Stress Reduction

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. It’s one of those things we try to avoid like traffic, but inevitably there it is. Stress and anxiety are part of the human experience and some days are better than others. The good news is that managing anxiety and stress is quite possible.

One of the best strategies to beating anxiety is learning to manage it by accepting that we do not have control over many of the things we wished we did. Knowing how to pick our battles and be aware of the symptoms or triggers to stress and anxiety can be of great benefit. Therapy helps people gain confidence in being better prepared for those unknowns that lay ahead for which we often only have so much control.

Stress reduction methods can be thought of as serving two functions; restorative and preventative. Restorative methods aim to reduce the unpleasant and unhealthy emotional effects of stressful events that have already occurred. Preventative methods help us avoid taking on, or succumbing, to stress in the first place. These methods are designed to, at the very least, reduce the impact of stressful events that inevitably come our way.

Research has come a long way and it has helped us tremendously in understanding the connection between the body and mind and how simple things like focused breathing actually work to calm us down. The body's primary natural method of stress response reduction is to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the relaxation response) to counteract the tension producing action of the sympathetic nervous system (also known as our fight-or-flight response). Breathing deeply is perhaps the most direct route to parasympathetic nervous system activation and helps us to slow our heart rate.

Adults tend to breathe in a very shallow way and use only the upper part of the chest. This tendency is exacerbated during times of stress, as breathing becomes more shallow and rapid. Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing releases tension from the muscles by improving the flow of oxygenated blood throughout our bodies. Because stress impacts the body first, learning how to control the impact of stress can also help us respond more appropriately to it.

My expertise in the body’s response to stress, anxiety, and trauma is a focus of treatment with specific tools that can be used to meet daily challenges and better navigate the things that often throw us off our game.