Stress is your body’s response to mental or emotional pressure.
The word “stress” is often used to describe our feelings when the demands placed upon us feel like too much to cope with or like we are out of control. When we feel stressed our body releases stress hormones which trigger the “fight or flight” response and activate our immune system. This can be helpful in the short-term but when the stress response is activated repeatedly this can be harmful to our physical and mental health.
Any one of us can be affected by stress at any point in our life. Depending upon our individual life experiences, some of us may struggle with stress more than others. It is a subjective experience. Both negative experiences, like the death of a loved one, and positive experiences, like a job promotion, can cause stress.
Impacts of Stress:
- you may experience anxiety, fear, irritability/anger, sadness or frustration;
- the impact of these feelings can contribute to symptoms of depression;
- physical symptoms may occur such as headaches or indigestion or aches and pains. Some research suggests that stress can lead to problems with memory, diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders;
- your sleep may be affected;
- you feel like there is never enough time and perhaps as a consequence fail to care for yourself as you would ideally wish to, and this in turn feels like an additional stress;
- you may experience self-blame and negative thoughts.
Can Talking About It Help?
A 2011 study from the University of Texas suggests that when we suppress emotions we can actually be making them stronger and this affects not just our emotional health but our physical health as well.
For around 90% of the time that humans have been on the earth we lived in small communities as hunter gatherers. We relied on the connections within our small communities for survival. Over the last century things have moved very quickly and although we can feel connected through social media, real time connections are sometimes unsustainable due to other demands. Talking to a counsellor offers that connection where we can begin to feel safe and the space to begin to reconnect with emotions in an accessible way.
There are a number of things we can do to help ourselves to manage our stress such as self-compassion, mindfulness, exercise and healthy eating. Unfortunately , when we find ourselves locked into a situation of self-blame and negative thoughts it can be very difficult to begin to take care of ourselves.
Together, we can explore how you feel and develop a plan to address the things that you can deal with. If you wish to, we may consider your lifestyle in terms of any changes you feel able to make in respect of time management, sleep, diet, exercise and self-care. I can offer you mindful practices to explore and to help you to build space for yourself.
Perhaps the most important part is learning not to be too hard on yourself. We all do the best we can in the circumstances which we face and have experienced in our pasts. In counselling I will accept you as you are and respect how you wish to work. In this safe environment I will help you to see yourself with kinder eyes.