Everyone has stress in their lives, work and school being the most common. Sometimes, we form negative habits to help alleviate these day-to-day struggles. Eustress, a form of stress that can be motivating (such as the stress of an impending exam causing one to study hard the week before), can be useful. It can push you forward and make you more productive, completing projects you may otherwise have left unattended. Alternatively, distress can create havoc in our lives and inhibit productivity, leading to the formation of these negative habits.

Where does stress come from?

There are many common sources of stress, for example overwhelming sensory input, lack of control over situations and social issues. Sensory input are things your body feels and reacts to negatively, such as pain, bright lights, or loud noises. Lack of control over your circumstances such as food, housing, health, freedom, or mobility can make you feel helpless. Social issues including relationship conflicts or life experiences like poverty, unemployment or insufficient sleep can also make you feel trapped. These external concerns often feel debilitating and lead to destructive behaviour. When faced with bleak conditions, people will attempt to adapt or cope in any way they can.

How do we become stressed?

Stress generally occurs in three stages. First, the body becomes alarmed. The threat or stressor is identified or realized and the body responds by producing adrenalin which prepares it for the customary fight or flight tactic. Your heart rate increases and you begin to sweat, sometimes, in extreme instances, leading to a panic attack. The second stage of stress is resistance. If the stressor persists, the body will attempt some means of coping to calm the overall system. Sometimes this can lead to productivity, in the form of the creation of a plan of action to resolve the issues and end the cycle. However, if the stressor continues, this can lead to the final stage of stress: exhaustion. All the body’s resources are eventually depleted and you can no longer maintain normal function. If this stage is extended, it could result in a type of damage to the body.

How do we cope with stress?

Many people have developed healthy coping mechanisms such as slow breathing or counting to ten. Sometimes people may create predictability in their lives by finding comfortable routines to help prevent unexpected surprises. Others exercise to relieve stress and increase endorphins. However, sometimes we come across a behaviour that offers quick relief, though can be detrimental to our health. These behaviours can begin with small issues like nail biting and escalate to more damaging habits like hair pulling. No matter how bleak the outlook is, though, there is always a solution and hypnosis can help you relax enough to find the proper one.

Hypnosis is an induced state of relaxation that can help quiet your mind in order to focus on achieving a single goal. Sometimes we notice we’ve formed these bad habits and consciously decide to quit. However, after months or years of turning to the same source of relief, our subconscious minds have formed an automatic connection, thus making this bad habit an impulse. The body requires an outlet and when you consistently turn to the same immediate solution it can make it harder and harder to quit. Hypnosis will help your subconscious mind decide to turn to alternative solutions before immediately jumping to your usual knee-jerk reaction.

Nail biting is an example of a habit that can negatively influence your public image. Whether you’re in a work environment or sitting at a bus stop, biting your nails will make you less approachable. Nobody wants a handshake, or to accept anything for that matter, from hands that were just being gnawed on. Public image aside, think of the bacteria and germs you are ingesting with every bite. Not only will this hamper your professional and personal appearance, it will expose your body to unhealthy substances which can harm your immune system over time. Hypnosis can help you become more aware of the circumstances that may drive you to bite your nails. You’ll start to recognize that you bite your nails when you’re sitting at your desk or when your speaking to your boss or when you’re preparing a speech. When you realize the moments you instinctually begin to bite your nails, it’ll be easier to replace one bad habit with a more constructive reaction. Perhaps you’ll learn to drink water more often or you’ll begin to chew gum to keep your mouth occupied. With hypnosis, you can learn to replace nail biting with healthier alternatives you’re more comfortable with.

Now, we’ve all seen someone playing with their hair when they’re nervous or in deep thought. You starting twirling it into tight spirals or you run your hands through your hair constantly. While this is usually an innocent act it can sometimes escalate into trichotillomania. This is a disorder in which one begins to impulsively pull their hair out. We’ve all encountered situations that are so frustrating we’ll exclaim “It’s making me pull my hair out!” However, a number of people actually do suffer from constantly and literally pulling their hair out from their head or eyebrows. This can lead to bald spots, which tend to cause more stress, leading to more escalation of the issue.

How can hypnosis help?

Direct suggestion is a hypnotic tool to communicate straight to the subconscious mind. With this tool, your hypnotist can help you become more aware of your hand movements. Thus, your conscious mind can stop you from automatically pulling your hair out and create a healthier habit. Over time, this new habit will become more ingrained and therefore more impulsive than the previous habit. Your hypnotist can also use regression to help you identify the initial sensitizing event, or ISE. An ISE is usually the circumstance from which your bad habit originated. By identifying this event and working through it, your body will have resolved the primary issue that drove you to form a negative habit. Usually, regressing to the ISE can permanently end bad habits such as nail biting or trichotillomania.

When you first begin hypnosis, your hypnotist will usually have you outline the times you’ll tend to turn to a negative habit. Consciously recognizing these situations will already begin to help you overcome your usual impulses. Throughout your sessions, you’ll learn to notice these circumstances and replace your usual reaction with a healthier option. However, sometimes a new stressful situation arises, one that you never considered before. This can sometimes lead to a relapse which can create even more stress because you’ve delved back into your negative cycle. Meditation and self-hypnosis are very helpful tools to help manage unplanned stress. By arming yourself with these calming tools, you’ll be more prepared to find a different, but still calming, source of relief. Twenty to thirty minutes of self-hypnosis can have lasting beneficial effects on health. Advanced meditators can even significantly control their blood pressure and heart rate which can increase the release of endorphins setting off neurotransmitters that interact with the reward centres in the brain.

Everyday addictions can become a burden over time no matter how small or insignificant you may think them to be. Hypnosis can help to alleviate the underlying compulsions felt on a daily basis. Stress management is important so our bodies don’t become overloaded and exhausted. Life is so much better without uneven and jagged nails or awkward bald spots. Call us today to book a free consultation so you can find out the best way hypnosis can help you.