Stress Management and Habit Control: Using Hypnosis as a Learning Tool

by | Jan 17, 2015

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A recent inquiry has been made into the role stress plays in different aspects of Americans’ lives. The study entitled, “The Burden of Stress in America” conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, together with the Harvard School of Public Health, emphasizes the public’s personal experience of stress, the perceived effects of this and, their methods of coping with their stress. Within this survey, conducted between March and April of 2014, a sample of approximately 2,500 respondents concludes that half of the public reported a stressful event or experience in the last year; claiming health related issues as the dominant factor.

Citing the impacts of stress on health, the survey reveals some significant findings regarding our sleep cycles and the qualities of our thinking and emotional health:

The most commonly reported effect on health among those under a great deal of stress in the last month are bad effects on emotional well-being (63%), problems with sleep (56%) and difficulty in thinking, concentrating or making decisions (50%).

The study clearly reflects the habits that we often deal with in order to manage stress. In addition to the quality of our seep and cognitive function, we could also consider the quality of our eating. These are all habits, learned behavior- some of them have physical components, others are purely psychological in nature; but both can be helped when we learn how to replace coping skills and desensitize old triggers, for example. The survey goes on to reveal changes in behavior patterns, as many who experienced a great deal of stress in the last month reported changes to their normal sleeping and eating patterns:

For example, seven in ten (70%) said they slept less than they normally do, and 41% said they slept more. While 39% said they ate more. More than four in ten (44%) said they ate less than they usually do.

Within the role of stress management, we learn to deal with the parts that we can be most effective with at a given time. And, taking this understanding one step further with self- management, we engage the quality of our own personal coping mechanisms, and this can lead us to habitual healthy positive coping skills. In other words, recognizing when we are stressed and then engaging something like, a breathing technique, listening to a recording, meditation, exercise, these are all healthy habitual coping mechanisms. Here is what the survey had to say about how stressed people tried to reduce their stress in many ways:

About seven in ten (71%) say they regularly spent time with family and friends to reduce stress, while just under six in ten said they regularly prayed or mediated (57%), spent time outdoors (57%) or ate healthfully (55%). However, more than half of respondents did not take certain steps to reduce their stress that are often recommended by experts, such as regularly exercising (51% did not) or regularly getting a full night’s sleep (54% did not).

Regarding the hypno-therapeutic process and habit control, we approach this from the standpoint of how habits are subconscious learned behaviors. And, we begin to understand that learning to change them is not so much about thinking about them with the conscious mind, but changing the learned behavior in the subconscious mind. It’s about this integration of change into the conscious and subconscious mind. This is what hypnotherapy does. So, when one’s conscious critical thinking understands that change needs to happen, but the subconscious programming is not in alignment with that, this is when we struggle. We can use hypnosis as a learning tool to change the subconscious associations. Then, what we know consciously is in our best interest, becomes what we then feel motivated to change from a subconscious point of view.

This is the basis of how to treat some habits such as poor sleep cycles, food addiction and weight loss, or even technology addiction. As for smoking, we can deal with the psychological aspect as well as help people with the chemical addiction by titrating down. Perhaps most importantly, though, is a consideration of the quality of our thinking. In other words, a tendency towards a glass half full as opposed to the glass half empty, or, worry. Teaching people to see opportunity, focusing on gratitude, focusing on what we want in a given moment as opposed to what we are afraid may happen. It is here that we move out of worry and doubt and into trust and believing ourselves, recognizing the aspects of our life that show up and validate that expectation; that we can trust ourselves. Additionally, hypnotherapy is a fabulous tool for projecting into our desired future(s), a future that is more focused on a happy, healthy and wonderfully productive life.