In this blog post:
- What is stress?
- What are the different kinds of stress?
- What are the symptoms of stress?
- Is there such a thing as GOOD stress?
- What can we do to lessen the stress in our lives?
- Can hypnotherapy help with stress?
We live in a world in which stress is often glorified and being 'busy' is a sign of productivity. People who are juggling the demands of modern life, work, kids, relationships etc, are often unaware of just how stressed they really are, while others become overwhelmed and find that they can't function at all. Sometimes stress is obvious...we're stuck in traffic and late for an appointment...and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's a low level hum just beyond our awareness that we have become so accustomed to that we don't even notice.
I know how it feels, but what actually IS stress?
Stress is a NATURAL response of the body to demands or challenges. It is a physiological and psychological response to any situation that requires adaptation or adjustment and it's designed to help us survive and thrive. Originally it would have ensured our physical survival when faced with dangerous predators or threats in the environment, and it has adapted over thousands of years to now help us stay 'safe' in social as well as physical settings. That's why you can feel anxious in the pit of your stomach when faced with performing, for example, even though your conscious brain knows you are not in actual danger.
When we experience stress, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can trigger a "fight, freeze or flight" response. This response prepares us to either confront the source of the stress, keep really still so it doesn't notice us, or to escape from it. (Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, it is more common for women to freeze and for men to fight.) However, prolonged or chronic stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health, including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened immune system.
Therefore, it is important to learn how to manage and cope with stress effectively to maintain overall well-being.
What are the different kinds of stress?
There are three main types of stress:
Acute stress: This is the most common type of stress and refers to the immediate, short-term response of the body to a perceived threat or challenge. This can include things like getting into an argument, having a deadline at work, or getting stuck in traffic. Acute stress typically subsides quickly once the threat or challenge has passed.
Chronic stress: Chronic stress is a long-term form of stress that can result from ongoing stressors, such as a difficult job or a chronic health condition. This type of stress can lead to a variety of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Traumatic stress: Traumatic stress is a type of stress that results from exposure to a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, or physical or emotional abuse. Traumatic stress can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms related to the traumatic event.
What are the symptoms of stress?
Stress can manifest in a variety of ways, and symptoms can vary from person to person. Here are some common symptoms of stress:
Physical symptoms: Stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite.
Emotional symptoms: Stress can cause emotional symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, anger, sadness, and depression.
Cognitive symptoms: Stress can cause cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and negative thinking patterns.
Behavioral symptoms: Stress can cause behavioral symptoms such as changes in appetite or sleep patterns, increased use of alcohol or drugs, social withdrawal, and procrastination.
It's important to note that these symptoms can also be related to other health conditions, so it's important to speak with a healthcare provider to rule out other potential causes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support.
Is there such a thing as GOOD stress?
Yes, there is such a thing as "good" stress, which is also known as eustress. Eustress refers to stress that is positive, motivating, and can help to improve performance. For example, when we feel excited or challenged by a new opportunity or task, it can create a sense of eustress that can help us to focus, stay motivated, and achieve our goals.
Some examples of situations that can create eustress include starting a new job, taking on a new project, getting married, or training for a competition.
However, even eustress can become overwhelming and turn into distress if it becomes too intense or lasts too long. It's important to manage stress effectively and find a balance between stress and relaxation to maintain overall well-being.
What can we do to lessen the stress in our lives?
Once we recognise that we're experiencing stress and we want to take steps to reduce it, here are some of the things that can help:
Exercise: Physical activity can help to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can also help to reduce tension and promote relaxation.
Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation can help to calm the mind and body, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep.
Engage in hobbies: Engaging in hobbies and activities that you enjoy can help to reduce stress and improve mood. This can include things like reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature.
Connect with others: Spending time with friends and loved ones can provide a sense of social support, which can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine can help to reduce stress and improve overall health.
Seek professional help: If stress is interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support.
Remember that what works for one person may not work for another, so it's important to find what works best for you and to make stress reduction a regular part of your self-care routine.
Can Hypnotherapy help with stress?
Yes, hypnotherapy can be an effective tool for managing stress. Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses guided relaxation, focused attention, and suggestion to help individuals achieve a state of deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility. During hypnotherapy, the therapist may suggest positive affirmations or visualizations to help the individual reduce stress and anxiety.
Research suggests that hypnotherapy can be helpful for a variety of stress-related issues, including anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may also be helpful for managing physical symptoms of stress, such as pain or tension. The very act of taking some time to just lie quietly and listen to a relaxing visualization is immensely helpful to our nervous systems, and a hypnotherapy session that focuses on helping your subconscious mind to release stress is even better.
At Clear Minds we recognise how pervasive stress is in our daily lives, and have created two very powerful hypnotherapy sessions to help you cope with it. Click on either of these to learn more about them: