Your brain on stress
Difficult emotions are easier to manage when you understand what’s going on in your head. Take anxiety (please!). It’s created in the part of the brain dedicated to keeping us safe, and hasn't changed since prehistoric times. In those days, threats tended to be caused by single, lethal things that needed an instant response – wild animals, rival tribes, weird-looking berries. This part of our brain is vigilant, obsessive, and always on the alert. It served us very well back then, but not so much now. We’ll always want to jump out of the way of the speeding drunk driver or deal with the stroppy so-and-so on the bus, but usually these days worries come from less immediate sources – a dodgy bank statement, relationship problems, depressing news bulletins for example. Trouble is our prehistoric brain reacts in the same way as it always has; it recognises our growing discomfort and looks for the lurking leopard. It checks on its whereabouts all the time, shuts our curiosity down and keeps our lives small, keeps us ‘safe’, and encourages us to maintain survival rituals, however unhelpful we know they are deep down (‘I wore my lucky pants yesterday and I’m still alive, I’ll wear two pairs today.’). This part of our brain can shout very loudly, and it’s difficult to hear any other thoughts.
If you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and begin obsessing about your health, or the state of the planet, or the endless doom on the news, just remember that FEAR NEEDS A FOCUS. You can do what you can to make the world a better place, talk to the bank manager or go to relationship counselling, but knowing that your brain is dealing with these issues by trying to find a leopard in the wardrobe might help you gain perspective.
Hypnotherapy can help in two ways. Firstly, trance is a relaxed focused state which can calm your inner alarm system for a while, giving you a break. Secondly, we can work on building more helpful neural pathways in your mind, letting the unhelpful ones grow over. You can enjoy instant relief and look forward to being less driven by mental leopard-hunting in the future. What would you prefer to go looking for?! If you’d like to know more just send me a message.