Stress-What is it really and how does it work?

We have all heard about the negative effects of stress and how in today’s world we are under so much more of it but what is it really?

Imagine it this way-we experience an event (real or imaginary) and then in an instant we perceive that event. The event itself is called a stressor. Our perception of that stressor sends an automatic message to our mind and our body.

If we perceive the event as positive we experience what is called eustress or positive stress. We may feel energized or excited by it. It might give us energy to perform well in things like a competition, gig, speech, academic requirement or job interview.
We might even enjoy how it feels.

If we experience the event as negative we experience distress. This negative stressor might cause us to feel alarmed, anxious, panicked, tense, depressed or unhappy. We may feel butterflies in our stomach, or a tightening in our chest, tense muscles in our neck, back or shoulders. We might clench or grind our teeth, have a hard time concentrating or thinking or get a headache.

The moment we perceive a stressor as distress, our mind and body that are connected go through a series of chemical changes that are both short and long term acting. Over time and repetition this distress might impact our mind and body negatively. Diseases such as diabetes, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, a decreased immune system, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol are a few negative symptoms of chronic stress.

A partial list of emotional symptoms can include; insomnia, emotional eating, anxiety (social anxiety, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder) depression, anger and resentment, a short attention span, difficulty maintaining relationships and difficulty coping with work.

Understanding that these symptoms are treatable is the first step towards change. Counselling and Hypnotherapy in combination can release the built up negative emotional pressure that results from chronic stress and allow you to find a calm, safe place from which to re engineer the areas in your life creating the distress. Counselling and hypnotherapy can allow you to balance out your life so that it is enjoyable, positive and fulfilling.

Living Now!

The New Year is always a time for people to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the year to come. Often the goals we set involve changing behaviours and habits we have lived with for a long time. It takes time to replace old habits with new ones and in the moment we often feel energized to jump into to “our new way” and then many people become discouraged when habits are not immediately different.

I encourage everyone to focus on the present right now and begin to embrace changing one small thing at a time,enjoying the process of now rather looking towards the future.

Today find one small thing you are comfortable with and wanting to do differently, whether it’s moving your body just for today! Putting healthy nutritious food into your body just for today! Notice how empowering it feels to allow yourself to make that change. Notice how good it feels to be able to do that for yourself. Your confidence and self esteem increases with every little moment of change you choose to allow yourself to make and tomorrow is another day to do the same!

Now smile and enjoy it!

Gain Confidence

As an elite national athlete in a sport that relies strongly on mental strength and confidence in ones ability, working with Jill has given me the tools through hypnosis, to feel more powerful and confident than ever before in my training and in competition. Being able to find my focus and keep my focus throughout my routines has allowed me to become more consistent in my performances. Whether I am competing at a Provincial, National or representing Canada at an International competition, I feel ready and prepared for which ever obstacles I am faced with.”

S.D. Lower Mainland, B.C.

How to Choose a Counsellor or Counselling Practice

Choosing the right Counsellor is an essential element in your process of change. Your relationship with your counsellor provides you with the right energy, knowledge, support and encouragement to face issues or patterns in your life that are no longer working for you and to steer/guide you in a more useful positive direction.

The Counsellor that you choose not only needs to have the education and knowledge base to understand the key ingredients you are experiencing and provide realistic solutions, they also need to connect with you in a way that feels safe and comfortable.

Just as a hair stylist, dentist, hygienist, physiotherapist may or may not be the right fit, so is true with your Counsellor/Therapist.

Speaking by email or on the phone is often the first connection, do you like the message you are receiving or the energy from that person. During the first session is the energy/environment comfortable for you. Does it seem that they not only understand where you are coming from but able to formulate a plan to move you forward.

Is their personality pleasant or enjoyable to you? Do you feel confident that they know what they are talking about?

Finding the right Counselling Practice/Counsellor may take time yet it will be time that will be well worth it. It is so important to me that the relationship feels right that I offer a free 20 minute consultation.

Family Systems Theory

Family Systems therapy helps individuals, families, communities, and organizations solve major life problems through understanding and improving human relationships. This theory is based on the knowledge that couples, families and their individual members function as an entwined emotional group that influence and are influenced by each another’s behaviours and choices. Counsellors/Therapists know that the relationship between the parts of a system – that is, the individuals within the family – can alter the whole system in sometimes predictable or patterned – and sometimes unknown – ways.

