Stress Management

To find specialists in this therapy please look for the letter ‘C’ in the speciality column

Article 1 by Barry ColemanArticle 2 by Debbie WallerArticle 3 by Amreeta Chapman

The following information has been kindly supplied by Barry Coleman BA(Hons), GQHP, Cert. Counselling, GHR

Stress Reduction

You can read in many places all about the terrible things that stress can do to you. I would like to offer my own, hopefully concise, summary and a description of some useful hypnotic approaches that can make things better.

Stress happens to a person when something is perceived to be a threat to their own well-being. That may be physical or mental well-being or a combination of the two. The mind and body reacts automatically to this to prepare itself for defence by making physical changes to the body through the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin. This is a “cave-man” response that we still have and often still need. The nature of most of the threats have changed, however, and most threats will not go away if we physically fight them or run away from them. Unfortunately, the body’s automatic responses cannot distinguish clearly between the threat of getting the sack and an approaching tiger. The result is that these physical changes can damage us if they persist over time without any resolution.

It is also true that an awful lot of unhappiness is bought about by persistent stress and damage is often done to personal relationships. Our whole view of the world will change, very often without us realising it.

It is as if the great advantage that we have over other animals, the ability to think in complex ways and build massively complex social structures has backfired. We have made stressors that our bodies seem unable to cope with. Our autonomic responses have not kept pace with our mental development.

But this ability to think is where salvation lies. We have the tools to build much happier lives through thought and our ability to actually train our subconscious minds to react more appropriately.

Hypnotic techniques can be used to give anyone the ability, at any time, to trigger a more relaxed state of mind with, for example, as simple a physical stimulus as touching the forehead or crossing the fingers and so on. The trigger is associated, using hypnosis, with, say, a peaceful and pleasant place where you feel only happiness. There are many hypnotic techniques similar to this.

Hypnosis can be effective in supporting a more fundamental and whole life-enhancing approach called “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy” (CBT) or, the more recently developed “Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy” (REBT). The basis of this is that nearly all of our stress-related unhappy feelings do not come directly from events but from the way that we think about events. This is difficult to see at first but, for an example, if the boss calls me into her office I might say that I feel anxious about this but, what I really feel anxious about, are the thoughts that I have about this event. For example, “She is about to criticise my work and this is unfair but she won’t listen and this is all terrible”. REBT encourages us to forcefully change these thoughts to something more rational and less catastrophic. For Example, “She might want to criticise my work but perhaps I can learn from this. It may not be fair but lots of things aren’t fair; we can’t demand absolute fairness. It will not be the end of the world and I will gain more from this if I don’t get up-tight about it”.

This is an approach often used without hypnosis but hypnosis is a great tool for suggesting a more rational and less demanding way of thinking about events that are not quite what we would wish for. It can, and often does, lead to a much happier and successful life.

The following article has been kindly supplied by Debbie Waller, Yorkshire Hypnotherapist. BA (Hons). GQHP. GHR Reg. MUFH

Coping with stress.

We all see different things as being stressful. Some of us enjoy bungee jumping, keeping pet spiders or having twenty kids round for a sleep-over. Others can feel their blood pressure rising at the very thought.

The same goes for many other situations, at work and at home. So it’s fair to say that stress is more to do with how we see what happens to us, than with what actually happens.

You can’t always control the things that make you feel stressed (though most of us manage to avoid the bungee jumping). But learning to respond creatively and positively to stressful events helps you feel in control, and reduces your risk of stress related illness.

Therapies such as hypnotherapy or stress management will help you to learn this kind of coping skill, but there are some things you can do to help yourself. Here’s my ten point plan to a laid back life!

  • Get a good night’s sleep. When you don’t, you produce extra stress hormones.
  • Buy a joke book. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases infection fighting antibodies.
  • Yes, everybody nags but it will help you fight off the physical effects of stress if you lead a healthy lifestyle. Throw away the cigarettes, keep your alcohol intake low, and eat as well as you can afford to.
  • Exercise regularly – it produces chemicals in the brain (endorphins) that make you feel good.
  • Relax every day. That’s actual relaxation – not ironing in front of the TV. Take a leisurely bath, get a massage, practice self hypnosis, and switch off.
  • If the kids interfere, encourage them to join you. There are some great relaxation tapes aimed at kids, which you can use as well.
  • Keep your attitude positive. See the time you are stuck in traffic as an opportunity to review that important presentation one more time.
  • Make lists; identify urgent jobs and break overwhelming tasks up into several smaller items. Experiment; do you feel calmer if you get short or boring jobs out of the way first, or if you concentrate on the most important?
  • Make (and use) an action plan. List things that stress you, and decide what you would do about them in an ideal world. Think: is that practical? If yes, write down the first step you can take. If no, write down the best of the possible alternatives.
    Say your job is your number one problem. Giving up work altogether might be your “ideal world” answer. You could always buy a lottery ticket, but looking for a new job would be more practical. Your first step might be to contact a careers advisor or look at retraining.
  • If you feel it’s all a bit of a struggle enlist professional help from your GP or a reputable therapist.

