When a person comes to see me, as a hypnotherapist, to work on stress, I teach them relaxation and have them create a peaceful place in their minds. I tell them, “This can be a favorite vacation spot, or a place you create solely in your imagination.” The main idea is that it’s serene and safe.
I’ve heard people poke fun of the idea of a “peaceful spot.” They can’t believe that anything so simple can be effective. But after working with hundreds of people with this concept, I’ve seen the positive results. Practicing relaxation daily with this image can reduce stress significantly. I’ve seen stress, pain, and anxiety decrease immensely with this technique.
Recently, I read an article about girls who were susceptible to depression. They were able to rewire their brains to reduce this risk. People like them have an overreaction to upsetting experiences, which can be seen in brain scans.
Stanford researchers scanned the brains of these girls to see how they responded to negative pictures. The area of the brain that responds to stress showed increased activation on the scans. The researchers then instructed them to think of pleasant experiences and shift their focus from negative to positive images. On brain scans, it showed that the part of the brain triggered by stress calmed down.
Even several days after the exercises, the girls showed the same reduced reaction to stressful images. They were able to rewire their brains to be less reactive to stress, which in turn reduced the likelihood of depression later on.
This is very similar to the technique I teach my clients. But I also include relaxation, which reduces stress on its own. You can rewire your brain so you don’t overreact to stress, which will reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that you experience in your life.
Practice relaxation and imagining yourself in a special place. Then imagine an upsetting image, and immediately switch your attention back to your special place and all its peace.
This is one of the traditional ways hypnotherapists, like me, have used to help clients deal with stress. It’s gratifying when the techniques I’ve used for so many years are proved to be valid by scientific research.
~ Linda-Ann Stewart