Exams are a stressful time. There is so much depending on you passing or even getting a particular mark. Some stress can be good to focus your mind, however, too much stress can affect our mental health and make us feel overwhelmed, making it difficult to concentrate on anything, let alone studying for exams.

Stress is generally considered the emotional, physiological and psychological effects caused by a build up of either externally or internally generated mental pressure. Stress originates as a function of our primitive brain, when a danger is registered, it produces a fight or flight response. This is due to the many chemical and physical reactions taking place, such as increased cortisol and adrenaline, leading to an increased heart rate and higher blood pressure.

Darlington College recognised that many of their students suffered with exam stress and introduced an innovative approach to learning which involved utilising a Hypnotherapist. The Hypnotherapist offered training in meditation and breathing techniques to overcome exam stress. Exam results improved from the previous year.

Hypnosis is a state of mind related to deep relaxation, increased suggestibility and narrowed focus. The Hypnotherapist assists their client to enter a very relaxed state of hypnosis and then make positive suggestions that help the subconscious mind achieve desired goals. It is true that some people are more suggestible than others. Generally, people of very low intelligence are not suggestible.

There is an obvious concern that a Hypnotherapist can misuse their skills and instruct a client to do something against their will, this concern comes from stage hypnosis shows. There is a large difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis. People who volunteer in stage hypnosis shows are exhibitionists who choose to behave in that manner. People who visit a Hypnotherapist retain their core beliefs and stay in control.

Hypnosis as it is understood today, started with the Austrian Physician Franz Mesmer in the 18th century. He considered a sleep like state would assist patients in healing their ailments. James Braid was a Scottish Doctor who studied surgery at the University of Edinburgh and took an interest in these matters and named the sleep like state hypnosis after the Greek god of sleep Hypnos. Braid developed the medical applications of hypnosis and became regarded as the father of modern hypnosis.

The very nature of hypnotherapy in inducing a deeply relaxed state helps manage stress. When in this deeply relaxed state, the Hypnotherapist makes positive suggestions to finding better ways to respond to stress. Some students will see results after one session, whilst others may require a few sessions. A Hypnotherapist will also likely teach relaxation methods to use after the sessions.

One such method is the Calm Technique. This involves breathing in through the nose and out through your mouth, breathe slowly and deeply and feel your stomach muscles relaxing. Then take a deep breath in and push out your stomach muscles, hold in this breathe for three seconds, slowly breathe out your mouth, pull in your stomach muscles and say to yourself the word ‘calm’, repeat this twice. Then allow the word ‘calm’ to drift around your mind.

Get in touch today for a session to help manage exam nerves

The first No Smoking Day was on Ash Wednesday 1984. No Smoking Day takes place on the second Wednesday of March. In 2024, No Smoking Day is on the 13th of March, it is the annual health awareness day in the UK which is intended to help smokers who want to quit smoking.

It is recognised that smoking contains a wide range of health risks. Smoking causes around seven out of every ten cases of lung cancer. Smoking also causes cancer in many other areas of the body including; bladder, bowel, cervix, kidney, liver, mouth, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, throat and voice box.

Smoking also damages the body, leading to heart disease and heart attacks, strokes, COPD, bronchitis, pneumonia, reduced fertility and healing from surgery. Those around smokers also are affected by passive smoking. A child who breathes in passive smoke is more likely to get chest infections.

Carers are often physically and emotionally exhausted. They also often struggle financially. Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. Stopping smoking will also improve finances, which is much needed in the cost-of-living crises.

Hypnotherapy is an effective and safe way to stop smoking. To mark the 40th anniversary of No Smoking Day, I’m offering a half-price stop smoking session for carers (paid or unpaid), who book a session in March. This brings the cost down from £120 to £60. This includes the session, a CD to listen at home and a workbook to take home with. Please note that hypnotherapy is not recommended for people with a history of psychosis or epilepsy.

For further information please visit https://stephenmcmurray.com/

To book a session, please email stephen@stephenmcmurray.com or phone 07908 553041

The cost-of-living crises is leading to big changes in the way we live our everyday lives.

Our relationships are hugely important to us just at a time when they are being placed under the most intense pressure.

