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 break a bad habit or pick up a healthier one, and smoking certainly ranks among the top habits to drop. “If we were only driven by our conscious mind we would say ‘I want to stop smoking,’ and then we just wouldn’t have any more cigarettes,” says Dr. Chiaramonte. “But our subconscious controls the craving. Hypnosis can help you break those subconscious behavioral connections and associations.”
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.