What is Stress?
Stress is a natural reaction to situations that you perceive as a threat to your safety. It’s similar to fear in the Fight or Flight response mode where adrenaline kicks in and gives you extra energy. The extra energy should be used for survival. Instead people use it to over analyse the situation and drive their emotions through the roof causing overwhelm. When a person reaches overwhelm they generally withdraw or shutdown. Most people experience stress in a negative way.
Some people experience stress in a positive way. Stress can be very productive. When someone feels stress they can power through their day, their challenge or whatever it is that gives them the sense of urgency. Stress can be productive because the feeling gives them movement. Stress can drive people to accomplish more than they thought was possible. Without stress and the sense of urgency these people can become too relaxed and not achieve as much.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t enjoy stress and it keeps you feeling overwhelmed and stuck then you really need to learn more about stress management so you can alleviate the symptoms. Living a stress-free life takes a lot of effort because stress is something that is triggered by external events. Setting up your life with less stress is possible but it takes some thought on what are the situations that cause you stress and which situations can you avoid or eliminate from your life. Here are some examples:
- Debt, having credit card or bank loans
- Being over weight, finding clothes to fit your body
- Hiding an addiction
- Going for a promotion at work
If we take a look at this very short list of examples are there any of these situations you are in control of? Let’s look at the first 4 examples to see how you can reduce the stress.
Stress From Debt
Can you reduce your debt? Do you know what you owe the money for? Many people are paying off credit card debt but have no idea what’s on the card anymore. They have lost sight of what they bought. It’s not very motivating to pay money for something you have had and used months ago. To reduce your money stress, you need to do is stop spending money you don’t have and start living within your means. You need to learn money management skills but that’s something you are in control of. You could make a debt payment plan and start making bigger payments to reduce your debt as quickly as possible. Debt can ruin a relationship, your future and causes too much stress.
Stress From Being Overweight
Can you lose weight? I know it isn’t that simple but it’s doable. It will take a good eating plan, exercise and commitment. If you make the commitment to look after yourself and eat better, become more active you will lose weight. Even if it feels like it’s happening very slowly you will lose weight. Then you will find it easier to find clothes to fit you and you won’t feel self conscious, you won’t have to come up with excuses to avoid social invitations. This will reduce your stress massively and increase your self confidence at the same time.
Stress From Hiding an Addiction
When you’re hiding an addiction, you know you are doing something that isn’t good for you. You’re keeping a secret and stressing that you will get caught. Hiding an addiction involves a lot of lying and the problem with lying is you’re really only lying to yourself. Addictions are a way to numb feelings and distract yourself from other issues. Get some help and get back on track because you can. Ultimately you are in control. Gaining control will reduce the stress and you will enjoy your life a whole lot more.
Stress From Going For A Promotion At Work
This stress can be a positive stress. It means there is a reward at the end of it. It depends if you are the type of person who loves stress to meet a challenge or if you find it overwhelming. If you are the overwhelm kind, ask yourself is the stress worth the outcome? If you do get the promotion do you have to work as hard as you are now to win the promotion? Work is about lifestyle and balance. You need to make sure you are doing the kind of work that you love, the kind of work you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it. To balance out the stress you need to assess the benefits of gaining the promotion overall and if it’s worth it you need to add in some self care to reduce your stress levels like going for a massage, eating healthier and getting a good nights sleep.
The Health Effects Stress On Your Body
When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including Adrenaline and Cortisol. These hormones fuel your body for action. Your heart beats faster, muscles tense up, blood pressure rises, breathing quickens and your senses heighten. These physical changes increase your strength, stamina, makes you more focused and you will react with greater speed in the situation. Stress is your body’s way of keeping you safe by alerting you of the perceived threat. Positive stress keeps you focused and alert. It helps you meet deadlines, goals and challenges within a short timeframe.
When stress isn’t positive it can cause health problems, effect your moods or motivation, your productivity, relationships and quality of life.
