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Stress is an inevitable part of life. Certain amounts of stress are normal and help one develop needed skills to cope and adapt to the environment. While rigorous academic or work environments and busy extracurricular or social schedules can improve performance and success, they may inevitably lead to increased stress. The beneficial aspects of stress diminish when it is severe enough to overwhelm one’s ability to cope effectively.
Stress can contribute to negative health effects including health problems, compromised immune system, poorer academic or work performance, insomnia, increased “feeling sick” even when given a clean bill of health from a physician (psychosomatic conditions), anxiety or panic attacks, and increased risk for other emotional or behavioral problems. Building resiliency to address stress can contribute to improved health outcomes. Individual therapy can help you gain insight and knowledge into what strategies can help you better manage the stress in your life.
Research demonstrates that our brains produce substances that can improve our health such as endorphins (natural painkillers) and gamma globulin (strengthens immune system). However, what our brain produces depends in part on our thoughts, feelings, and expectations. For instance, if you are sick, but you have hope and a positive attitude, believing it will get better, then your brain is likely to produce chemicals that help you get better. At the same time, negative thoughts and emotions can keep your brain from producing some of the chemicals that help our body to heal. While some illnesses are understandably beyond your control, your thoughts and state of mind are resources you can use to get better. Individual therapy can help you to better evaluate thoughts and develop more healthy thinking patterns, increase engagement in health behaviors, and feel better. Several of our therapists also provide training in relaxation skills, mindfulness meditation and self-compassion, biofeedback, and clinical hypnotherapy to help you manage stress more effectively.
Biofeedback is an evidence based treatment for children, teens, and adults with chronic pain. Biofeedback is also used to treat stress, anxiety, and many other health conditions. With tools learned in biofeedback, individuals can learn to better understand how the body works and apply techniques such as breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and self-talk to improve wellbeing and reduce the negative effects of stress on the body.
During biofeedback training, the psychologist attaches painless sensors to your body which “feed back” physiological information (measures of stress) such as heart rate variability, pulse rate, galvanic skin response, and skin temperature. This feedback information may be displayed on the computer or device through a graph, image, game performance, heard through music or tones, or felt through a mild vibration. By observing these body signals on a computer, one can learn how to identify early signs of physiological symptoms of stress, alter them, and achieve a balance of activation and relaxation. Biofeedback can help individuals increase awareness of even the most subtle stress responses in the body to uncover the body’s natural ability to relax and decompress from pain or day to day stress, feeling calmer, clearer, and more comfortable. Many people find this process fun and relaxing.