Stress. A word with which we can all identify. We use it as a noun, an adjective and a verb. Count how many times you hear it said in a single day – by you, your family, your friends and the media. We will all be on the stress spectrum at some point, (and there are times when we need a rush of adrenaline!) but what do we do when these short-lived responses turn into chronic anxiety and permeate our waking thoughts.
Physical symptoms that can occur when stress is present for a longer period may include insomnia, waking exhaustion, headaches, muscoskeletal pain and problems with the gut such as constipation or persistent diarrhea.
The emotional symptoms that can appear in tandem are being able to relax, having constant worrying thoughts, feeling overwhelmed, losing motivation, losing interest in previously loved activities, becoming tearful and emotional at the smallest things, together with reduced concentration levels, a lack of self-esteem and a loss of sex drive.
When I work with people with anxiety and stress, it’s my job to find the beliefs and past events that have set up a stress response. Over time these stress responses become ingrained.
Think of your brain as a place with lots of roads, we can imagine a stressful situation leading us to a junction. We have the choice of turning left to the stress response or turning right to another way of dealing with the situation calmly. If we always turn left, that becomes the ‘safe’ way to react and soon we’ll make the turn automatically and might even forget that there’s an option to turn right, as that road has become overgrown and hard to find.
What happens when lots of traffic uses a certain road? We extend it, we widen it, we build more road signs – and before long we have a ‘stress superhighway’.
During our work together, we will be calming the mind down (a new speed limit for those triggers and thoughts) as well as finding the root cause of the stress response. Once we’ve cleared a fair amount of trauma and trapped energy, we will look to the future, set goals and ultimately set up new neural pathways.
Imprinting a future image is like setting a location on a map and then using a satellite navigation device to get you there.
Working with chronic anxiety can be like a bowl of spaghetti where all the issues and beliefs are looping in and around each other and it can be hard to know where to start.
During the consultation session, we will look at the scale of Human Needs (p139 in my book) and put together a stress-relief tool box tailored to your needs.
Homework between sessions is of utmost importance, because the stress responses may already be superhighways and can take sustained work and commitment to reduce the traffic on them.
Creating a stress-relief toolbox gives a feeling of control – you don’t have to wait for an appointment or someone else to help you. Having your own tools and techniques to use whenever and wherever you like is much more effective. Even if you have to use them 20 times a day, they’ll still be working and you’ll be soothing yourself and taking back control of your life.
When we move through stress and anxiety in our lives, we can move through anything. These tools will calm the mind down and help you find new routes in your brain. Let’s move from that Friday afternoon highway traffic to calmer lanes with a view of the countryside.
To take that first step, email me with what you need help with and we will have an initial chat. I look forward to hearing from you – firstname.lastname@example.org