The Physical Impact Of Stress On Your Body Includes:
- Heart disease
- Sleep issues
- Skin irritations
- Stomach aches and pains
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep disturbances
It’s important to recognise when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it and it starts to feels familiar. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. It’s amazing how much we can take on in our life but we need to be realistic and look after ourselves too.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body and behaviour in many ways and everyone experiences stress differently. Look at the list of signs and symptoms of stress to learn how it impacts you:
Cognitive Symptoms Stress
- Memory problems
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Having a negative perception
- Feeling anxious or nervous
Emotional Symptoms Stress
- Feeling moody
- Feeling stuck
Behavioural Symptoms of Stress
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Giving up on projects and responsibilities
- Smoking or drinking alcohol more
- Avoiding social engagements
Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress related.
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. Knowing how much stress is “too much stress” will be different for each person. Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest challenge. Some people thrive on the excitement of a high stress lifestyle. This is why it’s important to learn more about yourself specifically so you can learn the warning signs before stress gets the better of you. Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships, your general outlook on life, your emotional intelligence and genetics.
What Causes Stress?
The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. Anything that puts high demands on your time or unrealistic expectations on you can be a stressor. Even good situations can cause stress. Think about each time you go on a holiday, with all the organising, packing, finishing off things before you leave, finding someone to watch your house or animals, doing the finances before you leave will trigger a stress response. However, the stress created is for a good event. At least after all the stress you can relax on your holiday!! Birthday parties, Christmas, buying a new car or house, having a baby are all lovely events but they can still cause you to feel stress.
Your perception of situations will determine if you will feel stress or not. Something that’s stressful to you may not bother someone else. Someone else going on holidays may not feel any stress at all because everything they are organising is getting them closer to their holiday. By taking care of the small details they are ensuring their holiday will be stress free.
Here are some examples of situations that are external events triggering a stress response in people:
Common External Causes of Stress
• Major life changes
• Changing careers
• Moving house or town
• Death of a loved one
• Financial problems
• Overwhelm and taking on too much
• Family and parenting issues
• Relationship problems
It’s not only external situations that will cause stress. Your personality can be stressful too. There are things you do, things you believe and things you expect that can cause stress. The problem with internal stress is you have created it yourself and you need to be willing to make changes to reduce the stress response. Here are some things you can create on your own that cause stress in your life:
Common Internal Causes of Stress
- Negative self-talk
- Unrealistic expectations of yourself and others
- Not taking action towards what you want in life
- Not asking for what you want and expecting others to know
- Being stubborn
- How you resolve conflicts
- Your communication style
- How you receive love in a relationship
Learning How to Manage Stress
While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to reduce its impact and cope with symptoms. You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.
Stress Management Treatment
You eliminate stress from your life completely, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response and creates a state of restfulness which is the opposite effect of stress. These activities reduce everyday stress levels and increase your ability to stay calm under pressure.
Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in that moment. All you need to do is be aware of your stressors so you can stay in control when the pressure builds. Stress management will help you learn what your stressor are and how to deal with them differently. You can learn calming techniques, improve the quality of your sleep, how to interaction with people, resolve conflicts and deal with your emotions. There are many skills you can learn in stress management but it’s not a cookie cutter approach. Each person needs to be treated specifically for how stress impacts their life and a plan is created from there.
At Whitsunday Professional Counselling we help people with Stress Management with Clinical hypnotherapy and counselling. Stress can be accumulated over your life and is neatly tucked away into your unconscious mind. It means you have learned stress management automatically but is the way you are managing stress effective? If you’re on this website, probably not. Your unconscious mind is dealing with your thoughts and feelings and reactions towards them. To change your mindset, emotions and behaviour accessing your unconscious mind and reprogramming it with better responses is the ultimate stress management training.
CBT is another approach to stress management but it’s a very conscious way to deal with your stress levels. It involves writing down the events you have experienced, your reactions to the situation and how you can do it differently next time. It can be good to learn what you’re doing but it isn’t the best way to approach stress management because it’s way too slow and there is no feelings of relief or feelings of change. When people are stressed they have a belief they “don’t have time” so asking them write things down etc means they probably won’t follow through. Not because they don’t want to but because it will cause them even more stress.
With clinical hypnotherapy, you can feel it in your mind and body the moment all your old stress has gone. Stress is cleaned out of your mind and memories and you can actually feel it. Your changes become automatic responses. You will notice you are more relaxed, easy going and taking things less personally.
