You know the feeling. It’s just a normal weekday morning, getting ready for work. But as you’re brushing your teeth or rinsing the shampoo off your hair, you’re suddenly overcome by fluttery feeling that’s close to panic.
Are you running late? You can’t be late for work. Not with all the talk going round the office about people losing their jobs. Business is so bad at the moment, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you lose your job, how will you pay off your steadily mounting credit card debt?
Is that scratchy feeling in your throat the first sign that you have Covid? You’ve been invited to a friend’s party at the weekend. What if you pass the disease onto everyone without even knowing you have it? Your friend’s mother is old. What if she dies?
Now the fluttery feeling has settled in your chest. It feels like heart palpitations. Is there something wrong with your heart? Are you about to have a heart attack? There’s a pain spreading across your chest, and you’re short of breath …
This is how it feels to have anxiety – a condition that now affects almost one in five adults.
Based on Google search data, our general anxiety levels have increased threefold over the past decade. And that’s not even taking the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic into account.
Just as increased anxiety levels can be traced back to the growth of social media, treatment methods are also changing. Alternative, new therapies like self-hypnosis for anxiety are proving to be highly effective, with fewer harmful side effects.
How do you know if you need treatment? Doesn’t everyone feel anxious from time to time? What makes anxiety disorder different from the normal, everyday nervousness you feel when you have to write an important exam, start a new job or speak in public for the first time?
It’s natural to feel anxious or nervous in these situations. Feeling on edge is actually beneficial. It motivates you to up your game and perform at your best. Once you start writing the exam or launch into your speech, the anxiety usually fades. By the time the test or the speech is over, you’re back to normal.
Continuous, intense state of fear
Anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is not a reaction to a specific situation. It’s a constant state of feeling uneasy or fearful. Your mind jumps from one potential crisis to another, creating a vicious circle of ever-increasing anxiety. Normal everyday activities like driving to work, going shopping, or meeting friends for drinks can trigger fear out of all proportion to the situation. You can’t control the feeling, or the physical reactions of your body. Chest pain, breathlessness, dry mouth, racing pulse, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and stomach aches – can all be traced back to anxiety.
Treatment options for anxiety
Traditionally, medication has been used to treat anxiety and depression. Anti-depressives, sleeping pills and tranquilizers such as Valium, Librium and Xanax all have a calming effect, which is effective in reducing anxiety.
Unfortunately, many of these drugs are also habit forming. Some also come with unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, weight gain and loss of libido. In recent years, natural techniques such as meditation and hypnotherapy have become more popular in the treatment of anxiety disorders. There are no harmful side effects and, once mastered, can be used safely for the rest of your life.
Meditation and hypnotherapy
Yoga and mindfulness are based on relaxation. Both use deep breathing to help you remain calm and focused. Mindfulness is about being ‘grounded’ in the moment. You concentrate on what you can see, hear, feel and smell right now, rather than allowing your thoughts to focus on random worries.
Research has shown that clinical hypnotherapy is also highly effective in relieving stress, fear, and anxiety. People who’ve tried it report feeling calmer and more relaxed. They are able to control both their fear and the physical symptoms that accompany it.
Self-hypnosis for anxiety
Can you achieve similar results with self-hypnosis? Yes, you can, by using one of the popular self-hypnosis apps. You work at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. Although it’s called self-hypnosis, you don’t actually hypnotise yourself. A qualified hypnotherapist guides you though the process.
Using a series of recorded messages, he or she encourages you to enter a state of deep relaxation. This opens your subconscious to suggestions of how you might control your anxiety. The goal is to replace old ways of reacting to stressful situations with more productive and positive new behaviours.
How effective is self-hypnosis for anxiety?
Because hypnotherapy works with your subconscious mind, it is usually highly effective, and works faster than traditional psychotherapy. Those who’ve used self-hypnosis for anxiety report success rates of more than 93%.
Don’t expect instant results. You need to be patient. Typically you will need two to three weeks of therapy to retrain your brain to react differently to stress and anxiety.
Something else to remember is that no two individuals react to self-hypnosis in exactly the same way. Just as people with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety, so some people are more receptive to hypnosis. A small percentage of people are unable to enter a deep state of hypnosis. For them, this form of therapy may not be effective.
How safe is self-hypnosis for anxiety
Self-hypnosis is completely safe, as long as you use an app developed by a trained clinical hypnotherapist. Many top therapists, like the world-renowned Aaron Surtees, offer tried and tested apps you can use with confidence. However, if you have a severe mental illness like hallucinations or schizophrenia, you should avoid hypnotherapy, as it could make your condition worse.
A final word of caution: hypnotherapists are not medical doctors. They aren’t trained to diagnose or treat medical or psychological disorders. What they can do is help you achieve your self-improvement goals, by enabling you to tap into your subconscious and modify unhealthy habits and behaviours.