How does hypnotherapy help with anxiety and stress?
And which do you have?
Stress is real things that are happening to you, such as moving house, getting a divorce, taking an exam, being in an abusive relationship, a death, etc, and so its quite normal to feel a bit rubbish whilst these things happen, and if it’s just an event, or crisis, when it is over, the feelings should die down gradually.
Anxiety is your imagination on overdrive, you start to predict what may happen in the future, and start worrying about future events. Basically, it is a fear, and all the “what if’s” start to go through your head. “What if they don’t like me?”, “what if I have a panic attack whilst shopping?”, “what if I can’t get out of the lift?”, “what if this happens, or that happens?”.
As human beings we always rehearse things going badly, we have a negative bias, and then start to fear things. Some people only worry in certain situations, but sometimes when we overthink a few things, this can lead to overthinking many things, and anxiety feelings creep up on us.
Anxiety is a fear, and when we fear something, our bodies and senses are heightened. Noises can feel louder, you can be more irritable or irritated by something, or someone.
People that are stressed, anxious or depressed release cortisol and adrenaline, cortisol is the stress hormone, originally designed for us when we were cavemen and wild animals were chasing us, which puts us into fight or flight mode. The adrenaline is also released for the exercise that we would need to run away from that animal or fight the animal.
So how does cortisol affect the body?
Cortisol affects the body in many ways;
- it can slow down your immune system, people that are stressed have lower defences against coughs and colds, have unexplained aches and pains. Also, cortisol is an inflammatory, so things flare up like eczema, fibromyalgia, chrohns, cold sores, IBS, etc.
- It can affect your appetite, often people that are stressed, anxious or depressed have little or no appetite, this is because if a wild animal was chasing you, you wouldn’t stop and eat a meal. You also wouldn’t want to run away or fight with a full stomach so the body turns your appetite off.
- It can also affect your sex drive, often people have very little interest in sex, which can cause relationship issues, as the other person in the couple can often feel they are being rejected, or not fancied anymore. But again, you wouldn’t stop and have sex if a wild animal was chasing after you.
- The cortisol and adrenaline can also give you a foggy head, you can’t concentrate properly, you overthink things and ruminate. It can feel like your head is in a washing machine with 1000 thoughts, and you just want them to stop! Sometimes questioning what you did or said, beating yourself for what you haven’t done, or have done.
- Then when you go to bed, it can be hard to switch off, still thinking thoughts.
- And when you do finally go to sleep, you then have to process all those thoughts you’ve had throughout the day, which is what we do when we dream, REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), we are processing everything and putting it into long-term, short-term memory or chucking it in the bin. So, if we have too much REM sleep, we don’t get much deep sleep, which is what we need to wake refreshed in the morning. Sometimes it can feel like we’ve had no sleep at all.
- Then we wake in the morning feeling tired and exhausted. This is why a lot of depressed people struggle to get out of bed in the morning, they simply haven’t recharged the batteries enough, feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, and we release more cortisol, keeping us in a vicious cycle!
The good news is hypnotherapy relaxes the mind and body, and the body has a break from making cortisol and adrenaline, and the good chemicals have a chance to be released naturally, the serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, the feel-good hormones.
If you can relate to some of those symptoms, and get anxious feelings, please make sure you get some help and catch it early before they build up into a bigger problem where it escalates into severe anxiety.