You’ll notice situations where you think to yourself, “Wow, I was really calm just then. Before, I would’ve felt really pressured” or you will find yourself saying yes to social events whereas before you would’ve said no because you didn’t have the time. When you get rid of old stress you have a lot of more time on your hands because your not wasting your energy anymore thinking and over thinking things.
Clinical hypnotherapy involves analysis of your strategies, your emotions and your behaviour. General hypnotherapy is when you lay back in a chair and relax all your muscles and feel like you’re floating or whatever happens for you when you are hypnotised. Clinical hypnotherapy is personal change according to your mindset. It’s not something that is read out to you from a book while you lay there. It’s a process of going back to memories, going back into your past and changing the way you have learnt to do certain things, such as stress, anger, depression and changing your strategies so your outcomes become automatic responses.
Tips To Help You With Stress Management
- Surround yourself with people you trust and can talk to when you need support. Spend time with friends and family as much as you can to fill your world with other things.
- Think about your expectations on yourself and others and make sure they are realistic and achievable. Sometimes our expectations are so high they can’t be met and it causes disappointment from others and a sense of failure or not being good enough.
- Be kind and respectful to yourself. You need to be your own best friend in life and allow yourself some joy and some fun. Make sure your that little voice in your head is saying kind things to you if not correct it by saying the opposite things to yourself. The goal is to be kind to yourself.
- Engage in regular self care by having massages, eating healthy food, being active and making time for creativity. Stress impacts the mind, body and soul and it’s your job to nurture yourself. Do it without guilt because you need to look after yourself.Let go of the little things in life that you think are important but really they’re not. You can’t control everything so think about some of the things you can let go of.
- Learn to deal with your emotions and not bottle them up. Express yourself, talk about how you feel and if you struggle to deal with your emotions and feelings seek help with counselling to learn how to manage your emotions.
- Always find a positive aspects in every situation in life. This is the best life skill to have. You can turn any situation into a positive lesson for the future.
- Find ways to make yourself laugh. Laughter is always good medicine! Read joke books, watch funny movies or youtube clips to clear your mind and remind yourself not to take things too seriously.
- Let people love you and ask for help when you need it. People like to be needed and it’s nice to be taken care of sometimes.
- Learn some calming techniques through hynoptherapy, self hypnosis, meditation or yoga so you can remain clam in situations when you need to.
Balance & Variety In Your Life
Stress creeps on people who are too busy to notice. If you’re too busy to notice signals your body is sending you telling you that you’re stressed it means you don’t have enough outlets. It means your mind is constantly going in one direction. You may be focusing all your efforts into your career, maybe it’s in a relationship or building a house. If you’re working on one area in your life you will be neglecting others and this can cause stress. You need to have balance and if not balance you need to have variety in life.
Giving yourself choices in where you spend your time is essential. If you are always in doors then find some places you go to recharge yourself out in nature like the beach or going on a nature walk, mountain climbing, camping or even going for a drive in the car with the windows down so you can breath in the fresh air. If you’re always outdoors then find places you go to relax and de-stress indoors like getting a massage, watching a movie, going out for dinner or lunch.
Life is about variety. You need a variety of things in your life you can spend your time so you can clear your mind and give yourself new experiences including:
- Fitness and Health
- Learning new skills
- Travelling or going away for weekends
- Building or designing things
- Arts and crafts
- Spiritual outlets
- Community events
These different areas will trigger different thinking processes and will evoke a range of positive emotions within you. They are outlets for your stress, they trigger feelings of pride, achievement, positivity, relaxation and joy.
Where Are You Channelling Your Attention And Time?
- What do you do for yourself?
- What hobbies do you have?
- What do you do to relax and unwind?
- How often do you allow yourself to do that?
Think about your life and where you spend the most time and where you spend the least time. Are you spending more time doing things that cause you to feel stress or are you spending more time in areas that make you feel positive? Make adjustments to your life so you have balance and you have variety because this is something you can control.
If you struggle with stress management, make an appointment by click the button below. Learn stress management techniques so you can learn to relax, learn to switch off from a busy world and start having some fun with the people you love.