We can all feel stressed sometimes. It comes with being human and is a normal adaptive response to the challenges and opportunities that life presents. Feeling some stress on occasions can be a good thing because it can help us feel motivated, focus our attention and keep our wits about us.
Anxiety is different. It seems to be associated with sustained levels of stress and the fear that something will go wrong or something bad will happen. Feeling anxious is not a conscious act of will. It is a 'state' we get in when our subconscious mind regularly raises our level of alert to real (or imagined) threats and danger. It is a very uncomfortable and unsettling feeling and can have a big impact on our body, mind and even our life expectancy.
When the primitive areas of our mind (e.g. the Limbic System and in particular the Amygdala, Hypothalamus), sense that there could be a threat (real or imaged), stress hormones like adrenaline, and cortisol are released by the adrenal grands. Most cells in our bodies have receptors for these naturally produced hormones and the effects of raised cortisol levels can be felt across many areas of the body and mind.
When stress hormones are released (in super quick time, less than a second), these demand our attention and make us focus what might be a problem. They make us:
These responses are extremely helpful in real, emergency situations and when we face real dangers. They can even save our life but when they become a generalised and regular state they can be extremely difficult to deal with and make our lives really tough.
The effects of longer term raised anxiety are numerous and varied and include:
Long term anxiety is a horrible, uncomfortable and challenging emotion. This is very common though and you are not alone if you are experiencing this.
Unfortunately we can't just tell the subconscious mind (our instinct) to 'stop being anxious', to 'get a grip', or to 'just get on with it'. We can't battle our way out of anxiety or just think ourselves to calm.
Moving out of anxiety requires gentle action and compassionate change to help the subconscious experience the world as safe and calm.
Solution focused Hypnotherapy can help reduce anxiety by:
Hypnotherapy for anxiety can work very well alongside medical and other treatment provided by your GP and health care team.
Essentially, our subconscious senses that the world is calm when we:
These all give the subconscious signals that the world in safe. When this happens, stress hormones are reduced and mother nature's feel good hormones (like serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin and dopamine) are released to encourage us to do more of the same.
The NHS in England says very similar things about anxiety - Click here to read
Improving anxiety sustainably takes a little time and typically requires between 4 and 10 hypnotherapy sessions. Initially these are organised weekly.
Like anything in life, the amount of effort the person is able to make outside of the sessions is a big factor too. To some extent we have to be the change we seek. We have to guide our subconscious to our preferred life, not through heroic acts, but through small reassuring, doable steps forward.
The sessions are tailored to how you are feeling at the time and the progress you are making. They are typically arranged in 5 parts:
In the first 2 or 3 sessions, we are looking for glimmers, the exceptions, the tiny occasions in which the anxiety was less or not there at all.
From then on we normally start to see more significant change with the person feeling much more optimistic, hopeful, confident and calm.
This leads into a positive reinforcing cycle.
You will know and decide when you feel ready to space the sessions out or when you feel in a good place to move on yourself.
Anxiety is a very strong and uncomfortable emotion but it doesn't have to define you. I know this from personal experience and from supporting many people to feel back in control.
If you would like to find out more, please get in touch and let's have a conversation.
See a short introductory video of me at Chard Natural Health Centre.
Let me help you get that sense of space and wonder back in your life. It's all there waiting for you to claim.
Take good care out there.