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January 30, 2017

Is it Stress or Anxiety?

Did you know stress can be a good thing? Sure, most of us experience myriad types of stress – personal, academic/occupational, social, and even spiritual. Sometimes stress is helpful because it serves as a wake-up call that something needs to be changed in your life. Let’s start with relationships. Suppose you realize you are long-time friends with an “energy vampire”, somebody who is very demanding of your time and energy, yet offers little in return. After you spend time around this person, you feel absolutely drained (and stressed out!) Perhaps the stress of this friendship is a signal to you that you need to re-evaluate the friendship. Just because it’s long-term doesn’t mean you need to continue, if it’s causing you excess stress. You can slowly disengage from the friendship while seeking out new friendships (or strengthening current ones) in which you feel valued, appreciated and loved.

Sometimes stress can be a good thing! Think of how excited you were to start a new job. Or to pack for a fun vacation. You may have been stressed wondering how your new job would turn out, or you may have been stressed figuring out how all of your clothes will fit in your suitcase, but this is GOOD stress. You have a new job! You get to go on a fun vacation!

So, how is stress different than anxiety? Generalized anxiety is just that … you feel generally anxious and worried almost all of the time. The clinical guideline is that you feel this way for at least six months. People who experience anxiety may feel restless, have difficulty concentrating, feel irritable, experience muscle tension, be easily fatigued yet also have trouble falling or staying asleep. Some people have panic attacks as well, during which they may experience rapid heartbeat, shakiness, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fear of losing control. Sometimes people experience panic attacks because of a specific situation (before a presentation, for example.) Other times, panic attacks are random. You can be going about your day and all of a sudden experience one. It is important to see your doctor if you have panic attack symptoms, in order to rule out any physical causes.

The good news is that anxiety and stress are both very treatable. My favorite therapy technique is CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.) With CBT, you change the way you think (cognitive) and change the way you act (behavioral). The goal is to help you cope with stress, anxiety or panic attacks. Another important goal is to prevent the anxiety and panic attacks from happening in the first place.

When I counsel clients who experience stress, anxiety or panic attacks, I use CBT and often hypnotherapy as well. Sessions are structured so that the first part of the session is counseling, and the second part of the session is the customized hypnotherapy. I do record the session on to a CD/mp3 link for my clients. The more you listen, the more the suggestions take effect. You are basically changing the tape running through your head, so instead of thinking “I am a worrier” you now think “I am calm. I think positively.”

Another technique that works really well for stress, anxiety or panic attacks is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). This technique is similar to acupuncture or acupressure, except instead of using needles or pressure, you tap on 15 places on your face and upper body. It only takes 1 minute and is remarkably effective. You can do EFT if you are experiencing anxiety, and you can also do it to prevent anxiety, such as to calm yourself before giving a presentation.

My Stress/Anxiety hypnotherapy program is up to 3 sessions. The first session focuses on being Calm. The second session focuses on Freedom from Worry. The third session focuses on having Peace of Mind (and has a lot of hypnotic suggestions about feeling safe in the world.) Check out my Anxiety Testimonials page, and see how hypnosis can help you improve your life through the power of mind!

Have a calm, relaxing, peaceful day.