What is the point of anxiety?
Without going into too much detail, at a very simple level, anxiety is a symptom of stress, for example, thinking into the future about what might happen and worrying.
Often when hypnotherapists talk about anxiety, it is from the point of view of reducing anxiety using visualisations to temporarily take away some of the issues and allowing the person to see things more clearly without mind clutter. However, it is important to realise that anxiety may be there to help us to get on with stuff.
Stress helps to make us productive, but in the modern world our lives can be so complicated that we can easily get overloaded with all the stuff we have to do. Add in a dose of conflict, mistakes, failure, setbacks, missed trains, traffic, angry clients, customers, parents, screaming children and a whole load of rules and constraints; welcome to a world of excess stress or “distress”, followed by a lot of anxiety, worry and perhaps depression.
Most of us get anxious from time to time but some of us deal with it more successfully than others. Some of this may be your upbringing and history, some of it is your character. It is important to realise that whatever cards you were dealt you can learn the successful techniques to help manage anxiety and stress.
An aspect often overlooked is to look at productive and non-productive anxiety or roductive worry and non-productive worry - productive thoughts and non-productive thoughts.
- A non-productive thought – “I have a million and one things to do – and they are all in my head”.
- A productive thought – “I am going to write an action list and then prioritise the tasks”.
- A non-productive thought – “I have a severe pain in my side – I will worry about it, research it on the internet, join an anxiety forum and talk to other anxiety sufferers, then convince myself that something is seriously wrong further increasing my anxiety so that I can’t sleep”.
- A productive thought – "Go to the walk in centre now or first thing in the morning and worry about the outcome when I know more about might be going on". (Rescheduling the worry).
There are different strategies to deal with anxiety and a hypnotherapist can help you to look at your behaviour and adopt good practise.
1. The most important thing to realise is that anxiety is a symptom of stress - the fight, flight or freeze response. When you are in a stressed state of awareness, more things could be perceived as a threat. It can be very difficult to try to think your way out of this behaviour, your perspective is too skewed. The real antidote is to de-stress. Your hypnotherapist can help you to understand how to reach deep levels of relaxation and to find it easier to use self-hypnosis, mindfulness and various relaxation techniques to de-stress. So "de-stress" - don't "di-stress".
2. Make your anxiety productive.
3. Be very aware of your own self talk and try to keep it positive and proactive. Again a hypnotherapist can help you to see this more clearly. He/she can also help you find out if there is something within your subconscious that is determining your perspective, establishing the root cause or by regressing you to earlier events.
It is interesting that many of the clients that have anxiety related issues that they want to tackle, usually come to the first session in a state of high anxiety. Often their language is very negative and self- defeating. They are pumped full of adrenaline and stress hormones, they feel like their life is out of control. After one session their perspective can be radically changed and they can begin to take back control. The transformation of an anxious client over two to three weeks can be absolutely amazing. It is always satisfying for the hypnotherapist when someone walks out of the session visibly relaxed after arriving earlier with their shoulders hugging their ears.
Once people start to live a life that is less anxious they allow themselves to make changes that may increase their stress, yet at least they have the choice. When you are so far out of your comfort zone with anxiety, feeling the fear and doing it anyway may seem impossible. When overwhelmed with anxiety you may feel so debilitated that you have fewer choices.
It is important to realise that anxiety is not a “thing” that you suffer, do not see yourself as a victim. It is your own thought processes and by taking as much control as you can (with a little help from your hypnotherapist) you really can empower yourself.