The following article has been kindly supplied by Amreeta Chapman (Dip Hyp), Pract. Hyp, M.A.Psy)


How on earth can we equate a shy, insecure person with a furious, red faced person?
Easily … when we realise that hidden inside are a series of thought and feeling processes which are just the same for both.

Anger is a way to show that we are hurt or frustrated and it is a normal emotion. Anger can arise when we feel bushed off, not listened to, or made fun of etc. However, anger can become a major problem if it is expressed in extreme ways e.g. physical violence, verbal abuse, tantrums (even in adults), swearing and abusing others.
Unfortunately, the habitually angry person often cannot accept that they have a problem until they are threatened with losing their job, status, or relationship because of their repeated offensive behaviour.

When brought up in civilised society children are often told “You must be good. Don’t be angry. You are a bad boy/girl if you are angry,” but if children are not given alternative skills to express their hurt feelings in a healthy way, their frustration can lead to aggressive behaviour patterns later in life.
Shouting, swearing, throwing things around, shrieking, stomping off and sulking in silence for days before exploding into rage … all these expressions of anger can give us feelings of release in the short term, but when we cool down we can become ashamed, guilty, angry with ourselves and lowered self esteem can result – and sadly, there is often an estranged, hurt or demeaned partner or child who has had to bear the brunt of our anger.

The angry personality can have certain triggers for their anger e.g. “She never listens to me,” “He behaves so irresponsibly – why can’t he know what I’m thinking and do what I want,” “My colleagues see me as a bully, so I’ll act like a bully.”
Sometimes these triggers are not really there at all, but only imagined because of the person’s belief system. He/she may feel they are not good enough to be loved. They may feel too ordinary to deserve any status in life. They may have a fear of losing control, or being hurt. They may fear looking weak or vulnerable if they show anything other than aggression or dominance, so they act defensively to protect themselves.

Scale of expressing emotions: Passivity – Assertiveness – Aggressivity

At the opposite end of the scale, the person who has learnt to retreat into passivity from their early years, as a way of self protection, will keep that same attitude. The passive person may bottle up their emotions, they may agree with everything that is said and they may follow the lead of other people at work or home, even if they do not agree with them.
This kind of person may get sympathy, help and encouragement to ‘come out of their shell.’

But the person who has learnt to express their hurt feelings and beliefs in anger (from role models, from being ignored, or by colluding with the abuser in the family) is likely to have their unpleasant behaviour met with resentment and rejection.

It is difficult to sympathise with angry and aggressive people, but I have learned in my practice that they can be wonderful human beings who are in pain, but do not know how to acknowledge that pain, live with it, or express it. Their own feelings make them very uncomfortable and they are always ready to defend against those feelings being stirred up.

The healthy way to deal with angry, hurt, aggressive feelings is learning to be assertive.
Assertiveness skills can be learned in childhood if we are lucky enough to be brought up in an environment which teaches us to discuss, negotiate, compromise, and even argue within safe and reasonable boundaries.

Anger management is a way of helping to express aggressive feelings in a constructive way.
I have had clients over the years who have expressed a fear of losing all ability to be angry if they come for Hypnotherapy, but what Hypnotherapy will help with is programming the mind to process the anger in manageable doses and manageable ways.

Some people with anger issued have learned (from childhood) to be passive but eventually they lose control and ‘blow up,’ whilst others have developed a very low frustration tolerance which causes them to immediately overreact at the slightest remark.

As these two groups of people grow into adults and the pressures of life, work and relationships take over, they respond to their perceived frustrations by either giving the silent treatment that ultimately explodes into raging anger – or, by reacting so defensively, so quickly and so aggressively that they appear dangerous and threatening.

Hypnotherapy works well with anger issues.

Hypnotherapy works with the unconscious (subconscious) mind, which contains all our instinctive and habitual reactions.

Over the years, certain triggers for the person’s anger have become programmed into this deeper unconscious part of the mind, and if those triggers are touched upon the anger explodes out automatically.

Learning to relax the mind and body is very beneficial for the tense, angry personality.
Utilising deep relaxation techniques, Hypnotherapy can access the inner subconscious mind in order to identify and then change those triggers. Strategies can be taught to deal with the anger, and negative belief systems can be changed into more healthy and positive beliefs about one’s own self worth.

I have come to know that an angry person can be feeling as vulnerable, sensitive and fragile as somebody who is shy and reserved. In my practice, I help my clients to develop a more constructive unconscious mindset and give them self-help techniques so that they can deal with their particular problematic issues in their everyday life.