Can Hypnosis Help You Overcome Stress?

Someone asked recently, “Can you hypnotize someone to get rid of their stress?”

The first thing to understand here is that the feeling of stress is the by-product of an activity. You know how to squeeze yourself, right? We squeeze ourselves, or tense up –– mentally, emotionally, and physically –– in response to sensory input from the outer world and from our inner world.

Stress is what we get when we don’t stop squeezing appropriately. 

It would be great if we could just rely on the animal instinct part of our being when we respond to a challenging stimulus. Animals that are food for predators are constantly on the lookout for an approaching predator, but they are not stressed out about it. If they are attacked, they fight or flee as appropriate. At that point we could say the animal is in a state of high stress because they are fully focused on meeting the challenge in present time. 

If the animal survives the challenge, within a few minutes they physically shake off that stress and return to calmly grazing, with an alert readiness for the next possible threat. 

Our problem is this: we take our powerful ability of imagination . . . and plug it into our natural fight/flight response. But we don’t allow ourselves to shake off the stress once the threat has passed. We continue to create stories about the event. We keep on imagining. Think how bad it could have been, and how bad it might be in the future! 

When we continue thinking this way, we become completely cut off from the present moment where we could calmly relax and recuperate.

So . . . what can you do to address your stress?

Unfortunately, most of us can’t simply talk ourselves out of this unnecessary fearful imagining activity. That is where hypnosis comes in. The essence of hypnosis is a natural gift of our subconscious. In the state we call “hypnosis” we gain access deeper resourcefulness and abilities that we don’t generally have access to in our normal waking state.

In hypnosis you are simply accessing profound, entirely natural, abilities of your own being. It is extremely important to appreciate this fact. Hypnosis is not like ingesting a foreign substance that affects you in some unnatural, or supernatural, way. What I call “good hypnosis” builds a loving relationship between your own conscious and subconscious mind.

You and your subconscious embark on a journey together. You are gently riding a healing learning curve. Riding that curve like a wave, you and your subconscious learn to cooperate better. You learn to activate your own powerful, creative ability to generate solutions to the challenges in your life. Along the way you cultivate the ability to stay calm when there is no actual threat present. 

In good hypnosis, you invite your subconscious mind to release all the unnecessary squeezing you have habitually developed in your life. You invite your subconscious mind to replace this habitual squeezing with a calm clarity. You begin to enjoy a renewed sense of freshness of being. It feels good to be alive and unsqueezed!

You can learn to un-squeeze and destress! Here are 3 tips:

1. First, understand the basics. The way we learn everything is through a combination of repeated exposure and vivid exposure. This is true whether we’re learning very simple information or developing a skill that requires activity. In hypnosis, as in advertising media (hmmm), the more vivid your exposure to information or a practiced activity, the fewer repeated exposures or practice sessions you will need to create a new competency or habit. Therefore, in hypnotic communication, we rely on creating vivid imagery that integrate the learning or skill. In addition, we do this repeatedly so that it takes root in the subconscious mind.

2. Cultivate your mind’s habit-forming power to fulfill your positive intention. People generally doubt their ability to change. As they receive positive suggestions in hypnosis, they are also listening to doubts, “I don’t think this will work,” “I don’t think I’m hypnotized,” or “I’m not a good visualizer.” Then there’s the really big one: “What will I be like if I change? I really prefer the security of what is familiar.” The antidote to these sabotaging thoughts? Recognize that your mind’s habit-forming power doesn’t actually care what you think of yourself or of your abilities. Your habit-forming power simply responds to repetition and vividness –– no matter who you think you are or how you judge your abilities. Ever hear this: “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”? Instead of letting your habit-forming power sabotage your efforts, cultivate your habit-forming power to fulfill your positive intention!

3. Recognize that there is a deeper power and intelligence in your being. You may call this your subconscious mind. This wondrous ability is constantly running the multitude of processes that give you life, that create and sustain every ability you have. You are not deciding to see, hear, and breathe, etc. It’s all a gift! Even our ability to doubt and complain is a gift! Think about the mystery of this gift. Wonder about it. Give your mind a pause. You will discover a natural relaxation there. Intuitive insights of all sorts will begin to come into your awareness. With practice you will develop a fresh new interest and sensitivity about the gift of your life. And you will feel a growing gratitude. These qualities make stress dissolve quite naturally.

What To Expect in a Hypnosis Session for Stress Management

Now that you understand the key points above, you can discuss them with your hypnotherapist. Make sure they understand and incorporate these points into their suggestions to you during your hypnotherapy session. The therapist should emphasize that you are the one in control. They should remind you that you can freely reject any suggestion that doesn’t serve you. Ask your hypnotherapist to explicitly repeat this suggestion throughout the session. 

Knowing these three key points, and keeping in mind your ability to ask for important safeguards gives you a sense of security and control in hypnosis. You then enjoy being guided into a hypnotic state, a conscious/unconscious cooperative state, where you can dissolve the old attitudes and habitual actions that used to create stress in your life. Then you can replace these old stumbling blocks with healthy self-respecting attitudes and creative activities. In this way you reclaim your power to realize the desires and values you truly care about. This kind of approach to hypnosis is healing and enlivening. Good luck to you!