Stress changes lives, your's could be one of them!
Are you looking for some answers to managing your stress? Well, managing it is exactly the right strategy, because stress is inevitable. Every time we move or do something, stress systems are at play. The most often referred type of stress is psychological stress but that is only one of a few types. There is oxidative stress (free radicals), metabolic stress, osmotic stress and heat shock to name a few. And the chance you are experiencing many types at the same time is almost a given! So if you would like to know more about managing stress effectively, then a Free Consultation is available to discuss your options, more details here.
Most of the stress we experience is necessary and not harmful, we couldn't survive without it! However, some stresses are only useful if we are able to manage and keep it within natural limits. That is what I aim to help you do with my stress management programme. It just makes sense that in order to manage stress, you have to know, the how, why and what of your stress factors and how they develop. To that end, I have been studying the brain and the very systems that are involved in the development of unhealthy levels of stress. Because, when you learn to understand and manage your stress, you can better manage your life!
As mentioned above, it is because hypnotherapy is such a subjective experience, that is why I provide a Free 1 hr Consultation (you can book yours here). That way, we get to meet, discuss your concerns and . . . try a demonstration of hypnosis. It may also help you to know that I have been specialising in the treatment of Stress, Anxiety and Depression for a long time now. With over 20 years and 20,400 client hours of Clinical Hypnotherapy experience; I know both my subject and what I am doing!
The stress response (fight or flight) affects us all from time to time and its effects are many and varied. However, these are complicated matters, because there are different types of stress, for example, psychological stress and oxidative stress. Psychological stress can be experienced in the form of Eustress (positive stress) and Distress (negative stress).
Oxidative stressors are more environmental, e.g. too hot, cold, noisy, crowded, dusty etc. or through things that we eat. This type of stress creates free radicals, which attack and damage our cells. This is why we need antioxidants in our diet because oxidative stress is a major cause of unnecessary inflammation. However, even oxidative stress is both natural and good, in its own unique way. It's a natural part of cellular respiration and helps in response to foreign invaders in our body's cells e.g. viral or bacterial infection, even accidents or disease etc. It's the body's defensive marshalling system, sending the troops to the front line in an emergency.
Psychological stress can be experienced in the form of Eustress (positive stress) and Distress (negative stress). In a positive sense, we see things as opportunities, challenges, things that, although difficult, they are a part of our natural growth! In a negative sense, it is the outcome of overarching mental and emotional responses to the threat of danger, be it real or imagined. Too much of this leads to chronic (dis)stress the form of stress that blights the quality of our lives. However, if we have the added burden of a high ambient level of oxidative stress, well, need I say more? Truth be told, and this should be obvious but seemingly isn't. We will occasionally have moderate levels of both types of stress and all things being equal, we learn to adapt and cope. Adapting and coping are natural ways in which we learn and are integral to returning to our homeostatic state of balance. A stress disorder develops when our systems fail to adapt or cope, we become hyperaroused; not a good place to be!
Of course, the awareness of the effects and consequences of distress is nothing new. We've known about it for years now, yet very little is being done (big picture) to combat the ravaging effects of it. So, you may want to know, what you can do about it? Fortunately, there are things you can do but you may need to focus a little more on the ones that are unique to your particular circumstances? It's certainly not as simple as just using hypnosis or thinking of solutions about the future, However, they are, of course, important factors. First and foremost we need to address some of the fundamentals, it just makes everything you do a lot harder if you don't. So what are the fundamentals?
No. 1 on the list, is, we have to learn to breathe properly (more about that here),
No. 2 we have to keep well hydrated. most of our brain is made up of water (55-60%) and we dilute it at our peril!
No. 3, we must feed our brain the, carbs, fats, proteins and 9 amino acids that it cannot synthesise itself.
No. 4 is sleep, sleep helps restore the stresses of the day, rebuild the brain's pharmacy and make new and update old memories
These essential things can only come from what we eat! Of course, we will manage to survive if we don't do these things properly but surely we want more than mere survival? Of course, we do and to live a fulfilling life, we need to thrive and that's exactly how my stress management programme can help you!
