An article written by Fiona Alston for Women’s Inspire Network
Helen Birch is a UK based businesswoman from Yorkshire, she owns Helen Birch Hypnotherapy.
She is one of the newer members of the Women’s Inspire Network and was introduced to the global women’s business network when a friend recommended that she follow Samantha Kelly, founder of WIN, on the social media platform Twitter.
For many years she worked as a primary school teacher so you could say her career move was quite an unusual one. But burnout from her teaching position sent her on a different path.
She was suffering badly from stress and anxiety and was beginning to have panic attacks so when she sought professional help, she was recommended antidepressants.
“I’m quite anti-medicine and while I was having a last look around, after trying mindfulness and things like that, I came across hypnotherapy,” she explains. “I was very sceptical of it at first, but I thought I would just give it a chance. Because if not I’d have to go to the doctors and get medication.”
To her surprise, and relief, it was just the ticket.
“Within ten to fifteen minutes a lot of the stress I was feeling was reduced. I used to feel it a lot in my jaw. Once I could feel it going from my jaw, I knew my whole body was relaxing,” she says. “We did a couple of sessions, and without sounding too cliché, it changed my life.”
“It literally gave me my life back. I was able to handle things better at work, I was able to be a much better partner at home and it reinstalled my confidence in myself.”
She really took an interest in the treatment and decided during the maternity leave of her second child she would study Hypnotherapy.
A year later she was qualified to treat clients. She found a common theme with them, and it gave her the niche she has today. They all seemed to have sex and relationship problems, and this piqued Birch’s interest to delve deeper into her research.
“I took it upon myself to start researching lots of different techniques, different mind reprogramming methods and combining them all into hypnotherapy and sexual relationship therapy – there are not many people combining the two,” she explains.
“It’s where my passion has taken me now.”
Well, that is quite the pivot – primary school teacher to sex therapist.
Many things can lead to a disjointed sex life, pressure at work, a busy family life, those peri and menopausal years, and of course self confidence issues. It’s not uncommon for women to let their own needs fall through the cracks when putting all their energy and attention into building a business and balancing a household.
Birch has been kind enough to share some of her tips to reignite a healthy sex life for those of us who have not been giving ourselves the attention that we need.
It’s an excellent stress reliever although many women will say the last thing on their mind, when they are extremely stressed, is the thought of having sex. The first thing to point out here is, you do not need to have full blown sex to enjoy pleasure.
Birch explains why female healthy pleasure is so good for us.
“It’s self-care, it’s like exercise but just a bit nicer and a bit easier. You just need to think of taking five to ten minutes for yourself. It’s just exploring your body, you don’t even need to go anywhere near your private parts,” she explains.
“It could just be changing the lighting in the bedroom or bathroom and running a nice bath with essential oils and getting in. And just becoming mindful in that moment, noticing how the water feels, noticing the candles. Every time your mind wanders, just bring it back to the moment.”
This is very helpful for people who are initially resistant, just begin to explore your body, see where you like to be touched and where you don’t, how much pressure you like or and how the temperature feels on your skin. Do you prefer it hot or cold?
“It can be nothing at all to do with sex, it’s just reconnecting with your body and mind and deciding what sensations and feelings you like,” she adds.
Birch recommends for women with a low libido to start off with just yourself. That way there is no pressure of needing to orgasm. It’s about giving yourself permission to explore without the pressure of an outcome – rewiring the body and the mind to see this as a positive experience – get out of your head and into your body.
This should in turn help you become more open to your partners initiation of sex instead of closing down the idea completely.
“If sex becomes ‘on the table’ with your partner, instead of an automatic no, be open to the idea of it,” she says.
Communicate to your partner that you are open to the idea of where it might lead but with no expectation of the outcome.
“You can be so quick when you have a low sex drive, or you are just not in the mood, to say no straightway. Yet sometimes having some love and attention, cuddling each other and just spending a bit of time together, can totally calm the nervous system.”
“That can then tinkle little ideas of ‘oh, this feels nice, or maybe this feeling could lead to this’, ” she says.
Birch compliments her advice with hypnotherapy which can release the shame and guilt some people can feel around sex.
If you’d like to learn more, you can check our Birch’s website here.
Right, who’s off for a bath?