How To Use Your Own Inner Resources To Combat Stress & Anxiety12/04/2022, Bobby-Jo Bottomley, Certified Trainer & Master Practitioner Of Hypnotherapy
As a specialist in the field of stress and anxiety, I work with and experience directly on a daily basis the impact that the past couple of years has had on people and continues to have. Firstly, it was the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, and the magnitude of the effects of this, and more recently the invasion of Ukraine and the continued unrest in the world. Quite understandably, it has been an extremely difficult time for all of us, for a whole host of reasons.
Stress is a response to an external cause, such as juggling the demands of work and home schooling during a lockdown, and increased financial pressure. Because stress is caused by external factors, when these factors subside or are alleviated in some way, so is the stress. However, anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress; its origin is internal. Anxiety is typically characterised by a “persistent feeling of apprehension or dread” in situations that are not life threatening. Unlike stress, anxiety persists, even after a concern has passed, yet for many of us the stressful events are ongoing; it’s therefore no wonder that our stress and anxiety levels are through the roof!
As a trainer and master practitioner of Hypnotherapy, I believe in helping people using a combined approach:
- Conscious practical strategies and lifestyle changes to help reduce and manage the impact of stress
- Subconscious tools and techniques to help you take control of the internal anxiety-related symptoms and responses, therefore moving you out of the “fight, flight or freeze” response into a regulated nervous system
Hypnotherapy is a therapy whereby relaxation techniques are used to help you reach the state of hypnosis, where the conscious part of your mind is relaxed and your subconscious mind is open to suggestion. Suggestive techniques can then be used, including installing tools, to help you achieve the changes that you seek.
So how can you start to take control of stress and anxiety today, both at a conscious and subconscious level? Here are some tips.
Identify triggers and focus on what you can control
Anxiety does not show up in the same way for everyone. Pinpointing when and why you feel most anxious can help you take the first steps towards finding solutions. Keeping a journal of your trigger situations and the physical symptoms that you experience during those situations will help you to deal with them more effectively.
Accept and acknowledge
We can spend so much time fighting our anxious thoughts and feelings that it is exhausting, and the resulting exhaustion then feeds into the anxiety. Accepting and acknowledging anxiety removes its power. On a piece of paper, write down all of the negative and anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviours that you have. Read through them, at the same time imagining a loved one had written them. Then provide yourself with the same kind words of encouragement and advice that you would give to your loved one. You can also reframe all of the anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviours, write the positive statements and words on a separate piece of paper and then safely burn the original. Notice the differences in yourself afterwards.
Focus on the “can dos”
When we are stressed and anxious, we often spend our precious energy focusing on events and situations completely out of our control. When you are next worrying about something, identify and write down a) what is in your control and b) what is not in your control. Discard list a and focus your time and energy on list b.
Take small steps
It’s perfectly fine to start with little changes. Ever heard of the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Set yourself small, achievable and realistic goals and actions that you can start to work on today. Small quick wins will help to motivate you and turn into giant leaps forward.
Make lifestyle choices that help you
Here are some practical lifestyle areas that you can consider and start to make changes to, where necessary, today to help yourself:
- Sleep: it is so important for our basic functioning – are you getting enough?
- Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco: although there can be a tendency for us to turn to substances that we believe will help in the short-term, these are detrimental to us in the longer-term. They are all stimulants and will play havoc with an already wired mind.
- Diet and exercise: good fuel for the body in the form of nutrition, drinking plenty of water and bodily movement really will help to boost your energy levels, as well as providing stress relief and happy natural chemical endorphins.
Use the power of your subconscious mind: your power states
You are naturally in the state of hypnosis at least twice a day, during which you have direct communication with your subconscious mind. Just after you have woken up and just before you fall asleep, when you are in that drifting, daydreamy state, you are in hypnosis. These “power states” are your most resourceful periods of time when you can talk to yourself and communicate positive messages directly to your subconscious mind. It does not matter whether you consciously believe them, your subconscious mind will accept them as truth and the messages will affect your conscious thinking, feelings and behaviour.
- “I am calm and relaxed.”
- “I cope well."
- “I’ve got this.”
Harness your imagination through your senses
The language of the subconscious is imagination. Focused use of your imagination through using your senses retrains your brain. Visualise yourself at home or at work going about your day-to-day life coping well, hear the calm, focused and in control thoughts going through your mind and immerse yourself in all of the associated feelings of you having taken control of stress and anxiety.
This kind of exercise and use of your imagination really works. The more you imagine something the more it becomes wired in your brain as a reality. Your default setting can become one of calm, relaxed and coping.
Accept that a lapse is normal and learn from the feedback
Accept that you will sometimes falter. We all do. Have you heard of the phrase, “There is no failure, only feedback?” Learned behaviours and old programmes do not change overnight. Learn from your feedback, remind yourself that you are human, and be kind and gentle with yourself.
Now go take control of that stress and anxiety!
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|About The Author|
Bobby-Jo Bottomley is a multi-award winning Certified Trainer and Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Life Coaching. She is also trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Counselling.