Stress Management Individual Therapy

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Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight”  reaction, or the stress response.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you.

When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, and including adrenaline and cortisol, which arouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

Feeling stressed can feel perfectly normal at some point of time or other. You might notice that sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything. While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — Eustress; and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems —Distress.

The effects of chronic stress

Your nervous system isn’t very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If you’re super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if you’re facing a true life-or-death situation.

In today’s demanding world many of us get stressed out frequently—your body will be in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Health problems exacerbated by stress include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Pain of any kind
  • Sleep problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Digestive problems
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema
  • Heart disease
  • Weight problems
  • Reproductive issues
  • Thinking and memory problems

Signs and symptoms of stress overload

The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. It starts to feel familiar – even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Constant worrying
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Other mental or emotional health problems

Physical Symptoms:

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Causes of stress

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.

Common external causes of Stress

  • Major life changes
  • Work or school
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Being too busy
  • Children and family

Common internal causes of Stress

  • Pessimism
  • Inability to accept uncertainty
  • Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
  • Negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations / perfectionism
  • All-or-nothing attitude

These different dynamics associated with stress can lead to various problematic scenarios and situations. Exercise, meditation and deep breathing can help in managing the stress if done appropriately. Well-balanced meals, avoiding substances and relaxation techniques are other ways of stress management as well. To adequately follow these and deal with the root cause of the stress, visiting a psychologist would bring about great benefits.