesting in a different way.
“This hypnotherapy technique does not involve analysis of the past,” Viv says, “The only time I chat to a client about the reasons they have come to seek help is in the initial consultation. From there (most are pleased to hear) it’s about moving towards their preferred future.”