Family Systems therapy/counselling can bring positive change in challenging relationship patterns causing martial conflict, loss of self, anxiety projected onto children, impaired work performance, poor health, and feelings of emotional isolation. Therapists/counsellors work to improve relationships in intact, single-parent, step-parent, and other nuclear family configurations.

Looking at how the emotional system works in the family that shaped you helps me understand how you were conditioned to respond to stress or pressures within your Family system and extended social networks. During therapy/counselling, I will help you explore your emotional system, become aware of the automatic techniques you use to deal with stress, and recognize the resources and patterns adopted from your family system.

I can then suggest effective options for solving problems that have the best long-term outcome for you, your partner and your family

By knowing yourself and recognizing the influence of the deep connections you have to family and society, you can predict patterns, become less judgmental, more sensitive, while still remaining connected.

Laugh to Heal

What is FREE, FUN and HEALING…LAUGHTER!

We have a wonderful, natural tonic inside of us that promotes a sense of well-being, physical healing and joy. It is called LAUGHTER. It is there to help you lighten your mood, feel good and enjoy yourself.

Think back and ask yourself:

When is the last time that you let go and really laughed out loud? So much laughter your eyes started watering and you had to take an extra breath? Or put on some music for no special reason and just danced around?

Have you ever sung your favourite song out loud and really let go? Or just played like you were a carefree happy child for no reason other than the playing itself?

Laughter is health-promoting medicine and it is free!

When we laugh we actually experience useful positive changes in our brain. The act of laughing releases positive endorphins that feel good. Even better than that research has shown laughing has physical health promoting benefits like enhancing the immune system and reducing our blood pressure.

Dr Lee Berk a researcher at Loma Linda University in California has spent decades researching the positive effects of laughter. His studies have discovered that even the anticipation of laughter itself results in positive physiological and emotional changes in our mind and body.

In his book Mind,Body,Spirit:Exploring the Mind,Body,Spirit Connection Through Research on Mirthful Laughter. and Spirituality, Health and Wholeness, An Introductory Guide for Health Care Professions: Haworth Press 2004, he reviews the amazing findings over 3 decades of research into the benefit of laughter.

Findings suggest that a good belly laugh is a workout for your core and is aerobic! It can bring your immune system back into a systematic balance and it can relieve negative emotional pressure.

Laughing is a win win

So explore what tickles your silly button, whether a joke, video, good friends and move forward into better health.

Pet Loss

Pets are a huge part of many people’s lives. More than “an animal” a pet is your companion, confidant, friend and often protector. Your pet is there to cheer you up, listen to you, make you laugh and give you love. More than anything, your pet gives you this love unconditionally. No matter what kind of day you are having your pet is happy to see you, even if you have only been gone for a few moments. Many of us love our pet so much that we attribute human characteristics to them. Pets seem endlessly patient, eager to spend time with you creating a strong connection.

For seniors and singles a pet (especially a dog) creates a connection to the outside world. Urging you out of your house for walks, where you often meet, connect and socialize with other dogs and dog owners.

The healing aspects of pets have been well documented. Dogs and cats are used for therapeutic purposes in long-term care and hospital settings. Patients calm down and relax while stroking a pet. What they give you is immeasurable and when you lose them it is often an agonizing experience.

The grief experience is often palpable and unavoidable. Your routine is now upset- no more feedings, walks or cuddling. Coming home to a house empty of pets can be a physically and emotionally painful experience. This process has no timeline and although it is experienced uniquely by everyone there are some commonalities.

Initially you may feel overwhelmed by your pet’s death and have a hard time processing and accepting it. This is often followed by intense feelings of unfairness towards the situation. These feelings of unfairness can linger for a very long time and may come and go in waves.

Eventually you may find yourself falling into a depression as you realize the gravity of the situation, you will never see your pet again. The emptiness of the house and the change of your routine highlight the pain.

Although the length and intensity of this process is unique for everyone there are ways to help you work through it.

First and foremost is to acknowledge the importance this special pet had in your life. Allow yourself to feel, experience and express whatever emotions come up. You are mourning a family member, allow that process to happen, accept and embrace it. Others around you may not understand your deep connection to your special friend and your consequent sadness. During this time take good care to spend time with those who understand and appreciate your loss.

You may choose to honour your pet’s memory with a symbol. Veterinary clinics may offer your pet’s ashes, a ceramic foot print or another memento. Choose to hold onto whatever you feel is important.

Pet memorial services are a nice way to allow others who loved your pet to say goodbye to him/her and comfort you.

