Category Archives: Phobias

The Joy of Christmas Parties: how to cope with social events

“‘Tis the season to be jolly” we’re told at this time of year as we face the office party, the family get-togethers, the social events.    Lots of us let our hair down, embrace wearing the silly hats, getting  a little tipsy and throwing a few shakes on the dance floor, listening to Ted recounting the same story for the umpteenth time, eating just one too many mince pies, and all the while attempting to avoid the unbecoming photos that may end up on Facebook… 

 For others these social events of the year are one long nightmare: the very thought of socialising can strike fear into their hearts and they will go to any lengths to avoid it.   If that’s you then here are some tips to help you cope and dare I say Be Merry.

  • First of all know that you’re not alone.  Many people are nervous in similar situations – some just hide it better than others. 
  • Don’t focus on negative thoughts: if you think you’re going to have a terrible time, chances are you will.   Don’t set yourself up to be anxious.   
  • Relax yourself before the event, find somewhere comfortable and, while you’re in a relaxed state, visualize things going well and how you’d like to be, feel, behave.  
  • Arrive early rather than late so that you’re not walking into a crowded room or faced with an endless round of introductions.
  • Slow down and take deep abdominal breaths (when we’re nervous we breathe very shallow anxious breaths, so pay attention to your breathing).
  • Be aware of your body language.   Smile!   It’s good for your body as it releases serotonin (the happy hormone) and people respond to a smile.   Look for other friendly, approachable  faces and introduce yourself.   Ask open questions that require an answer.  What do they think of the venue, music, food, drink etc?   Have a few topics in mind before you go.
  • Be honest – if someone asks you if you’re enjoying yourself and you’re feeling nervous then it’s ok to say that.   People like people who are honest and don’t try to be someone they’re not.   You may find that they come back with a similar honest response and that can start a conversation going.  Remember, if you do make a mistake, or say something you didn’t mean to, don’t worry about it.  Nobody is perfect.  Everybody makes mistakes, even the really confident ones.
  • Remember that people are generally thinking about themselves too much to be bothered about judging others.   Engage with them, pay them genuine compliments to put them at ease and they are more likely to respond positively.   Others like to talk about themselves: listen to their likes and dislikes and ask questions. 
  • Live in the moment: take in the décor, music, food, styles, etc.   Focus outwardly rather than inwardly, stop worrying about yourself and have the intention of making those you meet comfortable instead.  

Can’t wait for your holiday but afraid of flying?

iStock_000016316738XSmallI’ve just booked my holiday and I can’t wait for take off!   Not everyone looks forward to it though – a phobia of flying always ranks in the top 10 lists of phobias.  It doesn’t matter how many safety statistics you mention or facts you present about modern day flights:  if someone is afraid of flying it can be an ordeal.

It doesn’t help that airports and airlines use so many negative sounding terms. Think about it: ‘Terminal’, ‘Departure Lounge’, ‘Final boarding call’. It’s like we’re being unconsciously programmed to think negatively! 

No two people have exactly the same fears: my clients typically can have one or a combination of fears from claustrophobia to fear of heights, mechanical failure or attack and more.  

Using hypnosis I help them learn new behaviours and ways of thinking about the flight, deal with the underlying fear and triggers, feel confident and manage the phobic situation and control any physical reactions.  I also give them tools and techniques to cope with both the expected and the unexpected.  A phobia is something that is eminently treatable.

 If you’re about to leave on a jet (or other!) plane here are some top tips:

  • Before you travel (and during the flight) think about all your positive reasons for making the trip and imagine how it will be and feel.  Do this regularly so that you think about that more than the journey.
  • Request an aisle seat near to the front of the plane: it’s less claustrophobic and the effects of any turbulence are likely to be reduced.
  • Don’t leave everything to the last minute: leave plenty of time for your journey to the airport allowing for any unavoidable hold-ups.
  • Let the cabin crew know that you have a fear – they are trained to help out.
  • Calm yourself with some deep breathing exercises. Breathe deeply from your stomach, not your chest: place your hands on your stomach with your fingertips touching on an out-breath. If you breathe in correctly, the finger tips should part as you do so.
  • Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated.
  • If you come across turbulence remember it is just pockets of air: treat the turbulence as you would bumps in the road when you’re in a car.
  • Keep yourself busy and distracted: play a game, lose yourself in a good book or some music or the in-flight film (bring your favourite funny movie to watch if you have a laptop).
  • Take yourself off in your mind to another place/time when you felt really relaxed and/or confident and remember everything about that time.