By Angela Bauer – Clinical Hypnotherapist
Stress is one of the most significant social and health problems in modern society. Everyone suffers from stress at some point in their life, whether consciously or unconsciously. Excessive stress takes away our well-being, health, happiness and productivity.
It also reduces our ability to be mindful. When we are not in the present moment, we focus our attention in the past or the future. This leads to anger or fear-based states of mind which, if experienced for a long time, can cause anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Unfortunately, there is no way we can protect ourselves from all of life’s challenges. Stress seems to just happen even if you are careful and actively try to avoid it.
However, how we react when presented with stressful events is what makes all the difference. So what exactly is stress? There are many definitions of stress but to keep it simple:
“Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or a belief that you are unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure leading to physical tension.”
What are the warning signs of stress?
Chronic stress- or stress experienced over and over again- can wear down the body’s natural defences, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including the following:
- Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it.”
- General aches and pains.
- Grinding teeth, clenched jaw.
- Digestion problems
- Increase in or loss of appetite.
- Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders.
- Problems sleeping.
- Racing heart.
- Cold and sweaty palms.
- Tiredness, exhaustion.
- Weight gain or loss.
- High blood pressure
- Sexual difficulties.
My Own Experience of Stress
I have total empathy for my clients that come into my clinic presenting with symptoms of stress- I have been there and was on the corporate conveyor belt of stress for many years. When I worked as an Event Planner for 15 years, I enjoyed the role and felt that I developed many social and personal effectiveness skills, but it was at the expense of inner work. The roles were physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, and involved long hours- both night shifts, and weekends. It was very hard to find a balance with having a healthy lifestyle and working these jobs. I am especially grateful for my time as an event planner now as it has been my greatest teacher- it taught me the most important lesson; to find my passion or job that I could be in flow to.
When you work with what you love and what you have a natural flair for, it is less likely to become stressful. I am not saying that it is a “bed of roses” or that everyone should quit their jobs and become a therapist- like every job there is a lot of admin or business management. But for me when I am at work, in my clinic I forget about time and all my worries. What I am trying to say is that everyone is different and has a natural inclination and passion for different jobs- some are born to be accountants, teachers, artists, doctors, salespeople, managers, childminders, waitress or any other calling. Take your pick, at the end of the day it is about passion and fulfilment using your natural abilities to serve the world- finding whatever will make you be in the flow state.
How to respond to Stress
The way you respond and react to stress makes a huge difference. Why can some people handle any situation in a positive and calm manner, and others simply can’t? It is because of their mind-set; it all comes down to how your brain is wired. You must take responsibility and take control of the things that you can control and let go of what is out of your hands. Sometimes, the best way to manage your stress involves changing the situation or environment you are in. Other times, the best strategy involves changing the way you respond to the situation or environment. So, if you cannot or do not want to change the situation your only option is to change the way you respond to the situation you are faced with.
Developing resilience is crucial
In order to achieve your goals (material, professional, personal) you need to learn to deal with stress in a way that means it doesn’t affect your life so much. Dealing in a way that allows you to still function without stress being a major impediment to daily living. In our professional lives the relationship between stress and performance is very close, it’s like a two-way road. As we progress with our careers and take on more responsibility, the challenges and pressure increases. This means you will need to work on your mindset and increase your level of resilience.
Resilience is simply the ability to regulate emotions that cause stress. This is the crucial factor needed to enable you to adapt to the changes that career progress brings to your work life. The way you react to stress is just as important as the existence of the stressor event or situation itself.
Interrupting the stress cycle with the help of Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy, which is the use of Hypnosis is very effective for busting the stress cycle. Because it aims to interrupt and break the negative thought patterns and responses to it. The focus is not on the symptoms but to get to the root cause. That can be different for everyone. For some it is the perfectionist element that leads to stress. For others it is the desire of success and achievement. Yet for others it is the need to please people, the need for security. Yet for some others it is the image of power and attachment to control. With the help of hypnosis, you can identify what is your root cause and transform your responses to stress into positive and healthy ones.
Your history matters.
Every one of us has had to deal with some intense experience involving danger, loss, or failure. Whether that’s been losing a job, an accident, the end of a romantic relationship, experiencing aggression, abuse, assault, a serious illness, a humiliating situation. Be that in our adult life or in childhood. The list goes on and on.
These historic experiences can make us more insecure or sensitive to stress. The effects are the marks on our memories that the ink of our emotions cause. If we have repeated stressful events, the symptoms therefore get deeper and more difficult to deal with. For example, dealing with a second assault, or breaking up a long-term relationship more than once. You are in basic terms being reinforced and the related stress is significantly greater.
The marks of these stressful experiences are then registered and ingrained in the part of our brain which is connected to our emotions, instincts, and beliefs. This is why, it is so difficult to get rid of them by simply trying to ignore them, avoiding them or by trying to adopt a positive mind-set. Without working through those supercharged memories and emotions and beliefs they are still there. Lodged in your subconscious mind as if the event was still active. This is why it must be processed if they are to be permanently dealt with. Dealing with these historic stresses through hypnotherapy does not mean you have to re-experience every painful moment. That would be cruel and usually quite unnecessary.
How Hypnotherapy Can Help You
The first step is allowing yourself the recognition that you could simply do with a helping hand to take back control over your stress now. Building resilience is linked to your perception. Your perception is linked to your history and the personal program you hold in your subconscious mind.
Hypnotherapy is one of the few treatments that processes stress at a sufficiently deep level to affect meaningful results. Because Hypnotherapy works with your subconscious mind it is in my experience the number one pathway to developing resilience fast.
The number of sessions you may need depend on your level of stress, your history and how you respond to the hypnotherapeutic process. Making that first informal call to your Hypnotherapist, gives you the perfect opportunity to ask the questions you have, before engaging in taking those vital next steps to conquering stress.