The definition of stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances”. Our bodies react to stress on three different levels: physically (fatigue, insomnia, headaches, digestive problems), psychologically (fear, guilt, irritability, anger, depression) and socially/behaviorally (hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, isolating, startle reactions). We are hard wired to respond to stress through fight or flight. Anxiety and tension stimulate the release of stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. This comes in handy when we need to respond quickly to an immediate danger. But when we sustain a high level of stress for an extended period of time, problems can arise.
Although stress is a natural part of life, we can learn ways to minimize our internal and external stressors and respond to stress differently. Often when we choose to be conscious of our lives we will find ways to minimize stressors. This can be difficult in a world that is rapidly changing and where it is almost expected to respond, “I’m busy” to the statement, “how are you?” It can also be difficult because when we slow things down we have to attend to the emotions we are experiencing as being busy can mask our feelings.
Sometimes our circumstances are such that we can’t change the stressors present. We have a demanding job, we have small children or children with special needs, we are caregiving for someone who is ill. Even more important than trying to minimize stressors is learning to cope differently with the stressors that are present in your life.
You can have control over your stress and anxiety. Through counseling you can gain the education and tools to help you minimize external and internal stressors, and learn ways to respond to stress differently. You will learn de-escalation techniques, mindfulness techniques, identify your triggers and develop ways to self-soothe and re-engage in the present moment. Thus allowing you to move through life with more flexibility, awareness and confidence.