Can you manage social anxiety with hypnosis? For most people, that sounds far-fetched or unbelievable. Hypnosis, we’ve seen it in movies and on TV. It’s can’t possibly provide therapeutic benefits…
Or can it?
Stage hypnotists have given this powerful meditative tool a bad rap. The truth is: We’ve been using hypnotherapy for hundreds of years in therapy settings. In fact, a body of research suggests hypnosis isn’t just a powerful tool for managing social anxiety; in some cases, hypnotherapy can help sufferers beat all forms of anxiety entirely.
But why is that? How does hypnosis work? And more importantly, how can people who experience anxiety get started using hypnosis right now?
Gaining Control Over Our Social Anxiety
Social anxiety, for many sufferers, is the result of automatic thinking. We find ourselves in a stressful social situation, and our palms might start to sweat and thoughts begin to race. We feel anxious.
In other words, it’s all automatic.
The stressful stimuli – whether a first date, or an office holiday party – sends an electrical charge to the brain. And there, subconsciously, the mind jumps into action and tells the body how to react.
Over time, we’ve taught the subconscious how to respond to these stimuli. And we’ve reinforced these ideas over many years. The subconscious, thusly, is very skilled at reacting, but unfortunately, this conditioned reaction is problematic, unhealthy and affects quality of life.
So how can hypnosis help social anxiety?
In short, a hypnotherapy plan can help us reduce or eliminate these automatic, subconscious responses, empower us to be more in tune with our emotions, have greater control over our thoughts, and help us release past traumas that bring on stress and anxious thinking.
Here’s the problem: Most of us are unfamiliar with hypnosis. It’s a foreign subject, and we don’t have the slightest clue how to get started.
What Is Hypnosis?
Unlike what we’ve seen in popular culture, we don’t lose control during hypnosis. And it can’t be used for mind control or brain-washing.
Instead, the goal of hypnosis is reaching a state of heightened focus and relaxation. The process enables us to shut down the conscious mind – that voice in your head – and talk directly to the subconscious. When we’re in this state, the subconscious mind is very receptive to new information and suggestions.
We like to say that hypnosis is meditation with a goal. And that’s because in both hypnosis and meditation, we seek a similar frame of mind.
But the difference is that with hypnosis, we aren’t just going to relax the mind. We want to work directly with the subconscious when we get there, providing it with new information and ways to process sensory information in the real-world. Through repetition, we can begin to retrain the subconscious to react in more helpful ways.
What Is Self-Hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis, simply stated, is following a hypnosis plan by yourself. With self-hypnosis, there is no need for a recording or the help of a licensed hypnotherapist. You can practice self-hypnosis in your living room.
With self-hypnosis, you follow all the steps to achieve hypnosis. But you’re doing it by reading a hypnosis script. The steps might include:
- Relaxing the body and mind
- Providing hypnoaffirmations (or suggestions for your subconscious)
- And visualizing yourself free of anxiety.
Self-hypnosis is a powerful tool for anxiety.
For starters, it can be utilized anytime – like prior to a stressful experience, or in response to a stressful situation (when you might be feeling anxious). It’s something you can practice every day, at home, work, or even on public transportation. And it’s a tool that, once you master, you can use throughout your life.
Getting Started with Self-Hypnosis for Social Anxiety
Now, before you get started, it’s important to recognize the steps of a self-hypnosis session and understand how they help you empower the subconscious.
It’s fairly simple. In fact, using self-hypnosis for anxiety can take just a few minutes, or up to 15 minutes. The steps include:
- Relaxation Techniques: Self-hypnosis starts with relaxing the body and mind. Deep breathing, for example, is the most common technique used. Therefore, before you start, you might be asked to take several deep breaths in and long breaths out. Starting with relaxation prepares the body to let go of worry, and enter that deep, relaxed frame of mind.
- Entering Hypnosis: Self-hypnosis requires you to follow a script that will help your mind relax. Most hypnosis scripts walk you through the process of reaching a state of hypnosis. You might start with something as simple as repeating a countdown and positive affirmations. Now, your body and mind are relaxed, and you’re entering into a state of hypnosis (which is similar to a day dream).
