Modern life is full of responsibilities and demands, deadlines, frustrations, and events that are out of our control. We all experience stress at different times and to different degrees in our lives. Stress management can significantly help you deal with these pressures and allow you to function in a much more productive way, while keeping more calm, clear and focused.
What is stress?
Stress is a normal response to experiences and events that make you feel threatened in any way. When you feel a threat or sense danger, the body reacts with activating an automatic process known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. The subconscious doesn’t differentiate between real and made up experiences, and so this reaction happens whether the threat is real or imaginary.
This response is the body’s way of protecting you, it’s a survival mechanism. Your heart beat increases, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath becomes shallow and fast, and senses become sharper. In real danger situations this can save your life, providing you more strength and stamina, increasing your focus and speeding your reaction time, allowing you to take action (fight) or escape from the danger (flight).
We usually think of stress-triggers as being negative events, such as work overload, busy schedule or relationship problems. However, any situation that puts high or new demands on you or forces you to make changes or adjustments can be stressful. This can include positive events such as getting married, buying a house, moving to a new place, getting a promotion etc. Stress in our daily life can also be a positive thing. In small doses and for short periods of time, it can help you perform better under pressure and motivate you, keeping you focused and alert.
The body responds in the same way to both real or imagined ‘danger’ and threatening scenarios. It also doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological ‘threats’. So when you’re stressed over a busy schedule, a bill due or an argument with a friend, your body responds in exactly the same way as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. Therefore you might be experiencing this state of physiological high alert as a result of mental stress, tension or negativity. If you spend a lot of your time worrying or engaging in negative thoughts, your emergency stress response may be activated most of the time. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to shut it off. If you’re spending too much time in this emergency state, it can have serious consequences on your mind and body, as well as on your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life. Our bodies are left exhausted, chemically imbalanced and toxic, and are not given the chance to spend time in the calm state when it can renew itself and heal. Over time this can manifest as illness and disease.
Many people accept stress as a fact of life – which is unnecessary. This is because stress is so common it has become ‘normal’. But without stress management and if you don’t do anything about it you will not only continue to suffer but you won’t realise the long term damage it’s causing. Stress can be incredibly difficult to overcome alone and so receiving care from a specialist you will learn tools so that you no longer have to feel the pain of this emotional and sometimes physical distress.
The effects of stress
Here are some of the symptoms stress can have on your body, thoughts, feelings and behaviour:
- Chest pain and increased heartbeat
- Loss of sex drive
- Stomach problems
- Sleep problems
- Muscle tension, aches and pains
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Frequent colds
- Memory problems
- Anxiety or constant worrying
- Inability to relax or ‘turn off’
- Difficulties concentrating
- Irritability or anger
- Mood changes
- Restlessness and agitation
- Apathy, lack of motivation or focus
- Loneliness and isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Angry outbursts
- Social withdrawal
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using smoking, alcohol, or drugs to cope or relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s highly recommended that you access and use some stress management tools. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. It interferes with almost every system in your body; it can suppress the immune system, raise blood pressure, and speed up the ageing process.
Chronic stress can also cause or exacerbate many conditions:
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Heart disease
- Skin conditions
- Autoimmune diseases
- Anxiety disorders and panic attacks
So how can hypnotherapy help with stress management?
Hypnosis is in itself a state of deep relaxation, mental as well as physical. Therefore, just entering the hypnotic state is already on its own an effective tool for stress management.
In this relaxed mode, your body is able to regain strength, heal and repair itself. As I always teach my clients self-hypnosis, it will provide you with a powerful tool you can implement on your own to access this calm state at any time. It also allows you to communicate with your subconscious mind, and to gain more control over your thoughts, feelings and responses. In this way, you can use hypnotherapy to deal with the underlying causes of your stress, as well as to increase focus and motivation, achieve goals more easily, improve your time management, change unhelpful habits, gain clarity and more.
We can’t control many of the events happening around us. It’s our reaction to events, rather than events themselves that is crucial to our experience. Hypnotherapy for stress management can provide you with better ways for your subconscious to react to uncertainties and challenges that are just a normal part of life.