HCT For The Relief and Control Of Chronic Pain

Author: Traci Patterson, CH, CI – Founder and Director, Advanced Pathways

 

You are not your pain. You can make that statement a reality by utilizing the powerful protocol of Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT).  HCT can harness your ability to retrain neural pathways and develop new patterns in the brain and body, to help you reclaim control.

HCT is a combination of clinical hypnosis/hypnotherapy, biofeedback, light/sound therapy, neuroplasticity training, working with the limbic system, cell memory, and more. This protocol has given patients, on an international basis, the ability to dramatically decrease pain levels (many do gain remission), increase restorative sleep, decrease and control stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and regain their lives.

Clinical trial evidence over the past 10 years, confirms that hypnotherapy treatments are effective for reducing daily pain intensity levels in people with chronic pain.

My own experience of living with chronic pain (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) means that I have a real understanding of the impact it has on all areas of life. Chronic pain doesn’t just impact one area. It hits patients in ways that were never expected. The isolation, stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming. The good news is this can change. You can have the ability to change the way you experience your body and your life – to take control again.

When pain persists, your role in managing it becomes really important. What you think, feel and do on a day-to-day basis, has an effect on your pain. In order to change your pain state it is necessary to change your thoughts and emotional responses.

HCT is a powerful tool that helps you take back control over your pain and your life by enabling you to change your thoughts and emotional responses to both your pain and to external factors. This will assist you to retrain neural pathways and calm down the over sensitized state of your central nervous system, helping you lay down new templates of response in the areas of the brain responsible for determining the pain experience.

With HCT you will be able to promote and experience the healthy effects of positive energy in your life, empowering you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life once again.

What exactly is chronic pain?
Pain is considered chronic when it occurs for most days of the week and persists for longer than three months. It includes persistent pain that no longer has an identifiable cause where the original injury has healed, as well as pain that has an identifiable cause such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, TMJ dysfunction, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, shingles, multiple sclerosis etc. It also includes persistent pain that has no identifiable cause at all.

It is now estimated that over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Push the numbers out on an international basis and chronic pain is becoming an epidemic. The cause and treatment of persistent pain is complex, added to which is the enormous impact chronic pain has on a person’s ability to function effectively in the wider areas of family, social and work life.

Chronic pain and illness is debilitating, isolating and extremely stressful. There is no single approach or ‘magic bullet’ solution to treating chronic pain. Rather, it’s a matter of being in charge of your health management and decisions, choosing the right combination of treatment strategies and health care professionals to help you improve your health outcomes and the quality of your life.

How do we know that hypnosis can actually make a difference for pain?
There is physical evidence that hypnosis works to alleviate chronic pain, and medical imaging studies have shown that hypnotic therapy influences all of the cortical and neuro-physiological processes that underline pain. Current scientific research shows that hypnotherapy treatment causes both pain perception thresholds, and pain tolerance levels, to be strikingly increased.

Why use Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT) to treat chronic pain?
HCT is safe, drug free, non-invasive, evidence based and also works to support other medical and alternative therapeutic approaches you may be using in your multidisciplinary approach to healing. My own experience of utilizing a range of health options including hypnosis to gain long-term remission in my own journey with chronic pain (CRPS) is a valuable resource that I bring to patients. I can help you navigate those choices to find what’s right for you, so that you gain real improvements in wellbeing and quality of life.

Science has discovered that thoughts, emotions and physical movement create chemical reactions in our body, which either calm down our central nervous system or turn the alarm volume up. By changing your response to pain and the way you think about pain, you can in fact change your pain state. Plus, when we tap into previous memories of being healthy and happy it allows us to rebuild the neuro-net that our brain relies on and our cell memory.

How we focus our attention can have a significant impact on our experience of pain. Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. The more we can divert our attention from pain, the less signal we create in our pain pathways. The less signal in our pain pathways, the less pain receptors and sprouts our nerves create, and the less sensitive our nerves become. When engaged in or focus on enjoyable experiences, we increase our production of good chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as endorphins. And, as you know, these ‘good’ chemicals help to calm pain pathways even more. Because hypnotherapy is a state of focused concentration it can create and absorb you in a desirable and comfortable state, and your brain can start to pay attention to that instead of pain.

