What is stress and what are the symptoms?
Everyone has experienced stress at some point throughout their lifetime. Due to differing causes, some may experience it more than others. Generally speaking, we all experience stress as an instinctive reaction to a threatening situation. Our bodies make physical and psychological adjustments in order to protect ourselves. Physically, our bodies release a hormone called adrenaline when we experience stress. The effects of increased adrenaline production include: increased tone in the muscles, raised heart rate, increased respiration, and increased thought speed. All of these changes occur in order to help a person react quickly, both physically and mentally, during a time of crisis. Although these changes are beneficial in isolated incidents of danger, if a body remains in this state because of constant daily stress (e.g. money problems, job insecurity, family problems, living conditions, etc.), it will have a negative impact on the body and mind. People who experience high levels of stress on a daily basis over a long period of time are more likely to become fatigued, anxious, and depressed thereby damaging their health and quality of life. Chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, teeth grinding, dizziness, increase heart rate, and sweaty palms, which take a toll on an individual’s immune system, making them more susceptible to physical ailments or disorders. Emotionally, stress can lead to irritation, apathy, frustration, mental slowness, a negative attitude and an overall overwhelmed feeling. Over time, these emotional symptoms may develop into emotional disorders.
What can I do to manage stress?
There are a variety of coping outlets to choose from in order to manage stress. It is important to adopt positive healthy outlets that work for you. Some may turn to unhealthy habits, such as smoking or overeating. Although it may temporarily alleviate stress, the long term effects will worsen the situation. Adopting a healthy lifestyle (e.g. getting sufficient sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy foods, etc.) and identifying positive outlets that reduce stress (e.g. daily exercises, relaxation techniques, or hobbies), will help lower stress levels when incorporated into one’s daily routine.
A therapist will be able to help you develop your own personal stress management plan by helping you identify the causes of your stress and determine effective stress-combative techniques or activities to fit your lifestyle. It is highly encouraged to seek therapy if the level of stress is interrupting your daily functioning or harming your physical and/or mental well-being. It is also important to seek a therapist if you suspect it may be linked to other conditions, such as anxiety or depression. If you would like to seek counseling with a UB therapist who specializes in stress management counseling, contact us.
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Bressert, S. (2006). Stress Management Basics. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/stress-management-basics/000756
Collingwood, J. (2006). The Benefits of Stress Management. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-benefits-of-stress-management/000405
Suval, L. (2012). Better Management of Stress and Its Effects. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/better-management-of-stress-and-its-effects/00012449