Stress often arises from our psychological reaction to perceived stressors (events, people or situations that we personally find stressful).
Since both our mind and body will react to stress it seems logical that we learn some form of coping mechanism that will address this situation.
Unfortunately, we often adopt harmful strategies for dealing with stress. Excessive alcohol use, smoking, and drug abuse – whether recreational or prescription – are the norm. We may further abuse our bodies by depriving them of good quality sleep and ingesting large amounts of caffeine and high calorie, low nutritional value food. We may miss meals altogether and find sleep so impossible that we resort to medication. Lack of exercise due to fatigue further compounds our problems. It may be easy to spot someone – whether a friend or colleague – who is under pressure. Perhaps they appear distracted or always tired. They may be biting their nails or constantly fidgeting.
The good news is that we have our own built-in coping mechanism to deal with stress. Stress Management involves a number of factors – recognising and accepting the problem, understanding how it affects you and learning techniques to overcome it.
The most effective method of counteracting stress related problems is hypnosis. Learning to use self-hypnosis is not as difficult as you may think. Many people today purchase ‘self-help’ books and are then disappointed that they don’t seem to be ‘doing it right’. The safest and easiest way of learning self-hypnosis is with a therapist who is experienced and qualified in hypnosis.
Many misconceptions about hypnosis stem from the fact that it is used for entertainment. Although clinicians may disagree about exactly what hypnosis is, it is in fact a natural ability that almost all of us possess. As we relax both the body and the conscious mind, we automatically become more receptive to suggestions and imagery (mental pictures). We can focus on our goals without distraction whilst simultaneously enjoying a feeling of intense well-being. We may, in fact, have experienced similar states of mind before – perhaps whilst daydreaming or being lost in a book. Some of us may enter a trance state whilst driving (highway hypnosis) or during periods of intense exercise.
Although hypnosis is nothing like sleep, it is rather like a state we call hypnogogic sleep – that period when we are falling asleep.
It is often said that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis and certainly we do need to be ‘open to suggestion’ and willing to let go whilst, at the same time, actively participating in achieving a trance state. You
Although almost everyone has the ability to go into trance, some people are able to achieve a particularly deep level of trance, with very little effort.
Since hypnosis is a creative experience, a good imagination is an advantage, though by no means essential. Many ‘good’ hypnotic subjects have higher intelligence with good powers of concentration. An ability to disassociate can be useful although in reality most of us can learn techniques to help us achieve an altered state of consciousness.
Stress is a feature of everyday life. Once a state of mental relaxation is attained it becomes easier to change unacceptable behaviour patterns that may have developed as a result of that stress, such as smoking or eating disorders.
Physical signs of stress – headaches, backache, panic attacks, insomnia – can also be controlled. As stress can also be a factor in a host of more serious medical problems, it is imperative that stress levels are kept at an acceptable level.
There are many ways of achieving a trance state. Some of us may enter it spontaneously whilst others may require some rigid guidelines. Since the easiest way of learning self-hypnosis is IN hypnosis, it is always advisable to visit a competent therapist first, in order to learn the correct techniques for you.
The first part of the ‘induction’ usually concentrates on achieving a state of deep physical relaxation. Your body should be well supported but it is not necessary to lie down – in fact, it could be disadvantage as you are more likely to drop to sleep in this position!
You may be taught how to breathe correctly and how physically to relax each group of muscles until a sensation of physical detachment is attained.
It is not necessary to make your mind a blank – rather, a sense of ‘active relaxation’ is achieved by shutting out distractions whilst focussing on the voice of the therapist.
It is then possible to deepen the levels of trance by a variety of techniques such as synchronising the out-breath with counting, or by visualising walking down a flight of stairs. If you find it easy to form mental pictures you might be asked to imagine a particularly relaxing place. It may be useful to associate a particular word with this image or to link the word to a physical manifestation of relaxation, such as eye closure or feelings of heaviness.
Once the induction is complete you can begin to work on your problems. Hypnosis is not a magic wand. Although some changes can happen quickly, often resulting in a reduction of stress levels and a return to good quality sleep, it may take a number of sessions to achieve complete control over your problems.
Although the subconscious mind is more receptive in trance, it will not normally accept negative or unrealistic suggestions. A skilled therapist can, by using a mixture of imagery and suggestion, help you to reduce stress permanently. Once learnt, self-hypnosis will enable you to reach personal goals and achieve a deep level of relaxation; this can be a useful tool throughout the whole of your life.
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