Dave Wong Hong Meng
Title: HYPNOSIS IN STRESS MANAGEMENT
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HYPNOSIS IN STRESS MANAGEMENT
The mind of each man is actually the man himself. Our mind is like a garden and our thoughts are the seeds. We can either harvest flowers or weeds. Good thoughts give us blooming happiness like flowers. Negative thoughts can yield stress and tension like the unwanted weeds, which destroys both the garden and the plants. Stress comes from the Latin word `stringere’, which means to stay tight or to compress. Millions of people around the world are stressed daily due to various reasons. It affects a person physically, physiologically and psychologically. Stress alters ones mind and body and makes him or her feel like a different person.
People experience a stressful episode in some period or other in their lifetime. It is not the situation, but a person’s approach and reaction to the situation, results in stress. Human mind is such a fantastic thing. It commands and controls the more complex human body. Constructive thoughts are encouraging and boost confidence. They help in reaching desired goals. Destructive thoughts result in mood swings, lack of confidence and more devastating outcomes. Thus when stress is not managed in early stages it keeps on building up and one day it can explode like bottle of compressed gas, which was not let out in the very beginning.
The body responds to anxiety-provoking thoughts and events with muscle tension, which actually increases the subjective experience of anxiety (Dr. Edmund Jacobson; 1920). The reason for stress can be internal that is within one’s own mind and body or due to the influences of the external environment. One out of five working population have job related stress. Other problems include interpersonal relationships like marriage; divorce, changing homes, separation or death of loved ones, family issues, accidents, debts, health problems, exam failures, premenstrual tensions and a lot more. But some people get stressed even without any reason.
Stress is not always bad. Some amount of stress is necessary to achieve our goals and fulfill our wishes like waiting for a reward. Some amount of stress increases adrenalin secretion and aids in improving performances. But long term, neglected stress can lead to depression and can result in general deterioration of health, ulcers, heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, stroke, vague pains in neck and lower back, permanent psychiatric illnesses and even death. (Nigel Magowan 2007) It can also affect nervous system and immune system. Some studies say that many cancers are due to wrongly directed emotions and feelings. Around 75% of health problems are due to psychological imbalances.
Sudden fear, difficulty in sleep, early morning waking, altered bowel habits like constipation and diarrhea, poor concentration power, poor memory, easily losing temper, aggressive behavior, feeling helpless, tired, lack of confidence, lack of motivation and enthusiasm, mood swings like depression and mania, getting emotional for simple reasons, frequent headaches, migraine, body aches and excessive drinking, smoking and eating are the symptoms of stress. (Nigel Magowan 2007) If a previously normal individual suddenly complaints of these symptoms, within a short period, it is high time for a stress management.
Two basic approaches help in managing stress effectively. The first thing is achieving a kind of mental and emotional balance that enables us to handle the stresses of life with a calm composure. The second thing is learning useful techniques of dealing with specific events and situations that has been pestering us for a long time. (Arthur D. Schwartz)
Hypnosis, allopathic treatments, herbal medications, yoga, meditations, (Herbert Benson, MD) breathing exercises, massages, assertiveness training, autogenic, visualization and biofeedback techniques are many ways of managing stress. They show significant detectable impact on the indicators of physical relaxation like respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen requirements, muscle tension and controlling blood pressure. Hypnosis, which is often a less known and less practiced method of stress management, is one of the oldest and best techniques. It is neither a magical nor a mystical ritual but a more straightforward method in managing stress.
Hypnotherapy is the art of letting out emotions and feelings that are troubling you. It is a trance or deeply relaxed but focused state. The person is in a subconscious mind while being hypnotized. The desired goals or status of mind is brought into the mind when the person is in this sub conscious state. The person keeps on repeating those imposed ideas. So when you have to again come across the same stressful situations in future your approach and reactions will be different after hypnotherapy. Contrary to the usual belief a person cannot be hypnotized without his or her consent and awareness. A hypnotherapist helps identify the causes for stress, a person’s reaction to stress, gives stress reduction techniques and changes the person’s approach in dealing stress in future. It also helps in ego strengthening.
Hypnosis can be used for reasons like simple relaxation, to more complex matters like pain relief during labor. It reduces anxiety and stress, proper sleep rhythms, gives painless relief to many problems; changes behavior, reduces fear, phobias, innovates healthy life style, helps to overcome undesirable habits like smoking, drinking, drug addictions and overeating. It makes a person more confident and to face any obstacles with lot of courage in the future. Progressively relaxing muscles helps in lowering blood pressures, normalize pulse, respiration and perspiration.
