Why do we get stressed?
Our brains evolved to help us survive back in the stone age when we were facing daily threats to our life. When a threat revealed itself, our brains would fire off hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which got our hearts to beat faster, our breath to quicken and our muscles to tense. This put us in ‘fight or flight’ mode, giving our bodies the physical edge they needed to either run away from the threat or fight it off.
While times have certainly changed and the level of threats to our lives has decreased - our brains have retained this survival feature. Now, different things are perceived as threats to our brains - for example when your manager emails you with a tight deadline. Your brain still goes through the motions to prepare you to ‘fight or flight’, but instead of fighting your manager or running away from your desk, it’s more likely that you’ll stay sat at your desk.
This leaves stress hormones coursing through your veins, making you feel stressed. Usually, this sensation will pass, but when we’re coming face to face with multiple stressors regularly, we can feel in a constant state of stress and start to develop symptoms.
What can help reduce stress?
The first step to managing stress is to become aware of what triggers it for you and what stress symptoms you experience. Remember, we’re all different and will respond and react to stress differently.
Try making a list of the different things in your life that makes you feel stressed and then note how stress shows up for you. Do you notice symptoms physically, mentally or emotionally? What causes you to you feel stressed? Understanding your triggers means you can anticipate when you might struggle in the future and come up with ways to cope.
Tools and techniques to help you manage stress better include:
- Increasing your communication skills and being more assertive (learn to say no when your plate is already full).
- Exercising frequently helps to decrease stress and promotes relaxation. If you’re not a fan of the gym, try going for a walk, swimming or a yoga class.
- Making time for self-care is a good reminder that you matter and will help you develop emotional resilience.
- Connecting with friends and loved ones. Talking problems out and spending time in other people’s company can help you feel less alone and more able to cope.
- Making space for hobbies and fun can encourage a sense of playfulness and help to alleviate stress.
- Assessing your diet and reducing the amount of sugar and caffeine you’re consuming can help ease some physical stress symptoms
If stress is impacting your life, you may need further support. There are several options available, including talk therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis for stress
Hypnotherapy aims to break negative thought patterns and responses to stress and instead provide you with a more healthy reaction. This is done via the subconscious - the part of our mind that works automatically and without us realising.
Your hypnotherapist will help you enter a state of deep relaxation (hypnosis). When you’re in this state, your subconscious is more open to suggestion. The idea here is for the hypnotherapist to ‘suggest’ different ways of responding to stress, to your subconscious.
Some people will see results after one session while others may require a number of sessions. This will depend on your individual circumstances and the depth of work needed. Often hypnotherapists will also teach you self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques you can use after the sessions are over.