Using Hypnosis to Treat Anxiety
I make no secret of the fact that I’m a worry wart. I’ve written before about my daily tussles with my Anxiety Goblin and the things I do to cope with those feelings and how to be cute to myself when it all gets a bit out of hand and overwhelming.
Recently, I’ve found the Goblin being a little bit more shouty and vocal than usual. I’m not massively surprised about this. Lots of things in my life have changed over the last few months, I’ve been exhaustingly busy working on a bunch of different projects and jobs, and what with my Edinburgh show about to open next week (omg plz come) it’s no wonder that my brain hasn’t had the time, space or energy to defend itself against that bellend of a Goblin, telling me to worry about EVERYTHING.
As I mentioned before, I’ve got my coping strategies, which are things I’ve learned from treatment I’ve had in the past. But I’m always game to try something new and see if it helps, so recently I gave hypnosis a go for a couple of sessions.
Yeah I know. Hypnosis. I was as sceptical as you, trust. I had visions of a bloke in a top hat waving a pocket watch in front of my eyes and making me tap dance until my shoes fell off everytime I heard the word ‘SPOON’ or something. But honestly, it’s nothing like that.
Hypnosis works by putting you in an altered state of consciousness and then planting new thoughts and reactions that will allow you to react to triggers differently. I went to City Hypnosis in Chancery Lane to meet with Aaron Surtees, one of London’s leading hynotherapists. We sat and had a chat about the sort of anxieties I was experiencing. Funnily enough, recently I’ve been having reeeeallll bad social anxiety, which I’ve never really had before. It’s at its absolute worst just before big, organised events, things like weekends away, birthday parties or weddings and the like. I get so het up beforehand and feel sick and get all panicky. I hate it because it means I tend to really not enjoy those things that should be really joyful and wonderful. I think it must have something to do with the pressure that WE MUST HAVE A GOOD TIME BECAUSE THIS IS A BIG DAY AND A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT. Get me?
Annnnnnyways, Aaron was really lovely and we discussed all that crap and then the HYPNO began. I lay back in a huge, squishy chair and put on a set of headphones which completely blocked out all outside noise but that Aaron could speak into- like literally he was speaking right into my head for the entire time.
What followed was about 30/40 mins of being ‘under’. I want to stress though, at NO POINT was I in any way unconscious. That is a HYPNO-MYTH. I was aware the whole time (so much so that at one point I started to worry that I wasn’t ‘doing it right’ and started freaking out about that LOL no YOU need anxiety treatment). The best way I can describe it is like really deep meditation, whilst a big, lovely, calming voice hums over the top, weaving new thoughts and attitudes into your brain.
One thing I really wasn’t expecting though was the amount of physical sensations I experienced. I had full on finger-tingling and at one point it felt like I was free-falling. IT WAS SO WEIRD! But in a really cool way.
To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s worked or not. I loved the sessions but for this reason: I find it SUPER hard to relax and this was 40 minutes that I was ‘supposed’ to relax and let go, I was being given permission to chill the hell out. So I did for once. So for that reason I really really liked the sessions- but I think personally for me, mindfulness and meditation is probably a better, more useful route to go down. I am a bit of a self-confessed control freak, so I like to feel like I am doing practical things myself when I’m struggling.
However, I’m yet to go to a big social event, which was the problem we were specifically challenging so perhaps I’ll see a difference there! The thing with mental health problems is that different solutions work for different people, and there’s often not one perfect treatment that 100% cures anyone. My current cocktail of coping is a combination of mindfulness, learned strategies from CBT and The Linden Method, daily gratitude and a mild anti-depressant each morning. If you are having a wrestle with your Goblin and he’s winning, then don’t be afraid to try different things to see what works well for you. Maybe it’s hypnotherapy, maybe it’s changes in your diet, maybe it’s just scheduling some time by yourself every few days. Whatever you decide, I hope you find the right hypothetical baseball bat that will help you smack your Anxiety Goblin in the face.
And never be afraid to talk about it either. Hit me up in the comments section, on twitter or drop me an email at email@example.com if you want to. The more we talk about these things, the less of a taboo they are.
HOORAY FOR HEALTHY BRAINS!
I was a guest of City Hypnosis. To find out more about their work and to book an appointment, visit the website here.