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Stress & Anxiety


Stress


The terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, while they are certainly related they are in fact two different issues. In terms of human physiology and psychology, stress is a stimulus that places a load on either the body or the mind / nervous system.

For example a session in the gym or a run places stress on the body and if the load is well judged the body responds by recovering and gets stronger. If the load is poorly judged; either too little load resulting in no physical gain or too much load resulting in injury.


Life events such as job interviews, relationship struggles or financial difficulties place what we hope are short term loads on our mental wellbeing. If the event isn’t too traumatic we learn how to cope and grow as an individual. During the stress event our body will go through several physiological responses, these are often referred to the fight and flight responses; increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, increased cortisol (stress hormone) and reduced appetite are just a few. As the stress event comes to an end or we learn to cope, these physical responses pass and your body will resume its normal function.


If however the stress event is too large to cope with or as is more often the case, too long lasting the fight and flight responses become embedded and this can lead to long lasting health effects including such ailments as; high blood pressure, cardio vascular disease, insomnia and general lifestyle impacting conditions such as low energy, poor concentration and even fertility issues.

Anxiety


“Anxiety”, unlike stress, describes physiological responses that are created and controlled by the body’s neurology, that is to say the autonomous nervous system. So the physical responses are largely the same as described for stress above but very often the trigger is not known or as is often the case incorrectly identified. The word “autonomous” is really important, it means automatic and not directly triggered or controllable by thought. This is why anxiety states such as panic attacks, often occur out of the blue. The trigger is something unrecognised by your conscious mind, so when  your mind becomes aware of your anxiety it tries to make sense of the situation by identifying something that it is aware of as the ‘cause’. This is very often not the real trigger.


Both stress and anxiety states are often dealt with by what are referred to as talking therapies (CBT etc). Much of the work in these therapies is based upon either learning coping strategies for stress or trying to identify the trigger of the anxiety. While learning coping strategies for stress is very useful, addressing anxiety states is less helpful. This approach can often take a long time because, as mentioned above, the root cause is often initially incorrectly diagnosed.


Treatment


What is often not understood is that anxiety responses are driven by aspects of the nervous system that evolved 100s of millions of years ago. These neurological underpinnings of our existence existed long before human consciousness and language emerged and are therefore very difficult if not impossible to verbalise. Because anxiety is rooted in more physical, rather than mental aspects of our being, I address anxiety issues by use of relaxing bodywork, guided breath work and simple meditational approaches to directly address  the body’s neurology, triggering a relaxation response. 


I talk to your body not your conscious mind.

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