Colleen Burns and the Comfort in Change

Bold headlines, harsh colors, and troubled faces flood the YouTube Recommended Page for COVID-19. Conflicting news headlines, endless obituaries, and images of the urchin-looking virus depict the deterioration of normalcy–and the rise of panic. Yet, in the midst of daunting headlines, a thumbnail shines above the rest. Framed by refreshing green, the title reads: “COVID-19: Antidoting Stress During Times of Panic.” The play button silences the media noise as a comforting, blonde-haired woman says, “Hi, I’m Colleen Burns, licensed psychotherapist, integrative health counselor, and founder of Restore Body Balance where I combine psychology, biology, and neurology to enact changes that stick.”

Colleen Burns stands as a pillar of stability for many during a time of disintegrating routines. With 20 years of experience and a highly reputable company, Colleen has made helping others cope with stressful changes her mission. Recently, she has extended her integrative health business Restore Body Balance into a YouTube channel and podcast as the result of COVID-19. Her combination of psychology, biology, and neurology serves as a model for coping with change, rather than fighting or fleeing from it.

smartphone with youtube logo

Colleen found her passion for holistic health while traveling across East Asia. In Nepal, she traveled to numerous Buddhist monasteries. At each monastery, travelers were encouraged to spin prayer wheels for good luck. When Colleen reached Tengboche Monastery, she stood in front of an intricately detailed prayer wheel the size of a well. While spinning the wheel, Colleen recognized the parallels between Buddhism and psychotherapy: meditation and mindfulness.

“I truly felt a connection to something more integrative and beyond the reach of modern medicine,” says Colleen.

Colleen recognized the importance of holistic health in her psychology practice after she studied at the Benson Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital. There, Dr. Herbert Benson revealed the importance of accessing the relaxation response. The human body reacts to stress through the fight or flight response. While in the short-term fight or flight can save humans from dangerous situations, in the long-run dangerous health symptoms can arise. During fight or flight, the human body shuts down and focuses on survival–rather than living. However, through relaxation, the body can restore itself.

After working with clients for years as a cognitive-behavioral therapist, Colleen knew that behavioral methods were not enough. However, after Dr. Benson’s program, she finally understood why the methods were not working: her clients could not hear her.

“[People] are like a little kid at Target that is having a temper-tantrum [during flight or flight]… they cannot hear a thing when they are having a temper tantrum. Well, that’s your brain. Your brain is like ‘la la la, I can’t hear you,’” Colleen says. 

With this discovery, Colleen wrote a book Prescription for Change: Using Your Lifestyle as Medicine that combines psychology, biology, and neurology. Inside, she incorporates scientific evidence, anecdotes, and includes a journal for the reader to practice mindfulness. Colleen claims mindfulness can rewire the brain away from fight or flight by accessing the five senses to activate a positive memory. Something as simple as smelling tropical chapstick every day can help access the relaxation response by reminding a client about a peaceful vacation.

“You can actually start to create new neural patterns that will eventually replace the negative memories but it takes work, it takes dedication and a little discipline,” says Colleen.

Although her name appears on the cover, Colleen wrote the book in order to help others. “She’s very humble, so she’ll be the last person to tell you how great she is,” says Miriam Ervin, neighbor, and colleague of Colleen. 

Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

With COVID-19 uprooting the routines of many, Colleen wanted to use her expertise about stress and help anyone she could. Therefore, she took a leap in front of the camera in hopes of giving people the tools that they can use to antidote stress during COVID-19 and beyond.

“She is just one of those people who will jump in to make you feel safe and welcomed,” says Salome Kuchukhidze, former babysitter of Colleen. 

By combining her travels, experiences, and education, Colleen has established herself as an innovator in integrative health. Her combination of psychology, biology, and neurology serves as a model that anyone can incorporate into his or her life. Whether it’s through a screen or in person, Colleen will never give up on restoring the health of others. Even after the dark headlines of COVID-19 fade away from the YouTube Recommended Page, Colleen’s videos will continue shining insight into happiness, balance, and complete health.

Tune into Restore Body Balance on YouTube and Spotify!

 

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