Your to-do list seems untenable. Deadlines arrive faster than usual. You can’t think straight. You feel headaches and a lack of energy. You just don’t know how you’ll be able to get everything done.
Bottom line, you’re overwhelmed, and you think: “Geez! I’m stressed out!”
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. In today’s world, with its endless distractions and lightning-fast pace of work and life, stress has become much more common.
According to a recent survey, more adults in the U.S. are feeling stress and anxiety than ever before. And that’s why more and more people are turning to stress hypnosis for relaxation.
Stress, in a nutshell, is a psychological response to external and internal stimuli. It’s completely natural, and we’re hardwired to experience stress. The problem is, though, that the stress is activated more frequently and we’re living in this state for longer periods. Hypnosis, though, can help us to de-stress and unwind.
The Fight or Flight Response
When we feel stressed, the body’s “fight or flight” response activates. In other words, your body is convinced it’s under attack, and the response triggers the release of chemicals and hormones in the body – i.e. adrenaline and cortisol, among many others. These chemicals prepare the body for the “attack.”
All of this made sense when we were fighting off attacks from predators. A rush of adrenaline, for instance, gave us a boost of energy and the intensified focus needed to outrun or fight off a sabertooth tiger.
Today, though, the fight or flight response activates in many unnecessary situations, and since we’re living in this state for longer periods of time, the stress chemicals climb to unhealthy levels. Blood pressure rises. Brain function is minimized. Digestion runs off course. Our libido suffers – to name a few side-effects.
Over time, stress, quite literally, breaks down the body. Our health suffers.
How Stress Hypnosis Can Help
Stress though is often exacerbated by our thoughts. Worry. Self-doubt. Negativity. It’s the classic “glass-half-full” thinking patterns that turn a stressful situation into chronic, long-term stress.
We allow a single stressful event or issue – like a break-up or money troubles – to hijack our thoughts and activate the fight or flight response perpetually.
Ultimately, gaining control of these thinking patterns and reframing them can empower us to overcome stress.
That’s why hypnosis for stress and relaxation is such a powerful tool for unwinding. Relaxation hypnosis allows us to access the subconscious mind – the area of the brain that controls up to 90 percent of the actions that we take. How we think about situations, our beliefs about ourselves, our reactions – they’re all influenced by our subconscious thoughts.
Hypnosis, though, empowers us to retrain the subconscious and empower it to offer support, avoid negative thinking, and help us manage stress more effectively. How exactly? This guide covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hypnosis for relaxation and stress relief. How it works. Why it works. And what you can do to get started.
Causes & Symptoms of Stress
What stresses you out? Chances are, your answers are different from your friends and spouses. The truth is: We all have our own unique stressors, or the situations and pressures that drive our stress.
Types of stressors
Although we commonly associate stressors with negative stimuli, i.e. a grueling work schedule, or a divorce, stressors can be positive, as well. Planning a wedding, for instance, that’s a huge source of stress!
Stressors, too, can be external or internal. We tend to recognize the external stressors better, i.e. financial troubles, work schedules, relationship difficulties. Internal stressors, though, are more difficult to recognize. Examples include negative self-talk, pessimism, perfectionism, or self-doubt.
Symptoms of stress
Stress can affect every aspect of our lives. We experience physical and emotional changes. Our behaviors alter, and we have trouble thinking. The problem is: We’ve trained ourselves to associate these symptoms with “normal.” We become used to it, and we fail to recognize just how detrimental it is to our health. Common symptoms include:
- Emotional symptoms: Depression, anxiety, mood changes, loneliness, or feeling intensely overwhelmed.
- Physical symptoms: Aches, headaches, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, decreased libido, or increased colds and flus.
- Behavioral symptoms: Sleeping more, insomnia, procrastination, substance abuse, nervous habits, or eating more or less.
- Cognitive symptoms: Negative thinking, constant worry, poor judgement, inability to focus, or trouble remembering
How Stress Hypnosis Allows Us to Reframe Thoughts
How we think about situations influences our response. You know: Is the glass half-full or half-empty? We can think positively about stressful situations, or not.
The problem is: Over a lifetime, the mind’s been conditioned to revert to negative thinking patterns. You have a deadline fast approaching – and rather than saying, alright, I can do this – your mind screams give up, you’re finished.
And research backs this up. According to The Mayo Clinic, positive thinkers experience much lower levels of stress and anxiety. Reframing your thinking to be more positive also can lead to an increased life span, reduced rates of depression, and better cardiovascular health, to name a few benefits.
Why is that? It’s simple. Positive thinking empowers us to cope with and manage stressful situations more effectively. Rather than seeing these as half-empty, we see them as half-full, and we avoid triggering that fight or flight response.
Here’s an example: Suppose you had a work task to finish that was highly complex. A negative thinking might say: “This is too complicated, I’m not capable,” while the positive thinker would say: “I can make it work; I’ll try to approach the problem differently.”
See the difference? Which person do you think would be stressed out?
Negative thinking occurs automatically. Often, we don’t even realize it’s happening, and that’s when it’s the biggest problem. Negative thinking might include:
- Filtering: Stress can be amplified when we focus on the wrong things, and that’s what filtering is. This form of thinking occurs when we choose to analyze experiences by filtering out all the positive aspects and focusing on the negative.
- Personalizing: Negative thinkers tend to blame themselves for everything. They internalize and make themselves believe bad things are their fault. For example, your friends cancel a planned trip; the personalizer would think they did it because of them.
- Catastrophizing: Do you expect the outcome to always be negative? That’s catastrophizing. For example, you might have a new project at work to do, and you think, I’ve never done this, it will be so terrible.
