Lifestyle Tips

How to Use Hypnosis to Overcome Anxiety and Stress

Hypnosis has long been considered an effective way to treat symptoms of addiction, anxiety and to help with weight loss and general wellbeing. Unfortunately, the legacy of hypnosis for entertainment still leaves a negative lasting impression on many people. But let’s dive into the science behind hypnosis, and find out how it could help you.

What is the Difference Between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic tool and incorporates hypnosis and psychotherapy. In the UK, the Royal College of Psychiatrists classes clinical hypnotherapy as a type of psychological therapy. In the USA the American Psychological Association also supports the use of clinical hypnosis as a way to help people receiving psychological therapy. The difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is that hypnosis isn’t a type of therapy, rather hypnosis is a separate tool that can be effectively used in itself.

Why Choose Hypnosis for Anxiety and Stress

The effectiveness of hypnosis has been researched in depth and the data supports the effectiveness of hypnosis, especially for pain and anxiety. When individuals have been studied under hypnosis a physical change in brain activity has been recorded. One clinical trial researched the use of hypnosis for pain management, further supports the impact hypnosis has on the behaviour of an individual. The trial compared the response time of a hypnotised experiment group and a non-hypnotised control group. The individuals in both groups were instructed to put their arms into ice water. The experiment group of hypnotised individuals was able to keep their arms in the water for significantly longer than the control group of non-hypnotised individuals. Other clinical trials into hypnosis have also shown other positive effects beyond pain control.


Hypnosis for anxiety and stress is a powerful tool as it can have an extremely quick and significant impact. One study looked into hypnosis for anxiety in cancer patients with the results demonstrating that hypnosis was highly successful for reducing anxiety after just one session of hypnosis. As anyone struggling with symptoms of stress and anxiety will know, most types of therapy take time to work, which makes hypnosis an attractive alternative to more “conventional” forms of therapy. This may be combined with other forms of stress-reducing aid, either through meditative practices or something like natural remedies (you can go online to websites like for more information), so that you can hit this type of stress head-on and with the proper tools at your disposal.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

When you have a hypnotherapy session, hypnosis is used to guide you into a type of trance. This hypnotic state makes the brain more susceptible to suggestions made by the hypnotherapist. The suggestions stay in the subconscious and influence future behaviour. Hypnosis can be used alone or in conjunction with other forms of therapy and has been shown to be effective for long-term changes in behaviour.

What Does Hypnosis Feel Like

Hypnosis does not make you unaware of your surroundings or unable to react if something happens. Unlike the popular conception, that hypnosis makes you susceptible to any suggestion, and can put you into a trance that you can not choose to come out of, this is not the case. The first part of hypnosis is the induction stage. This is achieved using a technique called progressive relaxation, which helps you to access your subconscious. During induction, you will be guided by simple verbal instructions to induce a hypnotic state.


In a hypnotic state, most people feel very relaxed, some people also experience feeling detached from their consciousness and surroundings. The hypnotist will then make suggestions to impact your behaviour once you come out of the hypnotic state. The suggestions are dependent on the symptoms or problem you are wanting to treat. It is possible to experience posthypnotic amnesia, which means you don’t remember what you heard or did while you were in a hypnotic state.

Three Facts and Myths About Hypnosis


  1. Myth: You lose control of your actions when in a hypnotic state

You are in complete control of your subconscious mind during hypnosis. People you may have seen during stage hypnosis that perform silly actions are fully compliant. A hypnotist is not able to ‘make’ a person perform an action they do not want to. Prior to being hypnotised, they have been made aware that they will be asked to perform certain tasks when hypnotised. This makes their subconscious mind open to the suggestions, as their conscious mind has already agreed to perform the actions that are suggested during hypnosis.


  1. Fact: Hypnosis can enhance physical performance

Hypnosis is a tool used by elite athletes to improve their physical performance. Although hypnosis can not change a person’s physiology (physical body) performance can be enhanced by improving common mental health problems in athletes, such as anxiety, which may impact performance.


  1. Myth: When under hypnosis I will not be able to react in an emergency

Although you are in a ‘trance’-like state you are still fully aware (even if you feel detached). If there was an emergency and you needed to come out of a hypnotic state this would happen naturally, as you are always in complete control of your mind, and therefore your responses when in a hypnotic state.


Relaxation and Breathing Techniques for Self-Hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is like any new technique you want to master. There are techniques you can learn that will help you to enter a hypnotic state. During audio self-hypnosis tapes, the induction process is guided and you are instructed on how to change your breathing. However, you can practice breathing techniques prior to attempting self-hypnosis and in between, when you don’t have time to perform self-hypnosis.

Four-step breathing technique to reduce anxiety

  1. Place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen just below your ribcage.


  1. Start by breathing in through your nose slowly, you may find it helpful to count to five when you breathe in. You should feel your stomach expand as you breathe in. If you are finding this difficult it can help to imagine the air is filling your stomach, making it expand.


  1. The next step is to breathe out slowly through your mouth with pursed lips as if you are trying to whistle. Again, when you breathe out you may find it helps to count to five. You feel your stomach should contract as you breathe out. This may feel strange at first, one way to make it easier is to imagine the breath leaving your stomach as you breathe out.


  1. Repeat this up to 10 times.


This type of breathing technique is a type of diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing. When you are born you naturally breathe this way and a controlled trial of a diaphragmatic breathing relaxation (DBR) showed that this breathing technique is effective at reducing anxiety.

How Hypnosis Can Help You

The unequivocal fact that hypnosis is an effective tool is evident from the empirical data, from numerous controlled trials and studies. Numerous research papers have concluded that hypnosis is effective for a wide range of conditions such as reducing anxiety, treating addiction and phobias, and reducing stress-related mental health disorders.


If you struggle with anxiety or any mental health condition it is definitely worth trying a hypnosis programme. As long as you are willing to open your mind and fully embrace the process of hypnosis then most people find it to be helpful, after all, it is estimated 90% of people can be hypnotised!