Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for seeking medical assistance. Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists longer than three to six months and can include headaches, migraines, arthritis pain, and fibromyalgia. Chronic pain also affects your emotional health, causing stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep
Hypnosis has proven to be extremely effective for pain control, particularly with chronic pain.
Because anxiety and poor sleep exasperate pain, by using hypnosis to improve sleep quality and manage anxiety, you can begin to improve your comfort level fairly quickly.
Hypnotherapy for pain relief often involves therapeutic imagery. By imagining a peaceful, relaxing scene in nature, your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. The parasympathetic nervous system is vital to help the body recover from stress (like the stress of enduring months of chronic pain). Guided imagery has been found to reduce tension, blood pressure, and heart rate. The goal of guided imagery is to redirect the mind away from thoughts of discomfort and fill it with healing, peaceful thoughts.
This state of relaxation increases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers. Endorphins are known as the “feel good” chemical and also decrease your stress.
Hypnotherapy for pain relief also incorporates teaching the client self-hypnosis. Learning self-hypnosis allows you to create a comfortable, relaxed state for yourself, decreasing anxiety and increasing pain tolerance.
Another common method in assisting people in learning to deal with pain is self-coping statements. For example, thinking or saying, “This will go away in a while,” rather than focusing on discomfort.
Most studies of hypnosis as a pain management tool focus on the analgesic effect, however, hypnosis has many other benefits, including improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and improved quality of life.
Hypnosis is also extremely effective acute pain, such as the pain associated with labor and childbirth. Women who use six sessions of hypnosis in preparation for labor report shorter stage 1 labor, less labor pain, less pain medication, and a more pleasant birth experience.
The number of sessions required when seeking hypnotherapy for pain control can vary depending on whether the pain is acute or chronic. Most issues require about 6-8 sessions to achieve success.
Hypnosis provides welcome relief for people suffering from chronic pain. No matter the original source for the pain, hypnosis will help your brain perceive the pain differently.
Let’s face it: our kids have a more difficult world to grow up in than we did. Yes, dial up internet was a hassle, but at least every stupid thing we didn’t wasn’t recorded and put on the internet.
So how do you let your children have access to technology but still raise mindful, thoughtful children? How do you get them off their phones and get them to experience the world around them?
Lead by example
If you are always on your phone or laptop, your child is going to model that behavior. No screens at the dinner table, while driving, or during family time.
When / Then
A great tool for kids is the “when/then” rule ….as in “WHEN you have finished all your homework and walked the dog, THEN you may have screen time.”
In our house, every once in a while we have a family meeting. Yes, this usually means there are behavioral issues to discuss - but I’m trying to make this just a routine part of life. I often put the agenda for the meeting on our whiteboard prior to the meeting so the kids know what to expect. And if there’s a particular issue my husband and I want to discuss (eg chores not getting completed), we give the kids the opportunity to come up with their own recommended solutions.
Setting SMART Goals
We’ve all heard about specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. Chances are, your kids have too, as schools start to put more focus on mindfulness and positive thinking. You can model this behavior by making goal setting something you work at - and share with your children. On New Year’s Day, our entire family takes time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. I print worksheet outs for guides. Some kids stop there, and some of the older kids work in their journals or school agendas to take their goals to the next level. Having your kids hang their goals on a bulletin board in their room or homework area helps keep these goals fresh in their mind.
Family Screen Time
Movie night is an almost weekly occurrence in our home. Sometimes the kids pick the movie and sometimes we do - or we watch a television show together. Watching together opens up opportunity for physical connection as we’re cuddled up on the couch as well as opportunities to discuss the issues we see played out on the big screen.
During the year, we try to make time for board games, riding bikes, or tossing the football. With five kids in high school, it's more challenging than ever (and more important than ever!) to make this family time. Our family vacation is also a highlight. It's a priority each year. Again, we limit screen time (including movies and tv). We spend our time on the beach, taking walks, and playing card games at night. This family time is restorative for all of us.
What are your favorite ways to keep your kids experiencing the real world?
Does your child have trouble focusing in school? The school day is long and packed with so much information, so few breaks, and so little time outdoors, it’s no wonder kids find themselves fidgeting or tuning out in class.
Many parents first consider hypnotherapy for their child for working with an issue at school.
Hypnotherapy can help your child increase their focus and concentration and relieve anxiety in order to have a more successful academic career.
