Posted on 03 December 2014
It was great to read recently how a young baker from Stevenage was able to use the power of cooking to help overcome her severe anxiety. She had suffered panic attacks and anxiety from childhood which was initially triggered by a teacher shouting at her in class and then compounded by bullying throughout her school years. By the age of 19 she was unable to leave the house due to her anxiety and panic attacks.
She happened to watch a cake making TV series which inspired her to start baking her own cakes and after just 2 years of cake baking she won top prize at the recent Cake International in Birmingham. She was quoted as saying that baking cakes had taught her that just because she suffered from anxiety, it didn't mean that she could not achieve big things.
It was good to be reminded once again how the power of cooking and working with food can transform people's lives. Jamie Oliver founded the Fifteen Apprentice Programme with the core philosophy of using the magic of cooking to give young people who've often faced enormous challenges in their lives, the opportunity to unlock their talent and conquer their issues through working with food. Using Cognitive Hypnotherapy I work with the apprentices at Fifteen to help them overcome the wide range of issues that could otherwise potentially hold them back from reaching their full potential.
In the case of the young baker from Stevenage, it is key to remember that individuals exhibit anxiety as an expression of their underlying issue - anxiety is the symptom, not the cause. Anxiety is an increasingly common feature of modern life which can affect many of us at different times in our lives and in different ways.
The main causes of anxiety can be the inability to cope with the a series of stressful events or the impact of a specific and traumatic event or events such as bullying and how that impacted on the individual. Sometimes anxiety can also be a learnt behaviour, sufferers of anxiety will often talk about how they remember a parent or sibling being anxious whilst they were growing up. The likelihood is that these are not mutually exclusive causes but may all contribute and accumulate, leading to anxiety. I often find that they are not separate scenarios but overlapping factors.
In essence, anxiety is response in the here and now to a perceived and potential danger in the future. Our unconscious part of our brain uses past experiences to project likely future outcomes, whether the individual is aware of these projections or not.
So can people be free of the anxiety that can hold them back? In the majority of cases absolutely! I work day in day out with clients who suffer from anxiety and using a variety of Cognitive Hypnotherapy techniques, the causes and triggers that have lead to the anxiety can be 'unravelled' and positively changed to free that individual to lead their lives in the way that they would like.
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