Stress is an experience that is part of normal life.
Stress occurs when faced by a new experience- even one we may want such as sitting exams, changing jobs, dating, buying a house. Stress occurs because we are faced with the challenge of using our resources to cope with a situation that is new and requires adjustment.
Stress should occur and dissipate once the stressful situation has passed.
Stress results from the release of stress hormone in response to new situations or circumstances that we already know we do not like or feel comfortable in.
Stress becomes problematic when it continues, preventing the person from feeling relief, resulting in chronic feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted and unable to cope.
Stress can seriously impact on quality of life.
Causes of stress
Stress can come from a huge range of sources (stressors), such as:
- Relationships with others
- Work-related issues
- Study demands
- Coping with illness
- Major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, having children, retirement, residential relocation
- Juggling too many roles and duties at the same time
Symptoms of Stress
Stress can be mild through to severe.
Stress at the mild end of the continuum may have little negative impact. At the severe end stress can have cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioural impacts.
- Irritability or moodiness
- Poor concentration
- Decrease in work/study performance
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Worrying or feeling anxious
- Back and neck pain
- Frequent headaches
- Upset stomach, IBS
- Increased blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Rashes or skin breakouts
- Chest pains
- More susceptible to cold/flu, gastroenteritis and slower recovery
- Sense of overwhelm
- Social withdrawal
Treatment of stress
Stress treatment includes a diverse range of approaches.
Identification of cause(s) is important as a starting point.
Treatment may then involve cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation training, assertiveness training, assistance with making major life changes, relationship therapy, grief therapy, narrative therapy, schema therapy, trauma therapy.
The approach will be determined based on the person’s circumstances and causes of stress.
Early diagnosis and treatment from a skilled practitioner is important so that stress does not develop into a more long term problem such as anxiety or depression, or physical illness.