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Stress is an overused word. But maybe that is because it is so common. Generally, we use the word "stress" to refer to bad stress, or dis-stress, but there is also good stress, called eu-stress. This good stress is necessary for progress, in the life of a person or a society.
In athletics, you have to stress your muscles and nervous system to get stronger, faster, and more skillful. This stress takes the form of a slight overload. Push too hard and you may get injured. Keep pushing without allowing for adequate recovery, and you will be overtrained. Compare this with stage 3, exhaustion, of the General Adaptation Syndrome. But if you don't push at all, you won't improve.
Work hard at your job and learn new skills, and you will succeed. Push too hard to get ahead too fast, and you will burn out. Take the time to adapt to each new situation.
It's not too hard to choose the good stress. Just have patience and think things through. Self-hypnosis will help you keep on an even keel.
Don't delete something that's good for you just because it's a stressor. An exercise program, for instance, is a stressor, but it's eu-stress. Make room for it.
Stress reduction may be the most common use for self-hypnosis, especially as it is also contained in programs for other conditions.
Modern life is full of stresses. Not only does there seem to be increasing job expectations and family duties, but air and noise pollution are everywhere. We are far from the environment in which humans first developed.
More and more people don't get enough rest. Lack of sleep can affect situations as diverse as psychological depression and highway safety. Chronic diseases increase, even as some of the old plagues are conquered or contained by modern medicine.
Unlike many self-help programs, self-hypnosis does not concentrate on making you rich. There is already too much materialism in the world, and it leads to increased stress. You can set goals that involve success in your endeavors, which will give you a comfortable, happy life. If you only concentrate on making money, it may require forcing other people to do your will, and self-hypnosis cannot do that. You just increase your stress.
Take charge of your life and concentrate on achieving goals that will really make you happy and fulfilled. If that includes making a lot of money, especially if you share it with others, so be it. Live long and prosper.
About 80% of illness is at least partially caused by stress. Doubtless there is often some psychological contribution, but the physical causes are well known.
Stress causes the nervous system to send a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol readies the body for action, that is, fight or flight. This is invaluable in threatening situations, but chronic stress and too much cortisol, causes damage. Heart disease, immune disorders, osteoporosis, inflammation, and more are caused or aggravated by chronic stress.
The steroid, cortisone, the pharmaceutical equivalent of the cortisol your body makes, is useful in pain relief and managing some diseases, but too much can cause damage.
The stress response to a real threat is not something we want to change. If you over-react, that is you panicking in dangerous situations, you can use immediate self-hypnosis to calm yourself down enough to think clearly, but not so much as to destroy the useful state of alert.
Chronic stress, the result of modern life, can be managed with self-hypnosis for relaxation and stress relief. It's unlikely you will eliminate all chronic stress, but you can manage your response to the stressors so that they won't make you sick or interfere with your enjoyment of life.
Stress reduction is part of any self-hypnosis program. You learn to relax. For most people this goes along with the other goals for which they use self-hypnosis. However, it may be that for some people, stress reduction is their first and perhaps only goal in learning self-hypnosis.
Why would this be? You might have a stress-related illness that doesn't respond to other treatment. (As we've said, most illness is stress related.) You might also be suffering from anxiety, either self- or professionally diagnosed. Extreme anxiety can be debilitating.
Yes, self-hypnosis for stress reduction does work for these problems. If you are under medical care for physicall illness or anxiety, make sure you tell your health practitioner you are doing self-hypnosis.
If your problems are less severe, stress reduction through self-hypnosis is a great do-it yourself way to reduce your anxiety level.
Here's how to do it. You can use just the induction and trance termination in the induction chapter, or induction, relaxation, and trance termination. Just sit quietly and enjoy the feeling of relaxation for a while before you terminate the trance. You don't have to come up with a script. When you see how well self-hypnosis for stress and anxiety reduction works for you, you may want to use it for other goals as well.
Has this ever happened to you? You're working on a big project. You're feeling a lot of stress as the deadline approaches, but you're also enjoying the challenge. You probably have some feel-good endorphins releasing into your body, as well as the stress hormones, like cortisol.
