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How does stress affect the nervous system?

comparison chart of distress vs eustress

Can stress hurt you or help you? It's really a trick question because the answer is both. Knowing how stress does in fact affect your nervous system is crucial for anyone who's trying to gain control over their own health and wellness.

As an EMDR therapist in Scarsdale, NY, I see it all the time: people yearning for calm and healing, yet fearing stress like a monster under the bed. But here's the secret: healthy stress exists. In fact, it's like that workout that pushes you further, making you stronger. What truly matters is understanding the stress spectrum and finding your sweet spot of exposure and recovery.

Think of your nervous system as a rollercoaster. A gentle ride with dips and climbs keeps you energized and adaptable. But imagine being stuck on a relentless, terrifying loop – that's chronic stress. It weakens your resilience, making you vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and even trauma.

Trauma, in particular, can leave your rollercoaster permanently stuck in the "scream zone." EMDR therapy comes in like a skilled engineer, carefully building new tracks and brakes. But remember, healing isn't just about avoiding scary loops. It's about expanding your window of tolerance, allowing you to handle more stress without getting tossed around.

Here's where "pendulation" comes in – EMDR's secret weapon. Like carefully increasing the weight on a barbell, we'll gently expose you to manageable doses of "trauma stuff" (thoughts, feelings, and sensations). Then, we'll switch gears, focusing on calming techniques and activities that replenish your emotional reserves. This push-and-pull, stress-rest cycle, helps your nervous system rebuild, track by track, until you can handle bigger thrills without the screams.

The beauty of this approach is that it's tailored to you. We'll work together to find your unique "stress sweet spot," that perfect balance between challenge and comfort. Remember, you're not just recovering from trauma; you're building resilience for the whole rollercoaster ride life throws your way.

Ready to reclaim your inner engineer and rebuild your stress rollercoaster? Contact our EMDR Therapists in Scarsdale, NY today to explore if this trauma healing approach is right for you. Together, we'll unlock your healing journey, one balanced loop at a time.

EMDR therapist in Westchester, NY


Dana Carretta-Stein is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, PLLC, and Carretta Consulting in Scarsdale, NY.

She is a certified EMDR therapist and EMDRIA Approved Consultant and is an expert in trauma-informed care in Westchester, NY.

Dana is also a skilled business coach for wellness practitioners who are looking to build and grow their private practice.

 For more information, visit


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