Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Hypnotherapy Directory Content Team

Reviewed by Neil Brown
Last updated 20th March 2024 | Next update due 20th March 2027

Stress is something we experience when we feel under too much pressure and are unable to cope. Feeling stressed for long periods of time takes its toll on both our mental and physical health.

While we can’t always control the stressful events and situations we experience, we can control our reactions to them. Here we’ll look into common stress symptoms and explore how hypnosis for stress can help change your reaction and manage stress better.

Why do we get stressed?

Our brains evolved to help us survive back in the Stone Age when we were facing daily threats to our lives. When a threat revealed itself, our brains would fire off hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which got our hearts to beat faster, our breath to quicken and our muscles to tense. This put us in ‘fight or flight’ mode, giving our bodies the physical edge they needed to either run away from the threat or fight it off.

While times have certainly changed and the level of threats to our lives has decreased, our brains have retained this survival feature. Now, different things are perceived as threats to our brains - for example, when your manager emails you with a tight deadline.  Your brain still goes through the motions to prepare you to ‘fight or flight’, but instead of fighting your manager or running away from your desk, it’s more likely that you’ll stay sat at your desk. 

This leaves stress hormones coursing through your veins, making you feel stressed. Usually, this sensation will pass, but when we’re coming face to face with multiple stressors regularly, we can feel in a constant state of stress and start to develop symptoms. It’s often this build-up of small, subtle stressors like work-related stress or financial worries that lead to ongoing (or chronic) stress.

Signs of stress

Stress can affect us in different ways, often manifesting in emotional, mental and physical symptoms. One of the best tools for stress management is understanding what your particular symptoms are. Getting to know these will help you become more aware of when you are stressed, so you can take action to reduce it.

Some of the ways you may feel emotionally include:

  • anxious
  • overwhelmed and as if you can’t cope
  • easily irritated and angry
  • low in self-esteem and self-worth

These feelings may change the way you behave and interact with those around you.

Some of the ways you may feel mentally include:

  • fast-thinking
  • difficulty making decisions
  • difficulty focusing
  • constant worrying

These feelings may well impact your day-to-day life and over time, stress can lead to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Some of the ways you may feel physically include:

  • tense muscles
  • headaches
  • feeling dizzy
  • problems sleeping
  • fatigue
  • a change in appetite

Once you start to learn how to recognise the signs of stress, you can employ a relaxation technique before your stress becomes difficult to manage.

- Chinmai Gupta, BA, MSc, Dip Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

Stress symptoms can cause you to behave in different ways. You might find you’re getting angry at people and snapping more often. Learning how to manage your stress in healthy and helpful ways is key, and sometimes this involves getting professional support. There are several options available, including talk therapies such as CBT and hypnotherapy.

CBT and hypnotherapy for stress management 

Cognitive behavioural therapy works to identify and teach ways to reframe negative thoughts which can contribute to stress. CBT is considered to be a short-term treatment, so it may be beneficial for people with acute stress.

Hypnotherapy, on the other hand, implants suggestions directly into the mind. This means that positive responses to stress are automatically reactivated when needed and you may be taught self-hypnosis techniques to use beyond your sessions. CBT and hypnotherapy can be used together, known as cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH).

In his article, hypnotherapist Biodun Ogunyemi outlines the differences between hypnosis, counselling and CBT.

Hypnotherapy for stress

Hypnotherapy aims to break negative thought patterns and responses to stress and instead provide you with a more healthy reaction. This is done via the subconscious - the part of our mind that works automatically and without us realising.  

Your hypnotherapist will help you enter a state of deep relaxation (hypnosis). When you’re in this state, your subconscious is more open to suggestion. The idea here is for the hypnotherapist to ‘suggest’ different ways of responding to stress, to your subconscious.

Although a systematic review published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that more research needs to be done into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for stress, there is some evidence (alongside people's personal experiences) that it can help ease stress and related symptoms. It's also important to note that the likelihood of hypnotherapy working for you tends to be based on your hypnotic susceptibility (i.e. how open-minded you are to the process). 

Some people will see results after one session while others may require a number of sessions. This will depend on your individual circumstances and the depth of work needed. 

Hypnosis for stress can be especially helpful when you’re experiencing short-term stress. For example, if you have an exam coming up or a public speaking engagement, hypnotherapy can help you respond in a more relaxed way.

Often, hypnotherapists will also teach you self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques you can use after the sessions are over. Regular self-hypnosis can then help you reduce tension and ease stress on a more long-term basis. The very act of going into a hypnotic state will ease stress as you need to be deeply relaxed. 

Hypnotherapy can also be used to help increase your confidence and self-esteem, making you feel more comfortable setting boundaries and saying no to people. These are essential tools for managing stress.

Hypnotherapists who can help with stress

Finding a hypnotherapist

If you think hypnotherapy could support you, you can use our search tool to find a hypnotherapist. We ensure all hypnotherapists listed with us are members of a professional body or have shown us relevant qualifications and insurance cover.

Simply browse profiles and when you find a therapist you resonate with, get in touch to book an initial chat. This is your opportunity to discuss what you need support with and how the hypnotherapist can help you. You can enquire more about the length of treatment and the techniques they use before diving into treatment.  

Tips to reduce stress

A key step in learning to manage stress is to become aware of potential triggers; what causes you stress and how does stress affect you? Remember, we’re all different and will respond and react to stress differently.

Try making a list of the different things in your life that make you feel stressed and then note how stress shows up for you. Understanding your triggers means you can anticipate when you might struggle in the future and come up with ways to cope.

Tools and techniques to help you manage stress better include:

  • Increasing your communication skills and being more assertive (learn to say no when your plate is already full).
  • Using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or having a bath can help to ease tension mentally and physically.
  • Exercising frequently helps to decrease stress and promotes relaxation. If you’re not a fan of the gym, try going for a walk, swimming or a yoga class.
  • Making time for self-care is a good reminder that you matter and will help you develop emotional resilience.  
  • Connecting with friends and loved ones. Talking problems out and spending time in other people’s company can help you feel less alone and more able to cope.
  • Making space for hobbies and fun can encourage a sense of playfulness and help to alleviate stress.
  • Working on your sleep routine to ensure you’re getting enough restful sleep can help you feel more energetic and resilient.
  • Assessing your diet and reducing the amount of sugar and caffeine you’re consuming can help ease some physical stress symptoms.

There are many ways to reduce stress and hypnotherapy can be a beneficial approach to add to your toolkit. Start your search for a professional to see if it could be right for you. 

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