How to self-hypnotise your way to relaxation and better sleep

Hypnotherapist Stephen McMurray shares one of his self-hypnosis techniques for achieving a sense of calm

It’s estimated that nearly half of us suffer from long-term stress. 

There are several definitions of stress, but it can generally be described as the emotional, physiological and psychological effects caused by a build up of external or internal generated mental pressure. 

This can be down to a wide range of reasons, for example running late for an important meeting or finding it difficult to work due to noise.

It is important to recognise that stress is part of life and some stress helps us in certain situations, such as dealing with a crisis or competing in a sport.  Stress is a function of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system (SANS). This helps us recognise danger, which results in either a fight, flight or freeze response.

Once the SANS is triggered, it sends messages to the brain through the hypothalamus, which then produces a number of chemical and physical reactions.  This is positive as it helps to deal with the situation in hand.  However, if these reactions continue, they can cause health implications, including exhaustion and impaired immune system.

Hypnosis is generally not recommended for individuals who have a history of epilepsy or psychosis.  If you are suffering with long-term stress it is important to consult with a qualified medical practitioner in terms of exploring which options are available to you to better manage the stress which is affecting you.

Before hypnotising yourself to relaxation, it is important to accept that stress is a positive and integral to your life.  It is the inability to deal and control it which is negative.

Make sure you are sitting in a chair that is comfortable for you, with your hands lying on your thighs and feet on the floor and won’t be disturbed for some time.

  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe gently through your nose and exhale through the mouth.
  • Slow your breathing.
  • As you breathe out, repeat the phrase relax in your mind and allow your body to relax and go loose.                                                     
  • Breathe deeply, when your stomach is extended when you breathe in, the diaphragm pulls the lung downwards, which brings in more oxygen to the lower lungs.  This is known as diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Body scan and mantras – starting at the top of your head, focus on the muscles. Mantras help focus the mind on what you want to channel. For example; head relaxed, neck loose, shoulders comfortable, chest peaceful, back slack, stomach still, thighs restful, calves jelly, feet cool.   
  • Take a deep breathe in. When breathing out, say the word calm, repeat the word three times. Allow the word calm to be your focus. 
  • When coming out of self-hypnosis, count from one to ten and tell yourself when you reach ten you will open your eyes and be fully awake.
  • On the count of 10, open your eyes and give a big stretch and look forward to the rest of your day, feeling far more relaxed.

Stephen is the founder of Azure Therapy, based in Edinburgh.

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