We also want to focus on the Vagus nerve and the importance it has in chronic pain. The Vagus nerve is one of the largest nerve systems in the body. The name Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” which describes the long and complicated path this nerve takes through the body and all of the different systems it comes in contact with. In some cases this nerve is linked to medical conditions such as low blood pressure, and in other cases doctors will stimulate this nerve to help treat disorders. Stimulating the Vagus nerve with something as easy as an abdominal breath can release endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin.

Biofeedback allows us to objectively monitor your heart rhythms and display the physiological level of coherence – an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are operating in sync and balance, and the immune, hormonal and nervous systems function in a state of harmonious coordination.

Pain and the brain…
Pain is an output our brain makes to defend us. It is what alerts us to danger and it acts as a protective mechanism to make us stop and do what we need to, to take care of ourselves. Our brain decides if something is painful or not. This is hard to comprehend because we feel pain in parts of our body, therefore we believe the pain comes from those parts, but in fact pain is determined by the brain.

However, when pain is ongoing the body’s danger response to sensory input becomes over sensitized and the alarm system stays on red alert causing a process called ‘Central Nervous System Sensitization’; then fears, thoughts and beliefs become involved and start contributing to the chronic pain state. Chronic pain sufferers end up feeling as though pain has engulfed their life, feeling helpless and hopeless. The good news however, is that HCT can change that. It can help you break the chains that chronic pain holds you in, thereby letting in the possibility for change and new perspectives.

A Multimodality / discipline approach…
A multimodality approach is needed in order to address the different facets of physical and emotional health involved in the treatment of chronic pain. Once you decide to get involved in your own healing, as captain of your team, you will need to find the protocol and/or team that works best for you.

Clinical trial findings and MRI studies support the fact that hypnotherapy is a valuable tool that will support your ability to learn new ways of dramatically decreasing your chronic pain and dealing with the impact it has had on your life.

What the research tells us…
• The brain is plastic! The brain’s neuroplasticity means that it is not a fixed and final thing; it can change the way it works and the way your body responds to its messages. “Neruo is for ‘neuron’, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for ‘changeable…modifiable’” (The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge MD, 2007).
• The neural pathways that take messages to and from the brain can be altered, and new paths can be created. The latest brain research shows that our brain has the ability to change its function and structure through thought and activity, but only when it is in a state of openness, creativity and freedom from stress. Because hypnotherapy helps you reduce the significant levels of stress that occur in your body as a result of experiencing ongoing pain, it creates the necessary open and creative space for your brain to begin changing its responses. (Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia, August 2011)
• Thoughts are one of the most powerful influences on your mood and emotions. The way you think about yourself, your situation, and your future is extremely important in chronic pain, for a number of reasons. The more you can reduce your own distress with your thinking, the more you reduce your adrenaline levels, which in turn is good for desensitizing your nervous system. The more you can generate helpful thinking patterns that improve your mood, the more helpful neurotransmitters you are likely to produce, such as opiates. These are your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. When your body produces ‘feel good’ chemicals, they help to reduce the level of signal in your pain pathways. (CPA Australia http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. An important point about attention is that we all only have a limited amount of attention to allocate to various aspects of our experience. If much of our attention is taken up by a particular thing, then there is less attention to be allocated to anything else. (CPA Australia http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• There is growing recognition that hypnosis is helpful for altering the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to the pain state.
• The findings suggest that self-hypnosis training for chronic pain has two primary effects (a) it creates a long lasting (possibly permanent) change in the way the person and brain processes pain information, so that they experience a decrease in ongoing daily average pain, and (b) provides skills that they can use on a regular basis to experience periods of comfort.
• New sciences such as New Biology, Quantum Physics, and Molecular Science, all recognize that human beings are a dynamic organic process. These scientific perspectives contend that it is not the individual parts, but the whole that provides for in-depth understanding. The human organism is not perceived as isolated or compartmentalized, but rather is studied as a living system. No longer an “it “ – an object – the human being is recognized as a dynamic ever-changing process, embedded in a field of relationships and information. (From Changing the Language of Body: from Object to Process article by Liz Koch). This relational field moves between your thoughts, emotions, and body and is intrinsically linked. Hypnotherapy works with the whole person in a powerful way that harnesses their mind, body spirit self to achieve healing and transformation.
• Researchers are not sure exactly how or why biofeedback works. However, there does seem to be at least one common thread: most people who benefit from biofeedback have conditions that are brought on or made worse by stress. For this reason, many scientists believe that relaxation is the key to successful biofeedback therapy. When your body is under chronic stress, internal processes like blood pressure become overactive. Guided by a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to lower your blood pressure through relaxation techniques and mental exercises. When you are successful, you see the results on the monitor, which encourages your efforts. (University of Maryland Medical Center)
• The limbic system can influence chronic pain. A conceptual framework is presented suggesting conscious and subconscious interpretation of emotional responses to events can impact all systems of the body generating or modifying chronic pain symptoms. The limbic system can directly modify the activity of the autonomic, immune, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. Through these systems it is able to alter the activity in all other systems. It is important to note that multiple systems are being affected simultaneously. The end result is that pain may be felt in a specific region, which can be viewed in the context of current knowledge on pain physiology and the neuromatrix. (University of West London)

