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Combat Stress, Think Happy Thoughts!

Mental Health Awareness Week 21 - 28 May 2012

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help clients cope with stress by generating positive images of the future.

A recent survey shows that 3 million people in the UK suffer with an anxiety disorder.* The good news is that recent research into the relationship between what we think and how we feel could help clients think themselves happier.

It seems that worrying thoughts and imagining unpleasant situations can produce physical stress in the body. A study in 2007(1) found that guided imagery of moderately unpleasant situations results in physical responses such as accelerated heart rate, faster breathing and sweating. It seems that imagining unpleasant events can activate the brain’s fear network and result in an activation of the sympathetic nervous system(2).

If we ever needed proof that worrying is not good for us, well here it is! Simply by thinking worrying thoughts we can generate the same physical reactions involved in the fight or flight response.

The good news is that the converse also seems to be true; imagining positive events can make us feel better. A large part of my role is helping clients imagine their preferred future which, as well as helping them feel happier, enables them to make the changes necessary to make that future a reality.

The validity of this approach would seem to be supported by research which demonstrates that the benefit of generating images about positive future outcomes may not be limited to mood but extend to subsequent behaviour(3).

SF Hypnotherapy helps clients to replace unhelpful, negative thinking patterns with more beneficial thought processes. By thinking more positively, their anxiety levels reduce enabling them to cope better with life’s challenges.

So there you have it, combat stress, think happy thoughts!


* Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2000)

1) Sebastiani L, D’Alessandro L, Menicucci D, Ghelarducci B & Santarcangelo E L (2007)

Role of relaxation and specific suggestions in hypnotic emotional numbing

International journal of psychophysiology Vol.63 pp.125-132

2) Kosslyn S M, Ganis G & Thompson W L (2001)

Neural foundations of imagery Nature Reviews: Neuroscience Vol.2 pp.635-642

3) Pictet A, Coughtrey A E, Matthews A, Holmes E A (2011) Fishing for happiness: The effects of generating positive imagery on mood and behaviour Behaviour research and therapy Vol.49 issue 12 pp.885-891

Note Mental Health Awareness Week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation. For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit

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