Easing my anxiety: How I found my way back to calm without medications.Jan 02, 2023
It’s All in My Head but my Body is Freaking out! How to stop it now.
Anxiety Arrives: You feel It In Your Body First
It can strike suddenly, I found. On my worst days, I was crying at work, feeling overwhelmed and small. Other days, my stomach was in knots, diarrhea at times and other days constipation. But most worrisome was this pain in my mid-chest. It was awful. This pain would wake me at night. I would wonder, “am I having a heart attack at 42?” I know now, I am not unique - in fact studies show that chest pain presentations in the emergency departments increase each year and more than have the time it resulted in a non-cardiac diagnosis of either ‘anxiety’, ‘panic’ or ‘chest pain of unknown cause’.
There were times my heart would race so fast I couldn’t catch my breath. The crushing chest tightness would cause my throat to “close” - I felt like I could not speak. This was scary and created even more anxious feelings. This wasn't my typical, and I felt confused. I never had anxiety - well until now!
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million each year, which makes anxiety the most common mental problem in the USA. This affects everyday people and impacts their everyday life. When I reflect back, I found I was usually able to keep the anxious feeling in check previously. Anxiousness is worry and fear. These are are common human feelings. However, at this point in my life, this anxiety, these feelings, became larger than me.
I found myself seeking medical advice, doctor appointments, and even visiting the emergency room. Then seeking help from gastrointestinal specialists as the severe cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and heart-burn was so intense - I knew there was bound to be an answer there.
Wonderful, helpful physicians drew labs, took scans, put scopes in to look at my stomach and my intestines… all to reveal no disease. They told me there was absolutely nothing wrong they could find. I was happy when I heard that there was no big problem. Yet I was sad- because then what is my problem? Is it all in my head?
As humans- I know I am not alone- we reach for solutions and we hope it is as easy sometimes as going to a provider and getting a medication to “fix it” and make it better. I know this firsthand, because I work in healthcare. I took a break from the work I loved because of this incapacitating feeling.
To move past the problem, I had to get the root of it. The root was a mind-body disconnect. I had to re-connect to heal. I needed to learn to manage my anxiety. Now I help others do the same things I did and start to mend, heal, and thrive again!
Use Your Brain, The Powers of the Mind
There are many well-known forms of treatment for anxiety disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and hypnotherapy (clinical hypnosis). I have found that using both cognitive-behavioral approaches and hypnotherapy, including self-hypnosis, allow me to avoid medications for the anxiety feelings.
And indeed, the use of clinical hypnosis - hypnosis for healing- has greatly improved symptoms of stress, chronic anxiety, chronic pain, and various other issues, including many emotional and mental areas in multiple studies. And hypnosis can even create more positive outcomes for multiple aspects in one’s cancer journey.
Hypnosis is a unique brain state in which neuroplasticity- the brain’s ability to change in response to experience- is heightened.
Let’s discuss hypnosis in what’s called clinical hypnosis or “self-hypnosis” to separate it from the commonly thought of stage hypnosis. You are familiar with stage hypnosis, where a hypnotist entertains the audience by getting a person to do something they would not otherwise do. This is hypnosis that is used for fun laughs and good times for both the participants and the audience. .
Therefore, in contrast, clinical hypnosis- “self-hypnosis”- is the use of hypnosis to treat various ailments of mind and body. It involves getting people to change their brain state, and to use that brain state as a way to make adjustments in their mind- body and other aspects of their biology and psychology that benefit them. The use of the mind to impact the body is as old as time itself.
And it’s been shown, in studies, that those changes can occur quickly, even in one single session. And within that session guided by the hypnotist, you learn the power of "how to" use it on yourself, thus calling it self-hypnosis. It feels natural and similar to day-dreaming - for a few seconds or minutes at length.
Let’s Explain This Mind Medicine
Contrary to what you’ve seen in movies, hypnosis involves a lot more than traveling into a trancelike state after looking into someone’s eyes or staring at a watch. During a hypnosis session, you undergo a process that helps you relax and focus your mind. This state is like the feeling of sleep, and suggestions create the focus.
