Every year in early November we recognise both International Stress Awareness Week and Stress Awareness Day. The theme for 2023 is Beyond Stress Management: From Stigma to Solutions. Stress, is inescapable in our lives, and while it’s often talked about in negative terms, it can actually be good for us at times. While it propels us towards our goals, it can also morph into a chronic, silent assailant on our well-being. Unmanaged and unchecked, stress not only wreaks havoc emotionally but can also manifest in the form of chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and asthma.
Picture those days when pressure mounts, deadlines loom, and tasks pile up like an insurmountable mountain. You feel your heartbeat quicken, and each breath seems a tad more labored. These daily stressors, unlike the challenges of the past, are persistent and chronic. In the past year alone, a whopping 74% of UK residents have felt so overwhelmed that they’ve found coping nearly impossible, reports the Mental Health Foundation.
For some, stress becomes an addictive dance, a relentless cycle of interactions that leaves them feeling powerless and trapped. The body’s response to stress is a chemical symphony, with neurochemicals like adrenaline, cortisol, and the infamous dopamine taking center stage. Dopamine, often hailed as a ‘reward’ chemical, not only keeps us motivated but also provides that heady feeling of satisfaction, akin to the rush experienced during activities like drug use, gambling, or sex.
Even though the stress itself might be unpleasant, the dopamine hit we experience when it’s over can create a craving for more. It’s a cycle that’s easy to fall into, and breaking free can be a daunting task. Ever wondered if you might be a stress addict? Challenge yourself to take downtime, the very concept of which can evoke either a sense of bliss or an unsettling feeling of laziness and guilt. If negative self-talk rears its head during moments of relaxation, you might be ensnared in the stress cycle.
Recognizing the need to cultivate skills for effective stress management, the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) emphasises the importance of learning techniques to achieve balance in our lives. Enter hypnotherapy—a transformative tool that offers a different perspective, altering the way we perceive events and enabling us to manage stressors more effectively.
Changing ingrained patterns can feel like a formidable task, but the support of a trained and empathetic hypnotherapist can make the journey smoother. Acknowledging that these powerful mechanisms developed in our bodies to propel us forward can shift feelings of guilt and instead bring understanding and compassion towards our innate drive for rewards. Instead of fixating on the dopamine and adrenaline based payoff of stressful activities, it’s conceivable to rewire our brains to seek out calmer and more enjoyable pastimes.
Mindfulness, relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis, and the tools of hypnotherapy play pivotal roles in this transformative process. A session with a hypnotherapist often leaves individuals feeling more relaxed, calm, and confident. The changes might be subtle, operating at the level of the subconscious mind, but the positive shifts in how we perceive and react to previously stressful situations become noticeable over time.
Post-hypnotherapy, expect to emerge calmer, more confident, resilient, and better equipped to navigate the unpredictable stresses life throws your way. The NCH directory is a valuable resource for finding a hypnotherapist near you.