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15. Consider Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis by a trained therapist to help the patient heal from the trauma of a past event, reframe negative health habits, or regain control over certain behaviors. Hypnotherapy is frequently used to help people stop smoking or overeating. It is a common therapy for people experiencing chronic fatigue. It is also effective for improving self-esteem, confidence, and social anxiety.

16. Hypnotize Yourself

Yes, you can hypnotize yourself! Hypnotizing yourself is done pretty much the same way you would hypnotize somebody else. You’ll need to decide very specifically what you want to work on—say, quitting smoking or not falling apart every time your mother-in-law comes to visit. Then, self-hypnosis involves a detailed process of breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization, beginning with the descent down a staircase to the backward-count of ten to one. After some detailed visualization to engage and focus the mind, the hypnosis session ends with a posthypnotic suggestion to trigger you to act the way you want to act. After the posthypnotic suggestion, you can bring yourself slowly out of the hypnotic state by counting to ten, telling yourself that at the number ten, you will be alert, refreshed, and wide awake.

17. Hypnotize Yourself: Exercise 1

1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Close your eyes and relax.

2. Imagine you are holding a small suitcase in your right hand. Feel the moderate heaviness of the suitcase and the way the suitcase pulls your body to one side.

3. Imagine someone takes the suitcase and hands you a medium-sized suitcase. This suitcase is heavier and bulkier than the small suitcase. Feel the handle in your hand. Feel the heaviness of the suitcase weighing down your right side.

4. Imagine someone takes the suitcase and hands you a large suitcase. This suitcase is incredibly heavy, so heavy you can hardly hold on to it, so heavy it pulls your entire body to the right as the weight of the suitcase sinks toward the floor.

5. Keep feeling the weight of this heavy suitcase for two to three minutes.

6. Open your eyes. Are you standing perfectly straight, or has your posture swayed, even a little bit, to the right?

18. Hypnotize Yourself: Exercise 2

1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Close your eyes and relax.

2. Imagine you are standing outside on a small hill in the middle of an expansive prairie. The breeze is blowing and the sun is shining. It is a beautiful, clear day.

3. Suddenly, the breeze begins to pick up, and the wind starts to blow.

You are facing into the wind, and as it blows harder and harder, gusting around you, you feel it pushing you back, blowing your hair back, even blowing your arms back a little.

4. The wind is now so strong you can barely stand up. If you don’t lean into the wind, you’ll be knocked backward! You’ve never felt wind this strong, and each forceful gust nearly pushes you off your feet!

5 Feel the strength of the wind for two to three minutes.

6. Open your eyes. Are you standing perfectly straight, or leaning into the wind, even just a little?

19. Hypnotize Yourself: Exercise 3

1. Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, both arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Close your eyes.

2. Imagine someone has tied a heavy weight to your right arm. Your arm has to strain to hold up the weight that hangs from it. Feel the weight. Imagine how it looks hanging from your arm.

3. Imagine someone ties another heavy weight on your right arm. The two weights pull your arm down and down. They are so heavy that your muscles have to tense and strain to hold them up.

4. Imagine someone ties a third heavy weight on your arm. The three weights are so heavy that you can barely keep your arm raised. Feel how the weights pull down your arm.

5. Now, imagine that someone ties a huge helium balloon to your left arm. Feel the balloon pulling your left arm higher and higher, tugging it skyward.

6. Feel the weights on your right arm and the balloon on your left arm for two to three minutes.

7. Open your eyes. Are your arms still even, or is your right arm lowered and your left arm raised, even just a little?

20. Consider Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a kind of therapy in which the therapist helps patients discover the effect of pessimistic or depressed thoughts on mood, and also helps patients to discover the ingrained nature of these thoughts in order to catch themselves in the pessimistic act. Cognitive therapy can be very successful for depression, and some studies show it is as effective as antidepressant medication (for those with depression, a combination of cognitive therapy and medication works best).

21. Try Reward-based Self-Training

If you’ve ever trained a dog, you probably know about positive reinforcement training. People (and dogs) do things for two reasons:

• To benefit or be rewarded

• To avoid something negative

The first reason is much more compelling and positive. You see a piece of chocolate cake. You know you shouldn’t eat it because you could gain weight (negative reinforcement), but you want to eat it because it tastes good (positive reinforcement). If you can frame your stress management in terms of positive reinforcement, you are much more likely to be successful. Even if you are successful with negative reinforcement—you didn’t eat the cake—it won’t be as enjoyable, and you may be less likely to stick with it. What if not eating the cake was rewarded with a stroll through the park on a nice day or with an afternoon matinee?

22. Create a Personal Treat List

Your personal treat list might look something like this, but, of course, these are just suggestions to get you started. Your list will be as individual as you are.

• Order in or go out instead of cooking tonight.

• Get a massage (paid for, or ask a loved one).

• Go to yoga class.

• Go to bed early.

• Watch your favorite movie . . . again!

• Make time to call a friend and chat.

Continual rewards make life a lot more fun and a lot less stressful. They also help to boost and maintain your self-esteem because you are taking time for yourself and celebrating yourself by paying yourself (through rewards) what you’re worth. So, let yourself enjoy life with positive reinforcement!

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