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Stress Spoken
with Psychotherapist Maria Bruce

by Julieta Miquelarena

Mastering the Art of Calm: Psychotherapist Maria Bruce Unravels the Enigma of Stress


In the labyrinth of modern life, where each turn brings new demands, stress has become a relentless presence, weaving its threads through our daily experiences. Maria Bruce, a distinguished psychotherapist from New York City known for her work with high-performance individuals, delves into the complexities of stress with a painter’s touch—highlighting its nuances and teaching us how to navigate its tides with grace and expertise.


According to The American Institute of Stress, stress manifests as "physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension," a response triggered when we perceive that life's demands exceed our ability to cope. The World Health Organization broadens this definition, labelling stress as a reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response, emphasising that everyone experiences stress, though our reactions to it can profoundly affect our overall well-being.


Reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey by the American Psychological Association in 2022 revealed a stark landscape: nearly 8 in 10 adults consider the pandemic a significant stressor, with two-thirds reporting increased stress levels since its onset. This data sketches a backdrop of a society grappling with an unseen weight, pushing the boundaries of mental endurance.


Unveiling the Spectrum of Stressors


Maria Bruce illuminates the multiple stressors infiltrating our daily lives, from the relentless pace of professional environments to personal trials spanning financial woes to intricate relationship dynamics. "Many stressors affect us daily," Bruce notes, listing common culprits like work deadlines, tense environments, and housing concerns, which collectively brew a potent cocktail of stress. "Stress is usually an accumulation of small triggers, not just an isolated event."


Elevating Awareness to Alleviate Stress


Bruce’s approach to enhancing our stress perception is akin to turning up the contrast on a dimly lit scene, allowing us to notice the subtleties of our body’s dialogues. "We are not always cognizant of how many different things impact us and, thus, how much our body works extra to adjust and manage," she explains. This lack of awareness often leads us to overlook the accumulating pressures until they manifest through more severe symptoms such as anxiety and depression.


She employs a compelling metaphor to simplify the concept: "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. Then, no matter how big or small, the next stressor causes a spill, which might manifest as an outburst, a panic attack, or an overwhelming need to eat a doughnut."


Strategies for Regaining Balance


To combat the inevitable rise of stress, Bruce advocates for a toolkit of practical strategies that engage the body and mind. "The first step is to become more aware of how your body copes with everyday activities and situations (relationships, work, finances, etc.) and proactively restore that internal balance," she suggests. Among her recommended techniques is paced breathing—a simple yet powerful method to recalibrate the nervous system. Engaging in activities that elevate mood, alongside open conversations about feelings and challenges, can also fortify one’s emotional resilience.


Navigating the Social Media Maze


In a world increasingly dominated by digital interactions, Bruce also touches upon the dual nature of social media, a realm that can inspire as much as it can overwhelm. "Social media has become a double-edged sword," she observes, noting its capacity to both uplift and induce stress through relentless comparisons and unattainable ideals, particularly among teenagers grappling with identity and self-worth.


As we voyage through the tumultuous seas of contemporary life, Maria Bruce stands as a beacon of wisdom, her insights a compass guiding us toward shores of understanding and tranquillity. In this dance with stress, knowing the steps can transform our experience from one of discord to one of harmony.



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, and Consultant, exercising at a private practice in New York City.

She focused 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.

As a Doctor, Maria began her specialization in sports medicine in Buenos Aires with Argentine athletes. Then, with Italian Olympic athletes at the Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI) in Rome.

Her experience 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.

Before pursuing her career in applied psychology, Maria worked as a label manager for Universal Music Group International and as an artist manager.

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 A thriving online community on different platforms with more than 35000 followers, fostering daily positivity and wellness.

This year, Dr. Maria Bruce has also developed an app called Optimalist, which reads Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HVR analysis shows the state of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The heart is regulated by two branches of the ANS, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. When these two systems are balanced, the body works optimally.

The more balanced, the more variable the heart rate is. A decline in HRV indicates that the body has trouble adapting to external demands and situations, resulting in stress.

You can download the app on your phone to check your stress level: OPTIMALIST.

Follow or contact Dr. Maria Bruce at:

Dr. Bruce's LinkedIn profile / Dr. Bruce's Instagram.


This story was initially published at DLAREZMAG on November 2021.

Special thanks to Maria Bruce.

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