We caught up with the wonderful Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist, anxiety expert, author of The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You, and Merit Club contributor. Finding out tips for reprogramming our mindsets, pursuing positivity and finding out how to live happier lives.
Starting her career as a nutritionist, working in the NHS, Chloe soon discovered the strong correlation between stress, trauma, and the causes of many peoples' mental health issues, particularly those around eating habits. Having had her own issues with anxiety, and discovering the benefits of hypnotherapy for herself, Chloe found herself becoming increasingly involved with clients with anxiety, and developed her career so that she could specialise in this area, and work with people who experience confidence issues of their own. It seems that there are many different types of anxiety and strains that people may never even acknowledge or recognise, and so we wanted to find out more from Chloe about the different processes for finding a quieter mind and a calmer you. Often people may face denial, people may push their anxieties to one side, or may not know how to deploy effective coping mechanisms when anxiety strikes. And as we are well aware, anxieties can surface for anyone, even at the most unexpected times. For Chloe, there are lots of different types of anxiety, from generalised anxiety, to panic disorder and OCD.
From the first steps of acknowledging anxiety, to spreading awareness, social anxiety, and what hypnotherapy really feels like, read on for our catch up with Chloe.
With your own personal experience, and insight from your fascinating career to date, what would you say are those first signs of anxiety? Do you feel there are ways to stop anxiety from developing or does it become a process of learning to live with anxiety?
Everyone will experience anxiety slightly differently. For many the symptoms are very physical; shaking, palpitations and a knot in the stomach. While for others it's more mental; a racing mind and an inability to stop worrying. Usually, it's a combination of both. It's a good idea to get anxiety diagnosed by a doctor. I don't believe we 'cure' anxiety - it's a natural human emotion after all. But we can manage it to the point where it doesn't negatively impact our lives and hold us back.
How do you feel anxiety is being treated in society today? Do you feel progress is being made in people’s understanding of mental health?
Progress has been made, but we still have a way to go. The more we speak about mental health, the lower the stigma will be, and more people will be able to speak up and seek help.
We couldn't agree more. What do you think needs to be addressed most urgently? Are there ways we can change in order to remove this stigma and improve statistics in the future?
The pressure of modern life is unsustainable. I think we need to look at our priorities and ask ourselves if they are really making us happy. I believe the government needs to take mental health more seriously and provide more support and more quickly; often waiting lists for therapy can be over a year long, which is unacceptable. Social anxiety is often something people don’t talk about. Whoever has it, doesn’t want to highlight it, whoever doesn’t have it, often doesn’t know anything about it.
This is so true! And yet all of us may feel social anxiety, in some form, at some point, in our lives. What would you say, in your opinion, are the telling signs of this social anxiety? Do you think there is a way we can more collectively help each other, and perhaps help overcome it without the help of a professional and these long waiting lists?
In my eyes, social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety and is a fear of being judged by other people. Feeling nervous around people, withdrawing and avoiding social situations are all signs of social anxiety. The best way to overcome it is to face your fears. Doing this retrains your nervous system. When you go to a party and talk to people and you survive, your nervous system learns that meeting new people is not life-threatening and it calls off the alarm! The next time you do it, it will be easier. It's important to be kind to yourself no matter how it went.
Yes! There really is something to be said for being kind to yourself.
We so often are too harsh on ourselves, and yet we have enough pressure from the outside world as it is. Often people talk of not feeling good enough, and not living up to the success of their peers, family and friends. What would be your advice to someone who is suffering from this kind of anxiety?
It's good to remember that even super successful people feel this; Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook talked about her own 'imposter syndrome' in her book Lean In. Reminding yourself of all the things you do well and have achieved will help you to focus on the good points about you.
Talking of these coping mechanisms, we also have to ask you about your hypnotherapy! Could you let us know a little more about your experiences with it? Do you feel hypnotherapy can work for everyone?
Anyone who wants to be hypnotised can be! I have great success in helping people with anxiety and confidence issues and I've used it myself to work on these issues too.
But what would you say to someone who is perhaps a little sceptical, or someone who is potentially a bit scared by the idea of hypnotherapy? Potentially, it might be something that someone could find quite a daunting and scary idea!
I'd remind them that they are always in control and aware during the session; it's not like what you see on the TV. It's a natural, relaxing state of mind, a bit like a daydream. Often people are a bit nervous beforehand but end up loving the session.
And that must have such challenges and rewards! Have you any success stories with clients that you are particularly proud of that you can talk about?
Everyone is different so it can be a challenge to know exactly what approach to take first. However having done this job for six years, I'm pretty good at it by now. I'm always especially proud of the clients who notice massively positive changes in one session; it can seem a bit like magic (but of course it isn't).
It might not be magic, but getting help if you are facing anxiety is definitely a step in the right direction. Be this hypnotherapy, reaching out to professionals, family, or friends, listening to the conversation surrounding mental health, joining in the conversation yourself, and strengthening this sense of community. Let's use our voices, our strength, and our energy to build confidence for ourselves, and for our others. Watch this space for more news from Chloe, and our upcoming mindfulness events.
Words by Lottie Franklin
ON WELLNESS & MENTAL HEALTH
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