How well do you manage stress?

All of us experience stress from time to time. Some stress can be good for us and motivate us to make positive changes or strive for a better quality of life. However, too much, or prolonged stress, can be damaging to both our physical and mental health.

There are some well-known big stress factors including work, relationships, family issues and financial problems. Stress may cause us to adopt unhealthy coping methods such as smoking or drinking (who hasn’t thought – I’ve had such a hard day, I’m going to have a large glass of wine. And then done the same thing the following day?).

Although these short term fixes may lubricate the wheels of change, they can also become habits that harm your health. Meanwhile, you are diverted from the fact that the problem itself still exists in your life.

This is the third in our series of blogs covering a number of treatments for stress available here at Kennington which include; Acupuncture/Facial Acupuncture, Massage Therapy/Dry Needling and Counselling/Psychotherapy.

manage stress counselling / psychotherapist

Stress might manifest itself in four different areas of your life:

  1. Physical symptoms such as aches and pains, indigestion, exhaustion, and sweaty palms
  2. Thinking symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, losing your sense of your humour, constantly worrying, feeling panicky
  3. Emotional symptoms such as anger, mood swings, feeling powerless and anxiety
  4. Changed behaviour such as bossiness, compulsive eating, being more critical of others, being more impulsive, drinking too much

Therapy 3 – Counselling / Psychotherapist

Our counsellors and psychotherapists have undergone extensive training with a wide variety of people – there is no ‘typical’ client for counsellors. They provide you with a safe environment and can offer short or longer term therapy to help you find equilibrium and freedom as well as helping you to understand your strengths and abilities.

If you would like to know more or book an appointment please use the form below. Or tune in next week for more insightful info on the type of services we offer.


FITNESS AND HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH

How well do you manage stress?

As we mentioned in the previous blog on stress management, this time of year can lead to people suffering from a number of seasonal, stress related ailments. Having covered how acupuncture and facial acupuncture can help previously it’s also worth considering the benefits of massage and dry needling.
It’s interesting to note that 34% of people believe that massage therapy is just a form of pampering, and it certainly should leave you feeling good. A greater percentage do, however, believe that massage is beneficial for soreness, stiffness, injury recovery/rehab, headache/migraine control and to relieve and manage stress. 39% of people indicate that medical benefits are their primary motivation for having a massage.

This is the second in our series of blogs covering a number of treatments available here at Kennington which include; Acupuncture/Facial Acupuncture, Massage Therapy/Dry Needling and Counselling/Psychotherapy.
The symptom picture for stress is generally variable depending on individuals. For example, illness, tiredness and lethargy, short tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, erratic sleep pattern can all point to the fact that you’re under stress.
Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, more on that in our next blog on how best to manage these symptoms.

Therapy 2 – Massage and Dry Needling

Massage has been shown to act as an effective adjuvant to talking therapy when it comes to stress management. Not only that, it improves blood circulation to relieve back ache and headache and flush away waste products of your metabolism, ensuring a healthy immune system.Massage

Massage can induce states of deep relaxation to enhance your body awareness which is challenged by stress, long hours sitting at your desk, sedentary but pressured lifestyles, and lack of physical activity.

Dry needling is a branch of acupuncture used by western practitioners. As well as targeting knotted and congested muscles, it provides some of the benefits that its ancestral discipline provides.
You will therefore benefit from it not only to achieve purely musculoskeletal benefits but also to stimulate a more general neurophysiological metabolic balance.

Dry needling can enhance massage to enable the therapist to reach layers that manual therapy can’t reach.

Next post on stress management – Counselling/Psychotherapy

If you would like to know more or book an appointment please use the form below.  Or tune in next week for more insightful info on the type of services we offer.

 


How well do you manage stress?

Did you know that at least half a million people in the UK experience seasonal stress particularly at this time of year, cold dark January, winter blues, new year, etc. this can often result in unexplained illness and feeling down or depressed.

Apart from keeping yourself healthy with good nutrition and regular exercise it can be worth investigating some alternative therapies to help combat some of these issues.

This series of blogs will cover a number of treatments available here at Kennington which include; Acupuncture/Facial Acupuncture, Massage Therapy/Dry Needling and Counselling/Psychotherapy.

The symptom picture for stress is generally variable depending on individuals. For example, illness, tiredness and lethargy, short tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, erratic sleep pattern can all point to the fact that you’re under stress.

Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, check the rest of our stress management series for more information.

Therapy 1 – Acupuncture and Facial Acupuncture

Small randomised controlled trials demonstrate successful treatment of chronic stress via the stimulation of the central nervous system and the regulation of neurochemical messengers  which restore physical and psychological well being.