You haven't been eating well, exercising, or getting enough sleep, but you're able to complete the project. When it's over, you want to totally relax, looking forward to vacation, and resume your healthy habits. And then you get sick.
Many of us have had the experience of getting sick after the stress is over. It's usually upper respiratory disease, but could also be headaches, gastrointestinal problems, or others.
The stressful event can be short or long term. One study showed marathon finishers were much more likely to catch a cold in the days after the race. It was not the training, which is spread over a long period, but the race itself that triggered the illness.
Dr. Marc Schoen calls this the "let-down effect." If you drop from a state of high activation to a state of low activation, your immune system slows way down too, leaving you open to infection. Schoen says it's better to taper off, to go from high speed to low speed gradually. He suggests a number of techniques, including brief but brisk walking. To find out more, go to www.marcschoen.com.
You can adjust your self-hypnosis techniques so that you slow down gradually. Here's a technique that will put you into a light trance, while stimulating your mind and releasing serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Try this.
Stand with your right foot forward and your left foot turned out 45 degrees. Extend your arms in front of you, chest level, with your palms facing each other, about 8 inches apart. Rock back, weight on left foot, and bring your hands up and over, then forward, pushing your hands out. Your hands move in an oval shape. Breathe easily and concnetrate on what you're doing. Continue for a couple of minutes, or as long as you want. Do you feel the energy between your hands?
Stress comes in many forms--physical, mental, environmental. Stress, as applied to human beings, is a fairly recent concept. Originally, it was an engineering term. When applied to human beings, stress was considered to be a reaction to a specific event, sort of a one-at-a-time phenomenon. Then, in the 1930s, Hans Selye introduced the concept of generalized stress.
The body reacts to any stressor in the same generalized way, sometimes called the fight-or-flight syndrome: faster heartbeat, delayed digestion, increase in blood pressure, decreased immunity, etc. This is great for running away from a hungry lion, but not so good for sitting in traffic, missing an important meeting.
Stress is cumulative. Marriage is good stress and divorce is bad stress, but both are stress. It does add up, although some people can handle more than others. That's why it's generally unwise to quit smoking, go on a diet, and start a new job, all at the same time. The accumulated stressors, although not bad, may be hard to handle. It's better to phase things in.
Selye also developed the theory of the General Adaptation Syndrome. In this, there are three stages of stress. First is alarm, the introduction of stress. Then comes adaptation, as the body and/or mind adapts to the new stressor. Third, if the stressors are high and the alarm keeps going off, is exhaustion, when the body and/or mind are overwhelmed and can no longer adapt. You will want to use self-hypnosis to turn down the stress before it reaches stage 3.
The Holmes-Rahe scale ranks sources of stress. Death of a spouse is most stressful at 100. Other examples are going to jail, 63, starting or finishing school, 26, and the Christmas season, 12. Divorce is 73 and marriage is 50.
You can use self-hypnosis for quick relaxation in stressful situations.
You can use deep breathing to relax and release your muscles. You can fix your mind on the "dan tien," the center of the body in traditional Chinese medicine, which is about three finger widths below the navel.
Or, you can program yourself to relax on cue.
Do a standard self-hypnosis session, using induction, relaxation, and deepening, as described in the induction section. When you reach a state of deep relaxation, say to yourself: I reach this state of calm relaxation whenever I want by saying the word "relax."
Then go ahead with a gentle trance termination. Do this a few times on consecutive days.
You will find this technique invaluable in dealing with everyday stresses. Any time you feel yourself under a lot of stress or pressure, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, focus your mind on the tan tien, and say to yourself "relax." You will be able to recapture the feeling of relaxation without going through the hypnosis procedure. This is a form of post-hypnotic suggestion.
This will allow you to calm down and think clearly. You will then have the clarity of mind and self-confidence to solve your problem or ride out the situation. This is a great technique for those of you who have test anxiety to use right before you take the exam.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|