You can utilize HCT to break the chains from chronic pain. Doing so will help you to regain your life by dramatically decreasing your pain, increasing restorative sleep, decreasing and controlling stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and empowering you to engage in a meaningful life again.

 

Researchers Examine Self-Hypnosis to Manage Pain during Needle Biopsy

 

Author: Beth W. Orenstein

 

Date Published: Jan 29, 2007
Publisher: Radiology Today

 

More than 60% of women in the United States aged 40 and older will undergo mammography screening for breast cancer this year. Between 5% and 10% of their mammograms will result in abnormal or inconclusive findings that will require further study, according to the findings that will require further study, according to the American Cancer Society. If a suspicious lump is found through mammography, or by palpitation, a large core needle biopsy (LCNB) is likely to be performed.

 

Found to be a reliable diagnostic tool, LCNB is typically performed in an outpatient setting, which limits the use of intravenous (IV) drugs in reducing pain and anxiety. The practical problem is that administering would make the procedure longer, and suite time is typically at a premium. Also, IV drugs limit the woman’s ability to drive to work after the procedure. “Many of the women we encounter have to juggle job, home, and family, and being out is something they can’t afford,” says Elvira V. Lang, MD, associate professor of radiology at Harvard University in Boston.

 

In addition, with the woman lying prone so her breasts are accessible through a hole in the table, IV drugs could be a danger. “If you give drugs and the patient would have any reaction, it would be difficult to resuscitate her in that position,” Lang says.

 

Studied for More Invasive Procedures

 

Having had success with self-hypnosis during more invasive surgical procedures, Lang and colleagues decided to investigate its use during LCNB. They conducted a study involving 236 women who were undergoing LCNB at the university affiliated medical center between February 2002 and March 2004. Their research showed that self-hypnosis is not only a valuable pain management tool for women undergoing LCNB but also a cost effective strategy.

 

Lang presented their findings at RSNA 2006 in Chicago this past November. Previously, their research group had reported its findings in the September 2006 issue of Pain, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Lang’s research was supported by the U.S. Army Medical research and Materiel Command and the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

 

The women included in the study were required to give written consent and be able to hear and understand English; they also had to pass screenings for mental impairment and psychosis. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three types of care: standard care, empathy, or hypnosis.

 

Seventy-six women received standard care with members of the biopsy team comforting the patents in their usual way. Eighty-two women received empathetic attention, where a person in the procedure room was assigned to be responsive to their needs, asking whether he or she could do anything to make the patient more comfortable. The person was also instructed to avoid negative language. For example, one would say, “This is the local anesthetic,” rather than, “You will feel a burn and a sting.”

 

The final group of 78 women was given empathetic attention and taught self-hypnosis techniques. For the hypnosis, a research assistant read a script instructing the patient on techniques that would help her relax. “The script invited patients to roll their eyes upwards, close their eyes, breathe deeply, focus on a sensation of floating, and experience a pleasant setting of their choice with all their senses,” Lang says. The script also suggested how patients could transform their discomfort into a sensation of warmth, coolness, or tingling.

 

The research assistants included one male and one female physician, two female medical students, ad one female premedical student with a background in mental health sciences. The script provided the consistency needed to administer the hypnosis techniques for the study. “We actually videotaped all the procedures to make sure that the assistants did what they were supposed to,” Lang says.

