Stress is estimated to have an impact on nearly 20 million Americans. That is approximately 15% of the total population. One of the most effective ways of coping with stress is a method few people are willing to try: self-hypnosis. Hypnosis is often considered a pseudo-science, but the truth is that many doctors past and present consider it useful in reducing stress and increasing overall health.
Effects of stress
Stress can be quite detrimental to the mind and body, especially if gone unchecked. Painful conditions such as tension headaches and TMJ, gastrointestinal problems, and sleep disorders are some of the most common. More serious physical consequences include cardiovascular illness, and even cancer. Mental illnesses can result from stress, as well: eating disorders and depression, for instance.
Fear of hypnosis
A typical apprehension regarding hypnosis is a loss of control. Subjects often believe a therapist will be able to make them do anything while they are under, but actually you won’t do anything under the effects of hypnosis that you wouldn’t do otherwise. Being relaxed and open to suggestion is not the same as letting someone else unduly influence your thoughts and feelings. According to the British Psychological Society, “”
The ruby slippers
Find a quiet, darkened room somewhere you won’t be disturbed for half an hour. Sit or lie down wherever you are most comfortable.
The first method is to keep your eyes fixed on an object, something that makes you feel relaxed. This might be a scene out your window, a photograph of a person or place, anything that you can concentrate on with positive thoughts. Then choose a single word or a short phrase to repeat throughout the session. The best words are those that relate to the causes of stress. For instance, if you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps “I am in control” would be appropriate. Concentrate on the phrase you are repeating. If your mind starts to wander or you find yourself saying negative things, stop and refocus.
This kind of self-hypnosis is best if the stress is caused by negative self-talk or low self-image.
A more popular kind of self-hypnosis involves creating a picture in your mind. In that comfortable room, with your eyes closed, picture a place that you find relaxing. It can be real or imaginary; it doesn’t matter as long as it helps you reduce stress. Make the picture as real as possible. If it is a beach, feel the warm sand between your toes. Smell the water and the coconut suntan lotion. See the greens and blues out in the water and the vibrant flowers behind the beach. Hear the waves gently lap on the shore and the cries of birds. Taste the sharp tang of pineapple in your drink.
Do something in your visualization that makes you feel good and emphasizes the sense of calm. Maybe you go for a leisurely walk or simply lie in the sun, feeling it gently bake your skin.
The more often you do your self-hypnosis, the easier and more vivid it will be. The more likely it is that the feelings of relaxation will follow you after you leave your haven and return to the real world.
As you practice self-hypnosis, find additional ways to help keep your stress levels low, such as exercise, time management, hobbies or even therapy.
In today’s hectic world, we ironically have to work to keep stress at a minimum. Self-hypnosis is one method that is easy, inexpensive, safe and, most importantly, effective.
Joseph Amagada. “Stress statistics: where do you fit in?” americanchronicle.com.
The British Psychological Society. “The Nature of Hypnosis.” Bps.org.uk.
“Stress-related Illness.” Humanillnesses.com.