Can self-hypnosis help me cope with stress?
This is an extract from my book Secure Your promising, purposeful and prosperous Future.
What does the word HYPNOSIS make you think of? There is a very good chance that you immediately think of swinging watches. Or stage shows featuring people clucking like chickens. Or maybe charlatans gaining access to their victims’ bank accounts and stealing all their savings. Maybe the word makes you think of the brainwashing of prisoners and even of people committing crimes instigated by a hypnotist.
Many of our mindfulness and meditation workshop participants ask me if self-hypnosis is a useful stress management strategy.
I am a medical hypnotherapist. I trained in medical hypnotherapy at Birbeck College in London. I got a Medical Hypnotherapy Diploma for my trouble. I practised clinical hypnotherapy as a general practitioner. Today, I teach my clients self-hypnosis – how to use the infinite power of their minds for stress and anxiety management. So my answer usually is, “Yes, self-hypnosis can help you manage stress. If you are anxious about the future, self-hypnosis help you feel calmer and more in control of your destiny. It can do more than that, though.”
- Hypnosis can be used to reduce your anxiety about the future in two ways.
Firstly, you can use hypnosis to relax and let go of any deep-seated tension. This will help to prevent the psychological, physical and social health problems that chronic stress can cause.
- Secondly, hypnosis can help you make lifestyle changes that will help you cope more effectively with anxiety. For example, you can hypnotise yourself to exercise regularly, eat healthily, to stop smoking, etc. This you can do by adding suggestions to a hypnotic script. I usually recommend that my clients record a script in their own voice. When you listen to a recording, your intensely focused state of mind will make you unusually responsive to suggestions. If you add your own personal stress management affirmations (see chapter 3) to the recording, you are feeding your affirmations right into your subconscious mind that has no direct contact with reality and assumes that everything you say is true.
Before we go any further, let’s get a few definitions straight.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of absorbed concentration combined with heightened awareness. People experience this state naturally throughout each and every day. Common examples might include daydreaming, or totally immersion in a book or in a favourite hobby. Hypnosis is simply a state of mind, in much the same way that happiness is a state of mind.
During hypnosis, your brain waves change and become alpha waves. These waves are similar to the waves recorded just before someone falls asleep. Your brain’s waking state is a beta brain wave. Just as you are going to sleep it changes to alpha and then to delta and theta in deep sleep. The alpha state is a dreamy, pleasant state. During this time the mind is open to suggestion and creating a rich sensory experience. The more real the experience becomes in the subconscious mind during this state, the more effect it will have on your waking behaviour.
One common misconception is that hypnosis is some form of magic or supernatural power, this is simply not true. Hypnosis is a perfectly normal and natural state of mind that almost anyone can enter at will.
The British Medical Association approved hypnotherapy as a valid medical treatment in 1955. The American Medical Association followed in 1958.
Now let’s address a few of your objections.
Will I know what is going on, or will I be asleep?
You certainly will not be asleep or unconscious. As a matter of fact, during hypnosis, you are even more aware of what is going on around you than you would ordinarily be.
Is Hypnosis dangerous?
Hypnosis is a normal state of mind, one which most people go in and out of every day. When you are watching an intriguing film, driving down a long monotonous road, listening to captivating music, you are under hypnosis. During a hypnosis session, you would immediately leave the room if it caught fire, even if seconds before you felt as if your limbs were too heavy to move.
Since hypnosis can help make us sharper and more aware mentally, it actually may help keep us safe, by making us more aware of our surroundings.
Can Hypnosis make me do something against my will?
Absolutely not. This is probably the biggest myth of all. You will never do anything or accept any suggestion that violates your values.
What if I don’t wake up?
No one has ever got stuck in a state of hypnosis. It simply can not happen. Just as you decided to go into hypnosis, you decide to come out of it. When you realise that you can no longer hear your own recorded voice, you return to the present. If you were listening to a recording and the power failed, you would wake up naturally. Your subconscious mind would detect that there is no voice guiding you and bring you back to conscious awareness.
What if I can not go deeply enough?
A light hypnotic state is often sufficient to accomplish what you want to achieve. Most people can achieve a trance deep enough to take suggestions on board.
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Yes, in fact, the ability to be hypnotised is a learnt trait. You can teach your mind to go into trance and get better and better at it as you practice self-hypnosis. Everyone can be hypnotised provided that they want to be.
The only people who can’t be hypnotised are those who can’t understand the instructions, those who are completely inebriated through alcohol or drugs or those who don’t want to be hypnotised. Everyone else can be hypnotised, but the depth and response do differ from person to person.
To use self-hypnosis for stress-management, I suggest that you record a hypnosis script. You are more likely to accept suggestions if they are given in your own voice.
NB. Self-hypnosis is not intended to be a substitute for seeking medical advice or visiting: a medical practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist or any other relevant health or alternative health therapist. If you are receiving treatment for clinical depression, bi-polar disease, schizophrenia, or any other diagnosed disorder, you must discuss using hypnotic scripts with your health practitioner before you start any hypnosis or self-hypnosis sessions.