Overview: Like meditation, hypnosis for stress management is a powerful tool for relaxing, unwinding, and letting go of stress triggers. Learn how hypnosis works for stress and what the research says.
Your to-do list seems untenable. Deadlines arrive faster than usual. You can’t think straight, feel headaches, and lack energy. You just don’t know how you’ll be able to get everything done.
Bottom line, you’re overwhelmed, and you think: “Geez! I’m stressed out!”
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. In today’s world, with its endless distractions and lightning-fast pace of work and life, stress has become much more common.
According to a recent survey, more adults in the U.S. are feeling stress and anxiety than ever before. And that's why more and more people are turning to stress hypnosis for relaxation.
Stress, in a nutshell, is a psychological response to external and internal stimuli. It’s completely natural, and we’re hardwired to experience stress.
The problem is, though, that today we experience stress more frequently and experience it for longer periods of time.
Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for helping us de-stress.
Like meditation, hypnosis can help to relax the body and mind. However, hypnosis takes it a step further, allowing us to remove and reframe stress triggers, anxieties and fears trapped in the subconscious mind.
What Stress Does to the Body: Fight-or-Flight Response
When we feel stressed, the body’s “fight or flight” response activates.
Your body acts like it’s under attack, and the response triggers the release of chemicals and hormones in the body like adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals prepare the body for the “attack.”
All of this made sense when we were fighting off attacks from predators. A rush of adrenaline, for instance, gave us a boost of energy and the intensified focus needed to outrun or fight off a sabretooth tiger.
Today, though, the fight-or-flight response activates in many unnecessary situations, and since we’re living in this state for longer periods of time, the stress chemicals climb to unhealthy levels. Blood pressure rises. Brain function decreases. Digestion runs off course. And our libido suffers – to name a few side-effects.
Over time, stress, quite literally, breaks down the body. Our health suffers.
How Stress Hypnosis Can Help
Thinking patterns can amplify stress. Worry. Self-doubt. Negativity. It’s the classic “glass-half-full” thinking patterns that turn a stressful situation into chronic, long-term stress.
We allow a single stressful event or issue – like a break-up or money troubles – to hijack our thoughts and activate the fight or flight response perpetually.
Ultimately, hypnosis hypnosis allows us to gain control of these thinking patterns and reframing them so that we can overcome stress.
In other words, hypnosis offers two benefits:
- Relaxation – Hypnosis is similar to meditation. We seek a state of deep focus and relaxation. Therefore, a hypnotherapy session naturally de-stresses and relaxes the body.
- Subconscious – Yet, the real power is that hypnosis can help us to better cope with stress. That's possible because, in a state of hypnosis, we can begin to update the subconscious response we have to stress and how we respond to stress triggers.
For example, if you're experiencing stress meeting deadlines, hypnosis can help you address procrastination or help you feel more motivated. Ultimately, if our stress response is to feel anxious, we can alter this response to be more helpful.
If you're interested in how it works, here's an example hypnosis for stress and relaxation session:
Causes & Symptoms of Stress
What stresses you out? Chances are, your answers are different from your friends and spouses. The truth is: We all have our own unique stressors, or the situations and pressures that drive our stress.
Some of the most common causes and symptoms of stress include:
Types of stressors
Although we commonly associate stressors with negative stimuli, i.e. a grueling work schedule, or a divorce, stressors can be positive, as well. Planning a wedding, for instance, that’s a huge source of stress!
Generally, there are two types of stressors: Internal and external.
- External stressors –These tend to be easier to recognize. They include things like financial troubles, work schedules, and relationship difficulties.
- Internal stressors – These include negative thought patterns, like negative self-talk, pessimism, perfectionism, or self-doubt.
Symptoms of stress
Stress can affect every aspect of our lives. We experience physical and emotional changes. Our behaviors alter, and we have trouble thinking. The problem is: We’ve trained ourselves to associate these symptoms with “normal.” We become used to it, and we fail to recognize just how detrimental it is to our health. Common symptoms include:
- Emotional symptoms: Depression, anxiety, mood changes, loneliness, or feeling intensely overwhelmed.
- Physical symptoms: Aches, headaches, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, decreased libido, or increased colds and flus.
- Behavioral symptoms: Sleeping more, insomnia, procrastination, substance abuse, nervous habits, or eating more or less.
- Cognitive symptoms: Negative thinking, constant worry, poor judgement, inability to focus, or trouble remembering
How Stress Hypnosis Allows Us to Reframe Thoughts
How we think about situations influences our response. You know: Is the glass half-full or half-empty? We can think positively about stressful situations or not.
Over a lifetime, we condition our minds to revert to negative thinking patterns. You have a deadline fast approaching – and rather than saying, alright, I can do this – your mind screams give up, you’re finished.
Research backs this up.
According to The Mayo Clinic, positive thinkers experience much lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Reframing your thinking to be more positive also can lead to an increased life span, reduced rates of depression, and better cardiovascular health, to name a few benefits.
Why is that? Positive thinking empowers us to cope with and manage stressful situations more effectively. Rather than seeing these situations as half-empty, we see them as half-full. As a result, we avoid triggering that fight-or-flight response.
Here's an example:
Suppose you had a work task to finish that was highly complex. A negative thinker might say: “This is too complicated; I’m not capable,” while the positive thinker would say: “I can make it work; I’ll try to approach the problem differently.”
Which one experiences more stress?
