We all experience stress at one stage or another. It can be caused by our professional or personal lives, and each individual will cope with it differently. What one person may regard as highly stressful, another person may regard as highly motivational. Problems occur when individuals perceive themselves as unable to cope with the level of stress they face. This can then impact both their mental and physical health.
Most of us think we know what stress is. Yet it seems to be a ‘catch-all’ term that’s used to describe feelings ranging from minor irritation to the cause of a mental and/or physical breakdown. There isn’t a strict medical definition, so it can be difficult to find out what the causes are.
There are however many treatments and techniques that you can implement for stress management, including hypnotherapy for stress.
This page will delve deeper into what stress is, and discover its causes and symptoms. We will also explore how to cope with stress, and how hypnotherapy for stress can help.
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What is stress?
Stress can help or hinder a person depending on their ability to cope. It can motivate individuals to perform at their optimum level and boost energy. However as a hindrance, it can cause major health problems. It’s caused by the body's natural reaction to defend itself, so in an emergency stress will force us to exert maximum effort to protect ourselves. Yet when our body is prepared to face an emergency and no emergency happens, all the extra energy has nowhere to go, which can cause problems. Feelings of anger, depression, distrust and rejection can permeate.
If we live with these feelings for too long, the consequences for our mental and physical health can be dire. It can ultimately lead to headaches, insomnia and high blood pressure. So it’s no surprise that people are trying to find the best tried and tested ways to effectively relieve and deal with it.
Most of us can deal with a certain amount, as we know it's part of our day-to-day lives. We just manage to push on and get on with everything. Yet suffering with chronic stress is physically, psychologically and emotionally draining. When it reaches this stage, it’s classed as a ‘stress disorder’.
These disorders can be very debilitating; they can prevent us from fulfilling our potential in both our professional and personal lives. Very few people know any effective stress management techniques or how to cope with stress in its severe forms. In some cases, the individual may not even know the causes.
As each individual deals with it differently, it can be hard to identify the exact cause. However, there are a number of common causes. The brain doesn’t tend to distinguish between real or imaginary stress. It’s often created by what we think will happen rather than what will actually happen.
A number of common causes include:
- big changes
- high pressure environments
- constant worrying
- not having enough going on in your life
- not having any control over a situation
- having an overwhelming amount of responsibility.
There might be a single cause of your stress, but it can also occur because of a number of small challenges that have built up over time. This in turn might make it harder for you to distinguish what the root cause is.
Different situations can create varying levels of stress. The amount we feel may depend on:
- Our perception of the event – Our past experiences, thought processes and our self-esteem might dictate our perception of the situation.
- Our emotional resilience – Our feelings towards the situation – i.e. the more resilient you are, the more likely you can persevere through tough situations.
- How we deal with pressure – Our skills we use to deal with pressure.
Everybody is different. You might find a situation at work stressful; yet another person on your team might seem fine. For example, some people can find public speaking fun and comfortable, whereas others dread the feeling of being the centre of attention, and exhibit signs of stress.
Here are a number of situational causes:
- injury, illness or long-term health problems
- breaking up with a partner or getting a divorce
- being a carer for a relative or friend who needs a lot of support
- losing your job
- problems with housing conditions
- money worries.
‘Happy’ events such as marriage or moving house can also cause stress. This is because along with the excitement, these situations bring massive changes in your life. These ‘happy’ situations can be difficult to deal with due to the pressure or need to feel happy.
If you know a certain situation is causing these feelings, hypnotherapy for stress management might be able to help.
If you are experiencing stress you may exhibit physical, emotional and/or behavioural changes.
When you are in a demanding situation, your body releases more ‘fight or flight’ chemicals to prepare for a potential emergency. Noradrenaline and adrenaline raises your blood pressure, increases the rate at which you sweat and increases your heart rate. These chemicals can also reduce your stomach activity and blood flow to your skin. Cortisol releases sugar and fat into your body, yet it also hampers the effectiveness of your immune system. These internal changes make it easier for you to run away or fight.
Sadly, these changes won’t help you when you’re in a busy office environment or on the tube in rush hour. You won’t be able to fight, nor will you be able to run away. So in turn, you won’t be able to use up the chemicals your body has produced. If this happens continuously, the changes that the chemicals produce can damage your health.