 

Reproducibility

 

Lang says the results may have been better had the assistants been able to improvise for each patient’s situation, “but we wanted something that the average, compassionate healthcare provider can do” and that can be easily replicated, Lang says.

 

The research assistants received standardized training, under supervision of physicians and psychologists, in empathetic structured attention and hypnosis. They also participated in workshops; used teaching videos, reading materials, and a web-based course; and performed supervised practice with patients. The researchers then compared several factors, including levels of pain and anxiety, and procedure time and cost.

 

Lang says the women in the study had increased levels of anxiety, which is not surprising, adding that the woman are undergoing the procedure because they may have breast cancer and “the prospect of having breast cancer can be very scary. One out of eight women will develop breast cancer in the lifetime. So the odds are very high that a woman undergoing an LCNB knows another woman who has had breast cancer, or worse, she knows someone who had a breast biopsy and had a bad experience.”

 

Time is of the Essence

 

The researchers also found that the longer a patient is in the procedure room the greater her pain. “I think even if you weren’t to do anything, just lying on the table in those surroundings increases the pain experience even more,” Lang says. “That’s why we wanted to give these women something to get through that and, specifically, to address the anxiety.”

 

Anxiety and pain were measured prior to entering the procedure room using a Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Anxiety was also valuated in the procedure room using verbal scales of 0 to 10; a rating of 0 indicated no pain or anxiety while 10 indicated the worst pain and anxiety possible. Patients were asked to make pain and anxiety ratings every 10minutes. “These scales were used because the patient’s self- report is considered the single most reliable descriptor of the pain experience,” Lang says.

 

Results of the study showed that anxiety increased significantly in the women in the standard care group, while anxiety did not change in the empathy group, and decreased significantly in the hypnosis group. All three groups reported pain during the procedure, but the empathy and self-hypnosis groups reported significantly less pain than the standard care group.

 

The researchers also measured time and cost and found that neither differed significantly among the groups, even though the empathy and hypnosis groups had an additional assistant. The hypnosis group had the shortest procedure time and the lowest cost. For standard care, the procedure was 46 minutes and calculated to cost $ 161; for empathy care, the time was 43 minutes and cost $163; and the time for the hypnosis group was 39 minutes and cost $152.

 

Relaxing Staff Too

 

Lang attributes the shortened procedure time with hypnosis to the decreased level of stress. When using hypnosis, the stress is not only less for the patient, she says, but also for the treatment team. “The relaxation technique serves to calm and focus everyone involved in the procedure,” she says.

 

Lang adds that the patients learned a coping tool they can take with them and use to relieve anxiety through subsequent waits and workups related to their diagnosis and treatment. “We had women in the study who were found to have malignant cancer, which they had removed. During subsequent biopsies, they would ask to have self-hypnosis as well,” Lang says.

 

David Spiegel, MD, associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, says he is impressed by Lang’s methodology and conclusions. “She has demonstrated in a very convincing way that a little bit of self-hypnosis goes a long way in the radiology suite,” he says. The results are significant because the study was large scale, randomized, and “elegantly conducted,” he adds.

 

While Lang’s results showed hypnosis did more to relieve the women’s anxiety than it did their pain, Spiegel says, “large core needle biopsies aren’t that painful, so I don’t think there is much room for improvement in that regard.” The hypnosis clearly had other advantages as well, he says, including shorter procedure times with fewer complications and the need for fewer medications.

 

Some people fear hypnosis because they view it as inducing a loss of control, Spiegel says; however, the study shows the opposite is true. When used correctly, it can actually enhance the patient’s sense of control over their emotional and sensory experience.

 

In an editorial in the same issue of Pain as the Lang group study, Spiegel points out the irony that hypnosis, the oldest form of psychotherapy in Western culture, can be successfully wedded to one of the newest medical interventions: LCNB for breast cancer diagnosis. Obviously, he says, “this old technique of refocusing attention can be utilized with great effectiveness to reduce pain and anxiety during a variety of medical procedures.”