Kids love hypnosis because they are naturally imaginative. Kids don’t doubt the power of their own mind. They believe it 100%! Young children are naturally in hypnosis most of the time. They are wide open to the world around them and it’s very easy to teach them to use this to their advantage. In the state of hypnosis, kids learn to cultivate their imagination for problem-solving and coping skills. According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, “Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.”
Older kids and teens also enjoy hypnosis because they are able to vent out stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions. They are able to use the hypnotic state to release emotional and physical tension without having to verbalize their feelings. Children often have trouble expressing their emotions (just like adults), so being able to use their mind and imagination to create solutions for the everyday stresses of life is very comforting to them.
Kids are natural problem solvers, and when given the opportunity, often have wonderfully creative solutions to the issues in their lives.
What happens during a pediatric hypnotherapy session? Typically, the parents and child will meet with the hypnotherapist to discuss what the parents have in mind, as well as the child’s goals. Using creative play, beading, drawing, or crafts, the child can work out a solution to their issue. They then spend about 15 minutes in a very relaxed state, reinforcing the ideas to the subconscious mind. Often, there are techniques or tools provided that can be used every day.
In addition to school success, hypnosis is incredibly beneficial to help kids with issues such as nail biting, insomnia, nightmares, separation anxiety, bedwetting, or getting along with their siblings or friends.
We’re six months into the year. Do you remember the new year’s resolutions you made back in January?
I set 19 goals back on January 1st, and I’ve completed or exceeded about 10 of them - not bad! At halfway through the year, I’m halfway through my goals. Some of those goals were for the second half of the year, so I’m feeling pretty good about my success rate.
Looking at my (currently) unachieved goals, two of my goals were to learn crochet and to knit one pair of socks. I have dropped the ball on both of those, and it’s interesting to explore why.
“I don’t have time"
Here’s a common excuse. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. The difficulty isn’t in the actual amount of time in a day, but how we choose to spend that time. In the case of my knitting and crocheting projects, I’ve certainly had time when I could have chosen to start on my knitting.
What I learned in my networking group: there’s a difference between being interested in something and being committed to it. I’m interested in knitting and crochet, but at the current point in time, I’m much more committed to my personal development. I’m more likely to set aside 15-30 minutes for self hypnosis or tapping. This goal, set back in the New Year when I was fresh off the buzz of knitting a Christmas stocking for my son, probably had more to do with my state of the mind at the time than anything else.
If there’s something on your goal list from January that doesn’t have current value in your life, or simply wasn’t achievable to begin with, feel free to cross it off or revise it.
Life changing goals
At least three of my incomplete goals fall under the same category: Finances. Two have to do with budgeting and saving money, and one has to do with making a final payment for a big family vacation next year. Interestingly, a fourth incomplete goal could impact those goals because it is a professional goal that I haven’t achieved yet.
As a subconscious behavioralist, I can see that all of my remaining goals for the year are connected. By taking certain steps I can improve my business, thus increasing my income, and allowing me to save more money, and do things like take nice vacations with my family. These seem like pretty worthy goals, so what’s the problem?
The problem is my comfort zone. Think of your success like a thermostat. You set it to a certain temperature, and then the system only kicks in when necessary to make it cooler or warmer. The same is true for your mind and your level of success. But many times our success thermostat was set years ago, perhaps even when we were a child.
My favorite tool for working with these types of blockages is EFT tapping. The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system. These energy disruptions cause anger, grief, stress, fear, and more. By tuning into a specific issue verbally while tapping on specific points on the body, we can clear these blockages.
Reviewing my 9 yet unfinished goals from 2019, I’ve decided to remove my two knitting goals. I may revisit them in the fourth quarter of the year, when the weather turns chilly.
That leaves me with 7 goals to conquer over the next six months (assuming I don’t set any new goals).
1. Review the goals in order of importance. “Meal plan all meals” doesn’t sound as important as writing four blog posts per month, but with a full time job and a family of nine to feed, taking the time to meal plan takes a lot of stress off by freeing my mind from thinking about what to make for dinner, as well as improving my budget by keeping food expenses in check.
2. Evaluate which goals will naturally fall into line when other goals are achieved. If I am meal planning all meals, then my health related goal will naturally be achieved.
