Your Brain on Stress

By: Stephanie Osuba

Our brain has an automatic response to stress located in the amygdala, an almond sized structure in our brain that regulates emotion. Once a threat is perceived, the amygdala releases a number of hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – to prepare for the “fight or flight” response. This is all well and good for physical threats, but what about interpersonal threats? Threats that are far more complex that need an actual solution rather than simply running away. That’s when your prefrontal cortex comes into play as it handles all of the executive function in your brain and allows you to think critically about situations. This way you can learn how to deliberately take a step back and think about how you are going to handle the stressor. So instead of letting your emotions dictate when you are angry with your significant other, dealing with rude customers, or have one too many, here are some ways you can learn to manage your stress in a constructive way:

  • Take a Breath: Calm things down and take deep breaths. This clears your head long enough for you to regain control of your emotions and let your prefrontal cortex get onboard. Once you do that, you can start critically thinking about what to do with your stressor.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being in the present and being aware of your surroundings and the social context you are in. By asking yourself, “why am I feeling angry?” or “is saying this mean thing the best thing to do right now?” you can stop yourself from acting out in a way that you might regret.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Some situations allow room for you to intervene, and others do not. Focus your energy on aspects you can anticipate, while at the same time mindfully accepting the aspects that you cannot.
  • Broaden Your View: When the amygdala gives off negative emotions due to the stressor, the anxiety usually narrows your point of view and drives you to find the quickest solution to the problem. As we know, the fastest solution isn’t always the best and it prevents you from using the stressful opportunity to grow and learn from the situation and finding a creative solution.

As much as we would rather not have to deal with it, stress is part of our daily lives and learning how to manage it can give us the life skills to handle, relatively, any situation thrown at us.

Source: Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, September 7). Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain. Retrieved from

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress due to stress, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


Stress: The Detrimental Effects of Stress on the Body

By: Charleene Polanco

Stress is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension, and whether it is about taking a final exam for class, going off to college for the first time, or work-related, stress can affect the way we perform. If gone unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of negative consequences on the body, which will be discussed. Stress has been linked to a number of physical and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, heart attacks and stroke. A constant high level of stress, can lead to immune system disturbances, which can cause an increase in your body’s susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have direct effects on the skin leading to rashes and hives.

Unlike rashes and hives, which are visible, stress can affect various systems, organs, and tissues within the body, signs that are not seen, and are, therefore, much harder to notice. Some parts of the body affected by stress are the nervous and cardiovascular systems. When stressed, the nervous system signals the body’s adrenal glands to secrete adrenalin and cortisol. Since both of these hormones cause high blood pressure, a person who is under constant stress, also has elevated blood pressure which can lead to heart problems in the future. Even if a stress episode is considered to be minor, repeated minor stress episodes can negatively impact a person’s cardiovascular system by causing inflammations in the coronary arteries. This can eventually cause heart attacks. In order to prevent the negative consequences of untreated high levels of stress, it is important to recognize the symptoms. There are multiple symptoms of stress, some of which include, frequent headaches, cold hands/feet, dry mouth, heartburn, depression, forgetfulness, and rapid or mumbled speech.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


“Stress Effects.” Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 4 Jan. 2017.

Anxiety – Stop Procrastinating! – Bergen County NJ

 By: Michelle Diernakeep-calm-and-stop-procrastinating-8

Ever feel like you catch yourself avoiding tasks and putting your attention elsewhere when in the back of your mind you know the task has to be done regardless? Well, you’re not alone. Procrastination is putting important tasks that need to be done aside and distracting yourself  in any way possible from finishing the task this leading to the task getting completed later than expected, which may cause anxiety to rise. When you know something has to be done and it’ not completed in an appropriate timely fashion, large amounts of unnecessary pressure can be placed on an individual.

If you want to overcome procrastination  it’s helpful to center your mind on chasing the goal (i.e., how you will complete a task) or to focus on the outcome of the duty. Focus depends on a variety of things and interacts with aversive tendencies-inducing dislike of the task. Many times fear of failure and how we perceive the strength of our abilities is what leads to procrastinating.

Some Useful Tips to STOP procrastinating!

*Time Management-Plan your days. If you know you are more functional in the morning  plan to accomplish your duties in the morning, instead of waiting for the evening where you might not feel as energized and motivated-and vise versa.

Time Management is crucial to prioritizing what tasks need to be finished first, and what tasks can be finished at a later time. It is easier to complete unwanted trivial tasks if you know they will be finished at a definite time.

*Don’t overwhelm yourself –especially with large tasks. Break them down into steps that can realistically be finished rather than stressing over one overwhelming assignment/task. Keep track of each step and make sure that each step can be accomplished in twenty minutes or less if possible.

*Change your environment- Sometimes changing your environment can have extremely positive impacts on your productivity. {I.e. try doing your work somewhere peaceful, like a park instead of a noisy house}.

*Provide rewards for the accomplishments you have achieved from the day- Each time that you complete a task/assignment give yourself a mini break to decompress and prepare your mind and body for the next task you have to finish. After you have finished, you can schedule to watch your favorite show or go out with a few friends to reward yourself for successfully finishing the stressful duties that everyday life can bring.

If you or a loved one happens to be facing issues that involve procrastination and are struggling to maintain motivation to complete goals that you want achieved, and are in the Bergen County, New Jersey area, or Manhattan, feel free to call our office to make an appointment with one of our own therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists to get the guidance needed.

Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920

More detailed information can be found at