Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress occurs when we feel overwhelmed by pressures and demands that we are unable to cope with. As a result we feel anxious. In fact, each time that we are confronted with something unexpected or frustrating, stress arises. In these instances we respond to the stress on a smaller scale and so we are less likely to notice our stress.
We can become stressed by work, family life, relationships, studies, indeed any number of factors that make up daily living. A small amount of stress can motivate us. An example is undertaking activities that take us out of our comfort zone but that are ultimately satisfying and help us to acquire new skills and competencies. In these cases a little bit of stress can fuel us to take a leap of faith to step out of our comfort zone and into the unknown.
Stress causes the body to respond, activating the fight or flight reaction which increases stress chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol. The fight or flight reaction in turn increases the feeling of being stressed. Thus we can get stuck in a vicious cycle of stress. When we use coffee, nicotine and other stimulants, we exacerbate the stress, which as a result can lead to insomnia and relying on alcohol or substances to take the edge off. Stress affects the higher executive functions of our mind, as well as affecting our bodies and emotions. Increased cortisol production is detrimental to the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex and affects learning ability and memory function.
The good news is that a stress management specialist can swiftly and efficiently assist you to start eliminating unwanted stress. They will collaborate with you to comprehensively evaluate your way of living and to identify the key stressors. They will then assist you with a multi-faceted and proven approach to reduce stress. This includes, changing your mental perspective, improving your ability to gage when enough is enough, developing the skill to say ‘no’, and practicing relaxation techniques such as breathing and relaxation exercises, mindfulness and meditation.
This may be necessary if the stress has exacerbated other mental health conditions such as anxiety or mood disorders. Our consultant psychiatrists will be able to prescribe medication to reduce your anxiety, freeing you up to tackle and reduce your stress levels.
We often feel stressed because we have taken on too much. Despite the fact that we know it is too much, we cannot stop ourselves from doing so. If this is a pattern in our lives then a psychotherapist will help us to get to the root of it and make changes. Perhaps we experienced as a child that we were not accepted fully as ourselves. Doing well at school or in sports may have been a way to gain positive attention from parents and caregivers. However this gives us the message that we are only hold value when we are doing well and getting results. So we keep on doing more and taking on more so that we feel valid. Often our self-worth is dependent on what others think of us rather than how we value ourselves. Another reason we may feel stressed is because we struggle to say ‘no’ to others’ demands. Growing up we might have learned that our own needs came secondary to another persons or that focusing on the other was a way to get our emotional needs met. In this case saying ‘no’ might feel very risky and unnatural but by not being assertive we become more and more tired as we ignore ourselves and push ourselves to meet unhealthy deadlines and meet excessive demands.. Your stress management psychotherapist will gently and caringly facilitate you to unravel these unhelpful behavioural tangles. Their non-judgmental, understanding and patient presence will promote an immediate feeling of relaxation. In fact relating with another with whom we feel safe and listened to is the quickest way to stop the production of stress hormones and defensive reactions. On the other hand if we isolate ourselves when we feel stressed then we are more vulnerable to the stress building up.
CBT is generally a shorter course of therapy where together with your CBT stress management therapist you will identify the stress triggers in your life, learn how to change unhelpful thinking patterns, for example the need to be a perfectionist, and learn new strategies to cope with and reduce stress.
Whichever approach is most suitable for you will be discussed when you give one our dedicated and trained therapeutic care coordinators a call on 0207 118 0407. They will listen to you patiently and non-judgmentally as you explain your stress management issue. Together you will establish what it is you would like to get out of therapy, taking into consideration the resources that you have available such as time and motivation. You will then begin working with your specially chosen stress management expert. You should immediately start to feel calmer and reassured, knowing that you have come to the right place to start winning the battle against unhealthy stress.