Stress Hypnotherapy

I often think of hypnotherapy for stress as a ‘mental massage’

Hypnotherapy for Stress

Why Do We Get Stressed?

Stress. We’ve all experienced it. Whether it’s due to environmental factors – such as work deadlines – or psychological – such as an ongoing relationship troubles – the impact of stress can be extremely damaging to our health.

But why do we get stressed? Well, it’s all down to our biology. Way back in the day (I’m talking primitive, caveman times), our stress responses evolved in order to help us survive. Our ancestors would have experienced stresses in the form of short, sharp shocks: a rock falling, for example, or needing to escape a predator. Our primitive stress response would be to pump out hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which would result in a whole host of physiological changes:

 

  • An increase of blood supply to our arms and legs – very handy for both fighting and running away from predators.
  • Increased breathing in order to take in more oxygen and send it to the brain so we’re feeling sharp and alert to tackle the stressful situation.
  • An increase in the digestion of sugars, so that your body is utilising every source of energy possible to either ‘fight’ or ‘flee’.
  • A decrease in sensitivity to pain – this makes it much easier to focus on escaping.
  • A decrease in your immune system – does your body need to worry about catching a cold when there is an imminent threat to life?
  • A decrease in the blood supply to the language parts of the brain – this is a ‘modern’ part of the brain so not necessary for those primitive ancestors of ours.

These stress responses were pretty sufficient for those times, and for the short timeframes in which our ancestors experienced stress.

But times have changed.

We no longer have to stress about escaping predators (unless we’re talking playground cliques and scary bosses).

Oh no.  Instead, we experience the daily stress of navigating motherhood with a career, or the ongoing financial stress of not having enough money to start a pension.  We experience the stress of social media, of comparison, of feeling inadequate.  We experience the stress of taking on more and more responsibilities because we can’t bear to say ‘no’, or the stress that inevitably arises within relationships.

And despite EVERYTHING (not least the origins of stress) that has evolved over tens of thousands of years, the stress responses our brains produce have not.

The Effects of Stress on Our Health

Now, when we consider that our modern stresses are not typically the short, sharp shocks like those of our ancestral counterparts, this is when we can see how stress can have such a negative impact on both our mental AND physical health.  We can experience:

 

  • A prolonged increase in blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.
  • A prolonged increase in the digestion of sugars, which can lead to sugar cravings and energy imbalances, and even result in type two diabetes.
  • A prolonged decrease in the digestion of everything else can often result in bowel issues and IBS.
  • A decrease in sensitivity to pain – this makes it more difficult in identifying if something is wrong.
  • A decrease in your immune system, which often results in you getting ill more often, or suffering infections.
  • A decrease in the blood supply to the language parts of the brain, which can make you feel irritable, as well as reduce memory, limit language skills, inhibit your analytical skills and make decision-making difficult.

 

In addition to all of the above, there are also many emotional effects of stress, such as anger, aggression, paranoia, loneliness, anxiety, panic attacks and depressions, as well as psychological effects such as a reduction in self-esteem and increased reliance on coping strategies such as alcohol and tobacco.

What Can I Do to Reduce Stress?

OK, OK, I can hear you say – I get it.  Stress is bad for my physical health as well as my mental health.  But I can’t just snap my fingers and ‘just don’t stress’ (as some very well-meaning but irritating people like to advise).  So, what can I do?

Here are some steps you can take today to help reduce stress:

 

  • Meditation or listening to relaxation audios, even for just 5 minutes a day, can be very beneficial (if you don’t know where to start then the HeadSpace app is great).
  • Make time for self-care – whether that’s a massage, time out reading a book, or just meeting a friend for coffee.
  • Deep breathing into your abdomen helps to slow your breathing and heart rate.
  • Visualisation of a place that you feel safe, calm and peaceful.  Imagine you are there and work through all of your senses – what can you feel, smell, see, taste, hear?
  • Go for a brisk walk in the fresh air – this helps to deepen breathing and relieve muscle tension
  • Physical activities such as yoga, tai chi and swimming are often recommended due to their combination of movement with focus, which can help you to feel calm.  Personally, I lift heavy weights when I feel stressed – whatever exercise you enjoy is the best exercise to unwind!
  • Get some more sleep – take note of how much you are actually getting and if it’s not enough, take steps (such as going to bed earlier, banning electronics in the bedroom etc) to improve this.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help with Stress

Hypnotherapy can be used to break negative thought patterns and reduce your perception of how stressful YOU experience a situation.  This is done through accessing your unconscious mind (the part that deals with memory, emotion and automatic behaviours) rather than the conscious mind (which deals with rationale and logic) – meaning that we’re accessing the part of our mind that responds automatically without us realising!

In a hypnotherapy session, I will help you enter a state of deep relaxation known as trance.  In trance, your unconscious mind is more open to suggestion and we can use this to help you regain control, reduce your symptoms, and change the way you respond to stress.  Working with me is always a personal process and so I will use coaching and hypnotherapy techniques most suitable for you, such as relaxation, mindfulness, re-framing, and visualisation, as well as suggestive and protective metaphor.  I will also teach you self- hypnosis and relaxation techniques you can use yourself, empowering you to take control.

I often think of hypnotherapy for stress as a ‘mental massage’ – just as a full body massage is relaxing for your muscles, hypnotherapy can be extremely relaxing for your mind.  If you’re experiencing short-term stress, such as sitting an exam or speaking in public, hypnotherapy can be used to release the stress symptoms as well as work on helping you to feel more confident going into that situation.  If you are experiencing long-term stress (chronic stress) then I would certainly recommend you see your GP in the first instance.  If your GP is happy for you to use hypnotherapy, I would create a package of sessions to reduce immediate symptoms whilst empowering you to make the changes necessary to live a life that makes you happy!

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