Negative thinking occurs automatically
Often, we don’t even realize negative thinking patterns are in control. These are automatic patterns that are distorted ways of thinking like:
- Filtering: Focusing on the wrong things increases our stress, and that’s what filtering is. This form of thinking occurs when we choose to analyze experiences by filtering out all the positive aspects and focusing on the negative.
- Personalizing: Negative thinkers tend to blame themselves for everything. They internalize and make themselves believe bad things are their fault. For example, your friends cancel a planned trip; the personalizer would think they did it because of them.
- Catastrophizing: Do you expect the outcome to always be negative? That’s catastrophizing. For example, you might have a new project at work to do, and you think, I’ve never done this, it will be so terrible.
- Polarizing: You allow experiences to only be good or bad. There is no in between. You might have had a good experience. Or the worst.
How hypnosis works for stress reduction
Imagine, the next time you face a stressful situation. You stay positive and tame negative thoughts. Would you feel less stress?
When we enter into a state of hypnosis, the mind and body relaxes, and the mind becomes very receptive to new information.
Your subconscious is very accepting of new information and is ready to update thoughts and beliefs. In fact, according to the latest brain-imaging research, the critical mind “shuts off” during hypnosis, allowing you to work directly with the subconscious.
This state of mind empowers us to reprogram our automatic response to stress. This may take many forms. We can fill our subconscious with positive reinforcement, or we can overpower and release the negative thinking that inhibits our ability to manage stress.
In particular, we can empower the subconscious in a few different ways, including:
- Reframing Negative Thoughts – Often, the mind has been conditioned to think negatively about stressful situations. These automatic thoughts amplify our stress. With hypnosis, we can train the mind to recognize negative thinking patterns and also reestablish new ways to thinking about stress-inducing situations.
- Calming the Mind – Worry, anger, racing thoughts – when we experience stress regularly, the mind doesn’t shut off. It runs a constant loop of thoughts. Hypnosis provides a powerful tool for relaxation; in fact, in just a few minutes, self-hypnosis can quickly calm us down.
- Empowering Your Sense of Confidence – A lack of confidence can increase stress. Hypnosis allows us to work on the subconscious and to teach it how to be more supportive.
These are just a few ideas for utilizing hypnosis to release stress. Ideally, you’d like to focus and isolate the root cause of your stressors, and develop specific strategies for addressing this.
Does Stress Hypnosis Work? What the Research Says
Most people want to know if hypnosis works for stress. And the short answer is that yes, it can be very effective. In fact, several studies have found that self-hypnosis, hypnotherapy and guided hypnosis can all have positive impacts on our lives and lead to stress reduction.
For example, a recent 2017 review of research, examined nine studies that looked at the relationship between hypnosis and stress reduction. Ultimately, the study’s author concluded that six of the studies showed that hypnosis had a significant impact on stress, helping patients to reduce and more effectively manage stress in their lives.
Additionally, a series of 2000 University of Florida studies, examined how hypnosis could alleviate specific stress, anxiety and pain related to surgery and childbirth. Often, this stress is physical, emotional and cognitive. Ultimately, researchers concluded that people who utilized hypnosis were able to more effectively manage these symptoms and reduce stress overall.
Finally, a 2010 research overview examined studies related to hypnosis and two kinds of stress (state stress, caused by external factors like a test or work promotion) and anxiety-related disorders, or conditions exacerbated by stress, like IBS or headaches. After reviewing the research, the author found “compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment” for both types of stress.
This is just a small sample. Hypnosis research has also strongly proven to be effective for a whole host of conditions, including pain management, , reducing sugar addiction, improving self-esteem. Want to learn how it works? Take a look at our overview of the science of hypnosis.
Getting Started with Relaxation Hypnosis
So how can you begin reducing your stress with hypnosis? What types of relaxation hypnosis are available to you?
One option: Self-hypnosis with a hypnosis app. You can practice self-guided hypnosis in the comfort of your own home, and you’ll essentially listen to a recording to relax yourself and feed positive affirmations to your subconscious.
Typically, self-hypnosis starts with examining how your feel and getting comfortably situated. Additional steps might include:
- Deep Breathing: Self-hypnosis scripts include steps to help you relax and unwind. Focused breathing is one technique. You might take four deep breaths, slowing inhaling and exhaling on each.
- Reciting a Countdown: You might start a countdown and say something like: 10, I am going deeper, until you reach one. This is another relaxation technique to reach the state of mind in which you’ve bypassed the conscious mind.
- Reciting Positive Affirmations: Affirmations are essentially suggestions you feed they subconscious. These affirmations help you retrain the subconscious to think more positively, and to release negative thinking patterns.
- Visualization: Once you’ve repeated your affirmations, you’ll visualize a positive experience. With stress, you might visualize a stress-free day, and letting stressful situations come and go without feeling overwhelmed.
- Opening Your Eyes: Finally, you’ll open your eyes and may again recite an affirmation. You may also spend a moment to reassess how you feel.
And voila! It’s really that simple. Whatever your skill level with hypnosis, you can get started by using a self-hypnosis script for reducing stress.
Overcome Stress: Try Hypnosis Today
Grace offers numerous options for trying hypnosis. In addition to our award-winning hypnotherapy app, you can also read our self-hypnosis books like Close Your Eyes, Get Free, or online hypnotherapy sessions with a certified practitioner.
You might also Grace's hypnosis sessions on YouTube. Like this hypnosis for relaxation session: