Stress is a normal part of life, and research shows that moderate levels of stress are even necessary for us to perform at our best. Yet too much stress can be very unhealthy and can cause a wide range of mental, emotional and physical problems. Have you ever had the experience of going on holiday only to fall ill for the first few days? This is a sure sign that you are living with a level of stress that isn’t good for you. Of course, that’s part of what a holiday is for – to relax and unwind from the everyday, but it’s astonishing how many people don’t know how much stress they are tolerating during their ‘normal’ lives.
High stress levels are the source of inflamation in the body, and inflamation can lead to all sorts of chronic illnesses like heart disease, migraines and weight gain and obesity. It also impacts your immune system making you vulnerable to any passing virus or bacteria. High stress levels impair decision making ability and also severely impact our moods. It’s hard to be relaxed and happy with stress hormones pumping round your body!
Fight, Flight and Freeze
As human beings we have remarkable capacities to deal with our environment with amazing survival mechanisms. Our brains have a function that continuously scans our surroundings looking out for danger. When it finds something that looks threatening, it sends signals to instantly release a flood of hormones into the body that prepare us to fight, take flight or freeze, making sure that the right energy goes to the right places to help us cope with the threat. What is particularly interesting is that this all happens out of our conscious control, so that sometimes we can find ourselves suddenly experiencing a rush of adrenaline without understanding why. It’s because our subconscious mind has detected something it perceives as a threat and it can take a few moments for our conscious mind to catch up.
This is obviously a very useful function and has kept us safe for millennia! The issue comes when we have that ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response to things that are not genuinely life threatening in a physical sense. We now live in a time when we are unlikely to encounter a sabre-toothed tiger on the street, but we have ‘trained’ ourselves to respond to other things as if they were a physical threat. Things like our boss shouting, someone being displeased with us, feeling inadequate or lonely, getting a bad mark at school, having an argument with a loved one, our kids not doing as they’re told, running out of time for something or making a mistake. It’s like the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response gets stuck to being permanently on. The bad news is that the response is designed as a short-term, quick ‘fix’ with the body then realising ‘antidote’ hormones that relax us. When we’re constantly stuck in ‘fight, flight, freeze’ mode those hormones don’t have a chance to be released and over time our bodies ‘forget’ how to release them. The latest research into the way the brain works (neuro-plasticity) also shows that over time we literally ‘hardwire’ the stress response into our brains. Now it’s almost impossible to relax fully, without taking some serious action to ‘re-wire’ the brain.
So what can we do?
Fortunately there are many ‘interventions’ that can reduce stress and, over-time, reset the brain to reduce the mental, emotional and physical problems that the chronic stress response produces. With breakthrough therapy and coaching we work to identify your stress triggers and by bringing those to conscious awareness you can start to reduce their impact.
We also work on finding practices that will work to reduce or eliminate stress and tailor them to suit your specific circumstances. These interventions include mindfulness, meditation, guided visualisation, hypnosis, somatic therapy and physical exercise. We also look at your emotional triggers and ‘de-sensitise’ you so that you’re not locked into the stress response without your conscious awareness.
The most important thing about healing a chronic stress response and managing day-to-day stress is to develop habits that become automatic over time. Virtually any situation can cause stress, so we need to make sure that we empower our minds, emotions and body to deal with it in a healthy and purposeful way. I work with clients to set realistic goals that will work to make good stress management techniques a habit. The latest research shows that it takes at least sixty days to ‘re-wire’ your brain into a new habit, so I provide support to enpower you to be consistent with your practices until they become second nature.
How Do I know If Therapy & Coaching is Right For Me?
It’s good to have questions about whether this will work for you. Here are our Frequently Asked Questions.
What if it doesn't work for me?
If you approach it with an open mind and heart you will get results. Occassionally I am unable to help someone generate significant breakthroughs in their life and if this happens rest assured I will stop the therapy and suggest other people who may be able to help you. Ultimately it’s in your own hands. The tools and techniques have worked for thousands of people and there is no reason for them not to work for you!
Is there any type of problem this is not suitable for?
This type of work is not suitable for people who suffer from severe mental illnesses that require ongoing medication such as psychosis, bi-polar and severe personality disorders. It is likely that if you have these type of illnesses that you are already receiving treatment from medical professionals. Of course, if a medical professional refers you to me then I am happy to work with you.
How long will it take?
How long it takes is totally dependent on your own process. Some people are able to move quickly and others are more comfortable taking things slowly. You will normally notice things starting to change after two or three sessions. The changes may not be dramatic, but over time you will notice an apprecable difference. If you remain ‘stuck’ after a few weeks of us working together, we will discuss this and see explore what we need to do next. This may include me refering you to someone else.
Is what we talk about confidential?
Absolutely. My Code of Practice and Ethics requires that everything we say and do together is completely confidential. As we are working online together, it is important that you make sure you are in a safe place, out of sight of prying ears and eyes when you are talking to me. If, for some reason, you are unable to concentrate on our session because you can’t find a private space, we can reschedule. However, you will be liable for the cost of the session as it is your responsbility to make sure you are in an appropriate environment.
What happens if nothing changes in my life?
This is a common worry. It can seem almost impossible that a difficult situation or relationship can change simply by talking about it. However, part of what I do is to monitor your progress, and if you seem stuck we will work through that. One of the reasons people get stuck is that they are unwilling to change their minds about themselves and others. Fundamental to successful therapy and coaching is an open mind and heart. It may take a little work to get to that, but it’s my job to support you with it. Sometimes the most successful outcomes happen for people who were initially very stuck!