Are you one of those white-knuckled passengers who is not actually afraid of flying, just the take-offs and landings? Perhaps you are an effective employee or a truly diligent manager but then you get "the memo." You have to introduce the next kick-off campaign at the annual company conference and you suddenly feel as if you are under a giant microscope. Maybe your particular trigger for anxiety is the dread of death. Your concern might be centered on your own demise or your loved ones. In nearly 20 years of private practice, I have never been surprised by what terrifies an otherwise rational adult.
You are not alone. Anxiety is one of those phenomenons that everyone has to face at some time in life, with sweaty palms, pounding pulse, queasy stomach, ringing or buzzing in the ears, dizziness and even shortness of breath. For many people it has nothing to do with whether they are alone or in a crowd, when the anxiety reaches its zenith. It seems as if the whole world shrinks as you and your greatest fears loom larger than life. It does not seem to matter if the anxiety-producing fear is real or imaginary. The symptoms can be equally debilitating. Loss of sleep, compulsive overeating or loss of appetite are common results of anxious thoughts and can lead to more serious health risks.
Now you can take back control of your life, using the power of your own mind with self-hypnosis. You can rest assured that you have the ability to use self-hypnosis to defeat anxiety. We all tap into a kind of mind-over-matter when we feel a head cold starting up the day before a big deadline or exam. We manage to put those annoying symptoms on hold until we meet the demand, and then we really get sick, taking to our bed.
Here are five steps to use self-hypnosis for anxiety relief:
- Silence all telephones (land/cell), as well as all media (i.e., music, computers, pagers, etc.)
- Get your body comfortable in a chair or recliner, using pillows, as needed. You may want to use a small cover, as many people experience a slight cooling in body temperature as they relax deeply.
- With your eyes closed, use your imagination to pretend you can feel soothing, golden massage oil that flows, with gravity, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Moreover, everywhere this oil flows, it leaves behind either a warm or a cooling sensation (your choice, depending on weather, season or bodily needs for comfort that moment).
- Next, behind your closed eyes, imagine that you can see a blackboard. Now see yourself picking up a brand new piece of chalk (any color you would like) and a brand new eraser. Begin writing down your numbers on the blackboard, starting with the number 100. Write them very large, and as soon as you have finished each number, erase it completely, relax your mind a little more and go down one more number. Sometimes, depending on your stress level that day, you may need to make the countdown even more distracting to your conscious/waking mind by going down the scale on the even or odd numbers.
- As you drift into a state of comfortable relaxation, you will see an elegant white door appear in your mind's eye. Go ahead and open the door. On the other side of that threshold is the most beautiful, inviting space you can imagine. It might be an oceanside beach, complete with warm, soft, white sand and a gentle sea breeze. Or perhaps you will see your own secret garden with a shade tree and a hammock or chaise lounge. Just allow yourself to go through that doorway and find your rest in a heightened state of peacefulness. As you let yourself sink into the experience, you are free to make this place precisely the way you want it to be. Are there trees? Can you see boats on the horizon? Would you like to hear songbirds or a bubbling fountain? Be sure to use your own subconscious mind to guide your additions, such as sensory clues or visual stimuli. Do you feel the warmth of the sun or smell the blooming flowers? Can you distinguish the various shades of green in the leaves or the subtle variations between the color of the sea and the sky?
This is your power. You have the capacity to create the most pleasing escape that appeals to your inner self. Now you have subdued that rising sense of panic that surrounds the anxious dread of that certain event. You have also taken back control over the one area where you really are in charge. Your own mind.
Valorie J. Wells, Ph.D. has been in practice as a clinical hypnotherapist for nearly 20 years. Her educational background in industrial psychology, coupled with advanced hypnosis studies, creates an alternative healing environment that appeals to today's informed consumers as clients. Her determination to limit her practice to hypnotherapy has forged a secure bond between area health care providers, hospitals and their referrals. This innovative, cross-discipline approach to patient care serves as a vital link for the integrative chain of careful attention to the individual's needs. Moreover, the rapport between providers and patients encourages participation, dialogue and continuity of care. To find out more about Valorie and her work, read her blog on Red Room.