Hypnosis -the answer to work-based stress

As the economy once again begins to shrink and we enter the dreaded ‘double diprecession’ many employees are feeling the pinch from both sides. Not only arethey struggling to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living butemployers are squeezing every last bit of productivity from their staff in aneffort to provide ‘more for less’. A quick look around websites such aswww.workstress.net shows just how widespread the problem of stress in the workplace is becoming.

Many of us are aware of the Flight/Fight Response; otherwise known as the Flight/Fight/Freeze Response or Stress Response. When faced with acute danger this response is triggered and we revert to ‘Survival Mode’, this ensures were act quickly and without conscious thought to deal with the danger, giving us the best chance of surviving.

However,many people are not aware that this response can be triggered by day to day life, and the effect that this has on our wellbeing.

The human mind cannot distinguish between the sharp rise in anxiety caused by the appearance of acute danger and the gradual rise in anxiety caused by modern living. If a roaring lion were to show up on your way to work you would be fully aware of your anxiety shooting through the roof, your heart rate  increasing, your stomach churning, and the sudden power you had in your legs to ‘run like the wind’ to escape the danger. The mind has recognised the sharp increase in anxiety, has lost Intellectual control and moved into the original Primitive area of the brain. This part of the brain is only concerned with your survival; it releases the necessary chemicals to give you the strength/power to fight or run and triggers various physiological changes to allow you to deal with the danger.

So what happens when our stress levels rise gradually? Well, the first thing to understand is that it is not necessarily the events in our life that cause our anxiety/stress to rise; it’s actually the way we think about things! Let’s give you an example to demonstrate: you’re driving to work in the morning when you get caught up in a traffic jam. What’s your thought process in the secircumstances? Possibly ‘oh no, I’m going to be late; the boss is going to go mad; it’s going to mess up my whole day; what if I’m stuck here for ages?What’s that idiot in the car in front doing? Oh no, what if I run out of petrol before I get out of this jam? This is terrible, what if I’m stuck here all morning, oh no, what am I going to do, this has ruined my whole day…..’

Now imagine someone else coming across this traffic jam on their way to work.  Let’s have a look at their thought process:’oh no, I’m going to be late for work now. Oh well, there’s nothing I can do about it, I might as well put on a good CD and have myself a really good sing while I wait’. In both circumstances the car occupants are late for work.However, one arrives with their anxiety through the roof, they are upset or aggressive when they explain the reasons why and their whole day is affected by the traffic jam; the other arrives at work with their anxiety nice and low,calm and in control, explains why they were late, apologises and re-plans their day around the late start. They have had exactly the same experience, it’s their thought patterns that have affected the amount of stress they experience,and so it is in life. Of course, some situations are far more difficult to deal with in a positive manner; but the important thing is to always try to look for the ‘silver lining’ and so keep the anxiety levels low.


When we lose this battle with our anxiety levels and they gradually reach a certain level the Primitive mind ‘steps in’. The Primitive mind has an ability to recognise the danger isn’t life threatening at this stage, but it recognises that your stress levels have increased and therefore there must be danger and acts appropriately.


So what does this look like when it’s chronic anxiety rather than a sharp rise in anxiety? Let’s think back to our Lion to demonstrate. If you came across that Lion, would you want your Primitive mind to be thinking ‘I’m sure it’s ok to stay here, I expect it’s already eaten’? No, of course not, you’d want it to bethinking ‘Get out NOW, you his dinner!!’ The Primitive mind always thinks in the worst case scenario, it has to do this to ensure our survival. Useful for when you come across Lions or something life threatening, not so useful if it’s stress in your job, your bank balance. We don’t want your primitive mind feeling it’s a worst case scenario simply on meeting a traffic jam, yet when the Primitive mind steps in as a response to chronic anxiety it tends to plac ea ‘worst case scenario’ angle on everything.

The Primitive mind also obsesses about the perceived danger. If our Lion took up residence outside our front door we would want our mind to stay focused on it;we certainly wouldn’t want our mind to become distracted otherwise we may forget it’s there and when we open the door to go to the shop we end up in its jaws! So, the Primitive mind obsesses about problems to protect us, again great if the problem is a Lion, not so good if it’s a difficult Customer or Manager,an overloaded day or the possibility of redundancy.

So how can Hypnosis help this ever-increasing problem? A good Hypnotherapist will explain to a client exactly how our mind works in creating stress and the effect this can have on the individual and their psychological and physiological wellbeing.They would help to ensure a re-think to more positive state of thought and use Hypnosis to let the subconscious mind know this, i.e. help it recognise the danger isn’t life threatening.

Hypnosis is a state of concentrated distraction, similar to daydreaming, that allows suggestions to be put to the subconscious to ensure it is working to the same agenda as the conscious mind. Overall anxiety is reduced, making room for a more positive outlook that ensures those anxiety levels are kept low and reducing the need for the negative, obsessive Primitive mind to ‘step in’.  A Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will talk about how you would like things to be rather than looking at why things are the way they are, they use Hypnosis to access and optimise all the resources yo ualready have at your disposal subconsciously to allow change to happen. In most cases the client is able to move forward quickly and positively to a new, less stressful future that uses the Intellectual mind rather than the Primitive mind. The Intellectual mind being the one that allows calm, logical, rational,positive, goal-orientated thinking to happen!

Reproducedby kind permission of Kerri Formoso

tanken from the website of the Assosiaction of Solution Focused Hypno Therapy.