We all know what it’s like to feel stressed, but it’s not easy to pin down exactly what stress means. When we say things like “this is stressful” or “I’m stressed”, we might be talking about:
• Situations or events that put pressure on us – for example, times where we have lots to do and think about, or don’t have much control over what happens.
• Our reaction to being placed under pressure – the feelings we get when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.
It’s overwhelming, and perhaps you’re starting to feel like you’re wading through treacle?
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do.
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.
You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response.
There’s no medical definition of stress, and there’s a long history of debate as to whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them. If you’re suffering from stress however, this won’t matter too much to you. What will matter is how you feel, behave and think, and this can make it difficult for you to work out what causes your feelings of stress, or how to deal with them. But whatever your personal definition of stress is, it’s likely that you can learn to manage your stress better by:
• managing external pressures, so stressful situations don’t seem to happen to you quite so often
• developing your emotional resilience, so you’re better at coping with tough situations when they do happen and don’t feel quite so stressed
Being under pressure is a normal part of life.
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking. There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.
Clinical hypnotherapy is an excellent way of reducing stress levels, as this solution-focused practise helps you to understand why you feel as you do, how you feel as you do, and more importantly, what you can do to stop feeling as you do, helping you to make a proper assessment of current situations and essentially stress less.
Stress can be a useful drive that helps you take action, feel more energised and get results. But if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you.
Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, but it’s closely linked to your mental health in two important ways:
• Stress can cause mental health problems, and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress, you might develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
• Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem, as well as potentially needing to manage medication, heath care appointments or treatments, can become extra sources of stress.
This can start to feel like a vicious circle, and it might be hard to see where stress ends and your mental health problem begins.
Why does stress affect me physically?
You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, like tiredness, headaches, niggles in your shoulders or back, or an upset stomach.
This could be because when we feel stressed emotionally, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body’s automatic way of preparing to respond to a threat (sometimes called the ‘fight or flight’ response). If you’re often stressed then you’re probably producing high levels of these hormones, which can make you feel physically unwell and could affect your health in the longer term.
To help you stress less and ease whatever is on your mind, get in touch with me to discuss ways in which we can work together to help you. You can contact me by calling or texting me on 07402 868 658.