 

Overcoming Tradition

 

Spiegel also says that while physicians and their patients “may be skeptical of treatments that involve talk and relationships rather than medications and nerve blocks, “this study, as well as previous work by Lang and her colleagues, showed that “hypnosis works during medical procedures.” Spiegel hopes physicians won’t dismiss the idea of hypnosis simply because “there is no intervening pharmaceutical industry to sell the product. We don’t use dangling gold watches anymore,” he writes.

 

Lang, who is now chief medical officer for a biomedical device company, says she plans to continue her research and promote hypnosis as a way of alleviating pain in patients undergoing procedures in the radiology suite. She has begun another large study of the use of hypnosis for patients undergoing an invasive procedure where the blood vessels supplying tumors are blocked.

 

Some physician groups have already adopted their model, Lang says. “The next step is to have a broader introduction in to hospitals. We’ve already trained people in our interventional radiology division and are training more in our breast division. We’ve been asked by other radiology departments to help them learn how to do this.”

 

“This research,” Lang says, “embraces a holistic approach combining ‘high-tech’ with ‘high-touch’ that respects the needs of women during the stressful times of breast biopsy and…that can be successfully applied to a number of other interventional procedures.”

Beth W. Orenstein, a freelance medical writer, is a regular contributor to Radiology Today.

CRPS – You Don’t Have To Give In To Your Pain…

I attended the RSDSA conference in LaJolla yesterday.  The theme of the conference was, “Treating the Whole Person: Optimizing Wellness.”  I love the philosophy behind treating the whole person and optimizing wellness, because that is how each person will regain their life.  That’s how I did it!  

 

It was a great experience to meet other people that had been diagnosed with CRPS/RSD and their caretakers.  I’ll be honest this was the first RSDSA conference that I had been to.  I look forward to going to more in the future and hopefully being a speaker too.

 

One common thread that I heard throughout the day was different ways for CRPS patients to cope with their pain, to put small goals in place that they can achieve, to stay grounded, to look to the positive, etc.  I love all of these suggestions.  I know they help and are key in helping to get through those tough days when pain levels are high.

 

Yet from a couple of the doctors that spoke I heard comments that I didn’t agree with:  “Providing mere relief…”, “Results are good…” and “Healthier with their CRPS”.  As someone that was diagnosed with CRPS (type 2), lived with it for 6+ years, tried all Traditional treatment options, was treated globally, and finally gained remission in 2013 – I think I can say that from a patient prospective the above comments were not music to my ears.  Yes, it is important to be as healthy as possible but it is just as important to have some type of tangible results for the patient in regards to dramatically decreasing pain levels on a long-term basis.

 

I heard heartwarming stories about young ladies that pushed through their pain to regain some normalcy in their life, but they are still dealing with the CRPS demons.  Whether it was a new injury that caused the CRPS to return or perhaps it people have learned to push through their pain; either way there has to be a better way.

 

There is a huge push for Ketamine Infusion therapy right now for CRPS and other conditions.  I know it can bring short-term relief to CRPS patients and then follow-up Ketamine boosts are needed to stay pain free.  Is this the right treatment option for you?

 

I listened to a Naturopathic Doctor talk about the need to change the paradigm and balance the body.  I completely agree with these statements.  What I didn’t agree with was being “healthier with CRPS”.  I don’t know about you but I can be the healthiest person on this planet but if I am still in pain then I am not too happy.   I’ve actually treated athletes that were diagnosed with CRPS.  Their concern was centered around their pain.

 

What we have to look at is CRPS and most chronic pain conditions including chronic migraines are also tied into the Limbic System in the brain.  Dr. Sajben talked about the glia and how important they are in the pain process.  We have to take into consideration the ‘mind-body’ connection if we want to break the pain loop, help CRPS and chronic pain patients to get out of fight/flight, to balance the ANS, and address many other issues associated with chronic pain.  These connections have to be made.  Then we have to treat the whole person.  This is not just the chronic pain.  It is everything tied in with it:  stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and/or PTSD.  Once an individual is able to regain normalcy in these areas then they will regain their life.  Yes, it is possible.

 

I personally don’t believe that any person diagnosed with chronic pain has to give in to their pain or live with extremely high pain levels.  With HCT (Hypnosis Combined Therapy) we have found that chronic pain patients, CRPS, and other diagnosis have been able to dramatically decrease pain levels and many gain remission.  This is an evidence based, non-invasive, drug-free protocol that is providing long-term relief.  HCT: clinical hypnosis, biofeedback, light/sound therapy, neuroplasticity training, working with the Limbic System, cell memory and more… is allowing people to regain their lives when they thought they had exhausted all their options. 

