How I Can Help You Develop Effective Stress Management Skills
In this page my aim is to show you how my innovative approach to stress & anxiety management can be truly effective, going way beyond mainstream counselling and psychotherapy.
What Does Is Really Take To Effectively Manage Stress?
The aim of stress management is not the impossible goal of preventing stress or anxiety from arising, but to develop the skills needed to quickly and easily recover when stress does happen. This is stress resilience, or emotional resilience. When you have confidence that you can handle it, stress almost doesn't feel like stress any more – you're free to live the life you want – achieving your potential at work and enjoying your time outside of work.
Stress Resilience Skills & Resources
Notice I said skills. Resilience is founded on a set of core skills which I call mind-body skills:
- Letting go of disturbing emotions and agitation – which manifest as stress patterns in the body.
- Accessing energy, motivation and positivity – these are underpinned by specific physiological patterns too.
- Maintaining calm, clear focus – achievable when you can activate your executive brain free from the inhibitions of the stress response.
- Underlying all the above is self-awareness – knowing how your thoughts & perceptions can trigger body reactions, and how these in turn condition how you think, feel, act and pay attention. Also knowing what works and what doesn't work in terms of guiding your physiology towards more positive, supportive states.
These are mind-body skills because they're about managing and optimising the mind-body connection (which says that how you think, feel, act and pay attention are reflected in body physiology and vice versa).
Skills need to be learned, trained and developed. You need the right teaching, and the right learning tools - but you also need the time and commitment to learn. My services and programmes aim to support this learning process.
Biofeedback: A Tool For Training Mind-Body Skills
Biofeedback is a powerful tool for developing the skills of emotional resilience. It works by measuring physiological changes associated with stress, and feeding back this information in real time, to create a basis for learning to access resourceful states such as relaxation, clear focus and positivity. (Click here to read more about biofeedback.)
Optimal Breathing Training – Why It Matters
My use of biofeedback most often centres on training optimal breathing. Breathing is an ideal window on the mind-body connection – on the one hand stress manifests as clear and specific dysfunctional breathing patterns, and on the other, learning to breathe well creates a basis for optimal well-being and brain performance.
Neurofeedback: Biofeedback for the Brain
Neurofeedback is a particular form of biofeedback that's based on directly measuring brain activity. It typically works as a form of repetitive exercise, that increases your brain's "fitness" - like weight training it builds the "muscle" of your brain.
Neurofeedback is an ideal tool for strengthening "executive function" which includes focus and stable attention (concentration). Stable but flexible attention is skill everyone can benefit from, and moreover, anxiety and mood problems tend to show up as an inability to focus in the present moment, or preoccupation with either past (things that went wrong) or future (things that might go wrong).
[Neurofeedback typically takes a lot of sessions (20 to 100). That's why my own use of it is based on home training. For issues relating to emotional resilience it's more efficient to start with other forms of biofeedback first.]
Building Resources With Coaching
Biofeedback is a tool - it creates change by facilitating learning. To achieve your goals you need to be able to apply what you learn in the real contexts of your life. My role is educator, trainer and coach.
Coaching is the art and science of facilitating learning and development, and behaviour and lifestyle change.
Biofeedback combines effectively with other coaching tools. (Click here to read more about coaching.)
Mindfulness Based Therapy
Mindfulness is an ancient form of mind-training that builds qualities such as stability of focus, tranquillity, clarity, openness and contentment. In recent years mindfulness based therapy has established itself, with research evidence showing it can help depression, anxiety, and symptoms linked to stress.
At the heart of mindfulness is a mindset that allows qualities to develop, not by problem-solving and will-power but through open, trusting, engaged awareness. To be successful with biofeedback, you need something of the same mindset - that's why biofeedback and mindfulness make such an effective combination. Biofeedback can in a sense enhance mindfulness practice, making it easier, more effective and more gratifying.
Positive Psychology Coaching
Positive psychology is the science of optimal functioning, happiness and well-being. Well-being isn't just feeling good but entails a set of skills and resources such as self-awareness, emotional resilience and emotional intelligence. Positive psychology offers a set of research-proven tools and methods that complement our work with biofeedback.
Introducing the Stress Resilient Mind Programme: How You Can Access Biofeedback Training
I'm deeply inspired by the potential that biofeedback training offers and motivated to help as many people as possible to access the benefits, and to make doing so as easy and convenient as possible. Whilst in an ideal world you'd probably visit my office here in York for one to one coaching, in practice that's often not feasible especially if you live at a distance from me. But it doesn't mean you can't work with me.
My services are based around:
- An online (video-based) biofeedback training course - designed to give you the key information, ideas and practices to make working with biofeedback a success. The course aims to develop emotional resilience and stress management skills, and is built around optimal breathing training, focusing on three key biofeedback parameters related to breathing.
- Biofeedback device rental, so that you can practice at home with the three key biofeedback modalities for optimal breathing, which are muscle tension (EMG), capnometry, and heart coherence (also known as heart rate variability or HRV biofeedback).
- One-to-one coaching to support & individualise the learning process, either in my office in York or via skype or telephone.
THE STRESS RESILIENCE BLUEPRINT
I've created a summary statement of what everyone needs for effective stress management: how to work with anxiety, panic, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, low mood and other stress-related symptoms.
This plan is a blueprint of what my services and products aim to deliver.
Sign-up to receive a one-page summary and watch a short video commentary.Get The Stress Resilience Blueprint
"I worked with biofeedback to slow and deepen my breathing. I had been panic breathing for a long time without knowing it. The difference has been out of proportion to anything I would have expected. I face the day to day challenges of work and family with a much more laid back and calm attitude. It's now rare for me to snap or loose my temper, when it used to be a regular occurrence. Physically I am much stronger. Challenges that had previously taken me to my limit I now find I can take in my stride (e.g. a 170 mile coast to coast cycle ride). I continue to use what I have learned every day."
- Karen, North Yorkshire