Habits & Routines

Throughout the day, we often repeat many of the same patterns over and over again without giving them much thought. Rather than being innate, many of these habits are the result of a learning process. In other words, we must first consciously perform many actions and processes so that later we can do them in a more automated manner. Put simply, the brain stores recurring sequences and movements in what is referred to as action memory, so that the next time we are in the same situation, we can draw on this experience and react in the same way. The more often we perform actions, the better we become at them, as is evident, for example, when learning a musical instrument. Thus, processes that are initially controlled by the conscious mind migrate over time into our subconscious. Once in our subconscious, such processes are then quite hard to remove.

This explains why...

… breaking bad habits can be so difficult! This is not a problem if, for example, we have gotten into the routine of drinking water more regularly or learning to play the piano, but it can become trickier when it comes to poor diet or smoking – or if, for example, we can no longer do without our mobile phones. By the way, the technical term for having become addicted to our mobiles phones is “nomophobia” (a composite of the phrase “no mobile” and the word phobia). If we are not ourselves affected by this addiction, most of us certainly know someone who is!

The vicious circle

In order to break the vicious circle, when habits become addictions, one usually needs outside help as well as plenty of willpower. At Park Igls, for example, such assistance is available in the form of hypno-acupuncture, which is a proven therapy for sleep disorders (that are the result of a deeper underlying problem), but also with for other problematic areas as well. Five years ago, Head Physician Dr Peter Gartner completed advanced training to help patients with nomophobia. He has since been treating an average of one guest a week with the method, which is more strenuous for him than for the patient.

Dr. Peter Gartner

"Hypno-acupuncture can help where many other therapeutic options have failed"

… says Dr Peter Gartner. It can be used, for example, for quitting smoking, weight loss, pain therapy and even to treat tinnitus or asthma. “Medical hypnosis has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of hypnosis performed on stage. It is instead used whenever we need the power of the unconscious to change habits sustainably and in the long term,” explains Dr Gartner.

According to Dr Gartner, the most common use is for quitting smoking. As part of this process, acupuncture needles are placed in the ear prior to hypnosis. These remain there permanently for about two weeks. In addition to the psychological withdrawal that occurs during hypnosis, their purpose is to support the physical withdrawal by alleviating the desire for nicotine and withdrawal symptoms. One patient in particular has remained in Dr Gartner’s memory over the years. This person was one of the very first he treated for weight control. Her weight fluctuated greatly, sometimes hovering around 115 kilogrammes, and she was also a smoker. “It was a Herculean task to manage her body weight and to help her quit smoking at the same time,” says Dr Gartner. After the first session she relapsed after some time, and it took a second and then finally a third session before it was finally done. “These days, she is now a successful non-smoker and can consistently maintain a weight of 80 kilos.”

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