Combating chronic stress with hypnotherapy techniques

Stress is a natural response of the body to any demand or challenge placed upon it. It's the body's way of preparing to face a perceived threat, either physical or psychological, and is an integral part of the "fight or flight" response.

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When you experience stress, your body releases hormones, primarily cortisol and adrenaline, which cause physical changes such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased respiration. These changes prepare your body to respond to the perceived threat by fighting or fleeing.

Although stress is a primitive response, various factors in modern society cause stress, including work, relationships, financial pressures, health concerns, and major life changes. While some stress is helpful for motivation, prolonged or chronic stress has negative effects on your physical and mental health.

Symptoms of stress include anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, headaches, and digestive problems.

What is chronic stress?

Chronic stress is a type of stress that occurs when you experience ongoing, long-term stressors that feel out of your control or unmanageable. Although the stressors are the same, they last longer. Or you experience multiple stressors in succession.

Unlike acute stress, which is a short-term response to a specific situation or event, chronic stress can persist for weeks, months, or even years. Over time, chronic stress takes a toll on your physical and mental health, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, and digestive problems.

Chronic stress also increases the risk of developing chronic health conditions. It's important to manage chronic stress through lifestyle changes.

Self-hypnosis to manage chronic stress

Self-hypnosis is a form of meditation you can use independently. The primary difference between hypnosis and meditation is the intention. The brain state is the same for most people. Both self-hypnosis and meditation will help you move your body out of the stressed state into the default state. Depending on the situation, you might feel relaxed, you’ll certainly feel focused.

Meditation as part of your daily routine will enhance your well-being by helping you cultivate mindfulness, awareness, and inner peace. Meditation is a simple process that requires practice. The aim is to clear your mind, allowing thoughts to drift in and out.

If you have a specific goal, such as reducing anxiety or improving concentration, use positive affirmations or visualisations as a self-hypnosis tool during your meditation. A self-hypnosis audio will guide you into the meditative state. If your hypnotherapist records an audio for you, they’ll personalise it with your goal in mind. If you use the internet to find a pre-recorded self-hypnosis audio, an internet search will help you find something relevant to your intentions.


Body scan for stress

A body scan is a mindfulness technique that involves bringing your attention to different parts of your body and observing any sensations or feelings you may experience. Here are some steps to help guide you through a basic body scan:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down, ensuring this space is free from disturbances.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, feeling the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
  3. Begin to focus your attention on the top of your head. Notice any sensations you feel, such as warmth, tingling, or pressure.
  4. Slowly move your attention down your body, focusing on each body part one at a time. As you focus on each body part without judgment, observe any sensations or feelings that arise. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the body part you were focusing on.
  5. Move down your body, scanning each body part in turn, including your face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, back, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, feet, and toes.
  6. When you've scanned your entire body, take a few more deep breaths, and notice how your body feels overall.
  7. Slowly open your eyes and take as much time as you need to reorient yourself before getting up.

With regular practice, a body scan can help you develop greater awareness and connection with your body.


Breathing for stress

Breathing meditation is a simple, yet powerful mindfulness technique that involves focusing on your breath to anchor your attention in the present moment. Here's how to do it:

  1. Choose somewhere comfortable to sit, for example, a cushion, a chair, or the floor, whichever is most comfortable for you. Make sure this space will remain disturbance free for the duration of your meditation.
  2. Close your eyes and concentrate on taking a few deep breaths. As you do, feel the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
  3. Maintain the focus on your breath. You can direct your attention to the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your nostrils, or the rising and falling of your chest or abdomen.
  4. As you focus on your breath, simply observe it without trying to control it. Notice the rhythm and flow of your breath.
  5. If you notice your mind drift away from your breath to other thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You might find it helpful to mentally label your thoughts as "thinking" and then return your attention to your breath.
  6. Continue to focus on your breath for a few minutes or longer, depending on how much time you have and what feels comfortable for you.
  7. When you're ready to end the meditation, take a few more deep breaths and notice how your body feels overall.

With regular practice, breathing meditation can help you develop greater awareness, concentration, and relaxation.


Visualisation for stress

Visualisation is a powerful technique that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Here are some steps to guide you through a visualisation exercise for stress relief:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place without disturbances. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, feeling the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
  3. Begin to visualise a peaceful scene in your mind. This could be a place that you find calming, such as a beach, a forest, or a mountain. Imagine yourself in this place, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the environment.
  4. Focus on your breath and allow yourself to relax. Aim to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, making your breaths deep and purposeful.
  5. Imagine that with each inhale, you breathe in calm and relaxation. With each exhale, you release stress and tension.
  6. Allow your body to become more and more relaxed with each breath. Imagine your muscles are softening, and feel your body sink deeper into the surface beneath you.

Stay with this visualisation for as long as you like, allowing yourself to feel more and more relaxed. When you're ready to end the visualisation, take a few more deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

All forms of meditation are a practice of mindfulness, so try to approach them with a non-judgmental attitude and simply observe your experience without getting caught up in any thoughts or feelings that arise.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham, Surrey, GU9
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Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham, Surrey, GU9

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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