Awareness of anxiety and how hypnotherapy can help
We are increasingly becoming aware of mental health issues like anxiety.
Traumatic events such as the Grenville Tower fire, the Manchester bombing and London attacks highlights the challenges people face emotionally in very difficult situations. What support may be offered to these survivors, both immediately and months or years later, and how this helps people to adapt to new circumstances, broadens our understanding of services available and what can help.
The media coverage of such events increasingly raises the impact of trauma on an individual's mental health. Therapeutic support is encouraged and considered necessary after such events. This may cause individuals observing this process to reflect on difficult experiences they may have witnessed and how it has affected them emotionally.
People in the public eye are increasingly feeling able to discuss their mental health challenges, what they have tried and what has helped them, more openly. This influences our perceptions of emotional challenges and with more openness about struggles, and may cause us to consider people we know with similar concerns. We may also feel more questioning of our own mental well-being.
As it has become more acceptable to talk about mental health issues, both in our personal relationships and in the working environment, our awareness has grown of how difficult experiences impact on how we function in everyday life.
Social media, news coverage, screen time, multi-tasking, increasing expectations and less personal connection all impact on how we feel emotionally. There are many other influences too, and research shows that anxiety is on the increase.
So what is anxiety?
Anxiety is part of a natural body response, where the sympathetic nervous system is activated to react to a threat or danger by initiating the 'fight or flight' response. The normal response raises our heart rate, to get the blood pumping around the body, so we can either fight or run away. This is part of the autonomic nervous system and the complementary part of this system, or parasympathetic nervous system, allows the stress reaction to be turned off, therefore allowing you to return to a calmer state. This response slows down the heart rate and is sometimes referred to as 'rest and digest'. These systems act largely unconsciously.
As we live in much safer times and with few physical threats, we can misinterpret irritations and challenges in everyday life, causing us to be on high alert even when no danger is present. In this situation the sympathetic nervous system can malfunction, leaving you with the feelings of dread or fear, as associated with anxiety.
Another area involved with the autonomic responses is the amygdala and mass of cells in the brain is involved in many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those relating to survival. The amygdala is responsible for processing fear, anger and pleasure, and particularly how memories are stored. We may learn through repeated experiences to fear something, and this can change neural pathways as to how these memories are stored. Our experiences can become associated to sounds or feelings which influence how we respond to it, even though we may feel we have little control of it, as these are subconscious responses.
Hypnotherapy is a therapy which is gaining evidence for being effective in helping individuals to develop strategies which help them manage their anxiety better. Organisations such as AnxietyUk offer Hypnotherapy, as well as CBT or counselling, to support people with anxiety.
Hypnotherapists often work with clients to explore what is impacting on their life, and help them to take small steps to improve their functioning.
The mind is very powerful, and often we are unaware of the impact messages or experiences have, but we absorb it all. The autonomic nervous system has the processes in place. Thinking patterns develop from many events, but often it is the sustained challenge which creates unwanted feelings and behaviours. We may be consciously aware of many processes but do not have any knowledge of what impacts us subconsciously. When our behaviours do not make sense, or are impacting on our lives, it may be time to consider accessing the subconscious.
With a trained Hypnotherapist, firstly careful exploration identifies with you what needs to change. Then in the inward focusing state of hypnosis, under skilled guidance, the subconscious can be given small steps which promote change. This helps you to develop strategies to shift thoughts, feelings and behaviours to a more manageable place.
This is the beginning of the journey for managing anxiety symptoms and is certainly worth considering.
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About Jo Copland-Dando
Jo Copland-Dando is an Integrated Hypnotherapist with a background in Health. She works from a purpose built, safe and confidential space and specialises in Anxiety, working with AnxietyUk to support clients.