Everything you need to know about managing your stress is included in my programme and that includes an advanced hypnotherapy technique. In fact, this is an integral part of what you will experience in my therapy This method is tried and tested and it is much more effective than just focusing on the roots of the problem or focusing on the future. For sure the past very likely played a part in creating the challenges you are facing and the future will play a part too. But life is a "now, in the moment experience" and that is an area I pay particular attention to. Life is a trilogy of the past, present and future and this means that learning to experience life as it is happening becomes imperative. The past merely guides us to where we need to go to understand the probable root causes and how it evolved over time. As we progress, becoming mindful of now, we begin to learn new ways of being, and then, to observe and experience life. This enhanced method of self-discovery and inner learning is what allows us to hone, polish and tap into the process of life. So, as we increase the awareness of life, as it is happening, from there a better future becomes the collateral effect of that process! Incidentally, when you have more awareness of 'Now' you actually have the potential to make better memories of this new experience! Ultimately, this means your memory recall of that past, will be an enhanced memory, simply because you were both at home and the lights were on!
Because there are many ways to help people in distress, you'll naturally want to know which is the best for you; won't you? Well, I can tell you from experience, as a client myself and as a therapist, that hypnotherapy is one of the most effective ways and here's why!
Stress is perhaps, the most pervasive feeling of the modern-day lifestyle and yet, it is as old as life itself. Stress is the brains response to sensory stimuli, (anything that is, or perceived as, dangerous or life-threatening), this occurs naturally-nonconsciously, i.e. outside of your conscious awareness. In addition to this sensory stimulation, memory records the narrative of these types of events. This simply means the sensory stimulus has a fast and effective shortcut (memory) to the desired or undesired outcome, meaning, it happens lightning fast! However, just to confuse things a little, the feelings that we associate with being stressed are something else entirely. The physical feelings of stress are actually a part of several separate brain systems working together and independently. Collectively the awareness of the subjective experience of fear is fairly unique to humans. For us, this means it is actually possible to be (dis)stressed without having any conscious awareness of it! It also means that we may be unaware of the specific causes of our distress. This lack of conscious awareness can affect our behaviour in ways which may allow us to believe that others are the source of our problems? Technically, I call this, 'if it wasn't for you syndrome,' however, they may just be responding to what they see as our dysfunctional behaviour! Overreacting in ways that are out of context or too severe, i.e. above and beyond what would be a reasonable response etc. are characteristic traits of a chronically stressed person. As is tardiness, making more mistakes than normal, poor judgments, bad decisions or irrational emotional responses etc.
Another aspect of what we call stress is anxiety. Anxiety is the anticipation of danger or something fearful. But no matter whether we are suffering from stress (an actuality) or anxiety (a possibility), the system behind these experiences is the same. It is the fight or flight, stress response. This is activated in the brain by the anterior pituitary gland, which stimulates the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), releasing cortisol into the bloodstream. Another system involved is the sympatho-adrenomedullary system, which releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, making the heart beat faster. It is also worth mentioning the Locus Coeruleus (LC), a small structure in the brain stem, which also plays a role in mediating the stress response. The LC also plays a considerable role in mediating the way our body responds to stress, both emotionally, via the sympathetic nervous system. It also influences us cognitively through higher cortical structures, e.g. the prefrontal cortices, cingulate cortex and the reward pathways. This is important because the LC is the main producer of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) in the brain. During sleep, PGO waves, precede REM sleep (more about this below) and REM almost halts all production of noradrenaline in the brain, effectively creating a more peaceful brain!
The stress response (fight or flight), which occurs within a few milliseconds, happens outside of and before we could possibly have conscious awareness of it. However, it has to be said, that under normal circumstances, this system works extremely well to keep us safe and has no known long term effects. Of course, there is a caveat to that! The caveat being, we should only experience it when we are in danger, under the threat of attack or if there is potential for injury. When we become chronically stressed (unless we're in a dangerous environment, e.g. Iraq, Syria), the system malfunctions, we become hyperaroused, overreactive and snap at the slightest thing!
Some examples of modern life stressors are:
1. you are in debt and interest rates rise, making an already bad situation worse
2. you're in your late 40'/50' etc. and get retrenched and feel threatened by younger people in the job market.
3. You become obsessed with the amount of negative news you hear every day but look at the news sources even more ( confirmation bias)
4. you are in line for a promotion and a someone new, maybe a colleague, that everyone likes, including your boss, shows up and you feel threatened
5. you grow distant from your family and believe your spouse or partner may be cheating on you
6. you begin to get feelings of paranoia and believe people are out to get you
7. you start having some health issues, e.g. forgetfulness (which is a symptom of stress) and think you may have the onset of dementia
8. you seem to have more arguments than usual and people start avoiding you
9. you may have an undiagnosed condition or suspect you have one (hypochondria) etc. etc.
