What is stress and what can I do about it?

The issue of stress in our society has never been greater than it is right now. Let me say this right off the bat, stress can be a killer! If you don't deal with it effectively, it can make you very ill indeed, and may even be the cause of your premature demise. 

Why is stress such a problem and what can we do about it?

First up, what stress actually is, is our own individual response to the demands put upon us in any situation, which we feel we can't cope with. Stress is different for everyone, some people can take a lot of demands on them and cope quite well, others feel stress with far less demands on their abilities and time. Stress is actually a naturally evolved reaction designed to help us in times of threat or harm.

How does it work?

Millions of years ago, we as a species evolved a very effective survival system. When a woolly mammoth, let’s say, walked over the hill, our ancestors evolved a response that goes like this;

Do I fight, flight (i.e. run!) or freeze (play dead, or at least blend into the scenery). Our ancestors had to make this decision very quickly and once they did, their body and mind was flooded with chemicals that would give them all the strength and energy they would need to deal with the threat. 

These chemicals shut off some of our systems such as digestion (the body does not want to waste energy digesting a dinner when you need to run from some big hairy beast!) our higher thought processes (no need to be pondering the nature of the universe when facing having to go fang and claw with that mammoth!) as well as our sleep/rest cycle (nature quickly learned that sleeping during a fight would not end well). 

Essentially, whatever response decision we made, our mind and body ensured that all non-survival bodily processes were shut down, and the ones we need to deal with the threat were supercharged with chemicals. 

So once the subconscious has decided what to do, the whole process evolved to play out like this:

1. The body and mind would use up all the chemicals and energy it has been given to deal effectively with the immediate threat. i.e. running away, fighting or ‘playing dead’

2. Once the threat is over, the body and mind would need to rest, i.e. sleeping up to eight hours whilst all the bodily and mental systems re-set and return to normal 

3. Wake up after a good long rest/sleep and everything is back to normal and in balance, and our ancestors are good to go once again. 

This particular response to a threat is one of the things that has helped our species survive and thrive and it is totally part of who we are. 

However.

We now live in a world that is quite different to the world of our Neolithic forbears, but the subconscious process of dealing with a threat is still with us, and it can cause issues for us now in the form of stress. 

What’s the situation these days?

Our subconscious does not distinguish between types of threat it sees. Say a demand from your boss to do extra work comes in when you had not planned for it, your computer decides not to save an important document or you are asked to give a presentation, these may be seen as a threat, and your body and mind get flooded with the aforementioned chemicals as per the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ survival response. But guess what? It is not appropriate in our society to decide to chase after your boss with a spear, to challenge your computer to a one-on-one fight or to freeze and ‘play dead' in front of your boss and work colleagues just before a presentation! 

So, what happens? 

Your body and mind, apart from not being sure exactly what response to take, floods your body with a whole cocktail of different chemicals to help you deal with the threat, but they then have nowhere to go! You can’t leap into action as I have already said, so you can burn off all that chemical energy, equally, you can’t go for an eight-hour sleep to restore the balance once the energy has been spent dealing with the ‘danger’. 

This then causes a build-up of un-spent chemical energy, which gives rise to all the usual symptoms associated with stress. i.e. brain fog, memory issues, digestive problems etc. The very worst thing about stress is that energy must go somewhere, and it usually goes inward and affects the whole body and mind as it tries to burn up. 

It gets worse.

As we all know, the modern world gifts us with one thing to deal with after another in quick succession. On any given working day, our subconscious mind may see several ‘threats and will act accordingly. Putting us in a mental state of ‘threat response’ and releasing all the same chemicals to get us through, repeatedly! 

As you will expect, these unspent chemicals and the effects of these chemicals build up and up and up and will, if not dealt with, cause a whole multitude of health problems as I stated at the start of this article. 

What can I do to deal with stress?

This is where hypnotherapy comes in, an approach that is widely considered to be one of the most effective methods when dealing with this problem. 

Some people are very good at self-hypnosis, once they master the skills to do so, and this can be a very effective way of dealing with stress. However, for other people, it is hard to shut off and ‘get in the zone’, or they find their mind drifts and wanders. As a matter of interest, I am also one of these people! But for more information on self-hypnosis, please contact me.

A method I recommend if you find self-hypnosis techniques difficult is to listen to guided audio recordings. This way you can enter the world of hypnotic relaxation at the touch of a button, and you will have the benefit of hearing a hypnotherapist taking you through the relaxation and de-stress process. One such collection of recordings I can recommend, just drop me a line.

But the very best way to deal with stress in regards to hypnotherapy is to book a session with a professional hypnotherapist as they will be able to guide you through a session and be responsive to your needs, plus they will have a great deal of knowledge and suggestions to help you deal with your individual stress issues. 

How does hypnotherapy work when dealing with stress?

Once you are in a hypnotic trance, which can be achieved via any of the methods above, the conscious mind can be ‘put to one side’ thus leaving the path open to talk directly to the subconscious mind. 

With the use of self-hypnosis, audio recordings or the skill of the hypnotherapist. It is possible to communicate directly with that part of the mind that generates the stress response and to get it to ‘let go’ of any stored-up stress and to re-frame any residual or future stress to help the person get control of their stress levels and responses to heal and to head off future attacks.

One final word.

The key to dealing with stress long-term, is deep relaxation, letting go and reframing. With practice and or the help of a skilled hypnotherapist, stress levels will improve or go away completely, as long as the de-stress practices become part of your permanent routine!  

For more information, please drop me a message.

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Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, NG15 7LE

Written by Trevor Bamford

Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, NG15 7LE

Trevor Bamford is a practising clinical hypnotherapist in Nottinghamshire as well as a published academic.

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