- What is stress?
- What causes stress?
- Am I stressed?
- How does stress affect your health?
- How to prevent stress
- How to manage stress
- How to deal with stress
- Looking for Stress Management Support?
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Stress is something we all experience to varying degrees during our lives. At healthy levels, it can be an effective motivator, or a warning signal for a dangerous situation. But, extreme stress can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, preventing us from enjoying life and carrying out day-to-day activities.
On this page, you’ll find all the information you need about the types of stress, a breakdown of the numerous causes and symptoms related to it, and techniques for dealing with stress if it ever starts to overwhelm you.
One of these ways is stress therapy. At Therapy For You, our stress management courses can help you understand stress as a condition, identify your own personal trigger points, and develop the most fitting ways to cope with stress in the long-term.
Stress is a feeling of being under too much pressure, either mentally or emotionally (or a combination of both). This pressure becomes stress when you feel unable to cope with a situation you’re in.
You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response before. This is how your body reacts to stress. It feels it’s under threat, so it releases a range of hormones and chemicals like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to react to the danger, either by fighting it or running away (and sometimes even freezing in place).
In certain situations, stress can be beneficial. It can help you react quickly to dangerous environments, or boost your motivation if you’re giving a presentation. People manage stress in different ways – it is not a one-size-fits-all condition.
However, at other times emotional stress can affect us in non-dangerous situations, or become a chronic condition. If stress responses occur repeatedly, or are frequent over time, this can have a seriously detrimental effect on your physical and mental health.
Developing techniques for coping with stress can help reduce the regularity of these feelings, and help you approach stress in a healthier, more positive way.
There are three different types of stress – acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress.
This is usually brief instances of stress brought on by reactive thinking to a negative situation or threat. For example, if you’ve been involved in an argument, you may have acute stress related to thoughts remaining from that argument.
Episodic Acute Stress
This is when people frequently experience acute stress. People with this type of stress often worry a lot or are dealing with many pressures at the same time.
The most harmful kind of stress, chronic stress is an unending feeling of pressure that may be caused by a sustained negative issue, like long-term debts, unemployment, family tension or substance abuse. It could also be the result of childhood experiences or distressing events (i.e. post-traumatic stress disorder).
While acute stress is the most common and something everyone experiences at times in their lives, episode acute stress and chronic stress can have more long-lasting impacts on your well-being. In these instances, stress management techniques are highly encouraged.
There is no rule to what stress feels like, other than an awareness of pressure. For some, it could present itself as a tightening in the chest, others like a rush of blood to the head. Your heart could start pounding fast, you feel numbness in your fingers or toes, or you might start shaking due to the influx of chemicals in your body.
As previously mentioned, there is no universal agreement for what stress feels like, or the symptoms that arise due to it. As such, stress treatments should be tailored to an individual’s particular trigger points for the most effective results. Of course, when stress begins to affect your day-to-day life, it is encouraged to seek professional help.
There are an extensive number of potential causes of stress. It is usually related to a change of circumstances in your life, not being able to control the outcome of a situation or worrying about something happening.
Common sources of stress include:
Home & Finances
The list above is just a sample of some common causes of stress, and they may not necessarily apply to you. Even events that you are happy about or looking forward to can cause stress, like getting married, moving to your first home or travelling abroad.
What’s important to remember is that key to managing stress is recognising and addressing the source of this added pressure, whether it’s a recurring activity or one-off events. That is often crucial to effective treatment, which will allow you to approach this situation with more assured emotional intelligence.
As everyone experiences stress in different ways, it is possible that you are going through life unaware of signs of stress intruding on your day-to-day routine.
Like the causes, there are a wide range of stress symptoms that you may be presenting to varying degrees. Identifying these common signs of stress is crucial to addressing the condition early, preventing these mental and physical problems becoming chronic over time.
Cognitive & Emotional Symptoms of Stress
Physical & Behavioural Symptoms of Stress
Are you experiencing any of the following:
Stress doesn’t impact us all equally. The amount of stress we feel and the symptoms we experience can vary depending on our perception of the situation, our ability to deal with pressure, our personality and our emotional intelligence.
If you notice one or several of these signs, you should consider techniques to help you manage and relieve stress, or speak to a professional about stress management courses if you feel unable to cope with these conditions.
Particularly in cases of chronic and severe stress, this condition can have long-term ramifications on your mental and physical well-being if not addressed. As you can see from the physical symptoms of stress listed above, stress can make you feel sick, exhausted and in pain for extended periods of time.
While short instances of stress are perfectly natural, the long-term effects of this condition can result in several serious stress-related illnesses, such as:
While both men and women can share the same sources of stress and demonstrate similar mental, emotional and physical symptoms, how they tend to react to this condition tends to differ.
Surveys conducted have demonstrated that women are more likely to suffer stress than men. A survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation in 2018 showed that across the UK, 81% of women have experienced serious levels of stress in the past 12 months, compared to 67% of men.
Women are also more likely to seek treatment or support for signs of stress than men. However, men are considered more likely to die due to stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease.
Of course, this is just a general overview, as every person will react to stress differently. Therefore, it is important to seek help that relates to your specific needs if stress begins to impact you on a daily basis.
Stress itself is not considered a psychiatric diagnosis. However, an inability to cope with stress over time can lead to several other mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, pre-existing mental health problems can cause or intensify feelings of stress. Coping with day-to-day symptoms, managing medication and arranging appointments can all be sources of additional stress, which can start a vicious circle across your stress levels and your overall mental health.
