Combat stress- think happy thoughts!

Combat stress; think happy thoughts!

A recent survey shows that 3 million people in the UK suffer with an anxiety disorder.*   The good news is that recent research into the relationship between what we think and how we feel could help clients think themselves happier.

It seems that worrying thoughts and imagining unpleasant situations can produce physical stress in the body.  A study in 2007 (1) found that performing guided imagery of moderately unpleasant situations results in physical responses such as accelerated heart rate, faster breathing and sweating.  It seems that imagining unpleasant events can activate the brain’s fear network and result in an activation of the sympathetic nervous system.(2)

Isma Kumar explains: “If we ever needed proof that worrying is not good for us, well here it is!  Simply by thinking worrying thoughts we can generate the same physical reactions involved in the fight or flight response.

The good news is that the converse also seems to be true; imagining positive events can make us feel better.  A large part of my role is helping clients imagine their preferred future, which as well as helping them feel happier, enables them to make the changes necessary to make that future a reality.”

The validity of this approach would seem to be supported by research which demonstrates that the benefit of generating images about positive future outcomes may not be limited to mood but extend to subsequent behaviour.(3)

Isma Kumar concludes “I use Solution Focused techniques to help clients replace unhelpful, negative thinking patterns with more beneficial thought processes.  By thinking more positively, their anxiety levels reduce enabling them to cope better with life’s challenges”.

So there you have it, combat stress, think happy thoughts.

Isma Karin Kumar is a member of the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH), a nationwide network of therapists practising this modern combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis.   Call 07594568508 book a free consultation

To find out more about the Association, visit


initial consultation.




*   Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2000)


(1) Sebastiani L, D’Alessandro L, Menicucci D, Ghelarducci B & Santarcangelo E L (2007)

Role of relaxation and specific suggestions in hypnotic emotional numbing

International journal of psychophysiology Vol.63 pp.125-132


(2) Kosslyn S M, Ganis G & Thompson W L (2001)

Neural foundations of imagery

Nature Reviews: Neuroscience Vol.2 pp.635-642


(3) Pictet A,  Coughtrey A E, Matthews A,  Holmes E A (2011)

Fishing for happiness: The effects of generating positive imagery on mood and behaviour

Behaviour research and therapy Vol.49 issue 12 pp.885-891