These are just a few ways that modern life affects our mental health but there are many more variable symptoms of stress. This can be paradoxical because the stress response follows a known and predictable pathway (as mentioned above, the HPA axis). However, the way we each experience and respond to the stress response can take many forms and affects us in many different ways.
Stress becomes a problem for us when things go awry or when we face problems or think we do! The brain begins to experience non-threats as threatening and what can make it appear worse still, is when there is no visible or practical prospect of an endpoint! For example, you work under a tyrannical boss, long hours, few breaks, impossible deadlines, toxic colleagues or managers, or just a downright unpleasant or maybe a dangerous environment. This is the stuff that chronic stress is made of. However, there are ways to change the reaction your brain and mind have to these circumstances and this comes under the banner of Stress Management! Managing your stress is imperative in reclaiming a normal life and, as you begin to change, the way others respond to you can also change. This change has the potential to make people appear less hostile and/or less toxic! How? Hypnotherapy, that's how!
Hypnotherapy is a method of communicating with the brain's unique language, which is often referred to as the subconscious mind. This happens primarily via the auditory cortex, which then activates many of the brains sensory systems. Once the transition from our wakened state to what is referred to as sleep states occur, the brain then enters specific brainwave phases. It is during these phasic states that the hypnotist tickles your imagination and simulates many different sensory scenarios, e.g. visual, kinaesthetic auditory, olfactory and gustatory. The degree to which you internally align your issue, with the most prevalent sense(s) related to it, is the degree to which resolutions are achieved and habituation occurs! This can happen through suggestion or embedded command, directly or indirectly. Then, a posthypnotic suggestion assists the process of long-term potentiation (the stuff of habits) until the establishment of synaptic plasticity and new neural networks/connections takes over. Essentially a new version of (mind/ brain) language directs your brain to respond differently, more normally and appropriately to everyday sensory stimuli. So, in order for real change to occur, it has to happen from within the brain itself!
Essentially, the instrument of hypnotic change is derived via communication via the auditory cortex (my voice to your brain). This then stimulates a process of electrochemical transmission that occurs within the primordial brain. This is actually what other hypnotists call, the 'subconscious mind.' But it is slightly misleading because the place where all of our emotions, memories and behaviours live, is in the physical brain itself. Although thought can usefully be considered an aspect of the mind! The mind (brain language) is merely the communication system that alerts different brain systems to become active (excitatory) or inactive (inhibitory). What, I believe, makes us different from other mammals, is that we have a complex system of spoken language. Language thus becomes the interface between the world we live in and how we process, then express that experience in the brain. That is why nice pleasant and complimentary words generally make us feel good (although in some minds they can arouse suspicion). And harsh hurtful, derogatory ones make us feel bad, maybe angry too! In essence, the mind can omit, distort and/or generalise language at deeper levels, what John Grinder/Richard Bandler referred to as deep structure language. In essence, hypnotherapy rebalances the structure of our deeper, nonconscious, language and that allows the mind to better communicate with its host, the brain!
To expand upon my theory of the mind, I have come to the point of separating what we call the subconscious mind from the brain. What we term, "the mind" is not an anatomical construct, it is merely a theory that explains something, somewhat beyond comprehension, that brings about action. Imagine you are at the scene of an accident, someone (brain region A) telephones the ambulance service (brain region B), which initiates an action being taken. The action being taken by regions A and B caused an outcome, the telephone call (the mind). That which initiated both actions was the method of communication that made it happen yet it was not a part of the physical action. So, in the case of stress, the parts of the brain involved are, among others, the amygdala, hypothalamus, pituitary gland and, in the body, the adrenal medulla. When stress becomes a disorder, is when memory and sensory systems in the brain (real anatomical structures) become adversely affected. The mind (brain language) then communicates a message, across several regions, that elicits a feeling at a level perceived in consciousness. This then perpetuates itself through memory and sensory stimulation and arise as conscious aspects that are construed as thoughts!
We can't always choose our circumstances, and sometimes we can't change the ones we choose either! But Trans4mational Therapy Centre's, brain stimulation stress management programme provides you with new ways to choose how you respond to the way your life unfolds. Because, it's when we make better choices that life becomes more pleasant, more exciting and more fun! So, if you want to change the way your "inside", responds to your "outside," hypnotherapy is well worth a try; all you have to lose is "Your Stress!"
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