Stress is a normal human reaction to any kind of demand put on the body. The stress response can be a reaction to both good and bad experiences. If something is happening to you and you begin to feel a level of stress, your body will react by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases. Blood is diverted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared, physically and psychologically. We become hyper-vigilant, scanning and searching our environment, ‘looking for the danger.’ When our fight or flight system is activated, we tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival. Unfortunately, our bodies do not know the difference between real danger and perceived danger, therefore the stress response is useful if there is real danger but not so useful if the danger is due to faulty perception.
When we are in real danger the stress response increases our chances of survival but what happens when the threat is not real? What happens when there are no wild animals or threat to our lives but instead we are reacting to the morning traffic or work deadlines? The stress response is the same but there is nowhere to run to or no one to fight. The build up of energy is the same and the stress chemicals still build up and start impacting on the body but there is no outlet. Eventually, this build up will be detrimental to your physical and psychological well-being. Depression increases as the immune system weakens, hormone systems are effected and the very thing that is designed to keep you alive slowly starts to damage you physically, mentally and emotionally.
Many different things can cause stress, physical danger (such as fear of being hurt) to an emotional response (such as worry over your family or job) or life-style stress, such as not having enough time to relax, working too hard, feeling unsupported or dealing with difficult family commitments etc. Identifying the cause of your stress will be the first step in learning how to better deal with your stress.
So what is the answer? Stress counselling will help you identify the areas that create stress in your life. Taking an integrative approach together we will create a programme that looks at your environment and your approach to stressful situations. CBT may help you to address the negative thought processes that may be leading to stress. Relaxation therapy can give you the tools and techniques to counteract the stress response, and then together we can explore how stress is affecting you, identifying its cause and work towards an agreed goal.
Stress counselling is carried out in Woodford Green, Essex. Sessions for stress reduction are usually carried out on a weekly or twice weekly basis.