- Reciting Hypnoaffirmations: Once you’ve reached a state of intense focus and relaxation, you can access the subconscious and speak directly to it. In this state, the subconscious is very open to suggestions, and that’s what a hypnoaffirmations is: a positively-worded, realistic suggestion related to anxiety. An example for someone with social anxiety might be: “I feel confident when meeting new people.” These suggestions form the basis of hypnosis — they help us release our existing automatic subconscious thoughts that keep anxiety in place.
- Visualization: Many social anxiety hypnosis scripts include visualization. For example, you may be asked to visual yourself free of worry, confident and collected. This helps to reinforce the suggestions. Ultimately, you’d like to stay in this relaxed, calm state until you’re are ready to awake and go about your day – in that sense it’s much like meditation too.
Our hypnosis recording, “Overcome Social Anxiety” walks you through these steps. It's a helpful tool for quickly alleviating social anxiety through hypnosis in the short-term, as well as improving your confidence in social settings over the long-term. A helpful recording is also one of the easiest ways to start a self-hypnosis practice of your own.
What to Expect from Self-Hypnosis
A great thing about hypnosis: You can expect to see results after your very first session. They may be subtle, or they may be quite pronounced. But letting the mind unwind and the body relax will certainly provide relief. Some of the most common benefits include:
- Sense of Clarity: Hypnosis gives your mind and body a chance to relax. When you open your eyes, you’ll likely feel refreshed.
- Reduced Symptoms: A common benefit: After hypnosis, your anxiety symptoms will have likely decreased. That's why it's great to do before a stressful social situation. You’ll feel less worry and increased confidence.
- Lifted Mood: Anxiety can exacerbate stress and lead to racing thoughts. A quick hypnosis session can help to improve mood in a matter of minutes.
Long-Term Results Takes Time. Remember that self-hypnosis is a skill. And like learning any new skill, it takes time to master. You shouldn’t expect to sit down and reach the same state as someone who has practiced for many, many years.
But you’ll be surprised how easy it comes with regular practice.
You will likely feel a reduce in symptoms, or a calm sense of clarity following your first self-hypnosis session. And the research suggests lasting benefits can occur after just six sessions.
So be patient! If you stick with it, you will experience incremental progress.
Tips for Achieving a Consistent Self-Hypnosis Practice
Self-hypnosis works the best through regular practice. That’s particularly true for a condition like anxiety, which can be triggered in an instant by a stressful situation.
So as you begin experimenting with self-hypnosis, remember: Make a plan to add time to practice once a day for a week, before you give it up. That’s not always easy. We lead busy lives, and finding an extra 5-15 minutes can be a challenge. But it’s important.
Here are a few tips to help you keep a consistent hypnosis practice:
- Quiet, Comfortable Location – Find a quiet corner in your home or office to create a hypnosis space. A comfortable chair, plants, blinds to shut out natural light, or a water feature can all help to increase the serenity of your space.
- Pick a Time – Setting a time for hypnosis can be helpful in keeping you on track. But the trick is to not be so precise. Rather than saying, “I will do this everyday at noon!” Say: “When I break for lunch, I will be sure to practice meditation.
- Start Slowly: If you started a jogging regime, you wouldn’t try to run 20 miles your first day. The same is true about hypnosis. Pace yourself. Commit first to short bursts you can keep consistent with – like a 5-minute session each day. Then, gradually work your way up.
- Focus on Fundamentals: As you begin, focus your attention on form. Practice your deep breathing, good posture, follow your script, and read your hypnoaffirmations with conviction.
- Track Progress: Anxiety can begin to recede slowly, and that makes it difficult for you to gauge your progress. As you begin, keep a journal. Note how you felt before and after, and write down how you respond to stressful situations throughout the day.
- Keep Learning: Master hypnotherapists with decades of practice under their belts continue to learn. Read books about hypnosis. Learn new techniques. Explore research and studies. Expanding your knowledge will help you maximize effectiveness.
- Have Fun: Hypnosis should be something you look forward to – like a nap or a massage for your mind. Take a break if it begins to feel like a chore. Or space your sessions out – like a longer session on the weekend.
Start Your Self-Hypnosis Journey Today
Social anxiety doesn’t have to control your life. Remember that. With consistent training, you can empower your subconscious to be a better ally, to respond in stressful situations in a more helpful way.
The good news: You can start exploring self-hypnosis right now! Find a quiet corner, grab a script, and give it a try! You might be surprised with how much your mood changes from before and after.
Get started now with these resources from GraceSpace.