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Hypnosis Journal: Stress and Anxiety

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Module 5

Journal 1:1 Explain the origins of stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety are our bodies natural reaction to fear and change. Some people suffer from stress that they can identify with. Some have a continual sense of anxiety which in many cases may be due to underlying psychological or physical reasons that arent best treated by hypnotherapy alone. (In this case the client MUST be referred on OR have a doctors note that gives consent to work with them.)


Some amount of stress is healthy, it helps motivate us and achieve at a higher level. Feelings of unhealthy stress comes from situations where we feel frustrated, angry or anxious. When we feel threatened our body judges a situation by what we percieve or hear and decides whether or not it is stressful. It takes into account past memories of what happened last time we were in that situation. If it is judged as stressful, the hypothalamus (at the base of the brain) is activated to produce the flight or fight response. The hypothalamus is in charge of the stress response and when this is triggered, it sends signals to two other structures, the pituitary gland and the adrenal medulla. These flood the body with hormones including cortisol and our bodies get ready to run the hell away or fight for our lives. To do this we shut down any unneccessary systems,like digestive and immune, and others work faster. Our heart rate and blood pressure increase, our pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible, veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups, blood-glucose level increases for maximum energy, our muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps), the smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs and we have trouble focusing on small tasks (the brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)

All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation, its an instinct that every animal possesses. However, we get the exact same reaction if we were chased by a predator or preparing to speak publicly. Our brains have to decide whether to fight or run away. We would run from the bull but in a auditorium full of people we cant really run or fight so the stress remains in the body.  

Some people deal better with stress than others and this is to do partly by the enviroment and partly hereditary. If our primary caregivers did not cope well with stressful situations we would inherit a lessened ability to cope and also be bought up in an environment where we learn that the world is a scary place.

* In my reiki practice I teach my clients to get a hold of their thoughts as the arise. Some clients are constantly in a state of stress or have 'trapped stress' within their body causing physical ailments. Firstly  they must Notice that they are trapped in a vicious cycle of Automatic Negative Thinking (ANTs). Then, decide to BREAK THE CYCLE by using a "thought stopping" statement. There are many things you can say but I suggest ' that thought no longer serves me.' I have even made mini laminated cards for clients to keep and read when a feeling of stress arises. Once upon a time the thought may well have served the client and it kept them alive (so as far as the subconscious is concerned that is the way to go!) but now it is time to choose healthier thoughts for the clients own well being.  With practice you really can control your thoughts and responses to them.

There are 6 different types of stress.

Hypostress - a type of stress that comes from being understimulated, bored and leads to depression.

Eustress - short term positive stress increases performance/ motivation Eg essay deadlines!

Acute Stress - This stress starts to physically effect the body felt through tension and physical ailments.

Episodic Acute Stress - a longer term stress that can have serious health impacts Eg heart attacks.

Chronic Stress - very serious and long term stress. Has been linked to cancer and diabetes.

Traumatic Stress - usually brought about by an outside stressful incident. PTSD would come under this category.


Feelings of anxiety come from apprehension of fear, often when the source isnt identifiable. Change is a scary thing for our subconscious as it is full of uncertainties. Change is the unknown and brings up feelings of possible success or failure. Anxiety starts in our belief system. Our subconscious can misinterpret a memory or an incident as always being a threat. Eg getting bitten by a dog as a child, we then always find dogs a threat. This is our subconscious triggering a response to a situation that has happened and could be a threat in the future, unlikely as it is to happen, but our response is the same. The subconscious cant be just a little bit threatened, it only sees things in black and white. If we allow this to go too far it can become life affecting. Eg. avoiding parks, crossing the road if you see a dog. Unchecked anxiety can lead to phobias and panic attacks.

Journal 1:2 Describe the relationship between stress and anxiety

Stress is a natural reaction to fear and change. Anxiety is an effect of stress and is closely linked to fear, change, worry and apprehension. Anxiety is stress that continues after the stressful situation has gone.

Stress and anxiety can produce both physical and psychological symptoms. People experience stress and anxiety differently. Common physical symptoms include:

stomach ache, muscle tension, headache, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking, dizziness, frequent urination, change in appetite, trouble sleeping, diarrhea, fatigue



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