Hypnotherapy has proven to be extremely effective for treating anxiety. However, a good hypnotherapist will look to discover the root cause and then alter your thought processes so that you think differently. When you change the way you think, you change what you believe and you thereby change how you feel.
Whilst hypnotherapy can be highly effective, there are a few processes you can do on your own to help reduce and manage anxiety:
1. Practice deep breathing – When you become anxious your breathing can become erratic and your brain gets deprived of oxygen. This then activates the release of stress hormones which increases anxiety. But by breathing deeply you are delivering oxygen to the brain and instructing it to remain calm and relaxed. We recommend Dr Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 method. At a point where anxiety is building it is advisable to take a very deep breath in, through the nose, for 4 seconds, filling your lungs completely, and then holding that breath for 7 seconds before exhaling that breath, through your mouth, for 8 seconds whilst making a ‘whoosh’ sound. This process should be repeated at least 4 times or until you feel yourself becoming calmer, more relaxed and composed.
2. Imagine yourself after the event – If it’s a specific event that you feel anxious about, you are probably playing out this event in your mind including all the worst case scenarios, hence you feel anxiety every time you think about it. But if you practice visualising yourself after the event has passed and has gone well, you’re putting your mind in the future after the event. Your brain cannot tell the difference between what’s real or what’s imagined, so if you visualise yourself after the event, you cannot feel anxiety in the present moment.
3. Meditation – The final process is to carry out meditation on a daily basis to help you instil that feeling of calmness and control in everyday life. Meditation can be hard for people to get into but with practice it becomes easier and can be extremely beneficial. It is recommended to meditate for at least 10 minutes, however when beginning if you can only manage a couple of minutes that is fine, just keep building on it. Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable and close your eyes. Breathe normally and as you breathe in and out just notice your breath. Counting “one and two” or “in and out” in your mind can initially help to keep your mind focused on what you are doing. When you find your mind wandering off, simply acknowledge it as a momentary lapse in concentration and then gently bring your focus back onto your breathing.
If you practice breathing exercises, meditation and visualisation every day, you can reduce anxiety in your everyday life.