We all experience some difficult situations in our lives that get us out of our comfort zone. Those situations that challenge our sense of self or make us feel out of control. The reaction our body and mind have to those situations or events, the pressure they make us feel, is called stress.
Stress has a very bad reputation, largely due to the negative effects it can have on our physical and mental health. However, I want to begin by telling you that stress is not all bad.
Stress and ‘flight or fight’
In a stressful moment, our body produces stress hormones that trigger our brain’s ‘fight or fly’ response. This reaction has been vital to our survival as humans. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to react to large predators by running away… quickly! Thankfully there aren’t many large predators that want to eat us today, but the response to pressure situations remains the same. Our reaction to stress helps us to achieve a challenging task or continue to persevere with a situation even when we feel overwhelmed. Stress can help us develop, learn new things, and achieve our goals. It can make us smarter, stronger, more resilient, and it can still save our lives at times!
We all react to stress differently. Our ability to cope can depend on our genetics, social and economic circumstances, life experiences, personality and so much more.
After a stressful moment has passed our hormonal levels quickly return to normal, however, if we experience long-term stress that almost never ends, it can cause some negative physical changes in our bodies that can be quite bad for our health. Long-term stress, and most importantly, our reaction to it, can disturb our physical and emotional balance greatly.
Physical and emotional reactions to stress
It is important to learn how to recognise the physical and emotional signs of stress and to take control over your response to it before it takes control over you. You might feel tired, have problems with your sleep, indigestion, headaches, increased or loss of appetite. You might also feel anxious, depressed, scared, sad, irritable.
The positive impact therapy can make
Talking to a therapist about the challenges in your life that are causing you stress, can help you see them from a different perspective and change your response to stress altogether. Therapy can also give you lots of strategies to help you cope with pressure. My favourites are meditation, mindfulness, therapeutic writing, and yoga. Most of my clients have found it life-changing when we find the root of their reactions to stress!
Stress can be our greatest motivation and also our worst nightmare. It very much depends on how we react to it. Adopting the right attitude to stress can turn something that is perceived to be a negative into a positive, and make it work for you rather than against you.
If you need help managing stress, please get in contact with the Nightingale Counselling team today. Either use our Contact Page or call us on 0141 353 9373
Nightingale Counselling Consultancy