I am preparing to teach a class on autoimmune disease with my colleague Melissa Roth and so I have been reading a lot about stress and how it affects your health. Stress suppresses your immune system priming the pump for disease. Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective and most powerful ways of reducing stress. Self hypnosis is easy to learn and it is so easy to use throughout the day. Wouldn’t you like to move through the stressors of the day calm and relaxed? You can with hypnosis.

Feeling stressed makes your body become tense or strained, which significantly reduces your working stamina, patience, concentration and mental capacity.  During stress, cortisol is released.  Cortisol is an important hormone in the body that is secreted by the adrenal glands.  In proper amounts, it helps the body recharge, by offering a quick burst of energy for survival reasons.  It enhances disease resistance with increased immunity, fights inflammation and improves memory. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that it doesn’t have a chance to return to normal, producing what is termed “chronic stress”.  This is harmful, since too much cortisol promotes the accumulation of abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL).

In addition, excess cortisol suppresses immunity, shrinks brain cells and impairs memory.  It also inhibits your body’s inflammatory response, thus explaining why stress makes you more vulnerable to getting sick. In a state of stress, the adrenaline causes an increase in blood pressure and constricts vessels to skin and the digestive system, making you feel physically tense, uptight or tired.

Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s “flight or fight” response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.

This fight-or-flight response is what enabled our ancestors to deal with a more hostile, physically demanding world of hunting, fighting, and surviving.  It’s the body’s innate response to a perceived threat. The stress response is optimally designed to protect us from direct, identifiable and short-term danger, such as running from a tiger in the wilderness.  In modern life, however, most of the time the source of our stress is not as direct but rather indirect, as in the daily hassles of a commute; and not short-term but instead continuing for days, weeks or even months.When stress hormones are continually released and your body is continually in fight-or-flight mode, and yet you have no physical release for these surges of energy and hormones, then damage can occur.

Although the emergency measure of this stress response is undoubtedly both vital and valuable, it can also be disruptive and damaging. Most humans rarely encounter emergencies that require physical effort, yet our biology still provides for them. Thus, we may find our stress response activated in situations where physical action is unnecessary. This activation takes a toll on both our bodies and our minds. Diarrhea, constipation, and difficulty maintaining sexual arousal are typical examples.  And when this response continues unchecked during times of chronic stress the harmful effects inhibit digestion, reproduction, growth, tissue repair, and the responses of your immune and inflammatory systems.  In other words, some very important functions that keep your body healthy begin to shut down.

When this occurs for a prolonged period of time, our body breaks down at its weakest link in the form of symptoms such as a headache or a stress-related disorder.  In this manner, stress can literally become a killer.

We all know that stress can have wide ranging effects on emotions, mood and behavior. Equally important but often less discussed are effects on various systems, organs and tissues all over the body.

There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections.

We know that almost every system in your body can be damaged by stress. In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not adversely affected by stress.

So, if you are stuck in traffic and are going to be late, wouldn’t you rather show up late and relaxed rather than late and stressed? You can learn to do that with hypnosis. When you relax, you help boost your immune system – just one of the many benefits of self hypnosis.

By the way, you can still sign up for the Seattle Counseling & Hypnotherapy Conference Fall 2011 which starts tomorrow. This is a great opportunity to learn from Richard Nongard on Ending the Cycle of Addiction and from Melissa Roth and Roger Moore on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Disease. Click here to learn more.


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