Skip to content

Health & Balance

Font Size

Got High Anxiety?

Calm Down With Hypnosis

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

It was ten days before my wedding, and my mother and I were talking long distance. I was giving her a preview of the evening's highlights: my ten-year-old niece's speech about acquiring an aunt instead of an uncle from my lesbian marriage, and the non-mushy love poetry. Then I mentioned that my brother had composed a song for me to sing.

There was a pause. "Are you sure that's such a good idea?" my mother asked. "Won't you be nervous?"

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

Top Emotional Health Stories of 2008: Readers' Choice

Feeling good, boosting energy, and finding balance -- things we all surely would like to achieve –resonated with readers in 2008’s turbulent economic times. Even the Dalai Lama weighed in on easing stress. Those topics are among the most popular emotional health stories on WebMD for 2008. 13 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Life 11 Things That May Be Zapping Your Energy Fat Pharms: Antidepressants and Weight Gain Serotonin: 9 Questions and Answe...

Read the Top Emotional Health Stories of 2008: Readers' Choice article > >

Thanks, Mom.

For the previous year, I had been chipping away at my anxiety about singing in public. Every week I'd dragged myself to a local piano bar to belt out a tune. I had overcome my fear -- at least enough to find the prospect of singing at my own wedding reasonable, even attractive. Until that moment.

The worry that soaked my mother's well-meaning query seeped into me. By the time I hung up, tears had sprung to my eyes. That afternoon when I practiced the song, I was trembling again.

Hypnosis in a Hurry

"How about hypnosis?" my sister Dotty, a certified hypnotherapist, suggested. "Sure," I replied. Almost 20 years earlier, I'd used this method to banish migraines from my life. I knew people used hypnosis to control anxiety as well as pain, although I wondered whether the technique would really work in just a week and a half.

Dotty asked me to describe places that I found relaxing and to recall situations where I had felt calm and proud. Then she crafted a script aimed at reminding my subconscious of moments when I had glowed.

Because my sister lives 3,000 miles away, she e-mailed the script to my partner, Karen, and gave her a crash phone course on how to read it.

On our first attempt, my mind rode the slow lava of Karen's voice. She told me to sink into the chair, to feel it support the back of my thighs. As she suggested, my eyes grew heavy and closed.

Mind Games

Karen directed me into an imaginary elevator. "You're on the 10th floor. Feel yourself going to the ninth." Gravity drew down my arms, my shoulders. "I could open my eyes," I thought, "but I don't want to."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family