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Applying NLP to Stress Reduction

By John C Goodman, MSOD, MSW

Following is an example of how I apply NLP in my clinical practice for stress management:

Creating Instant Relaxation.

First remember an image of a time when you felt the way you would like to feel now. If you have difficulty finding it in your past then create it by vividly recalling a person, picture or a scene from a movie or book, a song, piece of music or sound which represents the way you would like to feel. You may find yourself in a state of peace, relaxation, calm, self-control, contentment, safety, or what ever is most useful for you. You will know when you are there. Notice what happens when you move it closer, make it brighter, bigger, or more vivid. Experiment until you have created an optimal experience. If this representation were a color what color would it be? Notice how you feel when you surround yourself, both inside and out with this color. Experiment and have fun with it. This color is yours to use whenever you desire to feel that way.

Taking Over the Controls.

Now for a moment picture in front of you a scene of a time when you felt a little stressed out. Notice what happens when you move that image closer and make it bigger for a few seconds. Now move it back where it was. Now move it back, even further and notice how it feels. What has happened to the size of it? Make it even smaller now. How is that? Has the distance changed? Do you feel different now? You get the idea.

This Is Only A Test.

Now choose a scene where you felt more stress (knowing you can have that scene disappear if it feels too uncomfortable, just by picturing your resource color, sending the image away or focusing on the positive scene). See how far you can comfortably move that picture away from you. Notice what happens to the size. How do you feel now? Notice what happens when you make it smaller. Do not force the change. Just let it happen. How much further can you move it away from you now? Alternate between moving it further away and shrinking it. If at anytime that image does not appear to fully cooperate with you then try putting a filter or a gel of your resource color between you and the scene. You can actually add the color into the scene by pouring it over the scene, coloring any unpleasant part of the scene, or whatever works for you. Some people find their stress disappears from the scene by adding music to the image. Motivating, calming, or humorous music often works well. You may find you can send what was stress into space or make it so small it disappears. Some people find it turns into something positive and decide to keep the new representation. If you do remove the stress altogether replace it with your resource color.

In Conclusion: Using Your Mind for A Change.

NLP provides many empowering tools for existing optimally in our stressful world. Remember, when you use to think you were stressed and anxious? You use to say to yourself “I am stressed or anxious” now you can realize that you only felt stressed or anxious, it was only a set of thoughts (mental behaviors), feelings (emotional behaviors) and actions (physical behaviors). It is easier to change your behaviors than your identity. Believe me. In coping it is up to you to use your mind for a change, positively.

This is part three of a three part series on Stress Management using NLP.