What is Stress
Stress is a normal part of life. It is actually a protective mechanism of your body mobilizing innate resources for fight-or-flight reactions. So, a short-term stress reaction is actually a life-saving mechanism.
And stress isn’t only a negative experience. Often we seek stress willingly in activities varying from watching action or horror movies, playing exciting computer games, doing sports, and participating in competitions, to bungy jumping. Such stress we call excitement.
Moderate amounts of deliberate stress exposure are even extremely beneficial for your health. Sports, heat and cold exposure, or fasting are examples of such stressors which improve your vitality and longevity.
But chronic stress has negative impacts both on your physical and mental health.
Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Stress
Understanding what causes stress and its symptoms can help you better manage it.
Some common causes of stress include:
- demanding work
- sleep deprivation
- financial problems
- parenting especially young children or children with developmental and behavioral issues.
Also, prolonged time spent in front of screens – mobiles and computers, time spent on social media or gaming – is stressful and poses a risk factor for mental health, especially for young adults.
Symptoms of stress may include:
- difficulty sleeping
- irritability and even aggression
- poor focus and memory and thus a decrease in productivity
- lack of motivation
Effects of Chronic Stress
Prolonged stress can affect your well-being by causing:
- behavioral changes like overeating, alcohol and drug misuse, or social withdrawal
- physical changes like tension, headaches, digestion problems, fatigue, weakening of the immune system, and thus oft colds
- mental changes like anxiety, depression, or anger
And in the long term, chronic stress can lead to
- physical and emotional exhaustion, i.e. burnout
- mental issues like anxiety disorders or depression
- chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmune diseases
- accelerated aging of the brain and body
- shortened life span
Response to Stress: The Role of Your Mindset
Psychological studies proved in various settings that stress response is distinctly determined by the mindset. In other words, these are not the circumstances that cause stress but your mindset – what you believe about those circumstances and your own capabilities.
Alia Crum defines four ways that can change your emotional reaction to a potentially stressful situation:
You can change your response to stress. For example, a physically hard job like hotel room cleaning can be seen as physical exercise that helps to stay fit and in shape. Such an experiment in a hotel setting helped participants to feel positive about their job and even lose weight. In this case, you don’t avoid the stressor but develop an attitude that “stress can be good for me”.
You can change your understanding of the situation (cognitive change). For example, you can see the growing workload as an increasing level of responsibility and as a part of your professional growth: “I am successful“. Or when you are giving a presentation, you can explain the arousal reaction of your body as excitement (“I am excited“) rather than anxiety.
You can also focus on the desired outcome rather than the stressful process (attentional deployment). For example, you do want to take your driving exam (or any other exam) in order to be able to drive the car to your work or to a dream holiday destination. When you focus on your goal it helps you to ignore the negativity and notice the positive sides of what you are doing or going through: “This serves my bigger goal“.
You may seek a stressful situation because it will offer an improvement of an unfavorable situation (active situation selection). For example, you might want to have a conversation with your partner or colleague because ignoring the situation affects your relationship or working atmosphere. And vice versa, you can choose to disengage from certain conversations, allowing your partner to do certain things the way he or she prefers because this is not really important.
Root Causes of Chronic Stress
What causes stress is not rational but an unconscious reaction of your mind. It is your unconscious mind that recognizes if the situation you are in is demanding and frustrating. It does so based on your previous experience and depends also on the inborn sensitivity.
And that previous experience triggering stress reactions is most often made in your early years. Back then, you experienced the situation as a child lacking both a proper understanding of it and the capabilities to interfere and change it. Such experiences and also the family and societal norms you grew up with shape limiting beliefs about your own helplessness, incapability, and insecurity. Especially, childhood adverse events like neglect, trauma, or abuse leave a deep life-long imprint on mentality.
Addressing the limiting beliefs and improving your confidence can help you change your mindset and behaviors and effectively reduce stress.
The Science of Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis to help individuals overcome various issues, including stress. Whereas hypnosis is just a natural relaxed, trance-like state of your mind.
During a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist will guide you into a relaxed state, a hypnotic trance, allowing you to access the unconscious mechanisms that lead to stress. In such a state, your mind will be open to new positive suggestions and changes.
Hypnotherapy deals both with the root causes and symptoms of stress which makes it very efficient.
Research has shown that hypnotherapy can effectively reduce stress even in the most stressful situations like in cases of palliative or cancer care.
Hypnotherapy can calm you down, improve your sleep, and restore your confidence. This will reduce and will be preventing stress and also improve your concentration, motivation as well as productivity.
Hypnotherapy in Your Stress Management
In the beginning, you will benefit the most from working with a hypnotherapist. For that, you’ll need to find a qualified hypnotherapist. Look for someone with experience and training in treating stress.
Before your first session, take time to reflect on what specifically causes you stress so that you can communicate this to the hypnotherapist.
During sessions, the hypnotherapist may provide you with tools and techniques to manage stress, including self-hypnosis. Subsequent incorporating self-hypnosis into your daily routine is useful for reinforcing positive changes achieved in work with the hypnotherapist.
Strategies for Long-Term Stress Prevention
Long-term stress prevention requires a holistic approach. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress. The following aspects of your lifestyle are crucial:
- establishing and maintaining positive and meaningful social connections
- regular physical activities like walks, yoga, or physical exercise
- a balanced diet
- adequate sleep
- breathing practices
- controlled and reduced screen time, time on social media, or computer gaming
An entirely free-of-charge walk in nature affects all your senses, nurtures, and gives you powerful relief from stress.
Regular practices like breathing techniques, self-hypnosis, meditation, and gratitude practice can help you stay calm and focused.
Additionally, you can consider taking supplements that will support you in challenging times.
For example, an essential dietary mineral Magnesium reduces blood pressure, prevents migraines, and promotes sleep. Most people are magnesium-deficient. Also, there is an elevated demand for Magnesium in physically or mentally challenging circumstances which is another reason to take magnesium supplements.
Another example is Ashwagandha supplements which are well known for their anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties.
!Disclaimer: For your own safety, consult your doctor before taking any supplements!
Finally, it’s important to seek professional support if you’re struggling with chronic stress.
Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool for reducing and preventing stress. Combined with other stress-management strategies, it can help you:
- lead a healthier and more balanced life
- improve your focus, motivation, and productivity
- in the long term prevent chronic diseases
- extend your healthy lifespan
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