I tried self hypnosis for my anxiety! You could too… a student writes…

When I approached the Students’ Health Service to seek help with my study-related anxiety, night-time panic attacks and insomnia, I was really not sure what to expect. Although I knew they would have heard it all before, I did not anticipate such swift and effective support. Dr Grant, who I was able to see within a couple of hours of my panicked phone call, suggested a number of helpful options including referring me to a colleague in the Centre for Sports, Exercise and Health who introduced me to a range of approaches, including neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). In just an hour Matt Edwards had taught me a simple method of recalling a desired mental state: in my case, a state of calm and focused concentration on the task at hand. I had never attempted anything like this before, largely due to a deep suspicion of such techniques. I like to think of myself as a ‘rational’ person, not usually drawn to ‘alternative’ medicines or therapies. I felt nervous and a bit silly, but prepared to give it a try. In a private and comfortable office I explained that I was hoping address study-related anxiety and improve my concentration and focus. To my relief this was all the detail I had to give: this was not a counselling session! Matt outlined a range of approaches and we agreed to try a certain NLP technique. He told me to close my eyes and imagine a situation when I had felt calm, focused and in control: the mental state I wanted to be able to recall. He then talked me through a process of cementing in my mind what I could see, hear and feel in this situation. This took about ten minutes or so, but after imagining and magnifying that feeling in my mind’s eye, I felt that I really could return to it any time. Matt explained that in NLP this process is often accompanied by associating this mental state with a physical ‘anchor’: for me, this became a single word. Now, when I say that word to myself, I am able to recall that feeling of being calm and in control. I have used it several times since in class presentations and at home, particularly in the evenings, when my workload seems too much.

Apparently NLP is about being able to visualise what you want to achieve, and then re-create it for yourself by placing yourself mentally in that situation. I am being honest when I say I can’t believe it works, but it really does. I really would recommend anyone else at the end of their academic tether to give it a go – it can’t hurt, and if you believe in it even a little bit, it works wonders.

For a discussion about a referral to Matt Edwards book an appointment with a GP at Students’ Health Service.

Self Hypnosis; what could you do?

Self-hypnosis: what is it that you want?

by Matt Edwards; Sports, Exercise and Health Dept

Imagine or remember this. Sat in the library or at a desk, reading up for next week’s essay. Get to the end of the page, and realise….you’ve not taken in a single word. In fact it’s like you’ve just woken up, drifted back to reality. Where have you been?

One way to think about this is as follows;- it happens sometimes when you’re driving (“how did I get here?!”) –  it’s a kind of light ‘trance state’, a zoning-out, where your mind and body can do quite complex things like reading or driving, but – and this is the good bit – you’re doing this stuff quite happily whilst an important part of you is thinking about something else entirely.

Sometimes called day-dreaming, it’s a natural and useful experience, even a skill, that too often we’re told not to engage in.

You can learn to deliberately use and enhance this skill through self-hypnosis. Self hypnosis is a powerful, congruent way to go into and explore these kinds of natural, resourceful states of mind. Whether for simple relaxation, or as a chance to allow your mind to examine an idea or a goal or an issue, the change in mind-body state that self-hypnosis encourages can be enormously powerful.

Imagine being able to have better control over your state of mind, to decide how confident you want to feel going into your PhD viva, as one recent student I worked with discovered for herself.

How good could that be? And what is it that you want?