Stress is such a normal part of our day to day existence that we barely even notice its presence. Jobs, exams, family problems, bills and time constraints can all cause our stress levels to rise. Unfortunately, all these things are an inevitable part of life. Sometimes it can get too much and we can start feeling overwhelmed and anxious, as though we are losing control of our thoughts and emotions; we may even start noticing an effect on our health. Changes in our sleep patterns may also occur; not getting to sleep at night, waking at 3 in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep or struggling to get out of bed in the morning. When we are not dealing with our stress and anxiety properly we can start feeling pretty miserable.
Many of us have heard of the fight/flight response. It is the body’s automatic reaction to possible danger; our heart rate may increase, we may start breathing faster, our stomachs may start churning; we prepare ourselves to run. Most of us recognise this as an overreaction to most of life’s problems and we may even start berating our instinctive responses.
Is it really these problems which are causing us to feel stressed or is it the way we perceive them?
When we feel our heart rate increase we are preparing our bodies for action; energising ourselves. When our breathing increases we are increasing oxygen levels in our brains. Our bodies are trying to be helpful, preparing us to meet life’s challenges. Think how similar stress and excitement feel. Why do some people embrace public speaking while others blanch at the very idea? It must be our thought patterns surrounding an event which determines how stressed and anxious we feel.
How We Create Anxiety.
We can accumulate stress by negatively forecasting the future. Perhaps, replaying a future meeting over and over again. Thinking about every possible way it could go wrong. If you have a really vivid imagination you may find yourself reacting physically to it, butterflies in the stomach, faster breathing. Each time you go over it you are actually harvesting stress from something which hasn’t even happened yet; your body responding physically to your thoughts. Some of us also accumulate stress and anxiety by ruminating over past troubles. Reliving old arguments and past traumas; feeling the hurt, pain and anxiety over and over again.
When we allow ourselves to accumulate stress we can find ourselves caught in a self-perpetuating cycle. We can start viewing life from a negative perspective, seeing threats all around us and this can leave us feeling slightly paranoid. For example: hearing your name mentioned in a conversation and automatically assuming that people are criticising you.
The Good News
Although the root cause of our problems may be complicated; the solution is not necessarily so. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help by bringing into focus all the positive aspects of our lives and concentrating on all our strengths. We can start to make positive changes in the way we think, feel and behave. By changing this focus we are adjusting the filters in our brains.
We take in millions of bits of information a day; too much for us to process. The filters in our brains decide which bits of information are relevant. When our stress levels are high, we filter for negative information because that is considered relevant to our situation. When we switch focus to concentrate on the positives in our lives, these same filters start to see this information as being relevant and we start to notice more and more beauty in the world around us. By doing this we are creating balance in our lives; dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road but not losing perspective.
Research shows that exercise plays an important part in keeping stress and anxiety under control and should feature in any plan to combat stress.
Hypnosis is a powerful tools; helping to change old responses and unhelpful patterns of behaviour. During hypnosis you can relax and consider alternative and more helpful reactions to the stresses in life.
You will know when you are starting to achieve the correct balance when your sleep patterns start to improve and you start to feel like yourself again. Happier, healthier and in control.