When we are stressed, the anxiety response triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol which flood through our systems. Sometimes this causes a temporary 'high', because in evolutionary terms, we are designed to overcome fear and find a way to survive no matter what. The fight or flight syndrome makes us temporarily unaware of pain or exhaustion so we power through. We can even run with a broken leg.
The problem today is that we have ancient brains but modern lifestyles. While our ancestors could kill a snake and know they were safe, we cannot totally eradicate our stressors and so we never truly relax. After a tense meeting ends, for example, we may still be on edge, irritable and exhausted.
If you feel stress is getting on top of you, it is vital to make changes as prolonged stress is very destructive to health, lowering resistance to infections, causing weight gain, sleeplessness and even major illnesses like heart attacks and cancers.
Stress also undermines our psychological resilience. We lose perspective on problems, everyday nuisances become overwhelming, a fun challenge turns into a threat and, as pessimism takes over, we become anxious about the future. Many people self-medicate with alcohol and food to relieve stress, and prescriptions for anti-depressants have increased dramatically.
A hypnotherapist can help you determine what is causing stress in your life and identify ways to make the changes that restore balance so you feel calm and more secure. Stressed people often feel worthless so the first rule is to help clients relax and get rid of guilt. Self-blame is very harmful and traps you in old patterns.
Hypnosis gets to the root of stress and stops the unrealistic expectations and demands on ourselves, as well as the automatic thoughts and emotional responses which induce stress. Through a range of techniques, including visualisations and breathing exercises you will also be able to break unhealthy habits, including overwork or people-pleasing, that feed stress. As the mind clears, clients can see the steps they need to take to regain control. Clients are often surprised that this is a much more comfortable and quicker process than they expected.
Even seemingly intractable problems can be helped. If you have been persevering in a situation that harms you, an abusive or controlling relationship say, which cannot be improved no matter what you do, hypnosis makes it possible to let go of the need to persevere and find a way to be your own person again.
If you are stressed, don't try to grin and bear it or tell yourself it will go away by itself. It probably won't. Each moment of each day, stress is eroding your confidence, damaging your health and speeding up the aging process. Remember, it happens on the inside first. Make those useful and necessary changes and stay on top of stress forever.
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About Marian Barry
Marian Barry is an Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at the Harley St Hypnotherapy Clinic London and Gt Abington, Cambridge. She has given talks at international conferences around the world specialising in personal change and confidence building. She is a best selling author of many popular works published by Cambridge University Press.