As mentioned in earlier sections, everyone endures periods of stress in their lives, and in some instances, it can be a helpful motivator. But when those feelings become entrenched in our day-to-day lives, there are ways to limit and prevent stress from becoming overwhelming.
Stress therapy can help you develop techniques to control stress in circumstances where there is little cause for it, which might be stopping you experiencing new things and meeting new people. As stress is something we all encounter, these techniques can soften the impact stress has in these situations.
Our techniques and stress management courses help you build the coping skills you can use in combat stress and minimise its impact during difficult experiences, ensuring it has less of an effect on your physical and mental well-being.
There are many practical steps you can take to help relieve stress and the impact it holds on your life, from changes in lifestyle and looking after yourself mentally, to building a support network that helps you cope under pressure.
The techniques listed below will have different degrees of effectiveness from person-to-person. Our stress management courses are about helping people finding the practices that work for them, and how to use them regularly to gradually build an emotional resilience to stressful situations.
Here are some ways you can manage and release stress to improve your well-being:
Adapt Your Lifestyle
Improve Your Physical Health
Practise Meditative Techniques
Be Kind to Yourself
Grow Your Support Network
Stress isn’t a medical diagnosis, meaning there are no specific treatments that can be applied to ‘cure’ it. Instead, if you are struggling to cope with persistent feelings of stress and pressure, there are a variety of stress treatments that help you manage your condition.
Speaking to a therapist or other qualified professional can help determine the cause of your stress, explore your various thoughts and feelings, and outline practical steps to help control stress levels.
Here at Therapy For You, we offer access to a mix of one-on-one and online stress management courses in Essex, as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Through these, you discover more about stress as a condition, identify your own personal trigger points, and develop the techniques that help relieve stress and reduce its negative impact on your life.
Different types of medication can help reduce the signs of stress and the symptoms they cause. Of course, it is important to consult with your GP and learn all the facts about any medication you are considering before you take them, ensuring you are aware of any side effects.
Ecotherapy embraces the use of the outdoors and green spaces to improve your well-being and self-esteem, from exercising outdoors to taking part in conservation projects.
Alternatives to the above stress therapies and treatments can also prove effective in minimising the impact pressure has. These include:
If a friend or family member is suffering from severe or chronic stress, it can be difficult to feel what they’re going through, or indeed change their perspective. But, there are several practical ways you can make a difference in how they’re feeling, supporting their journey to stress relief.
If they share with you how they are feeling or what is causing them stress, allow them to talk openly and listen to their concerns without judgment or ridicule.
Give your friend encouragement that what is causing them stress can and will change over time, and that you’re there for them during this difficult period.
While remaining open-minded and non-judgmental, you might be able to pick up on triggers that are causing a loved one to feel stressed before they do.
Either by helping them track or joining them with their activities, encourage them to practise their relaxation and breathing techniques.
If they’re struggling significantly with stress, urge them to contact their GP or reach out for stress therapy to help resolve their problems.
There are several situations that are common causes of stress, based on our experiences supporting those dealing with this condition on our courses. Here, we will break down dealing with stress in these frequently seen areas:
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 595,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress symptoms in 2017/18. This accounted for 40% of all work-related illnesses.
The core causes for workplace stress include pressure over deadlines, lack of support from managers and work-related violence, bullying and discrimination. Work is often closely linked to other potential causes of stress (financial worries, relationships, unemployment), which makes the need for stress management techniques particularly valuable in this environment.
If you are showing symptoms of stress at work and this is impacting your quality of performance and general well-being, consider the following:
By applying these approaches as well as stress treatments listed above, you are in a better position to use workplace stress as a motivator, rather than a drain on performance.
Exams can be some of the most stressful events we face at any age, from our childhood years to pursuing qualifications in adulthood. Preparing for and working towards exams can create strong feelings of pressure and worry that lead to extreme stress, particularly on the days of exams themselves.
Like the causes listed above, stress can have detrimental effects on eating and sleeping habits and the overall happiness and well-being, all of which can result in poor performance during the exams themselves. With that in mind, you may wish to take note of the following tips to coping with exam stress:
For students who are worried about exam stress, the NHS offers several tips on revision and handling exam days to reduce stress levels.
In many cases, stress can result in people feeling nauseous and losing their appetite, which in turn badly affects their physical and mental health. For others, this condition can result in excess stress eating, where people respond to stress and other strong emotions by eating unhealthy amounts of food.
Emotional eating is more common than you may think, as social relationships, marketing and more have developed a strong association between emotions and food. If your stress levels have resulted in binge eating disorders, the following self-help strategies can help:
If these self-help treatments don’t alleviate your stress eating, other treatments such as one-to-one therapy, CBT or medication might be more beneficial.
It is common for women to experience mental health concerns like added stress during pregnancy and immediately following this. The change of circumstances that come with pregnancy can add new stresses to everyday life, as can adjusting to life as a new parent. If stress during your pregnancy is causing any concern, please contact your GP.
To manage stress levels during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood, the following techniques can help:
We hope this has given you a deeper insight into what stress is, the various causes and symptoms associated with it, and techniques you can apply to manage the level of stress in your life.
Remember that everyone encounters stress throughout their lives in varying degrees. Learning ways to cope with stress effectively will help you focus on the positives of this condition, and avoid long-term mental and physical consequences.
If you feel you are unable to cope with stress at present and self-help is proving ineffective, Therapy For You is here to help. Our stress management courses in Essex, available both in-person and online, can help you identify your own specific stress triggers, and develop a specific plan of action to manage your feelings and limit any negative results.
For more information on stress therapy and the courses available, contact us today on 01268 739 128 to book a Telephone Assessment with one of our qualified therapists, or reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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