- Polarizing: You allow experiences to only be good or bad. There is no in between. You might have had a good experience. Or the worst.
So what does this have to do with hypnotherapy? Well, for one, negative thinking and stress are deeply ingrained in our subconscious. They happen automatically, and they inform how we respond.
Therefore, without addressing the subconscious, we’re really focusing on the root cause of our stress. Hypnosis allows us to work past these deeply held beliefs, and begin to empower the mind to be a more positive and supportive ally.
Gaining Control with Stress Hypnosis for Relaxation
Imagine, the next time you face a stressful situation. Rather than feeling overwhelming, you find the positive and tame those negative feelings that trigger the fight or flight response. You truly feel relaxed – as if you can accomplish anything.
That starts with reining in your subconscious, and that’s why hypnosis can be such a powerful tool.
How Relaxation Hypnosis Works
When we enter into a state of hypnosis, the mind and body relaxes, and the mind becomes very receptive to new information. Your subconscious is free from the critical mind to accept new information, and to use it to update its thoughts and beliefs. In fact, according to the latest brain-imaging research, some very distinctive changes take place in the mind, including the critical mind being “shut off.”
This state of mind empowers us to reframe and reprogram the subconscious. Our brains become much more empowered to learn — the subconscious is like a sponge. It accepts information, but doesn’t analyze it. Therefore, when we fill our subconscious with positive reinforcement, we can overpower and release the negative thinking that inhibits our ability to manage stress. In particular, we can empower the subconscious in a few different ways, including:
- Reframing Negative Thoughts – Often, the mind has been conditioned to think negatively about stressful situations. These automatic thoughts amplify our stress. With hypnosis, we can train the mind to recognize negative thinking patterns and also reestablish new ways to thinking about stress-inducing situations.
- Calming the Mind – Worry, anger, racing thoughts – when we experience stress regularly, the mind doesn’t shut off. It runs a constant loop of thoughts. Hypnosis provides a powerful tool for relaxation; in fact, in just a few minutes, self-hypnosis can quickly calm us down.
- Empowering Your Sense of Confidence – Maybe our stress is caused by a lack of confidence or an inner voice that’s not supportive. Hypnosis allows us to work on the subconscious and to teach it how to be more supportive.
These are just a few ideas for utilizing hypnosis to release stress. Ideally, you’d like to focus and isolate the root cause of your stressors, and develop specific strategies for addressing this.
Getting Started with Relaxation Hypnosis
So how can you begin reducing your stress with hypnosis? What types of relaxation hypnosis are available to you?
One option: Self-hypnosis. You can practice self-guided hypnosis in the comfort of your own home, and you’ll essentially follow a script for relaxing yourself and feeding your subconscious with positive affirmations.
What exactly does a self-hypnosis script include?
Typically, self-hypnosis starts with examining how your feel and getting comfortably situated. Additional steps might include:
- Deep Breathing: Self-hypnosis scripts include steps to help you relax and unwind. Focused breathing is one technique. You might take four deep breaths, slowing inhaling and exhaling on each.
- Reciting a Countdown: You might be required to countdown starting with 10, and saying something like: 10, I am going deeper, until you reach one. This is another relaxation technique to reach the state of mind in which you’ve bypassed the conscious mind.
- Reciting Positive Affirmations: Affirmations are essentially suggestions you feed they subconscious. These affirmations help you retrain the subconscious to think more positively, and to release negative thinking patterns.
- Visualization: Once you’ve repeated your affirmations, you’ll be asked to visualize a positive experience. With stress, you might visualize a stress-free day, and letting stressful situations come and go without feeling overwhelmed.
- Opening Your Eyes: Finally, you’ll be directed to open your eyes and may again recite an affirmation. You may also be guided to spend a moment to reassess how you feel.
And voila! It’s really that simple. Whatever your skill level with hypnosis, you can get started by using a self-hypnosis script for reducing stress.
Beyond self-hypnosis, you have two additional options: Guided hypnosis and one-on-one hypnotherapy sessions. With guided hypnosis, you use a recording, rather than a script to relax and reach the hypnotic state of mind.
In one-on-one sessions you work with a hypnotherapist (in person or virtually). Typically, the hypnosis is included in a larger therapy session, in which you discuss your stressors. One-on-one hypnotherapy sessions tend to be more personalized.
Does Stress Hypnosis Work? What the Research Says
Most people want to know if hypnosis works for stress. And the short answer is that yes, it can be very effective. In fact, several studies have found that self-hypnosis, hypnotherapy and guided hypnosis can all have positive impacts on our lives and lead to stress reduction.
For example, a recent 2017 review of research, examined nine studies that looked at the relationship between hypnosis and stress reduction. Ultimately, the study’s author concluded that six of the studies showed that hypnosis had a significant impact on stress, helping patients to reduce and more effectively manage stress in their lives.
Additionally, a series of 2000 University of Florida studies, examined how hypnosis could alleviate specific stress, anxiety and pain related to surgery and childbirth. Often, this stress is physical, emotional and cognitive. Ultimately, researchers concluded that people who utilized hypnosis were able to more effectively manage these symptoms and reduce stress overall.
Finally, a 2010 research overview examined studies related to hypnosis and two kinds of stress (state stress, caused by external factors like a test or work promotion) and anxiety-related disorders, or conditions exacerbated by stress, like IBS or headaches. After reviewing the research, the author found “compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment” for both types of stress.
This is just a small sample. Hypnosis research has also strongly proven to be effective for a whole host of conditions, including pain management, , reducing sugar addiction, improving self-esteem. Want to learn how it works? Take a look at our overview of the science of hypnosis.
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