Acupuncture - helps to manage stress

Acupuncture

It also has been shown to reduce inflammation and modulate pain as well as alter the brain mood chemistry to combat negative states.

Facial acupuncture can brighten the skin without chemicals, needles are inserted in pressure points releasing energies and endorphins. It also improves blood flow and stimulates cell re-growth whilst encouraging the production of healing collagen which is fundamental to skin elasticity and plumpness.

If you think you might have any of the symptoms outlined above please get in contact and our highly trained therapists will be happy to discuss the various treatments on offer.

Coming soon, our next post on stress management –  Therapy 2: massage/dry needling.

If you would like to know more or book an appointment please use the form below.  Or tune in next week for more insightful info on the type of services we offer.

 


How does massage help PTSD, stress and anxiety?

– by Kimberley Pledger

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is classified as a mental health diagnosis for which the primary treatments are anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication and talking therapies.

Despite its classification, PTSD is a prime example of the body and mind working as an integrated whole, where changes happen in tandem on a mental, physical and physiological level. In other words, PTSD exists in the mind and the body. This means that the current treatments for PTSD, based as they are on an outdated idea of a separation between the functioning of the mind and body, overlook the physical symptoms of this disorder.

Recovery from PTSD is not just about minimising or eradicating the psychological symptoms, it’s also about feeling yourself again, which means feeling in charge of your body and being able to trust it again.  This article will review the physical symptoms of PTSD and consider how touch therapy (massage), as a complement to medical and psychotherapeutic treatment, can help you regain your sense of self.

The Physical Symptoms of PTSD

There are ten physical symptoms commonly associated with PTSD so lets look at each of them in turn and consider how regular massage can help to address them.

1. Insomnia
Insomnia is itself a symptom of the hypervigilance experienced with PTSD — it stands to reason that if you’re always on guard and you never switch off then you’re going to struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep. The physiological reason you are hypervigilant is that your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive. The sympathetic nervous system is made up of the parts of your brain and body that kick in when you’re in danger and control whether you fight back, flee or play dead. Positive touch stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system — the parts of your body and brain that are activated when you are relaxed and experiencing something that gives you pleasure. The rhythmic stroking and kneading of the body that takes place during massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system and induces a feeling of sleepiness. This feeling normally starts a short while into a massage and is accompanied by a sense of well-being which should last for several hours after the massage has finished. In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to feel the effects of a massage for a few days afterwards so you can see how regular massage could really help someone with PTSD to overcome insomnia.

2. Exhaustion
Exhaustion as a symptom of PTSD is partly the knock-on effect of insomnia, but also a result of the body being stretched to its limits because it is always on alert.  Massage deactivates the parts of the body and mind that are stimulated when under threat and effectively reverses the effects of hypervigilance. Instead of feeling wide awake and jittery you feel sleepy and calm; instead of working in overdrive your body moves into cruise control and eventually slows down into sleep. If this happens regularly it reminds the body that rest is possible and desirable so over a period of time you start to wake up feeling refreshed instead of exhausted.

3. & 4. Accelerated Heart Rate and High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
In order to maintain the heightened state of readiness demanded by the sympathetic nervous system in a person with PTSD, the heart beats faster so it can quickly pump blood to where it is needed most — the larger muscles to get them ready for fight or flight. One of the factors in high blood pressure is an accelerated heart rate, which is why hypertension is commonly found in people with PTSD.

Massage effectively switches off the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic so the heart slows down, breathing becomes deeper and a feeling of wellbeing spreads through the body. There have been several studies showing how regular massage can help to keep blood pressure at lower levels.

The hormone cortisol is known to be a factor in hypertension and is also evident in high levels in people with PTSD. Although it is not yet fully understood how cortisol contributes to either PTSD or high blood pressure, what is known is that cortisol levels drop following massage.

Psychotherapy, Counselling or Talking Therapy?

By Tiago Brandao

The diversification of talking therapy approaches has resulted in a number of different professionals being responsible for different aspects of mental health, which can be confusing.

To simplify:

Psychiatrists are always specialist trained doctors. In the UK (and usually around the world) they are the only professionals that are able to make a definitive diagnosis regarding their mental health (for example, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or personality disorder). Psychiatrists are the only professionals who can prescribe medication for these conditions. Usually their focus of treatment is the physiological aspect of the mental health problem, so medication will be prescribed to alter brain chemistry to help patients manage their symptoms.

