Not all stress is bad and stress comes form good things as well as bad, like a job promotion, a new home and a new baby. Additionally, the same things that cause you stress may not cause stress in other people. It is how you think about and react to certain events that determine whether or not they are stressful for you. Your reaction to stress
can affect your mental and physical health as well as your personal and professional life, so it is important for you to learn how to deal effectively with stress.
While everyone talks about stress, what they are communicating is not always clear. This is because stress comes from both good and the bad things that
happen to us. Additionally, the things that cause stress for you may not be a problem for other people you know. It is how you think about and react to certain events that determine whether you find
them stressful or not.
Stress is the "wear and tear" our body and mind experiences as we adjust to our continually changing environment. As we respond to the changing demands and pressures of our
environment, we mobilize physical and emotional resources. Too frequently, extreme, or prolonged mobilization strains us and generates distress signals. Our body experiences distress signals in a variety
of ways, often in the form of: irritability, anger, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, depression,
stomachaches, hypertension, migraines, ulcers, heart attacks, or colitis. Eventually, stress can lead to even more serious distress, such as cancer, diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.
Stress does not just effect us in a negative way. Stress can also be a helpful motivator when reacting to sudden danger or trying to meet a deadline. A normal amount of stress and
its companion, anxiety, can help push a person toward success and help us to marshal our resources. However, too much stress can negatively
affect our mind, body, and spirit.
Here are some interesting stress related statistics:
*Globally, more than 3 out of 5 doctor visits are for stress related problems
*Stress is both additive and cumulative in its negative effects on individuals, organizations and societies.
*Job burnout experienced by 25% to 40% of U.S. workers is blamed on stress.
*Women who work full-time and have children under the age of 13 report the greatest stress worldwide and nearly one in four mothers who work full-time and have children under 13
feel stress almost every day
*Globally, 23% of women executives and professionals, and 19% of their male peers, say they feel "super-stressed"
*Depression, only one type of stress reaction, is predicted to be the leading occupational disease of the 21st century, responsible for more days lost than any other single factor.
*$300 billion, or $7,500 per employee, is spent annually in the U.S. on stress-related compensation claims, reduced productivity, absenteeism, health insurance costs, direct medical
expenses (nearly 50% higher for workers who report stress), and employee turnover.
Categories of Stress
Stress can be categorized as acute stress, episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and traumatic stress.
Acute Stress is what most people identify as stress. It makes itself felt through tension headaches, emotional upsets,
gastrointestinal disturbances, feelings of agitation and pressure.
Episodic Acute Stress is more serious and can lead to migraines, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, anxiety, depression, and serious gastrointestinal distress.
Chronic Stress is the most serious of all. It's the stress that never ends. It grinds us down until our resistance is gone. Serious systemic illness such as diabetes, decreased immune-competence,
perhaps cancer is its hallmark.
Traumatic Stress is the result of massive acute stress, the effects of which can reverberate through our systems for years. Posttraumatic
stress disorder is treatable and reversible and usually requires professional aid.
The most common types of stress and anxiety problems are defined by the DSM 1V-TR
of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Coping With Stress
This section has been adapted from the Canadian Mental Health Association website.
Because each of us is different, there is no one
"correct" way to cope with stress. However, there are a number of different things that can be done, and it is helpful to look at both short and long-term solutions to reducing stress.
*Identify your problems. Is your job, your relationship with someone, or money worries causing you stress? Are unimportant, surface problems masking real, deeper ones? Once you are fairly sure you know what the problem is, you can do
something about it.
*Solve your problems. Start thinking about solutions. What can you do, and what will be the consequences? Should you be looking for a less stressful job? Do you need marriage counseling? Should you talk to a financial expert about
money management? What will happen if you do nothing? If you follow this problem-solving strategy, you should be able to make some changes to take the pressure off yourself. This long-term way of reducing stress in your life is something everyone, sooner
or later, will need to do.
*Talk about your problems. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Friends and family members may not realize that you are having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be helpful in two ways: first, by just listening
to you vent your feelings and second, by suggesting solutions to your problems. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of friends and relatives, your family doctor may be able to refer you to a mental health counselor.
*Learn about stress management. There are many helpful books, films, videos and courses to help you cope with stress. There are also counselors who specialize in stress; ask your family doctor for a referral to one. There may also
be community college courses and stress management workshops available in your community.
*Reduce tension. Physical activity can be a great stress reducer. Go for a walk, take up a sport, dig in the garden, clean the house. You may find it helpful to learn some relaxation exercises. These can be as simple as deep breathing
- slowing inhale through your nose until you cannot take in any more air, and then exhale through your mouth. Another simple exercise is stretching - stretch and relax each part of your body, starting from your neck and working downward; exhale as you
stretch, and inhale as you release the tension. If you make a habit of taking pressure off yourself by getting rid of your tension, you will find yourself less stressed and more able to solve the problems that caused your stress in the first place.
* Take your mind off your problems. You may be able to get rid of stressful feelings temporarily by getting busy. If you get involved in hobbies, sports or work, you can give yourself a "mental holiday" from your stress. Not
thinking about your problems for a while can give you a little mental distance from them and make them easier to solve later on.
Once you have lowered your stress level, it is wise to look for ways to prevent excessive stress from building up again. The best way to cope with stress is to prevent it, but remember that it is impossible to have a completely stress-free
Treatment of Stress
I have found that both stress and anxiety disorders are responsive to counseling and to a wide variety of therapies. Psychotherapy
including relaxation techniques and time-limited therapies that address ways of coping with the stress and anxiety symptoms directly. These therapies typically emphasize cognitive and
More traditional forms of therapy based on psychodynamic or interpersonal theories of anxiety also may be used. Certain antidepressant medications and mild tranquilizers
are sometimes prescribed to help lessen some of the symptoms.
Would You Like Personal Assistance?
If you really want help dealing with your feelings and emotions, changing your behavior, and improving your life and the approach and office hours of typical therapists and counselors do not fit your life style or personal needs, I may have a solution.
By using very flexible office appointments, telephone consultations, email, teleconferences, and the willingness to travel and meet with you personally in your home, office, or other location, I can be available to help you anytime and anywhere.
Feel free to contact me now for your free initial consultation. Once you become an existing client, you will be given a pager number where you can reach me whenever you need.
information about stress and other mental health problems, please click on the linked websites listed below.