Seven Tools To Alleviate Anxiety

Many of the people we see at the Madison Hypnosis Center suffer from anxiety and are looking for relief.  Below are some ways known to help alleviate anxiety. 

Tai Chi for Anxiety

1. Body mapping– Body mapping is a way of gaining self-awareness and control over your body and mind through focused attention.  It is a way to train your mind to be aware of the mental and physical connections in your body.  There are many ways to accomplish this such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and kinesthetic exercise.  All of these allow you to gain an awareness over your body and reduce anxiety.  Once you gain the awareness over you body, you are then able to better control how it responds.  You can adjust your breathing or body language to be more calm and confident.  You can relax the tension that often comes with anxiety and change the emotion.  Which brings us to the next tool to combat anxiety:

Breath Work for Anxiety

2. Breath work-  Controlling your breathing can be a great tool to alleviate anxiety.   It is a great way to quickly and easily change your physiology.  By physiology, I mean your blood pressure, heart rate, neural network activation, hormone response and more.  There are many different breathing techniques.  Two techniques that work particularly well are 4-7-8 breathing, and mimicking blowing out a candle with a full breath.

Exercise for Anxiety

3. Exercise- Exercise is a great way to deal with anxiety.  In the context of acute anxiety, a bout of intense exercise can relieve symptoms and change the freeze response to releasing the tension through a mimicked flight response.  Again, the exercise also changes physiology in a way consistent with better emotional regulation.  A regular habit of exercise also improves anxiety for the long term.  Regular exercise relieves stress, allowing you to decompress regularly.  It improves heart rate variability which has been found to be an indicator of stress and anxiety.  And regular exercise changes the shape of function of the brain in ways more consistent with emotional regulation.

Being Present for Anxiety

4. Being presentAttention and awareness are vital tools in the tool kit to combat anxiety.  Anxiety is often a response to expectations of thing yet to come (which are often false or unrealistic expectations).  By refocusing one’s attention on what is happening around them, it reduces the focus on potential future events.  I often have my clients practice brining their attention to the moment of zero.  When you focus on the moment of zero and you bring your train of thoughts to focus on what is immediately in front of you, the anxiety tends to disappear as you realize that you are completely safe, and that you as a person are ok, no matter what else is happening in your life. 

Nature for Anxiety

5. Nature-  Taking a break in nature is a great way to not only alleviate anxiety, but improve overall health as well.  Recent research is showing what nature lovers have known all along; being in nature is good for our minds and our bodies.  Several things happen when you take a break in nature.  You become more focused on the present and the things around you.  You vision changes from tunnel vision to periphery.  The sounds and the colors change from typical environments.  The air changes as well, and you tend to breathe more deeply, usually accompanied by light exercise like walking or hiking.  Being in nature doesn’t have to involve a trip to the mountains or the ocean.  It can be as simple as a back yard or a neighborhood park.  Forest bathing is an old practice that has recently become popular in the United States.  Try stepping away for a few moments of time in nature. 

Reducing screen time for Anxiety

6. Reducing screen time-  Screens are a part of modern life.  Whether it is a computer or a phone, most westerners spend an incredible amount of time looking at a screen.  This impacts attention and tunnel vision as described earlier, but it also creates a dopamine response cycle.  In short, your phone and most aps on them are designed to keep you addicted to them by providing short bursts of reward.  This activates the reward system in the brain which is the same circuitry responsible for anxiety.  Taking a break from screens can break or reduce anxiety and the activation of those parts of the brain responsible for anxiety. 