3. Rate resistance to goals using a SUDS scale (Subjective Units of Distress) and see what emotional issues or triggers might be preventing me from achieving that goal, and use EFT accordingly to help clear that resistance
Program Yourself for Success
In the summertime, many business owners can become distracted. It’s easy to make excuses and stop pushing forward. By reviewing your success thus far, you can evaluate what changes need to be made. If you’ve invested in some personal development, you may have new ideas that you’d like to explore.
Take a quiet 15 minutes or so to imagine yourself one year in the future. Think about your personal relationships, your financial success, your business. Visualizing this future can help you gain clarity on what you could be doing now to make that future a reality.
PS: It’s also fun! Seeing yourself in the future enjoying a fulfilling relationship, thriving health, plenty of money, and loving your job is a great way to spend 15 minutes...far better than, say, reading this blog post….so get to it!
I sat down with my friend and fellow birth worker, Bethany Bagnell, to talk about how women can benefit from hiring a doula. Bethany is a social worker, certified Bradley Method Instructor/ Doula, DONA International trained, and Certified Car Seat Technician. She is the co-owner of Riverbank Willow Birth Services where they offer birth, postpartum, and bereavement doulas; childbirth education; and placenta encapsulation.
What is a doula?
BB: A doula is a non-medical support person, chosen by the pregnant woman to provide physical and emotional support during pregnancy and labor who is an expert in the childbirth process. There is a misconception in our country that doulas are for homebirth, unmedicated mothers – which is strongly inaccurate. The role of a doula is to help the mother achieve the birth SHE desires, whatever that is. If that means medication, then the doula supports her achieving that birth. I honestly believe that woman who receive medication can benefit more than a woman who is attempting a natural childbirth. Labor is, in my opinion, 50 percent mental and 50 percent physical. If a mother is planning for an epidural labor, she will still have to experience a period of contractions without pain relief due to the fact that hospital staff know the sooner you get an epidural the higher the risk of cesarean, so moms are encouraged to try to hold out for as long as they can without it. There is also the possibility that the epidural could fail and in my experience in those labors it is VERY tough for the laboring mom to cope. Imagine going into this situation expecting to feel no pain and no other plan to manage such a tough situation and plan A fails – that can be quite traumatic. This can happen even for a mother who has given birth easily with an epidural in previous pregnancies, you just never know. Every birth, baby, and pregnancy are completely different.
With my prenatal hyposis clients, I often say that the opposite of stress is options. I think a doula is a wonderful resource for increasing your options.
BB: A doula is also aware of a mother’s choices. Many times mom’s plan is for an unmedicated birth and for whatever reason, the plan changes – many moms feel defeated in this moment and feel they need to consent to every intervention thereafter because they already gave into the first one they didn’t plan on doing. A doula empowers the mother to still take control of her experience and that the other priorities on her birth plan can still be achieved.
As a multiple time c-section mom, I strongly believe that c-section moms can also benefit from a doula. In fact, maybe they need a doula even more!
BB: A big issue in my opinion in this Northern VA area is the limit on the number of people who can be in the operating room during a c-section. In all area hospitals the limit is one. So many times during a c-section the doula is not present in the room because the father/partner is the one that the mom chooses to be in the OR. However, sometimes there isn’t a partner, or maybe the partner is at a risk of passing out. However, just because there isn’t a physical space in the OR for a doula, that doesn’t mean a mother who has a c-section cannot benefit from hiring a doula. The beginning of a doula’s role is to support and help prepare the mother prenatally. She can help process any fears, develop a birth plan, try to avoid a c-section if it is a malposition issue, etc. A doula would also inform the mother of her choices and things to potentially ask for during her c-section to make it a fulfilling and empowering birth experience. During the day of, whether it is planned or emergency, a doula would stay and wait until the surgery is over, help the mother with getting situated or with breastfeeding for the first time. I have done anything from help move all the bags to the new room to help a mom hand express colostrum into a syringe for her baby going to the NICU while the dad stayed with the baby. The role of a doula is flexible but because of having the experience that we do, we think of things we know that can be helpful for mom and baby to bond, or help mom recover faster in situations that may not be ideal like a cesareans or baby taking the trip to the NICU. There is also the support that comes postpartum.
What do you do to support the family postpartum?
BB: My work never ends at a birth, I always do a postpartum follow up visit, and check in periodically on the days in between to support my clients with community referrals, or helpful tips for the transition to bringing a newborn home. I also am trained in breastfeeding, so I can help identify troubles with latches and make appropriate referrals if needed.
