Stress and You
The stress beast rears its ugly head from four corners of our lives, health, career, relationships, and finances. It has been documented that people who suffer from health issues are prone to high levels of stress and anxiety. Stress can also come from family life, from a break up or from tension with your spouse. You might feel stressed at work due to strained relationships with your colleagues or superiors or due to feeling underappreciated or overwhelmed by the workload, you required to handle. You might feel stressed right now, because you fear for the future, as you have no financial stability in your life. Stress is just everywhere and it is coming at you from all directions.
The word stress became part of our everyday vocabulary but most people are unsure as to how we come to experience stress. What is stress? Where does it come from?
The term ‘stress’ was coined by Han Seyle back in 1936 and it was aimed to describe the consequence of disruption of homeostasis through physical or psychological stimuli. Well, that was a mouth full, wasn’t it? J So, let me try again. Stress is a condition that results from the perceived discrepancy between the demand of the situation and the social, biological or psychological resources available to deal with it. Stress is a physiological response to our thoughts and feelings that signal to the body that ‘we are in danger’. When you are faced with a perceived threat, which is usually ( hopefully) not a lion charging at you but everyday threats such as, ‘I won’t meet my deadline’, ‘I don’t know how and when I will be able to get a job’, ‘I can’t pay my bills.’, ‘I can’t deal with this feeling of loneliness’, ‘I can’t face talking to my boss’ and so on, an automatic biological response, called the fight or flight response (Cannon, 1929) is activated.
This response mobilizes the body by setting off a chemical alarm that originates in the hypothalamus, which results in stress hormones being released by the sympathetic nervous system, including the hormones of adrenaline, nor epinephrine and cortisol. Of course, it is important to have a healthy level of stress in your life as it spurs you on and keep you going but the danger is being in this high arousal state for a prolonged period as it can harm your health. Not even mentioning the psychological distress, it causes.
Because of stress, you could be experiencing headaches, muscle tension, nausea, dry mouth or diarrhoea and in the worst-case scenarios, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Stress could also influence your psychological wellbeing and you become moody, restless, agitated, anxious, and possibly even depressed. You know that you are stressed when you catch yourself feeling angry or you change your eating habits by eating a lot more or a lot less to what you would normally eat. Stress can also manifest as procrastination and in over doing activities.
Stress affects your body, your mind, and your behaviour. So, ‘How to stop this disruptive cycle?’.
The key is in the mind. Stress can be reduced by taking control of our thoughts and by changing the way we respond to situations that are considered to be stressful. Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Stress Coaching are highly effective and are recommended if you suffer from intense levels of stress.
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