Suggestions are statements you desire to have; such as confidence, calm, and ease. Suggestions can be similar to affirmations, a term you may be more familiar with. These are sentences, reminders, ways of "BEing", images, or ideas that run through your mind. You create them from things you see, hear, feel, read, or create from your own thoughts.
While in this relaxed state, you become more willing to focus on using your unconscious mind. You will be able to see the deeper issues from a different perspective. This creates choice and you feel the inner “knowing” that guides your actions going forward. Then you add in the "suggestions" or affirmations and change happens.
What are the Benefits?
Hypnosis may differ from psychotherapies and other treatments used to address mental and medical issues, but like other approaches, hypnosis is grounded in sound therapeutic techniques that help create your desired change.
Researchers have scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions used clinically to treat anxiety, pain or trauma. Distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity while someone is utilizing hypnosis. They found that a hypnotized brain experiences changes in the brain that give a person:
- focused attention
- less self-consciousness
- greater physical control
- greater emotional control
wow, this is impressive, right?
Even though hypnotherapy isn’t as widely known as psychotherapy and medication for treating anxiety, researchers and scientists have been studying the effects it can have on mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, PTSD and more for several years. And truth is, there is very little down-side. Hypnosis used in this manner is self-improvement and strengthen ou mindfulness and mind-body connection. As a nurse anesthesiology for more than two decades, I have seen many patients benefit within 2-3 minutes of using hypnosis, even if they have never "tried it" before!
It’s So Fast, I Can Teach You Quickly
As a hypnotist myself, now, I am there to help guide this process. Definitely not there to control your mind. In fact, I like many hypnotists, use a “client oriented techniques” that put you 100% in charge at all times. I use a combination of tried and true coaching method alongside clinical hypnosis to guide your brain into that helpful state where the mind-body works together.
My approach to hypnosis-coaching requires you–as the client- to take the reins during each session. I am here as a guide or a source of support for your process. This approach allows you, as the client, to steer the ship. I will always suggest exercises or processes for you to consider on your journey. You are always at choice about what you take part in.
It is important to note that hypnosis is a collaborative process between me and you, the client. This state is not something that I “do” to you or force upon you.
Everything is explained to you in the session and then we proceed into the processes. While the techniques used in hypnosis may seem abstract and difficult to identify, they are well-considered methods such as:
- Mental imagery: Once you are in a focused state of attention, the power of your own imagination expands. From there, I can prompt you to use visualizations in order for you to imagine the root of your problem and, therefore, resolve your concern. This is like watching a wonderful film of your own creation. A journey made just for you; what is the moral of the story? will you find it easily or search for a moment or two?
- Suggestions: In hypnosis, I offer the suggestions that fit in line with your goals and visions. For example, if we are working to improve self-esteem, I might offer some encouraging and optimistic thoughts that will increase confidence even after the session. Some suggestions are shortened into wonderful affirmations that you take along with you. Some clients put them on their mirrors or create screen savers - thereby using the powers of repetition to reinforce the change they desire.
- Unconscious Exploration: The conscious mind, the thinking mind, can be a critic. With hypnosis, the inner critic is quieted, allowing your ego to step aside and open to your true thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Your true thoughts, feelings, and beliefs reside in the unconscious mind. When you are in your hypnotic (more unconscious) state of awareness, you can tap into any underlying issues and locate your motivation. With a better understanding here, you can identify more helpful solutions and move into action to change.
What you need to know before trying hypnotherapy
As long as you’re seeing a professional who has extensive training in hypnosis, the use of hypnotherapy to treat anxiety is considered very safe. One thing to consider when choosing a hypnotist for healing is the practitioner’s qualifications. Look for a licensed professional who is also a hypnotherapist or a hypnotist who is an active member of their professional association.
As a leader in the nursing profession for over 20 years, I use my nursing background, although I am not your personal nurse. I will refer you back to your provider for health queries that extend beyond the coaching scope or work alongside your medical provider. I have specific training and certification in coaching, hypnosis, and neurolinguistic programming (commonly abbreviated NLP), including methods such as timeline therapy® and hypnobirthing®. I select the best method for you based on your desires. Hypnosis is safe to perform virtually, like a telehealth visit, most of the time -or- if you are local in person sessions are an option.