Psychologists are trained professionals that study the way that people’s minds work, including their behaviour, thoughts and physiological aspects of the brain. They can specialise in a number of different areas including but not exclusive to clinical symptoms, educational achievement, forensic studies and sports psychology. Psychologists may also provide talking therapy and tend to focus on evidence-based interventions such as CBT.

Psychotherapists and counsellors have a number of similarities and the names for their therapies are often used interchangeably. Both are trained professionals that use talking therapy to support individuals with their mental health and emotional challenges. One difference, however, is that psychotherapists have a more in-depth and extensive training, which gives them the potential to manage clients with more serious or complex psychological needs.

As I mentioned in the previous post, although each of these professionals might use different resources and techniques to support their clients, the professional relationship has been proven to be one of the most important aspects influencing the efficacy of treatment/process. Therefore, when looking for a mental health professional, make sure that you find someone that you feel comfortable with and that you feel able to build a trusting relationship with. This will be the first step of a very rewarding process.

It might also help to ensure that they are registered with one of the UK professional bodies such as BACP, UKCP, BABCP or BPS. These organisations make recommendations about the standards of training and practice for all psychotherapists and counsellors.

I offer all new clients a free 30-minute initial session so that we can get to known each other and to check that we are the right “fit”. This session offers a non-judgmental meeting with no expectations committing to counselling following this session.

REFERENCES

1. Butler AC, Chapman JE, Forman EM & Beck AT (2006). The empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy: a review of meta-analyses. Clin Psychol Rev. Jan 26(1):17-31. Epub 2005 Sep 30.
2. Lambert MJ & Barley DE. (2001) Research summary on the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training Vol 38(4), 357-361. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-3204.38.4.357

Psychotherapy, counselling or talking therapy?

– by Tiago Brandao

Counselling and Psychotherapy are two of the many names that can be used to refer to different types of “talking therapy”. The idea of using talking therapy was first identified by Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century, when he sought to cure his patients’ physical ailments using dialogue.

As technology and scientific methods improved, research disproved some of Freud’s original findings and uncovered new links between the body and the brain. This led to the development and diversification of a number of theories and diaglogue-based approaches, each with its own strengths.

Currently, psychotherapy and counselling can be divided in three broad approaches:

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy evolved from Freud’s original work. It tends to focus on the unconscious processes of the human mind and the impact these have on interpersonal relationships. Research has demonstrated that psychodynamic psychotherapy is effective over years of practice or treatment. It tends to be a long process with regular sessions of therapy taking place over years.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing the individual’s thoughts (“cognitions”) and behaviours. CBT has been shown to have a beneficial impact on the person’s general sense of wellbeing. It also provides the individual with a number of tools to use to continue the therapeutic process once the therapy sessions come to an end. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the main approach used by the NHS. 70% of the population has shown improvements in their mental health following treatment(1). CBT tends to be a short intervention (around 8-12 sessions). Some professionals have questioned whether benefits are maintained into the long-term with CBT – it is seen by some as a short-term fix.
  • Person-centred approaches focus on an individual’s ability to self-heal and provide a safe space to do so. These approaches, which utilise flexibility and warmth, tend to be attractive as they respect they make allowances for each person’s rate of development whilst providing the challenge and the support concurrently.

Gestalt Therapy is a person-centred approach that focuses on an individual’s ability to adapt – using the relationship between therapist and client creatively and compassionately to support the person to realise their full potential. In the 21st century, most healthcare professionals aspire to make their care and treatment person-centred. Because of the highly individual nature of Gestalt Therapy and other person-centred approaches, research methods are still being developed to measure the active ingredients of the therapy and their outcomes. Person-centred therapies tend to be a middle length approach compared with psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, but allow for each person’s development, from months to years.

The brain, the mind, human behaviour and the study of relationships are challenging to study as isolating the variables that affect someone’s development requires enormous research resources. It is, as all others sciences, a never ending process of new discoveries and development.

Research has identified that the most important aspect of psychotherapy or counselling is the relationship between a person and their therapist, known as the therapeutic relationship(2).  The more positive and trusting the relationship a person has with their therapist the more successful the therapeutic process.

When looking for a therapist, it is essential that you find someone that you feel comfortable with and that you are willing to build a trusting relationship with, as research shows this will have a significant impact on your development and capacity to achieve your potential.

For this reason, I offer an initial 30-minute session free of charge. This session allows us to get to know each other, and decide whether we can work together successfully.

REFERENCES

1. Butler AC, Chapman JE, Forman EM & Beck AT (2006). The empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy: a review of meta-analyses. Clin Psychol Rev. Jan 26(1):17-31. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

2. Lambert MJ & Barley DE. (2001) Research summary on the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training Vol 38(4), 357-361. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-3204.38.4.357