Hypnosis for Anxiety

7. Hypnosis- Hypnosis is a wonderful tool for anxiety management.  In a way it is an amalgam of many of the methods above, but it also has its own spin.  Hypnosis is a state of focused attention during which you can change your internal dialogue and your internal representation of thoughts and feelings.  With hypnosis you can change how you experience certain stimuli, and you can change your behavior to that stimuli to be in line with your intentions to feel confident and relaxed.  Hypnosis is a way of gaining autonomy over your automatic responses.  The Madison Hypnosis Center invites you to enjoy a free relaxation recording, or schedule an appointment with our professional hypnotists here: Book a Session

What I Learned From a 72 Hour Fast

Fasting has become a popular activity and there are many ways to fast.  Intermittent fasting has become a popular method to improve health and lose weight, but there are other fasting methods as well, such as a water-only fast.  I have fasted many times in the past, but usually only for a 24-36 hour period.  I have always been intrigued by longer fasts, but have not been able to maintain the fast for various reasons.  Recently, I was able to fast for 72 hours with only water and coffee.  This is my experience from fasting and is not intended to be representative of what anybody else may experience.  Also, fasting can be dangerous, so you should consult your physician before attempting to fast.  This blog post is simply my first-hand experience and cannot be taken as medical advice. 

There are many reasons that people fast.  It can be for health, to jump start a diet, to lose weight, for spiritual reasons and for many other reasons.  For me, it was multi-faceted.  I have been wanting to do a longer fast for a while.  I find it to be an excellent exercise in self-control and a great way to change my relationship to food.  While the fast can be uncomfortable at times, it is empowering to know that its actually not that bad. 

I also wanted to fast for health reasons.  There is a lot of recent research coming out about the beneficial health effects of fasting.  One phenomenon is autophagy.  Autophagy is when your body’s metabolic processes being to use your body’s cells for energy.  Research has shown that the body tends to go after damaged or inefficient cells first.  There is also evidence that this autophagy helps maintain a healthy brain.

One particular part about this process that intrigued me was research has shown that your immune system resets after a 72 hour fast.  What this means is that your white blood cell counts (one of your immune cells) reduce in number as the autophagy takes place, and that after you begin feeding again, the stem cells in your body are activated to produce new white blood cells.  Whether or not this has beneficial health effects is still being studied, but research has demonstrated that this can be useful for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy when done under the supervision of their doctors. 

There is also research that indicated fasting impacts your gut microbiome.  Research on the microbiome is emerging quickly to show that it has a range of effects on the body, mind, and behavior.  The microbiome has been implicated in many physical and mental health diagnoses.  Changing the microbiome in a favorable way then could lead to improved health.  Though more research in this area needs to be done to support these conclusions, I wanted to experiment with myself to see if I noticed a change. 

I began my fast after Father’s day weekend.  I had been eating too much that weekend and when I awoke the next morning, I decided it was a good time to start fasting.  In hindsight, I would have liked to have prepared for the fast better by switching my diet to healthy foods and more fruits and vegetables.   

Upon awaking, I was already 10 hours into the fast.  The first day of the fast was actually very easy.  I chose to skip my typical breakfast, and considering I had eaten a lot the day before, this was not difficult.  I did start the day off with coffee as I usually do.  I was very busy at work, so I didn’t even notice that lunch passed without eating.  I was drinking a lot of water throughout the day.  While I did not track my water consumption, I would estimate I drank about a gallon of water, or more each day.  That evening, I had to prepare dinner for my two young kids.  This was the first challenge for me.  While I did not feel hungry when there was no food around, when I had to have food in front of me, and had to cut it, cook it, and serve it, I noticed that I had a strong desire to eat.  It did not feel like hunger per se, but I felt my compelled to eat and had to resist a strong urge to eat, despite not feeling hungry.  It felt more like a conditioned response to the sight and smells of the food.  I sat at the table while my family ate, and I drank water.  I slept very well that night.

The second day of the fast, I woke up feeling great and refreshed.  I started the day off with my usual coffee and went into my office to work.  Instead of taking my usual lunch break, I decided to attend a yoga class.  From what I have read, it is not recommended to exercise intensively during a long fast, but I was feeling really great and energized and decided to give it a try.  The class went well, and I felt strong and balanced.  After the class however, the fatigue hit me.  I became quite tired and irritable.  I also started to notice quite a bit of hunger, and I wasn’t thinking clearly.  It was particularly difficult to make dinner that night for my kids and had the same sensations as the day before, only stronger.  This time I noticed a bit of hunger going along with it.  I noticed that I was feeling irritable with my kids over little things that don’t usually bother me much.  Later that evening, I took some time to simply rest and relax.  I was having doubts if I would be able to make it a third day, and almost broke the fast that night.  I was considering if I would be able to handle the crabbiness and hunger while functioning as I needed to the next day.  That night, I felt very hot and was sweating throughout the night and had very vivid dreams.  I have no idea if this was related to the fast or not, but it was interesting!