 

It is important for every pain patient on a global basis to find the treatment protocol that is right for them.  We are all individuals and as such what works for one may not work for all.  Please do your research, ask questions and be your own advocate. 

 

Anxiety Scrambles Your Brain

ByTraci Patterson, CH, CI – Owner and Founder, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

I think that anyone that has studied for a board or exam can tell you that it’s no surprise to hear that anxiety scrambles your brain making learning hard. This is the case for those taking board exams (lawyers, CPAs, nurses, etc.), college and high school students. They are under immense pressure to perform well in school in preparation for the next step in their career or scholastic journey. The levels of stress, anxiety and possible depression in our society today is truly frightening.

The good news is that those individuals that I meet in my office and online all report to me that they have benefited from hypnosis for anxiety and hypnosis for academic performance. It’s interesting to see that hypnosis comes naturally to students and it is easy to learn self-hypnosis for stress management and academic performance too.

 

How anxiety scrambles your brain and makes it hard to learn

The Guardian, Juliet Rix: In someone with an anxiety problem, it seems, the brain is making incorrect decisions about what to fear and the prefrontal cortex fails to suppress the amygdala, putting the body into fight or flight mode.

In this state, levels of the hormone adrenaline rise and the sympathetic nervous system – which controls automatic activities (like breathing) rather than conscious action – takes over. The heart rate rises, breathing speeds up and blood is diverted to the limbs, blood pressure and body temperature increase, and you may start to sweat.

This is clearly not a state conducive to learning or concentrating in a seminar, says clinical psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin. “Even if you manage to take in what is being said, the information is likely to bounce around [in your brain], not being processed properly or stored in your long-term memory.”

Read How anxiety scrambles your brain and makes it hard to learn

and/or

The relation of depression and anxiety to life-stress and achievement in students

 

As we head into winter break for many that means that they are already cramming for finals and are getting all their projects wrapped up to head home for the holidays. Many are experiencing lots of stress and anxiety. They often mention things such as not being able to concentrate, loss of focus and too many thoughts or ideas in their mind. All of this can be honed in and you can quiet your mind with hypnosis.

Studies have shown that hypnosis can enhance your academic performance. When you relax, your mind becomes more absorbent and able to learn. Think of it like a big sponge. Use hypnosis to maximize your ability to relax, study effectively, understand and retain the information you are learning, organize the information and communicate it back clearly. Learning self-hypnosis can increase your GPA, help you to overcome anxiety, increase your motivation and help you to feel more confident.

Now is the time to take control of your future and get a jump on the new year. Contact our office for more information or setting up a FREE consultation.

Info@AdvancedPathways.com | 714-717-6633

www.AdvancedPathways.com

 

 

Chronic Stress: Is it killing you?

Why all stress (and stress relief) is not created equal.

Did you know that some stress is actually good for you? In the right amounts, stress can improve brain function, make you more creative, help you get fit, lower your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and lots more.

So-called “good stress,” or what psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the type of stress we feel when we feel excited. Our pulse quickens, our hormones change, but there is no threat or fear. We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster, gun for a promotion, or go on a first date. There are many triggers for this good stress, and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life.

The type of stress we really have to worry about is chronic stress. Chronic stress results from a state of ongoing physiological arousal. This occurs when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the autonomic nervous system does not have an adequate chance to activate the relaxation response on a regular basis. This type of stress comes when we repeatedly face stressors that take a heavy toll and feel inescapable. Chronic Stress is the “stress overload” you feel day in, day out that’s silently but systematically sabotaging your health and well-being, and which affects virtually every system in the body, either directly or indirectly. We were built to handle acute stress, which is short-lived, but not chronic stress, which is steady over a long term.

This type of chronic stress response occurs all too frequently from our modern lifestyle, when everything from high-pressured jobs to loneliness to constant daily pressures can keep the body in a state of perceived threat and chronic stress. In this case, our fight-or-flight response, which was designed to help us fight a few life-threatening situations spaced out over a long period (like being attacked by a bear every so often), can wear down our bodies and cause us to become ill, either physically or emotionally. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 90% of doctor visits are for conditions in which stress at least plays a role! That’s why it’s so important to learn stress management techniques and make healthy lifestyle changes to safeguard yourself from the negative impact of chronic stress.