My goal is to help ease stress, fear, anxiety; improve overall well-being; and promote long healthy living by creating calm between the mind and body. An effective overall treatment plan should include several modalities (approaches), and hypnotherapy is just one of the many effective tools known to help treat anxiety.
It is important to note that whether working with me or other hypnotists, if the hypnotist uncovers trauma while doing hypnotherapy, they need to know how to treat trauma. Having the education and training to recognize and work with mental health conditions is a key component in the success of hypnotherapy.
Making Change Happen
Often I am asked how hypnosis differs from meditation. A hypnotic induction would help put you into this relaxed state, similar to meditation or deep relaxation. You can then use this state to address anxieties and phobias. Meditation relaxes the mind, the hypnosis changes the mind. Through the mechanism of neuroplasticity, that I mentioned earlier.
When a person sees me to reduce their anxiety, I will work with the client to learn more about their habit of anxiety. Anxiety often robs us from joy because we are worried and fearful. Once we review what is true for you, I will explain the use of imagination, suggestion, and the unconscious mind. Together we explore, then remove the trigger of anxiety and change the behavior.
With the client in the desired hypnosis state, I may:
- Encourage positive imagery of the clients seeing themselves as not being anxious in situations and presenting with a sense of calm confidence instead
- Use suggestion to propose the idea that the client no longer sees the need to worry and reinforce the idea that stress and anxiety are not necessary to stay safe
- Ask the client to access their memories to reflect on experiences that contributed to current anxiety
With this experience, the client will understand their anxiety while being freed from its influence. Awareness and insights into this pattern help eliminate the stronghold this emotion has on our life.
Quick Tools You Can Take Now
Whenever I am facing a challenge, I overcome the uncertainty of the outcome by encouraging myself. Reciting affirmations is a reliable way to cure my anxieties. This is one of the ways I help clients. This is a power self-hypnosis tool!
Here is how it works:
To get rid of self-sabotaging thoughts, I speak positive words to myself. I am the most reliable reminder of everything good about me. I find many positive experiences to be proud of. Those are reassuring to me.
Each morning, I repeat three different affirmations before I even get out of bed.
As I recite these words, I believe in myself.
Then, I repeat in the mirror when I splash a bit of water on my face. I look and I can see a person who can achieve greatness. My face lights up with excitement because my words inspire me to persevere without worrying. I ignite an inner joy as my words become my reality. I see the role that affirmations play in encouraging positive thinking.
Saying them at work results in the same outcome. I avoid feeling backed into a corner because I convince myself that I have what it takes. I know that I am capable of hitting important milestones.
My favorite affirmation reminds me I am enough, even without validation from others. Being happy with myself is the most important validation.
Today, I promise to love and support myself by repeating positive sentiments each morning. I reduce anxiety and feel peaceful because I am comfortable with who I am and what I am capable of doing. Hypnosis, at one point brought a strange and uncomfortable feeling to me; now I know it is the best kept secret in healthcare. Start right where you are and begin to change your mind...one suggestion or affirmation at a time!
Self-Reflection Questions: answer these for yourself, now.
What are some affirmations that I recite to myself?
What are some things that I get anxious about? How can affirmations help?
What impact do affirmations have on my mood? (try it on and notice the difference)
Hypnosis has so many potential benefits, I know you'll be amazed how much you can help alleviate your worries, fears, and woes. Since my own experience in helping my mind-body has been positively impacted by hypnosis and mind-set, I would love to help you too.
Yours in Calm,
Be Calm ...
and experience hypnosis!
Hypnosis can help in many ways. Curious Minds should Stay Curious.
Boost Self-confidence • Lessen Anxiety • Grief• Cancer • Create Positive Mindset • Eliminate Limiting Beliefs • Improve Sleep • Manage Pain Better • Prepare for Childbirth • Enhance Performance • Heal & Resolve Grief • Change Habits • Weight Loss without Dieting • Smoking Cessation • Stress Reduction • Stop Teeth Grinding • & more
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