Stress is something that we all experience in varying degrees and at varying times. In fact, it is a natural response that has been part of us since prehistoric times. Humans have two reactive choices when confronted with danger. The first is to stand and fight, and the second is to run as far and as fast as possible. We call this the “flight or fight” response and it was the earliest form of defence for human beings.
When confronted with danger, physiological changes occur to prepare the body for fighting or running. They include increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood flow to the muscles, increased muscle tension and perspiration, and an increase in the speed of blood clotting. Experiencing these changes on an irregular basis in response to a need is natural, normal and generally very desirable. Jumping out of the way of a speeding car is just one example.
Is Stress Really That Bad for You?
Experiencing these changes daily and numerous times throughout the day is not desirable, as the body has no chance to return to its normal state.
There are many life situations that can leave people stressed. Losing their job, going through a relationship break-up, coping with chronic illness, being bullied at work or school and the death of someone close are all events that many of us experience. It is not the stressful event itself but the way we react to it that can have long-lasting consequences if it is not confronted and dealt with.
Some of the signs that the stresses in your life are getting the better of you are increasing levels of anxiety, irritability, unnecessary anger, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, feeling overloaded and constantly getting sick as the immune system comes under pressure. There is also a general inability to manage everyday life. If any of this sounds familiar, it is time to consult experienced psychologists who can help you regain control.
How is Stress Treated?
Typical treatment methods used include relaxation and meditation to reduce physiological symptoms and cognitive therapy to address the mind chatter and change thinking patterns. Examining and changing core beliefs that have led the client to react the way they do to stressful situations are also important. Other personal organisational tools such as time management, goal setting, problem setting and assertiveness are also used to help the patient address any environmental factors that have added to the situation.
Stress is part of everyday life and some stress is necessary for us to achieve our goals. Being able to manage it is the key to our well being.