Stress and hypnotherapy / NLP / EMDR / Timeline therapy
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Hypnotherapy notes

If you are stressed by anything external, the pressure is not necessarily due to the stressor itself but to your own interpretation of it - your internal representation of an external reality. This internal perception is something that you have the power to change at any time.

If you are stressed by internal conflicts or repeating thoughts there are many ways to resolve those conflicts and to break the cycle of repeating thoughts.

If you simply want to quickly deal with the current causes of stress in your life, then we can identify your stress triggers and change how you react to them, using a variety of techniques which may include hypnotherapy and NLP.

In addition you will be able to identify your own stress symptoms and causes, then to develop the personal strategies most suitable for controlling and dealing with your stress.

Changing States provides relaxation CDs free with sessions to combat stress.

See also: stress evaluation service for legal purposes

See also: stress management service for employers

Quantify your stress levels with this free online stress evaluation utility.

Exercise helps to moderate stress levels for many: Walks in the High Wycombe area

Stress is such an overused word these days. Many people believe that we are more stressed than has been the case in the past because of the pressures of modern life. This may or may not be the case, but what is certainly true is that we are more aware of stress than has been the case in the past. Modern technology and current styles of doing business have certainly increased occupational stress.

The Sunday Times commissioned a study by Professor Cary Cooper about stress in the workplace in 1985. In 1997 the paper commissioned a further study. By comparing the two studies and it became clear that many jobs in Britain had become more stressful than had been the case in the past. The 1997 study found that the most stressful occupations were:

  • the prison service
  • the police
  • social work
  • teaching
  • nursing
  • doctoring

If your life seems unacceptably stressed, in the first instance, you should consider whether you are in the right occupation for your personality type. Are you prepared to pay the price?

Instinctive stress response

We are all born with an instinctive physical stress response, which is an important survival response. This physical response engages automatically when we are in danger. When we detect a potentially dangerous situation stress hormones are released into the bloodstream. These hormones generate instant mental and physical changes such as:

  • Increasing physical strength and endurance
  • Increasing motivation so we feel pumped-up and ready to fight or run away as fast as possible
  • Improved ability to sustain injury by adjusting blood flow
  • Increasing the speed of some thought processes

This response is generally called the "fight or flight" response.

Our fight or flight responses were vital as humans evolved when we were subject to attack from other tribes and wild animals. In the modern world there are still times when this response is appropriate and required for protection and survival. If you stepped onto a road without looking and suddenly became aware of a car racing towards you there would be an immediate, strong stress response. Your heart and respiration rates would increase, your ability to move rapidly would increase, your mouth may become dry, you may start sweating and most importantly you will get out of the path of the car as quickly as possible.

Our instinctive automated stress responses can however be over-ridden and the stress response can be deactivated through conscious choice. Recent MRI scanning research has revealed that there is a clear process that we step through when dealing with a stressor:

  • We encounter a stressor and the oldest part of the brain lights up (the amygdala in the limbic system)
  • A stress response is generated and stress hormones are released
  • We feel the emotion of eg fear
  • Areas within the frontal lobe light up as we use our higher cognitive functions to evaluate the situation rationally (the human frontal lobe is highly developed and is primarily responsible for decision making and behavioural control)
  • If we rationalise the situation as being safe the stress response reduces

So in some situations we can choose whether we become stressed or not. We can also choose how we respond in terms of the behaviour that we choose eg running away or fighting or choosing to ignore the stress.

So what's the problem?

We have an effective way of enabling us to deal with emergencies and we have some level of choice in terms of whether we allow that response to remain. The problem is that increasingly we are using this emergency response far too often. This is caused by the pressures of modern life and the modern tendancy to use stress as a way of motivating ourselves. If you work late to complete a report or rush to catch a train you are probably generated stress responses.

In may ways we have trained ourselves to become stressed more easily and to remain stressed more of the time. Our bodies are in fight / flight mode for long periods of time and we often do not allow sufficient time to enable our bodies to recover in between periods of stress. This can result in a build-up of muscular tension because many of us do not take the necessary action to allow that tension to reduce. Our bodies are primed for physical action but in many cases there is no need for us to become physical in order to deal with a stressor.

Women can sometimes cope better

A study by Professor Shelley Taylor of the University of California has proposed that women may be able to cope with stress better than men because hormonal differences. He contends that in history women often didn't have the option to fight or to flee because they were frequently pregnant or encumbered by small children. He concluded that women therefore developed a more suitable strategy which was to tend and befriend. In other words a woman would look after children and keep them safe and also enlist help from female friends. The key to this behaviour was a hormone called oxytocin. In women oxytocin is released in large quantities after childbirth. Taylor and his team believe that this difference between men and women that may explain why women tend to seek out other women to talk to when stressed. However, an increase in oxytocin in no sense prevents stress from accumulating given that stress affects both genders more or less equally.

How can we deal with stress?

We can all make changes so that our lives are less stressful. These changes can be as simple as learning stress-management techniques to enable us to more effectively deal with things in our lives that we cannot change. For some people more drastic change may be required such as moving house or changing jobs.

Research: Misc

Ament, Phillip (1953). Stress removal in dental practice with hypnodontics. British Journal of Medical Hypnotism, 4 (3), 37-43.

Bartlett, Esther E. (1971). The use of hypnotic techniques without hypnosis per se for temporary stress. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 13, 273-278.

Borkovec, T. D.; Grayson, J. B.; Cooper, K. M. (1978). Treatment of general tension: Subjective and physiological effects of progressive relaxation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 518-528.

Bowers, Kenneth S.; Kelly, P. (1970). Stress, disease, psychotherapy, and hypnosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 490-505.

Cardena, Etzel; Maldonado, Jose; Van der Hart, Onno; Spiegel, David (2000). Hypnosis. In Foa, e.; Keane, t.; Friedman, M.; (Eds.) (Ed.), Effective treatments for PTSD (pp. 407-440). New York NY: Guilford.

Cerny, M. (1986). Hypnosuggestive interventions in emotional stress and in stress disorders. Activitas Nervosa Superior, 2, 141-143.

Cheek, David B. (1958). Hypnosis: An additional tool in human reorientation to stress. Northwest Medicine, 57, 177-182.

Eichelman, Burr (1985). Hypnotic change in combat dreams of two veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142 (1), 112-114.

Elton, D. (1993). Combined use of hypnosis and EMG biofeedback in the treatment of stress induced conditions. Stress Medicine, 9, 25-35.

Forbes, E. J.; Pekala, R. J. (1993). Psychophysiological effects of several stress management techniques. Psychological Reports, 72, 19-27.

Glass, D. C.; Singer, J. E.; Leonard, H. S.; Krantz, D.; Cohen, S.; Cummings, H. (1973). Perceived control of aversive stimulation and the reduction of stress responses. Journal of Personality, 577-595.

Orne, Martin T. (1965). Psychological factors maximizing resistance to stress: With special reference to hypnosis. In Klausner, S. Z. (Ed.), The quest for self-control (pp. 286-328). New York: Macmillan.

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Bill Frost - Clinical Hypnotherapist 1998-2024

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Last updated 21 July 2024

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