Can Hypnosis Help You Finally Get Fit?
Using Hypnosis to Fight Pain
Here's the new and improved to-do list for moms-to-be: (1) Get a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, (2) attend childbirth classes, and (3) learn self-hypnosis. In a 2004 study in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, women who used hypnosis during labor were less likely to have an epidural and reported feeling less pain than women who weren't hypnotized.
Similar outcomes with breast-cancer-surgery patients were observed by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Two hundred women scheduled to undergo surgery received either 15 minutes of hypnotherapy or a talk session with a psychologist. Those who were hypnotized needed less anesthetic and reported less pain and discomfort afterward. "It's not magic; we used hypnosis to manage their expectations," says Montgomery, the lead author of the study. "Our research showed that by lowering how much pain patients expect to feel, we are able to decrease the amount of pain they actually experience." How? Because the women learned relaxation techniques that gave them a better handle on their stress hormones (remember, these little buggers amplify feelings of pain), they may have released less cortisol during and after surgery.
Try this at home: Turn down pain with self-hypnosis. Next time you're going to the dentist or you have a pounding headache, lie down in a quiet spot, close your eyes, and breathe deep, Montgomery advises. Imagine that you're at the top of a flight of 10 stairs. Slowly walk down them, feeling each step under your feet, as you count backward from 10. When you reach the bottom, you should feel deeply relaxed, and your subconscious will be more receptive to your suggestions. Tell yourself "When I go to the dentist this afternoon, I'm going to feel comfortable and relaxed" or "I will release all the tension in my head. My head feels wonderful." It's similar to meditation, Montgomery says, in that it allows you to assess your expectations and change them in the hope of promoting a better outcome (read: less pain).
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