You're kind enough to send me referrals. How do you think prenatal hypnosis can help women?
BB: I always say, the more tools a mom has in labor the better off she will be. You become a completely different person in labor and your instincts take over so just because you thought smooth jazz and positive affirmations would be relaxing, you may find that it is the opposite! Prenatal hypnosis, similar to childbirth education prepares the mother mentally prenatally and can bring comfort during the process of labor. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to birth, it can be terrifying when you don’t understand what is happening to your body or don’t feel in control. And when we feel out of control, we panic, and our breathing increases which leads to danger to mom and baby and also increased stress hormones being released. Prenatal hypnosis can help mom process fears that she may have before labor even begins to be able to let go and let the labor happen. The mind is half the battle in labor, and we can actually freak ourselves out of labor. Adrenaline cancels out oxytocin which is the hormone that makes labor happen. So if a mom goes into labor fearful, that can inhibit her progress. And then having the skill to utilize hypnosis effectively in labor can bring mom a great source of comfort to relax and not feel so out of control in the process. I always recommend my clients seek out your services, especially the ones who have a history of a traumatic birth or have great fear about particular possibilities in labor.
Sometimes, pregnancy can be a long planned for, hoped for, and anticipated event. You are finally pregnant and thrilled to be so. Other times, pregnancy can be unexpected, indeed, even unwanted.
Whether it’s your first child, your second, or even your fourth, where you are at that time in your life can impact your mindset during your pregnancy. Perhaps you are on cloud nine. Perhaps you are little concerned about what another child will do to your current family structure, or even to your career.
All these feelings have a right to be. Hypnosis is a wonderful tool not only for comfort during childbirth but for decreasing stress, reducing fears and anxieties, and focusing on your future with a positive outlook.
No matter how many babies you’ve had, you spend your pregnancy bombarded by other people’s opinions. The name you like for your child is one they can’t stand. Their sister had a c-section and it was horrible. Home birth? Isn’t that dangerous? Isn’t that what hospitals are for?
It can be a stressful time, where people often share their own horror stories. Hypnotherapy can be a time of comfort, relaxation, and peace, a place where you can vent out any thoughts, feelings, and ideas that are no longer beneficial for you.
Not only can you visualize and focus on your ideal birth plan, but you can also have fun imagining what your birth would be like if it could be any way you could create it. Within the imagination, you can picture giving birth in the comfort of beautiful waters, surrounded by mermaids and dolphins singing your little one into the world.
Your birth partner can participate in this process. Together you can learn about hypnosis and practice at home. Not only is practicing a wonderful bonding experience, but it creates more oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin helps lessen anxiety and brings more serotonin and dopamine into the body naturally. Now your body is naturally primed to be flooded with the positive chemicals that will help you be more relaxed during labor.
Hypnotherapy can be beneficial for all members of the family during the pregnancy and postpartum. After baby is born, hypnotherapy can help mom to get as much sleep as possible, eat healthily, and keep her stress levels down. Happy, relaxed mamas lead to happy, relaxed babies.
Expecting? Congratulations! Check out this page for more information on hypnotherapy for labor and childbirth and some birth resources.
Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth. Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth can be a way of your body trying to relieve stress. Although stress and anxiety are often a cause of bruxism, it can also be caused by an abnormal bite. Many people seek treatment with their dentist to alleviate symptoms of bruxism. However, most experts agree that bruxism is an unconscious habit.
Hypnotherapy is ideal for dealing with the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is everything that’s separate from your conscious awareness. When you first learned to drive, you didn’t know how to do it. You had to think about every little step, from how to turn the car on, to how much pressure to apply to the break, to how to make a turn properly. But once you learned how to drive, and after lots of practice, this behavior became part of your unconscious behavior - something you do without thinking. You now drive easily, likely with your mind on hundreds of things other than the operation of the car.
In a hypnotherapy session, you are allowing yourself to get into a very relaxed state. From this state of deep relaxation, you are able to access your unconscious mind to begin building new habits of relaxation. Many people are under the impression that you are fully asleep, but in fact your mind is very alert during a hypnotherapy session. You are physically relaxed, emotional calm, and mentally alert and open to positive suggestions towards wellbeing, or positive changes that you’d like to bring into your life.