Relationships are not built on the expectation that you’ll be spending all day, every day with that person.

Maybe, if you’re both working from home, with nowhere to go in the evenings, there’s a chance you may experience some friction.

This is perfectly normal, particularly given the increased stress we’re all under right now.

But, as we could be in this predicament for a while yet, it’s worth taking some steps to ensure we get through this period with our relationships intact.

We may even come out the other side stronger! Give these strategies a go:
1. Create the love with your differences

Write a list of the positive differences between you. This can help you begin to appreciate each other again.

2. No criticisms/No put downs

When niggles arise between you, or one is criticising the other, say something silly. Your partner will be so taken aback, it will throw them, and may even make them laugh. But, most importantly, it will break any tension.

3. Cuddle Time

Find time in the day, just for this, with no further expectation.

4. Allow the Dreams

Encourage your partner to fulfil their dreams and ask them to allow you to achieve yours, too. When you both feel free, you will both be happy.

5. Discuss Rather Than Argue

Turn irritating comments into humour – see the situation as a cartoon so that you can laugh at it.

6. Learn To Listen

Make a conscious effort to really listen to what your partner has to say

7. Love What Is Actually Real

Don’t set up your partner to fail by having expectations of them which are too high.

How Hypnotherapy for Relationships Works

Hypnosis can be used to change thinking patterns, behaviours and outcomes. Relationship hypnosis deals with the relationship you have with your partner.

Relationship hypnosis can help you:

• Deal with negative emotions
• Have much improved communications with the people around you
• Recapture those feelings of love and romance
• Build strong relationships towards a brighter future You too can shift the dynamics of your relationship.
Get in touch for more details.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm. Mindfulness is very much aligned with positive psychology, with its focus on positive emotions, such as compassion and gratitude.

Mindfulness is interrelated with meditation. John Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Meditation, however is a practice where individuals use a technique to focus the mind on something to train awareness and attention and achieve a calm state.

The concept of the ‘mind’ emerged in the 12th century, with meanings related to care, intention, thought and memory. Later, in the 14th century, ‘mindful’ emerged, related to being conscious and aware. In the 16th century, ‘mindfulness’ or the state or quality of being mindful emerged, when John Palsgrave translated the French term pensée.

Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1990s, which brought mindfulness from the East to West.

There are a wide number of mindfulness exercises which individuals can benefit from mindfulness. This can include mindful meditation, sitting quietly focussing on our breathing. undertaking a body scan, lying or sitting and moving attention slowly through different parts of our bodies, and mindful walking, noticing the breeze on our skin and the feeling in our feet on the different surfaces.

Jon Kabat Zinn has nine attitudes of mindfulness:


The first attitude of mindfulness is non-judging. Our minds are often caught up with a stream of judging to our inner and outer experiences. The challenge of these judgements are that they can dominate our thoughts, which makes it difficult for us to find inner peace. Non-judging allows us to take a step back and relax.


The second attitude of mindfulness is patience. Today’s society puts so much pressure on us to perform quickly. By practising patience, we allow our minds to be open for each moment and letting things develop naturally. Being inpatient lends itself to being agitated and frustrated.

Beginner’s mind

The concept of beginner’s mind aligns with an openness to see things as if for the first time. The benefit of this is for us to be receptive to new ideas and not be stuck in a rut. Furthermore, having an attitude of beginner’s mind is very useful when engaging in meditation.


Another attitude of mindfulness is trust, it is important when being mindful to trust yourself and your intuition. Accept that you will mistakes along the way. If you feel something is not right, trust your instinctive and acknowledge this. Having trust in yourself will also help you have trust in others.


An attitude of non-striving underpins mindfulness. Often in our busy lives we are striving to reach the goals we set ourselves. However, mindfulness runs contrary to this. Forcing yourself to be mindful will not work. Undertaking meditation practice relies on letting go and being present.

Letting go

Central to mindfulness is letting go and living in the present moment. Letting go is akin to letting things be. There are things in our life and our past that may affect us, by letting go, we can stop ruminating and live more mindfully. We don’t force ourselves to go to sleep, we let go and fall asleep.