The third day of the fast, I was expecting to wake up hungry, but I wasn’t!  I actually felt pretty good and it renewed my confidence that I would be able to make it a third day.  I had my usual coffee and noticed that the irritability had subsided.  I was feeling pretty good and continued the day drinking only water.  The hunger and the irritability had disappeared, but I noticed I was feeling a bit weak.  Climbing stairs was particularly when I noticed it.  I was able to climb them just fine, but they were tiring, and I had to take it much more slowly than usual.  I was preparing dinner for my kids that evening with no problems and didn’t even want food.

Fresh food from the garden

I broke my fast that evening.  I did this by picking fresh, healthy vegetables from my garden and making a make-shift soup.  One thing I noticed about breaking the fast, is that it seemed like a switch went off in my mind.  When I took my first bite, the hunger returned, and I wanted to keep eating.  I chose a variety of leafy greens (Bak choy, spinach, swiss chard), garlic scapes and garlic, Shiitake mushrooms, radishes, and chili peppers, and boiled them in water and vegetable broth with seasonings and a bit of salt.  It is recommended to break long fasts gently, with light foods that are easy to digest.  I may have overdone it a bit with this concoction as my stomach felt a bit upset after eating.  After finishing my soup, I felt over-full, likely because my stomach had shrunk and was not used to any sort of volume.

Breaking the fast

The next day, with my fast being over, I ate breakfast (more soup with eggs in it) and had my coffee.  I no longer noticed any adverse effects of the fast.  The tiredness and irritability and hunger were all gone.  The only thing I noticed is that I’m a few pounds lighter, less hungry, and more energized.  I feel more empowered to eat on my own terms when I am truly hungry, rather than according to a schedule or temptation.  As I did not take a blood or stool sample before and after, it is impossible to know exactly how my immune system or microbiome were impacted, but I do feel good.  There is a mental clarity and physical relaxation that my body is experiencing.  I am also motivated to continue to put healthy fuel into my body as I took the effort to clean it out.  Long term fasting is likely something that I will experiment with again in the future. 

While fasting is not encouraged as a tool for weight loss, at Madison Hypnosis Center, we customize weight loss sessions to meet your needs and preferences, and can help you get a handle on healthy eating. To schedule an appointment with one of our hypnotists, choose a time that works well for you here:

Summer 2019 Newsletter- Madison Hypnosis Center

Hello Everybody!

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the beautiful change of season.  There are many changes that have developed with the Madison Hypnosis Center in which you may be interested.

© 2018 Ruthie Hauge Photography |

The Madison Hypnosis Center is pleased to announce an addition of a certified hypnotists to the team at the center. Lorilee Hamann, Ph.D. is joining us as a hypnotherapist and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is a board-certified hypnotherapist through the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) and has received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has received her nutrition training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and her Certificate from Cornell University’s Plant Based Program. She has completed the UW Health’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and incorporates mindfulness as the foundation of all that she does with clients. Lorilee specializes in plant-based eating for a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight management but offers a full spectrum of hypnosis services and nutritional services.  To schedule an appointment with Lorilee,  see her availability here.

lorilee Hamann photo.jpg

In other news, Curtis Ryals of the Madison Hypnosis Center has recently joined the board of the Madison Area Wellness Collective (MAWC).  MAWC is a non-profit organization with the mission to foster meaningful connections between wellness practitioners and the communities we serve.  There is a Health and Well-Being series offered by members of MAWC at the Mutual Aid Network of Madison’s Mutual Aid Workspace. Each Sunday at 2:00 is a wonderful offering in the “Sunday Skool” series.:

June 16, With Susan Frikken Your Body: Learn It. Move It!. Relieve It! This class will offer BASIC anatomy in every-day language and BASIC (but POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE), INTERACTIVE and EASY tips to help you MOVE (sit, stand, work and play) better. Also, learn easy SELF-PAIN MANAGEMENT.