Asthma, immunological disorders like autoimmune diseases, gastro intestinal irritations, sexual dysfunctions and many other psychiatric problems are treated by hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis is a much quicker and easier method than yoga and meditation and it is a much cheaper technique. It is rather a soft and gentle method for stress relief. Number of sessions of hypnotherapy depends on the problem. To stop smoke it just needs only one session of hypnosis. It gives long lasting results, wide range of benefits and can cure many problems at a time and has no negative side effects unlike the herbal medications.
Modern hypnosis is still based on old traditional methods of hypnosis like Ericksonian methods and NLP techniques or neuro-linguistic programming. Ericksonian technique gives relaxation by using metaphors, which creates and deepens the state of hypnosis. It calms mind in subconscious state and prepares it to expect positive experiences. The NLP technique is a more powerful method where the incidents and thoughts that usually cause stress are changed to trigger relaxation. Rational emotional behavioral therapy or REBT helps in changing irrational self inflicted beliefs to rational ones. It is a highly efficient method of stress management, which is an adjuvant to hypnosis. [Palmer, S. and Dryden, W. (1995)]
Self-hypnosis is the method of hypnotizing oneself with ones own voice or thoughts. Affirmations or positive statements are based on rational thinking, which are used to overcome stress and anxiety. These affirmations are repeated again and again in the sub conscious mind, so that the person is motivated to achieve his goals and targets. But self-hypnosis can also be done without affirmations, depending on the need of the person.
Self hypnosis helps in relaxation of body, relieving anxiety, subsiding of stress hormone like adrenalines, frees mind of unpleasant thoughts, changes the outlook towards life and makes mind more focused towards good vision and goals. Self- hypnosis is much cheaper as you need not consult your hypnotherapist every time.
10 steps to overcome stress by yourself
Step 1- Sit in a comfortable and calm place.
Step 2- Close your eyes and take a deep full breath and exhale completely, till the bottom of your lung. Inhale one more time to let in clean, refreshing air. Hold it in for 5 seconds and then exhale again. Repeat this for 2-3 times till you feel relaxing all over. This cleans the lungs and fills it with fresh air and also gives relaxation to lungs.
Step 3- Focus your attention on knees and relax it first. Follow the same to your calf, ankle, feet and toes and relax them all. You will feel as if everything below your knee is loose and relaxed.
Step 4- Relax your thigh, hip and waist the same way slowly. You must feel your thigh fell heavy and relaxed in your seat.
Step 5- Next relax your chest. Relaxing your chest means also relaxing your internal organs like lungs, heart, stomach etc. Allow your breathing to be effortless and deeper, more regular and much relaxed.
Step 6- Follow the same way to relax your shoulder, arm, forearm, hand , fingers, neck and throat. Let your head droop loose in your neck as all the neck muscles relax.
Step 7- Next relax your face muscles completely till it is smooth and loose. Relax your jaw and let the teeth not touch each other. Relax the muscles around the eye.
Step 8- You feel as if all your fears, worries and tensions are coming down from your head to toes through the shoulder, chest, hip, thigh, knee, calf, ankle and foot.
Step 9- Deepen your thought. Tell the affirmation or positive statement that you have prepared for the day calmly. Repeat the relaxation exercises and the affirmations simultaneously for 8-10 times.
Step 10- Open your eyes and feel the change. Now you will feel as if you had woke up from a very long deep sleep. You feel more relaxed, energetic and refreshed like never before and your mind and body are very clear.
Try to do these 10 steps daily or at least 3-4 day a week for 15-20 minutes. The results are highly beneficial and ever lasting. You will notice slow but steady improvement daily. Your thinking becomes more philosophical and your body and mind are relieved from day to day distresses. Even long term-unsolved issues that were disturbing become a less important matter to you in the long run.
Alternative methods like counting from 100 to 1 in the reverse order can be used after complete relaxation. Or else imagine as if looking on a black board. Write letters by imagination and erase them. Repeat this again and again till you are completely relaxed. Then as usual repeat the affirmations.
Going for a night walk, thinking about or looking on some pleasant scenery, watching your favorite television programs, comedy shows, listening to good, soft music and rhythms and chanting mantras are some of the ways of relaxing ourselves, while returning home after a hectic day’s work or to relieve stress and anxiety and get complete relaxation of mind and body.
