Anxiety: Going Back to School during a Pandemic

By Mizuki Wada

You know it’s time to get ready for school or work when you see the pumpkin displays and school supplies in stores. However, with the global pandemic going on this year there is far more tension and nervousness besides the first day jitters. From parents sending their kids, faculty going back to classrooms or students getting ready for in-person sessions, many of those could be feeling high pressure and anxiety. However, here are a few ways that could help you steer clear from overwhelming anxiousness.

  • Acknowledge– It is crucial to acknowledge your feelings and stress. Understanding the reason why you’re feeling a certain way is the key to finding a solution.
  • Attitude– Try to look at the big picture and find some positive factors of returning to school. Only looking at the negative aspects can cause the situation to be a lot scarier than it actually is.
  • Support– Find a support group! Whether it be your family or friends, having people that would listen to you talk is very beneficial. Try talking about how you’re feeling to those who understand you.
  • Knowledge– Educate yourself on the situation. People can tell you one thing, but are they really true? Limit your news intake and check whether these sources are trustworthy or not. There’s a difference between educating yourself and filling yourself with information.
  • Physical Health– Although it may sound irrelevant, mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Even if it’s a simple walk or a yoga session, moving your body physically can help alleviate stress. It’s important to keep a healthy body for a healthy mind.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Anxiety or any other mental illnesses, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

Reference:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beyond-the-doubt/202003/respond-instead-react-managing-covid-19-anxiety

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/stress/manage-back-to-school-stress-coronavirus

Stress: Effects of Stress

Image result for stressed brain

Stress: Effects of Stress

By: Vanessa Munera

When people talk about stress, what exactly is it? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. With stress the body reacts to these changes with emotional, physical, and mental responses. Stress could either be presented as a positive or negative outcome in people’s daily lives.

According to Bernstein “Stress can occur in a variety of forms” (2016). Some stress can result in short events such as an argument with a loved one. Furthermore, other stress can manifest due to reoccurring conditions; for example, a demanding job, financial problems, and/ or long term illness. When reoccurring conditions cause stress to be both intense and sustained over a long period of time, it can be considered as “chronic” or “toxic” stress”. While all stress triggers physiological reactions, chronic stress is indeed to be considered a problematic issue that creates significant harm to the brain and the functioning of the body. In fact, “stress continues to be a major American health issue”.

If you have experienced a stressful event, a certain area of the brain called the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus functions as a command center in the brain, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that person has the energy to fight or flee”. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response because it provides the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. Some of the affects from the “fight or flight” response are increased heart rate, deeper intake of oxygen, heightened senses, and the rush of adrenaline – also known as epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Finally a hormone known as cortisol is released to help restore the energy that was lost during the response. When stress is no longer present, your cortisol levels to go back to normal as if nothing happened. In addition cortisol helps regulate metabolism and immune responses.

When dealing with chronic stress, cortisol levels are at a constant high, which eventually causes health problems. Although cortisol is a natural and healthy hormone in the body, constant high levels of it can be bad for your brain. High levels of this hormone can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. As stated in the article, “it can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others” (Bernstein, 2016). In addition, chronic stress can kill brain cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. It has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory and learning. Besides chronic stress having effects on the brain, it causes effects to the human body. This type of stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, it can affect other systems in the body and cause them to stop working properly. This includes digestive, excretory and reproductive structures and exacerbates already existing illness. Fighting and managing chronic stress can be difficult; however it is not too late to learn how to manage it. Toxic stress can negatively affect the brain but the brain and body can recover from these effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic stress and are seeking stress management, please do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

 

Listening: Three Ways to Become a Better Listener

listening

By: Tamar Asayan

All anyone ever wants is to be listened to when they are going through a difficult time in their life. An act as simple as listening can be the biggest help anyone can ask for. However, it can also be the hardest thing to do because listeners have a habit of relating issues back to themselves. The aim of listening is not to try to fix them or tell them what to do; instead it is to show them that you care and feel for them as they are struggling. Oftentimes, it is better to not relate issues back to yourself. People feel the need to be listened to because they want to make sure their thoughts are rational, and do not want to overthink. When we listen it reassures the person that we care and that they are not alone.

Three easy steps to becoming a better listener is to listen, understand, and respond appropriately.

  1. Listen
    • Pay attention to not only what the speaker is saying but body language as well.
    • Do not interrupt the speaker.
  2. Understand
    • This is the time to process everything the person has told you so you know how to respond appropriately.
    • Ask questions; the best types of questions to ask are open ended and reflective questions.
    • This allows the speaker to open up even more and explain what they are going through.
  3. Response
    • Address the speaker’s points.
    • Restate what they have told you.
    • Don’t complete the speaker’s sentences. This can come off rude, and interrupts your time to listen and for them to speak. Interrupting and assuming what the speaker is feeling will make them think you do not want to listen.

Sources:

https://blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening/

https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-generosity-of-listening/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/become-a-better-listener-active-listening/

Image: http://throwthediceandplaynice.com/2017/12/listening-up-in-2018.html

If you or someone you know may be having trouble with communication speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

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 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201702/five-secrets-stress-proof-brain

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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Coping With Stress

By: Dianna Gomez

 

Whether you are a prestigious lawyer or currently unemployed, one thing that all people have in common is that, at one point or another, we have all felt what it’s like to be stressed. The stress may be caused by totally different situations, but at the end of the day those feelings have been felt by us all. You may be asking yourself, “So what simple steps can I take to help myself next time I do feel overwhelmed with stress?” Whether you are a busy college student with 4 exams to study for, an overworked single mom with 2 jobs trying to put food on the table, or a very successful business person with tons of responsibilities, stress can be an issue in anyone’s life.

Here are 5 things you can do to decrease the amount of stress in your life:

#1. Determine Where the Stress is Coming From

  • Is your stress work-related? Is it constantly being caused by the same people in your life? Finding the root of the problem gives you better direction when aiming to correct it.

#2. Eat Healthy

  • For some people, a typical reaction to stress is to “eat your feelings” and turn to comfort foods that are more often than not foods that are processed and high in fat, sugar, or carbs. Although doing this may help you feel better for the short term, it definitely doesn’t help you in the long term which is more important. In fact, it can create problems in the long term that not only don’t help your stress, but add to it as well.

#3. Exercise

  • Go for a walk in the park, take a kick-boxing class, do a few laps in the pool. Get those endorphins flowing!

#4. Make Time for Yourself

  • We all have busy lives – places to be, people to see but nothing is more important than how you feel mentally. Whether it is 10 short minutes or an hour each day, take the time you have to do something you love and to be away from the chaos.

#5. You Can’t Fix What You Can’t Control

  • While you can’t control how your boss acts, what your mother-in-law says, or the current state of the economy, you can control things that you do. If you can’t control it, don’t let it control you!

 

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from excessive amount of stress, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. 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, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.