Stress can be defined as the way you feel when you’re under too much pressure. Pressure can be caused from work, home or our personal lives, and each individual will cope differently with these levels of stress. What one person may regard as highly stressful, another person may only regard as mildly stressful or not stressful at all. Problems occur when individuals perceive themselves as unable to cope with the level of stress they face, and feel they are not capable to combat their stress.
The power of stress
Contrary to popular belief, stress can be both positive and negative. As a positive influence it can motivate individuals to perform at their optimum level and boost energy, however as a negative influence stress can lead to adverse physical affects and be detrimental to health. Stress is caused by the body’s natural reaction to defend itself, so in an emergency stress will force us to exert maximum effort to protect ourselves. However when our body is prepared to face an emergency and no emergency happens, all the extra energy has nowhere to go, and negative stress is caused. Feelings of anger, depression, distrust and rejection, ultimately leading to headaches, insomnia and high blood pressure can all be caused by negative stress.
Different occupations will have higher stress levels than others, and stress is recognised to be one of the main causes of sick absence from work. Research suggests that about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress that they believe is making them ill. Changes in personal lives, such as the death of a loved one, a new relationship, a job promotion or the birth of a child can also cause stress as adjustments in our lives are needed to be able to cope.
The aim should never be to eliminate stress completely, but find effective ways of managing it and using it to our advantage.
Tips for managing stress:
• prepare to the best of your ability for stressful events
• try to look at change as a positive thing, not as a threat
• try not to worry about things you have no control over
• eat a well-balanced diet
• try to get about 8 hours sleep per night
• set realistic goals
• ask for help from family, friends and professionals.
Signs of stress
Physical Symptoms of Stress
• upset stomach
• weight loss or gain
• pounding heart
• chest pains
Emotional symptoms of Stress
• mood changes
Mental Symptoms of Stress
• negative thinking
• lack of interest
• loss of concentration
Causes of stress
As each individual deals with stress differently it is hard to identify its exact cause. However, common causes include loss, change, an uncertain future, conflicts with your belief system or life cycle transitions. The brain does not distinguish between real or imagined stress and stress is often created by what we think rather than what has actually happened.
Treatment for stress
Counselling and psychotherapy can be effective treatments for stress, and cognitive behavioural therapy can help individuals to understand why they think the way they do and how these thoughts can be positively changed to manage stress.
As it is not the situation itself that causes stress (or everyone would be stressed by the same situation), but our reaction to the situation, hypnotherapy can be effective for managing stress. By altering our reaction to a particular situation during hypnosis to a more positive one, the feelings about that situation can also become more positive. When an individual then experiences that situation in real life, their reaction will often be much different.