Not every person feels the same after undergoing hypnotherapy. Results may vary from person to person. This may be due to lack of concentration, patience and interest. Some people take more time to attain the trance like state. Some don’t take regular treatment or discontinue hypnosis due to lack of time. (Elizabeth Scott, M.S 2007)
Try the following tips to over come stress.
Pain is a combination of physical and emotional component of any abnormality within one’s body or mind. Chronic persistent pain can be physical or organic but when emotions combine with it, the pain becomes worse and difficult to treat. Actually pain without an emotional overlay is more tolerable and easily treatable. Fear, rage, worry, and depression can worsen pain. Pain may be mandatory but suffering is optional (Eimer B.N 1999).
Hypnosis is one of the most effective methods of treating pain. It induces a trance like state, which gives complete relaxation; a focused mind and acceptance of the desired objective in the subconscious mind and removes the negative thoughts from mind. It not only treats physical component of pain but also the emotional overlay. It can relieve pain of varying intensity from any part of the body.
Many consider hypnosis as a psychological form of pain relief than physiological, which limits its practice in medical therapy, even though it has lot of merits. Various theories and studies have discussed about the mechanism of hypnosis. A neuro-physiological basis has been suggested for hypnosis (Spiegel, 1989). It is considered that hypnosis decreases the amount of pain signal that is sent to the brain. This suggests that hypnosis provides some chemical inhibitory effect on pain conduction. In some cases nor-epinephrine levels seems to be higher in hypnotized patients.
Hypnosis provides hypoanalgesia (to reduce pain) and hypoanesthesia (to convert pain to numbness). There are four main stages of hypoanalgesia (Chaves, 1994). The first stage consists of preparation of patient, where the hypnotherapist clarifies the outcomes of the treatment. Second stage consists of direct or indirect hypnotic inductions, when the person enters a focused and relaxed state. The third stage is the stage of therapeutic suggestions where the therapist asks the person to think about some imagery and thus to forget pain and reach the desired target. The fourth stage is posthypnotic suggestion and termination, which helps to preserve the achieved goals.
Hypnosis is used in acute pain, chronic persistent pain and pain in cancer patients. Earlier hypnosis was used to relieve pain in amputation of limb when chemical anesthetics were not discovered (Manusov, 1990). Even nowadays it is used for anesthetic purposes in high- risk patients and those allergic to the chemical anesthetic agent. Burns patients respond to hypnosis in acute stages as well as during the healing process. It has been effective in pain relief and also in enhancing the healing process. It has been proved efficient in dental clinics for tooth extractions and minor procedures, to relieve labor pain for childbirths, migraine headaches, arthritic pains, back pain and neuralgia. Hypnosis is used for a painless procedure during angioplasties. Patients with chronic debilitating and terminal illness like leukemia and other cancerous conditions have shown excellent pain relief and even good improvement in their overall general conditions. It also controls the chemotherapy induced nausea, vomiting and headaches in cancer patients. People hypnotized for fibromyalgia, which presents with chronic muscle pain and sleep disorders have shown good pain relief as well as normal sleep patterns.
The method of hypnosis is more important than the type of pain (Evans 1990). For acute pain, a hypnotherapist must focus on reducing anxiety and lowering the emphasis on pain. For chronic pain hypnosis must deal with both the physiological and psychological impacts of pain.
Cognitive psychotherapy, waking state reframing and hypnosis help in changing the negative thinking. Hypnosis provides analgesia, imagery and relaxation technique. Self-hypnosis is an important tool in managing day-to-day pain by patients themselves.
Here are some ways to forget pain
Hypnosis has no deep or long lasting side effects and it is an easy technique. A common problem with chronic pain management with pain-killing drugs is that the brain gets accustomed to the drugs requiring higher and higher doses successively. Hypnosis on the other hand stops the brain from responding to pain signals.
Hypnosis has its own disadvantages. When pain is completely relieved the patient forgets his illness and thinks that he is perfectly normal and cured and puts lot of stress in the already affected region thus causing permanent damage. So it is always better to have some residual pain, to remind the patient of their illness so that they can be cautious. It cannot cure the disease but only relieve the pain in certain conditions. (Hawkins. R 1988)
Hypnosis has an important role to play in pain and pain perception. With hypnosis the treatment and healing process will require the physician and the patient’s active participation. So it is important to understand the advantages of hypnosis and use it more efficiently and extensively.
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