If we suffered significant and protracted trauma during our childhoods, we are far more likely than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable and secure upbringing (all else being) to develop severe anxiety and associated conditions in adulthood.
We feel anxiety when we perceive a threat (and the threat may be real or imagined).
Our perception of being under threat causes stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, to be released into the brain.
The release of these stress hormones into the body can result in distressing physical sensations; these differ depending upon the particular individual concerned and include the following (to list just a few examples):
– stomach aches
– dry mouth
– heart palpitations
– feeling faint/dizziness
These physical symptoms of stress form part of a vicious cycle; this viscous cycle is caused by the various aspects of stress feeding off one another as I describe below:
1) Anxious thoughts lead to the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol
2) These stress hormones produce physical symptoms in the body which exacerbate anxious thoughts
3) These further anxious thoughts then cause yet more stress hormones to flood the brain…and, thus, the vicious cycle continues
How Do You Break This Vicious Cycle?
In order to break this vicious cycle, a component of it needs to be broken so that the elements it is made up of can no longer feed off one another. Hypnotherapy can do this in different ways, for example:
– the excessive production of stress hormones flooding the brain can be halted using self hypnosis techniques such as calming imagery/visualisation.
– anxious thoughts can be reduced under hypnosis. This can be achieved in many ways, two of which I describe below:
1) The ‘Helium Voice’ technique:
Under hypnosis the individual is given the post hypnotic suggestion that when s/he has self-critical thoughts during internal dialogues (i.e. negative, introspective, mentally internal self-talk) the ‘voice’ of these thoughts will sound squeaky and high-pitched (as happens when a person inhales helium from a balloon), thus rendering them ridiculous and robbing them of any credibility (whilst this sounds silly, it can be remarkably effective).
2) The ‘Compassionate Friend’ Technique:
To simplify: under hypnosis, the individual is given the post hypnotic suggestion that when s/he has negative, anxiety producing thoughts s/he will be able to imagine what an ideal compassionate friend would say in response to them in order to comfort and reassure, so it becomes rather like having a tiny personal counsellor taking up residence in one’s head!
And, finally, many readers will already be aware that mindfulness meditation is often an extremely effective way of coping with stress and anxiety, though requires practice.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).