anxiety, stress
Is stress the silent killer? 
 
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat.  When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action.  Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper.  These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus.
 
This is known as the “fight or flight” response and is your body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, stress helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.  Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges – too much though can have detrimental effects on your health.
 
Stress is what keeps you on your toes and sharpens your concentration during a presentation at work, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond your comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to your mind and body 

…when you repeatedly experience the flight or fight stress response, it can cause a wealth of different health concerns.

Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships and support network, your life experiences, your emotional intelligence, and genetics.

The body’s autonomic nervous system often does a poor job of distinguishing between daily stressors and life-threatening events.   If you’re stressed over an argument with a friend, a traffic jam on your commute to work, or a mountain of bills, for example, your body can still react as if you’re facing a life-or-death situation.

When you repeatedly experience the fight or flight response in your daily life, it can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, speed up the ageing process and leave you vulnerable to a host of mental and emotional problems.

Potential Health Problems Caused By Stress

  • Sleep problems
  • Auto immune issues
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight problems
  • Pain of any kind

The Causes

Since social engagement appears to be our best defence against stress, isolation or a lack of positive, consistent human interaction can be both a stressor in itself and exacerbate other causes of stress.

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors.  We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship.  However, anything that puts high demands on you or forces you to adjust can be stressful.  This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.

Of course, not all stress is caused by external factors.  It can also be self-generated, for example, when you worry excessively about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational, pessimistic thoughts about life.

What causes excessive it depends, at least in part, on your perception of it.  Something that’s stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it.  For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late.  Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.

The Common Causes

  • Major life changes
  • Work or school
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Chronic worry
  • Pessimism
  • Negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Perfectionism
  • Being too busy
  • Children and family
  • Rigid thinking,
  • lack of flexibility
  • All-or-nothing attitude
  • Bereavement

Factors That Determine Your Stress Tolerance

 
We’re all different. Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of far smaller obstacles or frustrations. Some people even seem to thrive on the excitement and challenge of a high-stress lifestyle.
 

Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships and support network, your life experiences, your emotional intelligence, and genetic.   Below are s some factors that can determine your stress intolerance.

 

Your Support Network

Social engagement is the body’s most evolved strategy for responding to stress so it’s no surprise that people with a strong network of supportive friends and family members are better able to cope with life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the less opportunity you have to utilise social engagement and the greater your vulnerability to stress.

Your Diet

The food you eat can also have a profound effect on your mood and how well you cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress while eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.

Your Knowledge and Preparation

The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Your Exercise Levels

Your physical and mental health are intrinsically linked, so the better you take care of your body, the greater resilience you’ll have against the symptoms of stress.  Exercising regularly (for 30 minutes or more on most days) can lift your mood and help relieve stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration. It can also serve as a distraction to your worries, allowing you to find some quiet time and break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress and anxiety.

Your Ability to Deal With Your Emotions

You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed by a situation. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity and the good news is it’s a skill that can be learned at any age.

Your Sense of Your Self Control

It may be easier to take stress in your stride if you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges. If you feel like things are out of your control, you’re likely to have less tolerance for stress.

Top Tips To Reduce It

Accept those things that you cannot change. Identify the stressful things in your life that you cannot influence and change. Recognise that there is no point in worrying about these things because understanding this can help reduce disappointment when things do not turn out the way we were hoping

Take a positive outlook on life. Learn from your mistakes, but always focus on the positives in life. A positive attitude attracts a positive energy, allowing you to be better prepared for life’s challenges and stresses.

Make a list all of the things that make life stressful and a list of things that would make life less stressful. Work on strategies to change what you can, reducing the stressful elements of life and introducing more of the stress relief elements.

Develop both short-term and long-term goals to focus your life. Goals, aspirations and priorities help to increase energy and motivation. Remember to take into consideration the amount of stress that these goals will incur and identify ways to reduce these stresses on the way to achieving your goals.

Assess your priorities and the balance between your professional, family and social life. Make sure that you develop goals that are aligned with your desired life balance and that the things in you life that give you too much stress do not dominate everyday life.

Always keep things in perspective and don’t put to much pressure on your self to succeed or be perfect. Ambition is a fantastic motivator, however we all have bad days and something things don’t turn out how we expected. Keeping your priorities in perspective can help to reduce stress and pressure.

Additional Resources to Help Beat Stress

Hypnotherapy has been proven in helping you manage stress in your life.   Click on the links below to access some hypnotherapy audio if you want to try hypnotherapy in the comfort of your own home. Alternatively get in touch to see how I can help you manage your stress levels.

  • Stress management pack – Whether it’s work stress or anxiety from another part of your life causing problems, the stress relief methods in the Complete Stress Management Hypnosis 5-Pack will radically alter your response to stressful situations.
  • Relieve stress and tension – a powerful audio hypnosis session that takes all the effort out of mastering relaxation techniques.
  • Instant stress relief –  experience the incredible effects of deep, natural relaxation.

52 ways to beat stress.  Written by Chartered Psychologist Sam Kotadia this pack provides a wide selection of powerful and portable tools to live life stress-free. Each strategy is chosen for its effectiveness in achieving the results you want. Click to view (opens in Amazon)

Meditation CD.  Meditation is proven to help manage stress.  This audio CD contains tracks to help calm, sooth and relax you through guided visualisation.  Visit www.meditainment.com for more guided meditations or click here to buy one of their CD’s Meditations for stress relief available through Amazon.

Stress and Anxiety Journal.  Whether you’re awake at 4am unable to turn off those racing thoughts, this journal will help to soothe stress and reduce worry, identify negative thought-cycles, and provide you with techniques to combat anxiety. Click here to view this journal (link opens to Amazon)

*This links divert to external websites, and we earn a small commission on any sale.   These commissions can help fund Mind Calm being able to offer reduced rates for therapy or free therapy sessions for those in need. 

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