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Stress & Anxiety

Hypnotherapy for Stress & Anxiety

Stress is actually a very normal feeling. It is a natural reaction to a challenging situation. Our body reacts to a stressor by releasing hormones which cause our brains to be more alert, our muscles to tense, our pulse to increase, our heart rate to increase and our breathing to quicken. This is how our body protects us and prepares us to cope with difficult situations. Usually these symptoms are subtle and don’t interfere too much with our daily life, passing quickly and easily. For example, it is very common to feel some anxiety over a stressful situation such as an exam, but the body’s response can help us to feel focused and perform well.

The difference between the words stress, fear and anxiety isn't always clear, but in a way, the definition does not matter too much. Acute stress is usually experienced around an event or situation which passes quickly and our bodies are cleverly designed to cope with this type of stress well. However, chronic stress occurs when a problem situation goes on for a long time and this can cause a variety of health problems because your body is staying alert for much longer than is helpful. Longer term problems could include problems at work, in relationships, money worries, family or health problems. Many people experience stress and anxiety only in particular situations or with particular people, places or things, others feel a more generalised anxiety. Stress can feel like we are under pressure and we find it difficult to cope.

How can it affect my health?

We often react to stress with anxiety symptoms. This can interfere with our sleep, appetite, mood and our thoughts. We often find coping mechanisms which don’t really benefit us, such as behaviours like nail biting, teeth grinding, or smoking and drinking. Excessive or prolonged stress and anxiety can also exacerbate existing physical symptoms like IBS, tinnitus and skin conditions. It is believed that it can also cause aches and pains and affect the immune system.

Many people experience levels of anxiety which interfere with their daily life in a major way, especially if they are suffering from conditions like social anxiety, performance anxiety, irrational fears and phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, compulsive behaviours or addictive habits, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety and childhood anxiety. Please see your GP before making an appointment, to ensure that you are receiving the best support for you.

Some common symptoms of stress and anxiety:

  • Sleeping Problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time
  • unhealthy coping methods such as drinking, smoking, overwork
  • sweating
  • Headaches
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Feeling on edge
  • 'butterflies' in your stomach

  • loss of appetite
  • Muscle Tension or Pain
  • Feeling tearful
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • Palpitations

how can hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy can work with the root problems of the stress, anxiety and fear, and help you to feel stronger, calmer and more confident, as well as to find healthier ways to cope in the present and in the future. It can enable you to feel more relaxed about yourself and the situation. It can also be effective in reducing fears and phobias, habits and behaviours caused by the stress and anxiety. Depending on your situation, it may only take a few sessions to help you to feel more in control, or you may find that you like to come every so often for a top-up. Everyone is different and so each appointment is uniquely tailored to suit you. In a hypnotherapy session we would first spend a little time chatting about when and how you experience your symptoms and how you would like to feel instead. We identify triggers and stressors and where appropriate I can offer counselling support and look at practical and lifestyle changes.

Hypnotherapy begins with relaxation, allowing your mind and body to gradually and comfortably feel safe enough to let go of tension and let worries drift away for a while. It can enable you to find a place of peace in your mind and feelings of calm in your body. I can teach you relaxation and self-hypnosis as well as give you a relaxation recording so that you can continue to enjoy this time to yourself whenever you need it.

When you are relaxed in hypnosis, your unconscious mind is more open to positive suggestions and so while you are resting comfortably, your unconscious mind can receive suggestions to help you to cope better and feel better about yourself and your life. The trance state is really just a comfortable daydream feeling. We go in and out of trances throughout the day when doing very normal things like being absorbed in a good TV programme, book or piece of music. When you are in a trance, you are not asleep or unconscious, you are aware and awake and will probably hear everything I say, although your mind might want to drift away for a while, which is fine. You are in complete control.

We know that the unconscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined, which is why we can feel so bad when we think about something worrying. For this reason we use this powerful tool in a positive and beneficial way during hypnotherapy using your imagination or creating visualisations, to give the unconscious mind a new way of looking at things. We can offer suggestions to your unconscious mind to consider this new perspective, releasing old limiting behaviours or beliefs and bringing in new ones.

What can I do to help myself?

There are also things you can do for yourself in between sessions, such as listen to the relaxation recording. It can also be useful to do some relaxation exercises like yoga or tai chi, or take some time out each day to nourish, or recharge yourself, doing something you enjoy. You might find exercise that helps you to use up some of that stress, like running or walking in a green space, going for a swim or a cycle, or even dancing. Find what works for you, this is your life and you are the only one who can truly choose what feels good for you. We can’t always change the situation we are in, or the people in our lives, or avoid difficult situations, so why not consider changing yourself so that you can cope better with your daily life and so that these things don’t bother you in quite the same way again? That is something you already have the power to do.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is also helpful to be aware of your thoughts as you go through your day. Notice what you are saying to yourself. Are you judging, being critical, negative, worrying about what might go wrong, going over the past? The past is gone and the future has not happened yet, so you might as well be in the moment. Being in the moment is the only place you can actually truly live. So, in the little moments that we have be aware of your breath, of what you are doing or where you are, and just be there. If you are being negative then just notice that. You don’t need to fight your thoughts or find the positive every time, but it can help to acknowledge the thoughts. You might find that the thought is not really true, or is just an old habit. It could be one of those, What if..? thoughts that lead you off into a spiral of worry. Well, What if things go okay? or What if your day goes well? or What if it does go wrong - could you still be okay?

We know that when we are thinking negative thoughts we can actually physically and emotionally feel bad, because our unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. So you might as well spend some time imagining what you would like, rather than what you don’t want! Allow yourself some space to wonder, to explore, to consider a different viewpoint, or just breathe for a bit. Let yourself settle. When you get caught up in your worrying thoughts, you can always choose to simply follow your breath in and out for a while, not thinking about it, just noticing the flow of air coming in and then the tiny little pause before you breathe out, feeling the temperature of the air, all of it’s sensations … just noticing. You do not always need to be doing something, or being something, you can just be. Things often seem to take care of themselves when you are just being, going with the flow of one moment to the next.

"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Francis of Assisi

Who else can help?

It is helpful to speak to your GP about any symptoms you may have to ensure that you are in good health and to get any support you need. There are also practices and techniques which you can learn such as meditation, mindfulness or you may benefit from counselling or a support group. It could be that there are practical solutions to your problems and talking to friends or experts in that area could help you to resolve a situation. You might find that connecting with others, whether it’s socially or through volunteering or exercising, you feel more supported. Take control where you can. You are probably stronger and more able than you think.

“… be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should …”
Excerpt from Desiderata, Max Ehrman

Testimonials

Before I started my course of hypnotherapy, I was a shaky mess before performing on stage. As a musician it's vital that I'm at my best before playing and I struggled further as my exam marks went down. I had tried so many methods and I was sceptical when someone mentioned hypnotherapy but now I see it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only has it stopped my shaking and nervousness before performing, it's also helped me realise why I felt that way. This has been helpful because whenever negative thoughts come into my head I can mute them, almost like a radio. Amanda made me realise that I can control how I feel and that nothing is ever as bad as it seems and I can't thank her enough for changing my life in that way. MF