When, how and if you add another pet to your family is up to you. Adding another pet does not mean replacing the memory of the pet that you have lost, but it can help you to move along when you are ready. Do it when you believe that you are able to emotionally focus on the pet you are adding as a new and distinct member of your family. This new pet, especially if adopted from a shelter, will love and comfort you as you continue your journey of healing.

If intense feelings of grief persist for an extended period of time seek out help from a therapist who can help you relieve this emotional pressure and get things back on track.

Are you living with Chronic Stress

In today’s hectic world many people are living with chronic stress. If you answer yes to two or more of these questions you might be living a chronically stressful lifestyle.

Do you:

  • Eat emotionally
  • Feel overwhelmed
  • Drink too much or take drugs
  • Feel anxious, jumpy or panicky
  • Seem more forgetful than usual
  • Lose your temper more frequently
  • Have a hard time falling/staying asleep
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Cry often
  • Find relationships challenging?

Your mind is amazing with the best of intentions. It scans each event that happens to keep you safe. If your mind interprets an event as positive you move forward with positive energy. If it is viewed as negative, instantly your body responds physically with the fight, flight or freeze response. This response is hardwired from our primitive days but in the modern world we cannot always use the fight, flight or freeze responses.

Each stress response you experience releases hormones into your body to help you achieve fight, flight, or freeze. These stress hormones have been linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. They have also been linked to negative emotional symptoms like anxiety and panic.

Chronic stress is emotionally and physically exhausting!

How can you reduce this chronic stress?

The first step is to examine the balance in your life. What is your level of commitment to family, friends, work, school, spirituality, self care? Which area feels overloaded? Which area feels ignored?

We feel stressed when we are taking on too much to do it well so look to “give away” the areas that feel overloaded. Brainstorm how you can “plump up” the areas that feel ignored. Creating that balance like leveling out a teeter totter helps to keep you stable and even.

Lean to say no if you cannot or do not want to take on another responsibility. Delete emotionally draining people or situations from your life when possible. Nurture your body (the only one you will ever have) by moving it, feeding it well and giving it the sleep that it needs. Focus on the humour in situations. Remember, it is your mind’s interpretation of an event that decides whether it is positive or negative. Create the most positive experience for yourself that you can.

Find help when you need it. Deep relaxation, therapy and hypnotherapy can help you release negative emotional pressure and restructure old patterns and habits that are holding you back.

“Create your new tomorrow”!

Adlerian Psychology

I am trained in Adlerian psychology. A hallmark of Adlerian Psychology is the promotion family-member equality, parent education, balance in life style, and holism in individuals.

This Therapeutic model originated in the early 1900s from the work of Alfred Adler. Adler was a contemporary of Freud and Jung, yet he had a different take on people and how we work.

Adler saw individuals as creative, goal-directed selves that need a sense of belonging, connectedness to others, desire to contribute to the greater good of the community. He was optimistic about people and encouraging to his patients. Alfred Adler was focussed on developing a model of therapy that was useful in helping all people including children, parents and couples create and achieve harmonious relationships, while being responsible for their behaviour.

Adler believed that people have choices about how they behave rather than being “pushed into behaviour” as was a popular belief with other Psychiatrists at the time.

Adler’s goal for individual or family counselling was for each member of a family or couple to spend time with their therapist/ counsellor. As this one-to-one relationship develops Adler believed the therapist/counsellor can then provide critical encouragement, foster insight, and promote change in each family member’s style of life. Family members “lay down their weapons? to discover new, positive aspects of each other.

Adler had placed a lot of emphasis on how important an early child’s training in life developed and how those early learnings were compiled into their little rulebook for living. This guide book he believed became their “private logic” for living their life. This Private Logic Adler believed was an individual’s guide book directing them throughout their life. The challenge then becomes the understanding that what a child viewed as appropriate, with our adult learning and knowledge might not be a suitable way to move through life.

Therapy assits with understanding the “mistaken beliefs” of the child and remodelling those beliefs into an appropriate system for us as adults.

Adler also was a strong proponent of parenting that fostered a child to become a responsible contributing member of their family which he felt would translate later to a good contributing member of the community. He was friends with Maria Montessori and their shared similar passions for positive encouragement, requiring responsibility and the importance of good parenting.

In my University training at the Adler School I was required to teach a 6 week Parenting Course following the Adlerian philosophy.

In later sessions, the family or couple is unified as a cooperative, caring whole with a more generous view of everyone’s welfare.

During sessions, clients set paths toward long-term goals, develop maps and plans for dealing with life situations, and harness the power in knowing that we can make choices and thus make changes if we choose. Everything can be different tomorrow than it is today.