As a result, you could feel nauseous and experience indigestion and headaches. You might perspire more, suffer from aches and pains, have heart palpitations and start to breathe faster. In the long-term there might be a risk of strokes and heart attacks.
There are a number of feelings you may experience when going through a demanding situation. These include frustration, fear, anger, depression and anxiety. The unfortunate thing about these feelings is that they can feed on each other, which can lead to physical symptoms. Extreme anxiety, which can be caused by stress, can cause headaches, heart palpitations and giddiness. These symptoms may lead you to feel even more stressed as you may worry you have an even more serious condition.
You may start to behave differently when you become stressed. As an example, you may become indecisive, defensive or withdrawn. You may find it difficult to get to sleep. And even if you are normally a mild-mannered individual, you may become physically or verbally aggressive.
How to cope with stress
Different occupations will be more demanding than others, and in work, stress is recognised to be one of the main causes of sick absence from work. Research suggests that about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress that they believe is making them ill. Changes in personal lives, such as the death of a loved one, a new relationship, a job promotion or the birth of a child can also cause it as adjustments in our lives are needed to be able to cope.
The aim should never be to eliminate stress completely, but find effective ways of managing it and using it to our advantage.
Tips for managing stress:
- prepare to the best of your ability for stressful events
- try to look at change as a positive thing, not as a threat
- try not to worry about things you have no control over
- eat a well-balanced diet
- try to get about eight hours sleep per night
- set realistic goals
- ask for help from family, friends and professionals, including hypnotherapists.
Stress management techniques
Here are a number of stress management techniques that can help you learn how to cope with stress.
Train your thoughts to focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly a few times and mentally scan your body. Try to discover what areas are feeling tense and loosen them up. Rotate your head slowly a few times then roll your shoulders. Relax your muscles. Recall some pleasant thoughts. Take a few more deep breathes and you should feel a little more relaxed.
Shut your eyes and start to breathe through your nose. When you exhale, say a short word or phrase such as ‘one or ‘I feel quiet’. Continue this process for five minutes. If your mind wanders onto other things, think about your breathing techniques and your word or phrase.
Changing your behaviour
Changing behaviours and thought patterns can help people learn how to cope with stress. You could start to share your expectations with others, eat healthily, exercise and check your assumptions.
Hypnosis is known to be a powerful stress reduction tool, so if you want to complement your hypnotherapy sessions with self-hypnosis at home – try this out.
1. Find quiet room, free from distraction.
2. Relax in a comfortable position. This could be reclined on your favourite seat or sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position.
3. Decide on a goal for the session. If you want to ease your stress levels, focus on the positive side of that statement. Instead say you want to become calmer in your chosen situation, and focus on that. Your subconscious mind won't always recognise the negatives, so concentrating on a positive can be far more beneficial.
4. Start taking deep breaths. Imagine you are breathing in calmness and breathing out all of the stress from your day or week. Feel the oxygen spread throughout your body.
5. Pick a relaxing environment, and imagine you were there, leaving your current surroundings behind. If you keep your focus, you might feel like you’re in daydream.
6. When you are feeling completely relaxed in your far away environment, repeat a positive phrase to yourself. Try visualising the sound of the word, the word itself or the end result (being stress free).
Counselling and psychotherapy can be effective treatments for stress. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help individuals to understand why they think the way they do and how these thoughts can be positively changed to manage the problem.
As it is not the situation itself that is the direct cause (or everyone would be stressed by the same situation), but our reaction to the situation, hypnotherapy for stress can be effective. By altering our reaction to a particular situation during hypnosis to a more positive one, the feelings about that situation can also become more positive. When an individual then experiences that situation in real life, their reaction will often be much different.
Hypnotherapy for stress
Hypnotherapy can help address your stress and anxiety levels. With the help of a hypnotherapist, you may be able to identify the cause(s) of your stress. Or you may find it’s a past experience, a situation, a physical issue or something to do with a relationship that’s the main cause.
After discovering the root of the problem, you will then agree upon a goal. This goal could include how you would like to feel and what you would like to do in life without stress holding you back. Your hypnotherapist will then work with you to achieve your goals using a variation of different techniques. Each therapist might use different techniques, but they all will work towards the same goal.
Hypnotherapy for stress can start to work in a few sessions, but it entirely depends on your reaction to the therapy. After attending a number of sessions you may start to feel more relaxed and confident in the situations that previously caused you to feel stressed.
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