If the word “hypnosis” calls to mind swinging clocks and party tricks, sorry to burst your bubble. According to Scott Sandland, CHt, a clinical hypnotherapist in Newport Beach, Calif., the mind control misconception is actually the exact opposite of what hypnotherapy strives to achieve. Hypnosis helps you be more in control of yourself, not less, he says. “If Hollywood tried to make a show about what hypnosis was really like, it would just be some fairly relaxed people who eat healthy and aren’t afraid of public speaking,” he says.
Hypnosis induces a state of focus that may help you tackle everything from your workout goals to your fear about that upcoming root canal. “One of my favorite things about hypnosis is that it’s about opening up a dialogue with that part of your mind that drives your behaviors and feelings,” says Sandland. “It’s about connecting the dots from where you are now to where you’d like to be.” And research suggests he may be right. Here are five science-backed ways hypnosis may improve your health.
HYPNOSIS MAY HELP CURB DENTAL ANXIETY.
No matter how badass you feel in your daily life, a fear of the dentist can take down the best of us—according to expert estimates, up to 15 percent of the population suffers from serious dental anxiety. Rather than risk a mouth full of cavities, consider trying hypnotherapy to get over your phobia. A study published in the Journal of Physiology found that dental-phobes had reduced activation in the areas of the brain associated with fear when they were hypnotized.
Hypnosis highly relaxes you and shifts your consciousness in a way that helps you bypass your critical conscious mind and access the subconscious, says Delia Chiaramonte, M.D., associate director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Then you can start putting suggestions into your subconscious, which is what drives your actual behaviors and motivations,” she says.
HYPNOSIS MAY HELP YOU KICK YOUR SMOKING HABIT.
While hypnosis won’t magically make quitting easy, research shows that it may set you up for better success in the long run. According to a 2013 study, people were less likely to experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms after just one group hypnotherapy session.