Anxiety & Your Imagination - Hypnotherapy Vlog and New Research:

In my last article I wrote about anxiety and how your imagination interacts with it, following my trip to the Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival. Anxiety driven imagination leads to thoughts about things going wrong or badly in some way. Your mind seeks to interpret the cause of the anxiety and it flows into all those unwanted scenarios that can fill you with dread, fear and worry.

Anxiety fuelled imagination strengthens that cycle of anxious thoughts and feelings and can lead to avoidance behaviours and that sensation that something bad is going to happen.

I've recorded a brand new hypnotherapy vlog for you about this very subject - anxiety and your imagination - and you can watch that further down the page.

And interestingly, not long after I recorded it, a new piece of research came out on this very subject which talks about how you can use your imagination to extinguish anxiety and fears.

Using Your Imagination To Extinguish Anxiety & Fear

This latest research, published in the journal, Neuron (reference below), explains how we can use our imagination to overcome anxiety and fears.

The researchers found that "imagined and real extinction are equally effective in the reduction of threat-related neural patterns and physiological responses elicited upon re-exposure to real-world threatening cues." 

That is, that imagined extinction can reduce learned responses to threat ("We conclude that deliberate imagination can attenuate reactions to threat through perceptual and associative mechanisms."). By making effective use of our imagination we can reduce anxiety and fear and this continues into real-life scenarios where we are faced with those kinds of threats, cues and triggers.

Now, of course, within hypnotherapy we have been making use of our ability to use our imagination to overcome anxiety and fear for many years. Certainly it is part of the techniques that I use with my clients with outstanding results. Indeed, hypnosis tends to amplify our focus and imagination and is therefore a vital tool and mechanism for promoting beneficial outcomes.

In their report, the researchers discuss how exposure therapy is often called upon for dealing with anxiety. However, as they point out, exposure therapy can be impractical because the anxiety triggers may be difficult or unethical to reconstruct. One of the drawbacks of exposure therapy is that the intensity of the exposure (the mental, emotional and physiological response) may be overwhelming for someone. And it really can be unpleasant to experience that intense anxiety, fear and dread.

Imagination (or mental imagery or mental practice) has the advantage that it is changeable, internally directed and dissociated from immediate sensory input. And, as this research shows, it is equally effective in reducing the anxiety and fear (the researchers found that the neural mechanisms underlying imagined and real extinction share a common core of brain regions).

Again from the study,

"Anxiety-driven imagined exposures that strengthens the belief that one is unsafe is unlikely to have positive therapeutic outcomes...in this way, imagination can exasperate a fear and promote avoidance behaviours....we conclude that if imagination is well directed, so that the person feels safe and in control, one can reconceptualize learned threat contingencies in a wider context and change the value of the threatening stimulus via expectancy violation, which is a key component of extinction learning." 

In many ways, what the researchers are describing here is, in my opinion, more evidence of the value and benefits of well constructed hypnotherapy treatment. Using your imagination you can change your thoughts, feelings and behaviours by drawing upon your normal psychological processes with a definite purpose. Then, having used your imagination (and other psychological processes) you can enter those real life situations or experience those previous triggers and cues and discover how you have changed your response to them.  

This research came out after I recorded my hypnotherapy vlog yet their findings nicely fit with the kind of things I talk about here. Please do have a watch and start that processes of utilising your imagination to overcome anxiety. 

Click on the image to watch my vlog about anxiety and your imagination:

imagination anxiety hypnotherapy elyWatch on You Tube 

By learning to master and take control over your imagination you really can start to take back control over your thoughts and feelings in a way that will extinguish your anxiety.

Or as the researchers put it, "We conclude that an internal simulation of a real-world experience can alter the way one responds to that situation in the future. Indeed, imagined exposures to threatening stimuli are effective in the reduction of learned threat responses and evoke a network of brain activation similar to real extinction." 

To your success and happiness,

Dan Regan

Anxiety Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket 

You can discover and read many more anxiety articles here: Anxiety Articles

Seeking help to overcome your anxiety? Book your free initial consultation and lets chat about how we can work together to make that happen. Head over to this page: Free Initial Consultation

Interested in what others have said after their anxiety hypnotherapy sessions with me? Have a read and watch on this page: What People Say

 

Reference: Attenuating Neural Threat Expression with Imagination. Marianne Cumella Reddan, Tor Dessart Wager, Daniela Schiller, Published: November 21, 2018 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2018.10.047