Christmas Contemplations

It’s been another stressful year for most of us. Christmas bookings at the practice have been busier than even last year.

For many, the experience of stress has been a major factor in managing relationships in every aspect of life from intimate partnerships, the workplace, both real and virtual, and in relationships with self. Therapy has been primarily focusing on stress management through stress symptom recognition and intervening early. Many of you are actively engaging in meditation, mindfulness, breathwork, cold water plunges and ice baths.

This year we have explored the subjective experience of stress. Many of you have read or listened to the work of Dr Elissa Epel from UCLA. She famously noted the lion and the gazelle experience the same physiological changes during the chase but the gazelle experiences threat while the lion experiences challenge. She goes on to point out the lion’s physiology returns to resting much faster than the gazelles. Quite possibly the gazelle has seen its own funeral, yet the lion is only somewhat annoyed that dinner will be delayed!

Let’s use this idea to help us make deeply intentional attributions to subjective experiences. That weight training session was so difficult, but I improved my PB, I hate performance reviews but I was well prepared this time and I’m learning the language of how to talk to my boss about my goals, learning and self-management style, that difficult conversation with my partner was really hard for a few minutes then I felt heard and loved and it was so much better between us afterwards. Something powerful happens when we learn to attend to our internal experiences and connect those in intentional, purposeful ways. In this we soothe our nervous systems and promote nervous system retraining (read and or listen to  Daniel Siegel) so we are less triggered in our everyday life. We have much more capacity to positively impact our stress response and rewire for recovery than we actively use. Dr Epel suggests that instead of relaxing we restore ourselves. Restorative yoga, tea, baths, breath work; because anything restorative is such a big and important idea to bring into your daily practice.

Wishing each of you a restorative break during the Christmas and New Year period. We look forward to welcoming you back to our therapeutic space to continue working together 2024. 


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