with psychotherapist Maria Bruce
By Julieta Miquelarena.
27/11/2021 for DLAREZMAG.
Updated on April 2022.
Interested in a deeper understanding of ourselves, identifying our motives and patterns when approaching efforts in life, and ultimately acknowledging the importance of Mental Health, DLAREZMAG speaks to the person who could clarify all our concerns:
“Many people are living with chronic high levels of stress, underestimating its magnitude and impact,” explains Maria Bruce, an Argentine Psychotherapist, Coach & Consultant based in NYC, who specialises in working with high performance individuals.
Which ones are those stressors we could be having?
Many stressors affect us daily. Relationship issues, directly and indirectly (our friends and family experience them and we get affected to a degree as well); work issues (deadlines, meetings, public speaking, demanding hours, tense work environment); housing issues (roommates, building matters, expenses); finances, etc. Stress is usually an accumulation of small triggers and not just an isolated event.
Are we aware of it or how do we become aware of it?
We are not always cognizant of how many different things impact us, and thus, how much our body is working extra to adjust and manage. For example, we don't realize how stressed we are until we experience more severe symptoms, like anxiety and depression. Then, we feel "normal," but internally, our body is working hard to keep up. There are a lot of internal mechanisms that get activated when the body encounters worries or difficult situations.
In addition, there are many internal "filters" that are no longer able to cope even in everyday situations: some people lash out against family, peers, or bosses in ways they wish they could take back; some have the opposite reaction and "blank out" in an exam, a meeting, or presentation; some experience anxiety to the degree that symptoms mimic stomach, cardiac, or respiratory issues.
Think of it like this – you are a cup. Stress is water. Every time you experience a stressor, your cup fills up a little bit, and your capacity to hold any more diminishes. Everything is fine until you hit your capacity, and then the next stressor, no matter how big or small, causes a spill (which might manifest as an outburst, or a panic attack, or an overwhelming need to eat a donut).
How do we reduce our overall stress level?
The first step is to become more aware of how your body is coping with everyday activities and situations (relationships, work, finances, etc.) and proactively restore that internal balance. One of the most efficient ways is using a paced breathing technique, breathing being the #1 body regulator.
Another way is trying activities that improve your mood to balance out the negative impact of stressors.
And, as powerful, not letting things bottle up inside you: talking to family and friends, and/or exploring and processing feelings and situations by journaling about them.
On Social media and its impact on stress levels:
Social media has become a double edge sword. It can be inspiring, motivating, a place to share joy, admire beauty, imaginary travel, explore new hobbies, and become connected with our friends and family... but some people don't realize they don't distinguish fantasy of utopic standards of lifestyle, beauty, finances from reality, and how this devolves in negative self-judgment, unfair comparisons, regrets, and despair.
If we think about the impact on teenagers: they are at an age where their minds and bodies are still developing and not fully mature to handle and process their own emotions or fully understand how they are being affected. From a psychological perspective, these are teens still developing their own emotional and cognitive resilience, sense of identity, and life skills.
Many will develop good coping mechanisms, but many could be overwhelmed and unable to manage the perceived -and amplified by social media- peer pressure to meet a "standard" or handle different situations a certain way. This may result in negative consequences to their psyche (for example, maladaptive behaviors) that they could carry throughout life.
The expectation to check all the boxes can become overwhelming or inspiring, depending on the lens used to look at it. However, not everything is negative, and -like with most things- there is always a positive side to the equation if there is a conscious awareness of the choice we decide to make.
Maria C. Bruce is a former Argentine Medical Doctor with a Master's Degree in Mental Health and Wellness from The University of New York-She became a licensed Psychotherapist, Coach & Consultant at a private practice in New York City.
As a Doctor, Maria began her specialization in Sports Medicine in Buenos Aires with Argentine athletes.
Then, with Italian Olympic athletes at the Comitato Olympico Nazionale Italiano (CONI) in Rome. Before pursuing her career in applied psychology, Maria worked as a label manager for Universal music international and as an artist manager.
Her background working with Olympic and professional athletes, as being involved with the music, fashion, beauty, technology, and financial industries has given her a unique perspective and understanding of the challenges and struggles faced by high achieving and multitasking individuals.
Maria's area of interest focused on mental health and wellness, focusing her training and practice on positive cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, and biofeedback. As a coach and consultant, she helps individuals, teams, and companies to optimize their performance, manage stress, problem-solve, boost productivity, improve communication skills, and enhance relationship interactions.
She is the founder of Thanksyoumademyday.com: A thriving online community you can find on different platforms, with more than 35000 followers, fostering daily positivity and wellness.