Stress and anxiety are so ubiquitous that it can be easy to underestimate the profound impact they have on well-being. However, studies show that too much stress undermines both physical and mental health, not only causing anxiety but also depression, sleep problems, low self-esteem, body aches, digestive disturbances, and heart palpitations. There is even evidence that chronic stress is linked to a higher likelihood of serious health problems—including cancer and heart disease. So whether you’re burned out from work, worrying about relationship issues or just generally struggle with anxiety, it’s smart to have strategies to combat that stress.
Hypnotherapy may not be your first thought when you’re wondering how to treat stress and anxiety, but research indicates that it is highly effective. It may be the case that your doctor also advises medication, stress management courses or some form of psychotherapy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from hypnotherapy as well.
How Hypnotherapy Reprograms Your Thoughts
Unlike some other interventions, hypnotherapy doesn’t merely cover up or distract attention from the problem of stress. Instead, it gets right to the root of stress, uncovering and changing the ways that your body and mind respond to triggers. It also provides you with practical, actionable techniques that you can use outside of your hypnotherapy sessions. For some people, hypnotherapy yields tangible benefits about just one session, activating dormant parts of the brain and lifting you out of a negative cycle you may have been trapped in for months or years. For others, several sessions are needed before obvious improvements take hold, but in both cases, the results are often seen much sooner than they might be in more traditional therapies. Here’s what you can expect.
Step 1: Defining the Problem
First, your hypnotherapist will work with you to explore and define the problem as you see it. For example, you’ll talk about what you think causes your stress, when it started, where you feel it in your body, and how you feel it affects your emotions. This is not only helpful for your hypnotherapist in their quest to understand you— but it also pushes your brain into a productive, problem-solving mode and helps it to make the subconscious connection that will be crucial later in the process. Once those neurons start firing, you’re primed for positive change.
Step 2: Bypassing Your Conscious Mind
Your hypnotherapist will gently lead you into a hypnotic trance—a state of deep and profound relaxation in which brain activity slows down and you are more receptive to positive suggestions. When you are hypnotized, the therapist can circumvent the defenses of your conscious mind, instead of speaking directly to the subconscious (where all your deepest emotions and basic assumptions are housed). The language and techniques used will help to effectively “interrupt” the negative thinking that intensifies stress and anxiety. Some people worry about getting stuck in a hypnotic trance, but this isn’t possible—you can exit a trance at any time, and your hypnotherapist cannot impose their values on you. Your mind can only be changed in ways you already endorse.
Step 3: Tapping Into Your Inner Resources
Hypnotherapy is all about helping you make good use of resources that you’ve had inside you all along. However, since these resources exist at the subconscious level, you need some assistance to bring them to your awareness so that you can train yourself to use them whenever you encounter triggers for stress or anxiety. How exactly this happens will depend on the favored techniques of your hypnotherapist and on what works well for you. However, common ways of helping you tap into these resources include creative visualization, neurolinguistic programming, and going through old memories so that they can be seen in a new, more empowering way. As you continue with your hypnotherapy program, the sessions will lead these strategies and resources to move to your conscious mind, and you’ll automatically know what to do to manage negative emotions and experiences much more effectively.
Step 4: Reframing the Problem
At this stage of your stress and anxiety hypnosis program, you will be aware of your problem and more mindful of possible solutions, and you’ll have moved into an emotional place where it feels easier to take action to combat stress and anxiety. When asked about their sessions, hypnotherapy clients often explain that they feel like they can really experience and use positive feelings in a new way. When stress or anxiety come into your life, you will be able to put them into perspective more effectively, focusing on what you can do to make things better. And, as you’ll see, this is helpful not only for coping with stress but for getting the most out of your life more broadly.