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Profile - The calm choice

Anna Young and Robyn Silverton help people to tackle stress and learn to relax, as Robert Millett discovers

Two physiotherapists have created an innovative stress management course that aims to help people learn how to identify and control the ‘stress triggers’ in their lives.

The course, title ‘The Calm Choice’, includes a combination of gentle yoga stretches, breathing techniques, guided deep relaxation and practical lifestyle awareness exercises.

It is the brainchild of Anna Young and Robyn Silverton, two physiotherapists who are based at the Tree Rooms, their private clinic in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.

The clinic offers holistic therapies, retreats and stress management workshops.

Their approach is based on a combination of physiotherapy and their postgraduate training, which includes myofascial release work, cranio-sacral therapy, yoga, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy.

‘Our partnership is centered on providing a holistic approach to health from our strong physiotherapy foundations,’ explains Mrs Silverton.

‘But we also combine a mixture of yoga, breathwork, meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy – all of which is based on relevant evidence based research.’  

For the last four years the two physios have been running one-day workshops, with the objective of empowering people to understand and manage different aspects of their own health.

After receiving positive feedback they began to think about developing a comprehensive stress management course.

‘It became increasingly apparent that the stress reducing techniques shared on these days had a very powerful role in reducing clients’ physical symptoms,’ says Mrs Young.

The idea was then bolstered by one of their workshop attendees, Helen Cairney, physiotherapy manager at Holly House Hospital, a part of Aspen healthcare, in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

Impressed by the duo’s work, Mrs Cairney began offering her patients a similarly holistic approach, which could be applied in conjunction with outpatient physiotherapy.

To this end she approached the pair and together they began to flesh out an idea.

Their collaboration led to ‘The Calm Choice’– a practical stress management programme that integrates Mrs Young and Mrs Silverton’s holistic principles into a hospital setting.  

The course is now offered at Holly House Hospital as a series of four 90-minute sessions, held over four consecutive weeks. Each week focuses on a different theme but the common thread is increased self-awareness.  

Since its start patients have responded well and the service has been welcomed by other clinicians at the hospital.

‘The initial feedback from patients and consultants using the service has been an extremely positive one,’ says Mrs Cairney.

‘Our physiotherapy team were already aware of the effects that stress was having on many patients’ symptoms, so we were keen to be able to offer a more extended treatment programme that would allow the symptoms of stress to be addressed.’

To date the programme has helped relieve symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint, cervicogenic headaches, fibromyalgia, general chronic pain and lower back pain.

Additionally, a majority of attendees have reported a range of generic benefits, including a decreased sensitivity to pain, increased flexibility, improved function and an improved quality of sleep.

Feedback reveals clients experience decreased anxiety levels and feel more positive mentally.

‘Aside from the enormous physical benefits gained on this course, patients also display improvements in other areas,’ says Mrs Silverton.

‘Most notably and almost universally, they develop a far more proactive approach to the management of their own health.’

The course format incorporates both theoretical and practical components and numbers are kept to a maximum of eight. The course also strives to provide practical, take-home tools that will encourage continued benefits.

‘Our aim is to provide a truly practical and holistic approach to stress,’ Mrs Silverton adds. fl

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