On June 23rd, the Madison Hypnosis Center will be presenting in the Madison Area Wellness Collective’s, ” Wellbeing Series: Health and Resilience of Body and Mind. Curtis will discuss how the state of hypnosis can be used to promote health and wellbeing in a natural way. “Hypnosis for Wellbeing” will offer the basics of what hypnosis is, how it works, and how it can be used to manage anxiety, change health habits, promote weight loss, and manage pain. Attendees will have the option to participate in a brief guided meditation (hypnosis).

June 30 with Iris Mickey – “Yoga Tools for Stress Management :  Join Certified Yoga Therapist, Iris Mickey, for breathing practices and Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation for deep healing and relaxation.”

The Madison Hypnosis Center started offering training and hypnosis certifications.  There will be an upcoming opportunity to learn how to do hypnosis at the center and obtain a certification through the International Certifying Board of Clinical Hypnotherapists (ICBCH).  Stay tuned for upcoming classes, or let me know if you are interested! 

Curtis has also started offering ethics training to other hypnotists at  Curtis has been selected as a faculty member to present at the international 2019 NGH convention. He will be presenting on Ethical Reasoning for Professionalism in hypnosis:

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful father’s out there!

New Madison Hypnosis Team Member

The Madison Hypnosis Center is pleased to announce an addition to the team of certified hypnotists at the center. Lorilee Hamann, Ph. D. is joining us as a hypnotherapist and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is a board certified hypnotherapist through the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) and has received her Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in Curriculum & Instruction. She has received her nutrition training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and her Certificate from Cornell University’s Plant Based Program. She has completed the UW Health’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and incorporates mindfulness as the foundation of all that she does with clients. Lorilee specializes in plant-based eating for a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight management.

Hypnosis Weekly Podcast

Curtis Ryals was featured on the international Hypnosis Weekly Podcast with Adam Eason to discuss ethics in hypnosis. Listen here:

For more training in hypnosis ethics please visit

Perspective on Hypnosis

I recently worked with a client, who had a great experience and put her perspective into a creative outlet.

Her words and photo are below:

“WEEK 37/52

Madison Hypnosis Baloon
Madison Hypnosis Center

Three weeks ago, I took up hypnotherapy. I knew close to nothing about it…but hypnosis had always intrigued me. My anxiety had worsened, and my compulsive skin picking at my face and hands was increasing. I KNEW if I returned to my usual “Traditional” therapist, they would increase my medication.

Typically, I say very little about where my self portrait ideas stem from. I love hearing each person’s personal interpretation. It all means something different to everyone.

But after 3 sessions (approximately 3 hours) of hypnotherapy…I needed to put together an image that portrayed how I felt.

Weightless. Floating. Above the wreckage and fears that came with my battles with anxiety.

My skin picking has decreased substantially, and my anxiety has lessened.

Within my 3 sessions of hypnosis, I learned how to hypnotize/deeply relax myself. I learned how it works, why it works, and why it is effective. It’s something I would recommend to everyone and I’ll probably keep doing it myself!

Special thank you to Curtis at Madison Hypnosis Center!

Madison Hypnosis Center Spring Newsletter 2018

Hello Everybody!


Happy first day of Spring!  With the new season comes new growth and new opportunities.  The Madison Hypnosis Center is up and running in our new location at 6328 Monona Dr.  You are welcome to come join us for our ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, April 13th at 11:00-11:30 am.  The event is open to the public.  Come see the new space and socialize with others.  Refreshments will be provided.

As you enjoy the warming weather and longer days, self-care is particularly important.  We are offering several classes and workshops to meet your needs.  Come join us for these great opportunities:

Restorative Hypnosis and Acupuncture Workshop

Restorative Hypnosis and Acupuncture Workshop

Thursday April 19 – 6:00 to 8:00pm

Madison Hypnosis Center
6328 Monona Dr., Madison, Wisconsin 53716

Join us for a unique evening of self care, personal discovery, and relaxation.  This 2-hour workshop will integrate relaxation through guided meditation intertwined with restorative acupuncture.  It will be a night of calm, tranquil connection to yourself and the group around you.  We are limiting the spots available to have a more gentle, calming effect so register soon.

