Do you feel under mental and emotional pressure?
The word stress is used when people experience the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure, when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope.
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.
People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
Everyone needs a certain amount of stress or pressure to live well, it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and motivates you throughout the day. However, stress becomes problematic when there’s too much or it is too intense or prolonged causes your body to release stress hormones over a long period. This increases the risk of a range of physical health problems including headaches, stomach upsets and high blood pressure. It can even increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
More often, stress leads to psychological problems. It can make people feel distrust, anger, anxiety and fear, which in turn can destroy relationships at home and at work. Stress also plays a key role in the development of anxiety disorders and depression.
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.
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. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.
How can counselling help?
Having counselling for stress can help release anxiety and assist in taking control back in your life. It can also help you identify any negative thought patterns that tend to go along with stress, such as catastrophic thinking – “If I don’t get this done today it will be the end of the world!” – And teach you ways to change these to more balanced, helpful thoughts. It can also help you identify cycles of thoughts and behaviour that can sometimes keep us stuck in a situation, and help to break cycles of panic, providing new skills for dealing with stress.
Self-help and further reading
“Self Help for Your Nerves”: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fear by Dr. Claire Weekes (1995)
“The Stress Management Workbook” A guide to developing resilience (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help) by Lynne Van Brakel (2014)