Hypnosis for Stress reduction: What’s Your Recipe for Stress?

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.    –  Chinese Proverb

Stress gets a seriously bad rap.  Everyone loves to hate it.  It’s like Justin Bieber (I’m just echoing the masses), or, brussel sprouts.  When clients talk to me about issues in their life more often than not the repugnant ‘S’ word comes up, usually uttered with a wrinkled brow and a woe-is-me frown.

“I’ve grown enough, thanks.”

I feel a little bad for stress.  It seems to be very poorly understood and tremendously under-appreciated.

First of all, stress is a normal part of life.  To fight this reality is like fighting gravity.   Save your strength.

Secondly, not only is it inevitable, but it is also tremendously beneficial.  Stress causes discomfort, and discomfort causes you to MOVE.  To GROW.  And if you’re not GROWING then there is only one other, much less fun alternative…DYING.  There is no in-between.  Don’t take my word for it…I invite you to find your nearest tree or potted-plant and notice if it’s doing anything else.  I have yet to find an oak tree that’s just chilling, enjoying its ‘comfort zone’.

So, stress gets you out of your comfort zone, which some aptly refer to as your ‘killing zone’.  Some degree of perpetual discomfort is great!  It is the ever-present flame under your butt which we all need to take action.

Next stop…stress!

And finally, stress is often a by-product of a positive event.  A new job, new relationship, new anything really…all these changes generate stress.   Again, because you are growing.  Boldly exploring new frontiers!  And this should be celebrated, not rued.

Now, having defended poor l’il stress, it’s true that a little is good…but a lot will keep you hiding in bed and hating the world.  Just like happy-hour on a Tuesday, it’s best if we enjoy it in moderation or it will drop us to the floor and make us loathe life and be late for work the next day.

So, what can you do about it, and how can hypnosis help?  Well, first, hypnosis can help you MANAGE it – by getting you to relax and release the tension you’re carrying with you.  This is tremendously quick, simple and incredibly effective.  Just like meditation, hypnosis triggers your natural relaxation response, causing wonderful waves of good hormones and feelings of tranquility to wash through your mind and body. When you physically feel the build-up of stress in your body – typically in the shoulders and back (the ‘weight of the world’) – you can use hypnosis to finally release that burden and you will actually feel more physically relaxed as a result.

Secondarily, hypnosis can help you ELIMINATE some of the internal sources of stress in your life.  Not the external ones – like traffic jams and frustrating co-workers and long john donuts with insufficient cream-filling – but the internal ones.  These are the root causes of your stress that lie deep within the recesses of your mysterious mind.  If you understand where stress comes from, then you have a chance of eliminating, or at least mitigating it.

Living your dream?

So, what are our internal sources of stress?  Well, there’s no shortage of them and we’re all uniquely stressed in our own wonderful ways.  Fears, guilt, self-imposed pressures, being disconnected from our true self…you name it.  Any time our life expectations are not matching up with our actual life conditions (e.g. I expect to be a billionaire, but I am living in a Wholefoods cart) then we experience pain.  On a day-to-day basis this is experienced as stress.  The good news, then, is that much of this stress can be avoided by either changing your life expectations so they meet your life conditions (easier) or vice-versa (harder).  So, for the extreme example above, either abandon the expectation of becoming a billionaire or….become a billionaire.

Most of us go through this tug-of-war on a daily basis at a conscious or sub-conscious level.  We want to maintain high expectations (or lofty goals) to keep us motivated and achieving, but we also feel the need to drop them down a bit from time to time so that we don’t feel too disappointed when we fear we might fail to achieve them.  Our fear of failure is ever-present and serves as a means of self-preservation, wielding the familiar and powerful tool of procrastination that we all know and love.

What’s your secret recipe for happiness?

The degree of stress you experience in your life is going to depend on what recipe you are following for ‘success’ in your life.  What are your expectations for life?  What has to happen for you to feel happy, at peace, and stress-free?  Who do you have to be? For some people, the bar is so high that they have guaranteed themselves a life of continuous angst and dissatisfaction, regardless of what they achieve and who they become.  For others, any day that they wake up and are still breathing will bring a smile to their face…regardless of their life conditions.

Of course, we all want to grow and achieve and accomplish and thrive and make the most of our time on this planet.  But we have a very distinct choice that we can make as we work to achieve our goals.  We can motivate ourselves through fear by choosing to feel that we have toaccomplish certain things in our lifetime in order to feel happy.  Or we can motivate ourselves through pleasure by choosing to feel happy to begin with and embracing the fact that we get to work hard to achieve and grow more every day.

If we choose the first strategy, it tends to back-fire for the reason alluded to above – our fear of failure will kick-in and we will actually self-sabotage.  In effect, by trying to motivate ourselves through fear we end up succumbing to the very fears we are trying to avoid…i.e. failure.  And, we will be stressed-out and miserable as a result.

By using the second strategy, you start from a place of peace and contentment, and then you build from there.  You can still set and work towards lofty goals, but you do so from a position of strength, confidence and contentment.  Working towards them becomes a process of pleasure.

So, what are you stressing about these days?  Remember, some degree of stress is natural, inevitable and beneficial.  Identify it, embrace it, and be grateful for it – it’s your fertilizer, allowing you to grow and thrive.

However, if you’re not sure of where your stress is coming from, you might want to take a moment to find out.  This is where hypnosis can help tremendously. Your sub-conscious mind is very aware of what it thinks you need to do and achieve to be happy.  Perhaps it’s time to check-in and see what it has to say…and maybe even update it’s recipe for happiness.

I know…sounds stressful, right?

p.s. Of course, completely lowering your personal expectations is also an option.  Here’s an example of this alternative strategy in action.  Good luck!


Nichols Clinical Hypnotherapy in San Francisco & White Rock


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