Register here

Other workshops include:

Energy Movement and Yoga w/ Kelly Garrigan

Saturday, April 14 at 10 AM – 12 PM

This two hour workshop with Life Coach and Yoga instructor Kelly Garrigan, will discuss the meridians of the body, how energy moves and introduce methods to incorporate into your yoga practice that can amp up the healing power of the body.

All levels welcome-we will be doing gentle, slow yoga moves.
Wear comfy yoga clothes, bring your yoga mat, and a pen to write with.

Held at the Madison Hypnosis Center 6328 Monona Drive

Email to register

Applied Neuroscience for Health Improvement

Saturday May 12th and Saturday May 19th 9:30AM – 11:30 AM

This course, held on two consecutive Saturdays, will be taught by personal trainer Andrew Kwasnieski.  Andrew will guide you through a series of light exercises based on neuroscience research designed to help you train your brain for better fitness, balance, and health outcomes.

Held at the Madison Hypnosis Center 6328 Monona Drive

Email to register


Madison Area Wellness Collective (MAWC) Wellness Fair


The Madison Hypnosis Center will be giving a presentation at the wellness fair.

April 28, 2018 – 3:00pm to 8:30pm


Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

953 Jenifer St.
Madison, WI 53703

Join the Madison Area Wellness Collective (MAWC), UW-ADEPT, the Dane County Timebank (DCTB) and NPO UNI at our Community Wellness Fair — It’s An Experience, Not An Expo!

Wellness is more than just good body health. It is also feeling comfortable, happy, peaceful, supported and safe. It can mean making the most of your whole self:
” Your Body, Moving and at Rest
” Your Emotions and Thoughts
” Your Food and Nutrition
” Your Family, Friends & Community
” Your Peace and Spirit
” Your Laughter and Playfulness
” Your Home and Environment

Come sample and play with us and try some ways to be well! Some may be new to you!
Learn! Ask!

It’s Free and Family – Friendly!
There is something for everyone to try.

” Join in movement activities! Tai chi, yoga, dance, walks, posture, exercise, and more!
” Enjoy healthy snacks and refreshments and learn from nutrition experts!
” Learn new things about your health and how to find help! Nature, stress management, meditation, arthritis, non-violent communication, and more!


The Philosophy and Science of Willpower


Wednesday April 18 at 6:15-7:15p

Curtis Ryals, owner and director of the Madison Hypnosis Center, will be giving a presentation at the American Family Insurance Dream Bank.  This event will outline the philosophical foundations for the notion of free will, and will explain the best methods, based on current scientific research, to enhance your own will power to use in your daily life.  Attendance is free and open to the public.

Held at American Family Insurance Dream Bank, 1 N. Pinckney Madison, WI

New Year, New You

Happy New Year!

2017 has been an exciting year for the Madison Hypnosis Center, and this is a good time to reflect upon the ups and downs of the last year.  We have helped people to improve their lives by quitting smoking, overcoming phobias and anxieties, and working towards their weight loss goals, among other accomplishments.

2018 promises to be even more exciting.  The Madison Hypnosis Center has recently changed its name (from Guiding Hand Hypnosis) and is moving to a new space nearby in March of 2018 as we expand our services.  We are pleased to announce that we will be moving two doors down into 6328 Monona Drive, which is located in the space next to the Cozy Home.  Once the move is complete, offerings will be expanded to include a variety of classes to meet your needs in mindfulness and fitness.  Classes will range from informative classes, group hypnosis, coaching, and exercise classes of various levels.

Madison Hypnosis Center new
New location for the Madison Hypnosis Center: 6328 Monona Drive

Madison Hypnosis Center will continue offering high quality individual hypnosis services to help you meet your goals or make personal changes.  As the New Year is often a time of goal setting and personal renewal, take this time to assess your values and intentions for the upcoming year, and let us be a part of your journey to help set you on your new path.   Many people make resolutions for the New Year, but not many people follow through with them.  Hypnosis can be a great tool to help you get the most out of the new year.