From this positive state, you can learn techniques for managing your stress and having a more positive mindset. You’ll also likely find that you sleep more deeply throughout the night. This stress management techniques are ideal for helping you to relieve stress naturally instead of venting frustration out through your teeth and jaw.
There are numerous studies to support that hypnosis helps not only to decrease teeth grinding and the associate pain, but that it has long lasting effects of many years.
The benefits you’ll receive from incorporating hypnosis into your plan for dealing with bruxism can reach into many other avenues of your life. Relaxation techniques and stress management skills can also help you sleep better, have healthier relationships, and find more satisfaction in your career.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress, you may be experiencing irritability, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Stress produces physical and emotional symptoms. Over time, chronic stress can cause a weakened immune system, weight gain, and heart disease.
There are many methods to help you reduce stress. Here’s just a few ideas:
Regular massage therapy is widely used to manage anxiety and chronic stress. Massage decreases cortisol levels and increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body and the mind respond better during times of stress.
There are numerous studies that suggest hypnotherapy is highly effective for anxiety and stress, particularly for anxiety associated with exams, test anxiety, or performance anxiety. A 2006 study out of Yale University School of Medicine found that hypnosis significantly alleviates preoperative anxiety. Some people are more familiar with relaxation techniques such as therapeutic imagery or progressive relaxation. Guided therapeutic imagery helps create relaxing images in the mind that help bring a more peaceful, balanced state. This is also highly effective for enhancing your coping skills, making dealing with high tension situations easier.
Floatation Therapy, sometimes called REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy), involves limiting external stimuli while floating in skin-temperature, magnesium rich water. Floatation therapy is considered to be highly beneficial for stress reduction as well as stress-related conditions, such as chronic tension headaches.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
EFT Tapping is a technique based on the same energy meridians used in acupuncture - but without the needles! EFT uses tapping with your fingertips while speaking about the issue. EFT is extremely effective, easy to learn, and yields rapid results. It’s particularly effective for post traumatic stress disorder.
Unlike a traditional sauna, infrared saunas provide dry, gentle heat. They provide a wonderful opportunity for focusing on your breathing and quieting your mind. Regular use of the sauna can help lower cortisol in your body.
Reiki is an energy healing modality which has gained in popularity as a complementary therapy. People seek reiki out as a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical method of complementary medicine. Many people find reiki effective for reducing anxiety, as well as mild depression and stress.
Stress can affect your body, mind, and emotions. Finding the right stress management tool for you is critical to maintaining your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Did you know that filtered tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide (the stuff in your car’s exhaust), hydrocyanic acid (used in execution chambers), ammonia (the primary ingredient for disinfecting toilet bowls), and formaldehyde (better known as the stuff Undertakers use to embalm dead bodies)?
And these are just some of the chemicals in the filter of cigarettes.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, and smoking is a key risk factor.
When you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Your risk of coronary heart disease cuts in half after just one year and drops to that of a non-smoker after 15 years. In fact, just 24 hours after your last cigarette your chance of heart attack decreases. And all these benefits are lost if just one cigarette is smoked.
Smoking cessation is one of the main reasons people seek hypnotherapy. Often people want to quit, but for the wrong reasons. They might be motivated by their spouse or their doctor to quit smoking. A good hypnotherapist will ask if you are both ready and willing to quit smoking. If you’re not quite ready yet, hypnotherapy can be very effective for helping you to increase your motivation. Then when you are ready to quit smoking, hypnotherapy can help you with creating new healthy habits.
During a hypnotherapy session, you’ll discuss your goals with quitting smoking and your motivation for doing so. Your hypnotherapist will then help guide you into a very relaxed state. From this relaxed state of being, it is easier to access your subconscious mind in order to build new automatic behaviors. You can create new habits that help disrupt reaching for a cigarette on auto-pilot.
Hypnosis is an easy, comfortable, efficient, painless, and enjoyable way to kick the habit of smoking. Many people are able to quit “cold turkey” on their own. For those who aren’t, hypnotherapy can help uncover the roadblocks preventing you from success.
In a previous post, I discussed how I enjoy doing new year's reflections with my kids. I think this is an excellent went to get your children to being to have a sense of mindfulness and appreciation.
There's lots of opportunities for reflecting on the past year and setting new goals - it doesn't have to be on January 1. The end of the school year is a great time for school aged kids to do this type of reflection.
Here's an example of a year in review template (fun for grown-ups, too!)