Acceptance refers to seeing things as they really are. If there are aspects in your life that you are not happy with, you firstly accept things the way they are at the present time. You are more likely to act when you accept how things really are. Acceptance is related to wisdom and self-understanding.


Practising mindfulness often leads to increased gratitude. Put simply gratitude is the intentional practice of noticing what is good in our lives. A mindfulness mediation involving being grateful with what is good in our lives can improve our quality of lives, including reducing our stress levels.


The definition of generosity relates to a willingness to give away your own time and money and a freedom from pettiness18. There is research evidence that people who practice mediation are more likely to have feelings of kindness and generosity19. By practising mindful generosity, we expand ourselves as humans.

There has been much interest in mindfulness as a way to increase wellbeing. One study showed that depressed participants who take part in either formal mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) had decreased rumination, which was associated with the alleviation of depressive symptoms.

Similarly, research has illustrated that mindfulness can be beneficial for people suffering with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). A randomised controlled trial comparing MBSR with Stress Management Education (SME) found evidence that MBSR may have a beneficial effect in tackling anxiety symptoms in GAD.

Furthermore, there is research evidence that MBSR is beneficial in helping participants reduce their stress levels. One review found that MBSR was more effective in reducing stress in comparison to an inactive control group.

Insomnia affects many people and a lack of sleep leaves people exhausted. There is research evidence that patients with insomnia benefitted from completing MBSR through utilising a number of meditation techniques to fall asleep quicker and get back to sleep faster if awakened through the night.

Chronic pain affects a significant amount of the population and can significantly impact on the quality of life of sufferers. A critical review of the literature suggests that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can significantly reduce pain intensity in participants compared to control groups where the participants did not receive any MBIs.

You can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness in Edinburgh. Get in touch for more details if you are interested in having sessions or workshop.

People often associate lung cancer with smoking, however smoking affects other areas of our bodies as well.

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There has been news reports recently in the media about the link between obesity and cancer.  Obesity has been linked to several cancers, including; breast, colorectal, esophageal, gallbladder, kidney, liver, pancreatic, and uterine cancer.  It is estimated that 4=8% of cancers are attributed to obesity. Being obese also increases the risk of dying from cancer and can influence treatment choices as well.

Indeed, being overweight and obese are the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK, causing more than 1 in 20 cancer cases.  The risk is increased more by being more overweight and being overweight for longer.  Fat cells increase inflammation, growth factors and extra hormones which cause cells in our body to divide more often and increases the risk of cancer cells being made.

It is estimated that around a quarter of adults in the UK are obese.  Hypnotherapy can help you get to your ideal weight by overcoming the issues that have led to you being obese.  These include; emotional eating, eating too quickly, eating disorders, and eating too much of the wrong types of food.

For people wanting to lose several stone, a virtual gastric band can be very beneficial.  The virtual gastric band does not involve surgery, but rather tricks the mind into thinking that an actual gastric band has been fitted around the top of the stomach.  Thus, the stomach feels fuller quicker and therefore lose weight.

There is research evidence that the virtual gastric band is every bit as effective as an actual gastric band in helping people lose weight.  The advantageous of having the virtual gastric band is that it does not contain the risks of major surgery or cost thousands of pounds.  So why wait any longer, let hypnotherapy help you reach the weight you want and reduce your chances of getting cancer.

New guidelines issued by NICE states that therapy or exercise should be offered to people with mild depression instead of anti-depressants.  There has been a rise in the use of anti-depressants with more than 20 million being prescribed in just three-month last year.  It is estimated that one in seven people in England taking anti-depressants.

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The ongoing pandemic continues to change the we live our everyday lives. It has impacted many of our daily routines, and one of its biggest reported issues has been that on our sleep – sleep becomes more difficult when we are anxious. Many people are suffering sleep issues for the first time in their lives.

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There has been speculation in the media today that e-cigarettes may be prescribed on the NHS in England to help people stop smoking tobacco products.  Whilst, e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, they do include a number of chemicals that are harmful to health which can damage the lungs.

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Stoptober was introduced in 2012 to encourage smokers to stop smoking for 28 days.  The evidence suggests that if you stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stop for good. Stoptober has become an annual event.  It is estimated that there are around seven million adult smokers in the UK and it is thought that 70% would like to quit. Read more