February is the month of romance and love according to retailers. You might be saying: ‘I’m single, how does this apply to me?’ Or in a long-term relationship that sometimes feels like the romance has drifted out of it.

Whatever position you are in right now, you can still allow more love and happiness into every area of your life.

What is love and happiness all about?

If the feeling of love is simply a huge injection of lovely chemicals, what should you do when that feeling inevitably begins to recede? How can our minds adapt and grow so that we don’t just hop from one “high” to the next?

In our busy, fast-paced world we are constantly seeking the next rush.

This could be from social media, work or if we are actively seeking a new relationship in or out of our online world. With the availability of dating apps are we swiping away and discounting opportunities previously we would have explored naturally?

When we’re teenagers, the part of our brain that determines our moods is not as developed as the chemical chasing, reward-centred and risk-taking part of our brain; known as the amygdala. This is why teenage love is more reckless and exposed to extreme feelings.

For adults in a stable relationship, love morphs into something more subtle and less obviously rewarding, chemically speaking…which is why some adults revert to their teenage self and their sensible part of their brain is overridden by their amygdala and they lose sight of that “slow burn” form of love.

What is the science going on in the brain?

In Solution Focused hypnotherapy we talk about the brain being divided into two parts. One part, being our intellectual mind, where we look at things from a rational and usually positive perspective and the other part of our brain we refer to as the primitive part of our brain.

Within this primitive part of our brain we have the amygdala. The brain is there to protect us from all real dangers. When we are sad or anxious the amygdala can destabilise us, giving way to a whole host of emotions, ranging from anger and anxiety to depression.

Our brain is also weighted towards the negative which is why we tend to remember negative memories rather than positive ones. If we are in a long-term relationship we might forget the good things about our partner and let little sources of irritation become more dominant.

The more we worry about things, the more anxious we feel. This anxiety then tips us into the negative part of brain where we start to negatively forecast and over think things.

If you are single it could be the thoughts of “I’ll never find a partner!”Or if you’re in a long-term relationship, it could be worries of “does he still find me attractive?”

The brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, so what we think, our brain actually believes and perceives.

So what can we do about this?

To help keep yourself feeling positive, you need to create a flow of serotonin. Serotonin is known as the neurotransmitter chemical that produces the catalyst for positive mental health. When we have lots of serotonin flowing we feel good about ourselves.

What practical tips can I follow to make myself happy this month?

Treat yourself…. whether it is something simple like having a bath or perhaps indulging in a treatment like having your nails done or booking a relaxing massage. The physical act of being touched by someone releases oxytocin and feel good chemicals.

When was the last time you bought yourself some flowers? Brighten up your home and your mood with a fresh bunch of this season’s Narcissi/Daffodils.

Get outside and go for a walk. A brisk walk can help you to dump any negative energy. Go in the daylight hours when there is more serotonin present.

Do something you enjoy. Read a book, take a nap, play with your children or simply enjoy some time to yourself.

Visualise yourself living the life you want to lead, the more you do this the brain will accept this into your subconscious.

Serotonin rises and falls during the day so acknowledge your thoughts if you are feeling sad or anxious and think ‘what would I like to be feeling instead?’ What small thing could you do to move towards that preferred feeling? This helps get you in the solution focused habit of finding answers to your problems.

Laugh as often as you can. Set your oxytocin hormones on fire by watching something funny. Smile more. Even if you don’t feel like it your brain won’t be able to tell the difference.

Call someone you love talking to. We all need positive interaction in our lives. Ever noticed how good you feel after a catch-up with a good friend?

What have I learned from working with clients

I see a lot of women and mums in particular who take on roles as care givers and forget about themselves and their own needs.

I’ve learnt that they start taking better care of themselves when their world around them begins to change and the relationships with their children and partners improves.

Some clients who have felt they have been needy with their partners have noticed a shift when they realise that they don’t need their partner to make them happy. A client who managed to change her mindset through Solution Focused hypnotherapy was really pleased when her partner started to react positively towards her. This in turn increased her feeling of wellbeing and confidence.

When your needs change the world around you gets better. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy might just be an effective and efficient way to kick start the new you.

Judith Ward is a clinical hypnotherapist and uses a modern approach known as Solution Focused hypnotherapy. The great thing about this approach is that you don’t have to bring up painful memories from the past. It focuses on where you want to get to.

Judith lives in Northern Ireland but works globally via Skype to help clients achieve a happier version of themselves. Judith helps people find solutions using the latest brain based research combined with hypnotherapy. This could be from anxiety, depression, phobias, confidence and self-esteem, sleep management, stress and careers.

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