Knowing about the different types of stress, it makes sense to get more good stress into your life. Because you actually can get too much of even the good type of stress, it’s important to choose activities in your life that make you feel good, happy, and excited about life. It’s also a good idea to cut out as many activities as you can that drain you or lead to the experience of chronic stress. One good way to gauge whether or not an activity is worth your time is to pay attention to how the thought of it makes you feel. Do you feel excited at the thought? Is it a “want to” activity, or a “have to” activity? Be sure your “want to” activities are all things you really do want to do, and your “have to” activities are all absolutely necessary.

Here’s the thing, though. You try to do the right things.  You try to get in your sleep, you’ve gone to yoga, you’ve reworked your schedule and even tried to meditate.  But still, you feel its effects.  Even worse, stress-related disease shows up everywhere you look.

So what gives?

The Answer: Like stress, not all stress relief is created equal.

Stress isn’t just in your head. Stress is also physical.

Here’s how stress damages your health in 13 steps:

  1. You think about something stressful—work, money, relationships, family, health issues or whatever’s bothering you.
  2. Your amygdala (in your mid-brain) senses danger.
  3. Your amygdala helps to initiate your body’s fight-or-flight response to stress.
  4. In “fight or flight”, your body releases adrenaline and the “stress hormone”, cortisol, diverts blood away from your digestive tract, leaving you less able to digest food and absorb nutrients AND more likely to gain weight.
  5. In this physiological “crisis mode,” you’re more vulnerable to pain—from chronic illness, arthritis, fibromyalgia, CRPS, migraines, stomach upset, and more.
  6. In this state of heightened physiological “alert”, your brain’s creative center is deemed “non-essential” and shuts down. Down goes your problem solving, your creative skills, and your intuition.
  7. You feel increasingly irritable, isolated and impatient.
  8. Stress affects your sleep. Your metabolism slows.
  9. Your body secretes even more cortisol, wreaking more havoc on your digestion, increasing your blood pressure, lowering your immune response.
  10. After releasing too much cortisol for too long, your body goes into “adrenal fatigue”. You feel depleted, exhausted, and depressed.
  11. Migraines, insomnia, stress-related hair loss, chronic pain, and any number of other issues become regular parts of your life.
  12. Battling low energy, you can hardly focus at work and elsewhere.
  13. Your depression can deepen. You (and your body) are STRESSED OUT.

 

Stress Relieving Techniques

What about aerobic exercise, yoga, meditation, hypnosis or other forms of relaxation?

 

40% of the population exercises for 30 minutes each on 1 – 4 days per week

Exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, known as the “feel good” neurotransmitters; makes you “smarter” and more creative by increasing blood flow (and oxygen) to your brain; and acts as “meditation in motion”, providing mental and physical stress relief.

The reality: However critical, it’s hours, even days, after that stressful meeting with the boss, or that fight with your spouse, before you can seek out the solace of your running shoes. (If you have that healthy habit…)

Or for those already dealing with chronic pain, it is nearly impossible to actively participate in exercise on a consistent basis. Therefore, this is just not an effective tool for those dealing with chronic pain or a debilitating illness. **

38% of Americans use “complementary and alternative medicine”, which includes yoga, meditation, hypnosis and other natural stress relief

These practices provide powerful stress relief, increased focus, creativity, and so much more.

The reality: Yoga, meditation, hypnosis and self-hypnosis provide significant stress relief and other benefits that yield real results in weeks or months with regular, frequent practice. Many people who try meditation, hypnosis or self-hypnosis give up too soon because they feel it’s “not working”, where if they were given the proper techniques, the proper information and the proper support, people would have tremendous success!

Decrease your stress, decrease your cortisol levels and increase your good stress and overall health!

If you find yourself experiencing chronic stress and would like more resources on stress management, you can contact Advanced Pathways Hypnosis for additional information on techniques that can help you.

Info@AdvancedPathways.com |  714.717.6633  |  http://www.AdvancedPathways.com