According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. The definition of anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”. There are many ways to manage feelings of anxiety. One way is to use hypnosis for anxiety.
Since many things in life feel uncertain, it is likely that most of us get anxious from time to time, which adds to our levels of stress. Anxiety and stress go hand in hand, and when we feel them, our bodies give us signals. In other words, along with stress and anxiety comes a physiological response.
One of your built-in, unconscious processes, is the autonomic nervous system that controls vital functions such as heart rate, swallowing, breathing, and digestion. Your psychological state can also impact this system. For example, stress and anxiety can cause an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. If this goes on for too long your well-being may be impacted. In addition to making life seem difficult, chronic stress and anxiousness can be dangerous to your health by causing, or worsening conditions such as insomnia, migraines, pain, depression, anxiety and heart problems.
Practices that reduce stress, therefore, can positively impact the autonomic nervous system and may improve your overall health. Hypnosis is one of these practices.
How can you use hypnosis for anxiety?
Theta Brain Waves
Hypnosis occurs at the subconscious level, when your brain waves are in theta and slowed down to 4-8 Hz, or cycles per second. As a comparison, below are a list of brain waves and the mental states they correlate to:
Beta 12-20 Hz: normal waking consciousness, heightened alertness, reasoning
Alpha 7.5 –12 Hz: deep relaxation, day dreaming
Theta 4-7.5 Hz: meditation and light sleep
Delta .5- 4 Hz: deep, dreamless sleep
A person who has taken a break from a task and begins to drift off is often in a theta brainwave state. A person who is driving and realizes that they have reached their destination without recalling getting there is often in a theta state induced by the process of highway driving.
Hypnosis puts you into a relaxed state
The theta, or hypnotic, state, is a relaxed state, similar to meditation. As mentioned earlier, the autonomic nervous system regulates key bodily functions, including heart rate and breathing, and when you are stressed or anxious, the rates of these increase.
Although this system is primarily unconscious, you have control over some aspects of it through practices such as hypnosis. When you are in a relaxed state, your breathing and heart rate slow down. This affects the autonomic nervous system and may improve your overall health.
Hypnosis allows for creative problem solving and a sense of control
The hypnotic state accesses the part of your brain that is responsible for creative thinking. This allows for free flowing, creative problem solving without censorship, or letting go of cognitive filters.This is also known as elastic thinking, which is imaginative, original and non-linear thinking.
For example, people who do a lot of driving often come up with good ideas and solutions during periods when they are in the theta state. This also happens with people who go on long runs outdoors, because they shift into a state of mental relaxation and therefore gain access to a flow of ideas.This may also happen during habitual activities such as bathing, shaving, or brushing our teeth. This is because repetitive activities can trigger the theta state.
With anxiety occurring when you are uncertain of an outcome, hypnosis for anxiety can help because being in a creative problem solving state can help you feel in control. This is because you can come up with creative solutions for things that make you feel anxious. When the unknown becomes known, you feel more in control, which can reduce feelings of anxiety.
Accessing your creative self through hypnosis also enables you to re-perceive a particular situation that may be causing you to feel anxious. This is known as reframing. The definition of reframing is “to change the way something is expressed or considered”.
Reframing allows you to perceive your situation from a new perspective. This can be very helpful for moving from a situation in which you feel anxious, stuck or confused. Reframing allows you to feel more empowered to act, learn a new way of seeing things, and change how you feel about a particular situation. In turn, this may help you feel more in control, and thus less anxious. Additionally, because hypnosis occurs at the subconscious level, new ways of seeing things can be planted below the conscious level, making it even more powerful and effective.
Hypnosis is a tool everybody can use
Hypnosis is a method available to all of us. Whether you are an athlete, business professional, or a stay at home parent, you can use hypnosis for anxiety.
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