You might find yourself struggling under the heavy pressure of your life and you feel like you’re on the edge. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping. Maybe you may feel burned-out in your work and suffer from digestive problems, headaches or migraines, or have dietary struggles. You might commonly feel body-tension and physical pain. Stress can make you feel like collapsing, can make catching your breath difficult. Sometimes you can’t seem to relax without the assistance of substances, screens or electronics.
You’ve heard it all before; chronic-stress is bad for you. Here are some of the ways it can show up in our day-to-day lives:
lack of motivation
diabetes or pre-diabetes
There is hope!
More freedom and ease are possible. Recovery is possible! You have an in-born system for stress and an in-born system for de-stressing. When we learn to access and use the system for de-stressing, we are using hard-wired biological mechanisms to gain an advantage in addressing chronic stress. The journey of healing from stress can help you to uncover your incredible innate capacities and give you more ease in your life. Therapy can address the underlying cognitive and physiological experiences of stress in order to get you back into the driver’s seat of your life. Time and time again, I have witnessed people recover from debilitating symptoms of stress to find that they can indeed experience life with far greater presence and efficacy.
Why do people respond the ways they do to stress?
Chronic stress is an embodied response that pushes some body systems to become activated and other systems to become deactivated. Chronic stress is an epidemic in our modern culture; unforgiving work demands, family pressure, relationship difficulties, navigating daily traffic commutes, concern about finances, care-taker expectations, performance expectations, worry about the state of the world, unhealed difficult experiences. Everywhere we turn, we face potential causes of chronic stress.
Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing (SE), defines chronic stress as a “persistent malfunctioning of the nervous system." The “inability of the complex, dynamical system of the autonomic nervous system to recover to normal functionality” is a hallmark of stress, Levine notes. When the body is faced with ongoing, physical responses emotional responses can be heightened to include aggression; yelling or “being-short” with our loved ones; inability to rest or relax; feeling numb; stuck or frozen; anxiety; depression; difficulty sleeping and more.
It’s quite common to have reservations about getting therapy.
I already have so much to do, I don’t think I can fit therapy into my schedule.
I know that life can be so busy, but feeling overwhelmed is an important marker that you may benefit from support. Busyness, overwhelm are all symptoms and causes of stress. Specialized treatment can help you to work toward a greater sense of ease and wellbeing as you balance all that you have to do in your life. It’s important to take time for yourself, to let yourself be supported and to help your nervous system reset.
Why turn to a psychotherapist for help dealing with stress?
Stress is generic. It is a physical response that doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological causes. Chronic stress can lead to emotional and psychological conditions as well as relationship difficulties. A therapist can help you to cultivate real-time tools to help modulate your stress responses so that you’ll have some agency and real control through addressing the internal landscape
I am a little unsure about what to expect, I’ve never had therapy before.
It’s normal to be uncertain about therapy. I hold your consent and agreement at the center of our explorations together. If you are not comfortable with my any of suggestions, we’ll take a different route. There are many ways to we join together as a team to help you find more ease. You bring the expert knowledge of your own life and experience. I bring the expert knowledge of 15 years working in the field of mental health.
What can I do right now that will help?
What doesn’t work for treating stress is telling yourself to calm down or hearing someone else tell you to calm down. This actually tends to increase the experience of stress. Instead, if it feels possible to pay attention to your breath, this can be a wonderful immediate intervention of a stress response. The breath gives us access to the autonomic nervous system, which is the home of the stress response. In general, if you elongate and/or emphasize your exhales, your heart will beat more slowly and you may begin to experience some ease from the stress response.
It can also help to bring the attention to the body’s movement and posture and to explore the granularity of your experience. Your body wants to feel safe and calm, to return to homeostasis (a state of balance between body systems). I’ve put together a brief guided meditation to help you find a little more presence to your body in the moment. Use the form below to download the recording.
When you feel ready to get support to reduce your stress, I can help you.
In a supportive environment with a therapist who has over 15 year experience, you can learn how to monitor and reduce stress by:
Learning to modulate your stress with objective tools in real-time
Experiencing states of de-stress and cultivating practices of returning to these states so that your body re-engages its innate de-stressing.
Learning to engage with sensations and thoughts in ways that help you to understand their underlying causes and minimize their effects
Reducing the stress responses that occur interpersonally so that you improve your relationships with friends, partners and family.
Learn to increase your stress-threshold so that you can take on all that you’re here in this world to accomplish
If you feel ready to address the anxiety that is standing in the way of you the life you want use this form to schedule an initial consultation.