Whether you are juggling a busy life with lots of competing demands or you have a simpler existence, stress can still be present. Studies show that up to 77% of people who experience stress report affects to their physical and mental health.
A familiar term, “fight or flight” is the physical stress response our body exerts when faced with what we see as threat or danger. Hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol race through our bodies, preparing us to fight or flee from the perceived stressor. As this happens, you experience sudden increases in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Your body begins to direct all of its energy away from normal bodily processes such as digestion, and sends it to your brain and muscles in preparation to flight or flee. It is no wonder stress is so often linked with stomach and digestion issues, when all your energy is being taken away from normal digestive processes during moments of stress.
You may be thinking, “but I’m stressing about getting to work on time, I don’t need to fight or flee”. Unfortunately, but very interestingly, your body creates the same stress response regardless of the type of threat. This means whether you’re in your car stressing because you are late for work or about to be attacked by a shark, your body reacts in the same way no matter what’s causing the stress.
It goes without saying that everyone experiences various levels of stress throughout their life. This natural biological response can kick you into gear to meet daily challenges, sharpen your concentration and keep you safe from things that may harm you. Therefore, short-term experiences of stress are natural and can be helpful.
It’s when stress lingers and dominates your mind over work tasks or being able to enjoy the pleasures of life, that it can take an unnecessary toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Nothing is worse than feeling anxious and tense throughout the day, impacting your ability to properly function and make the most of life.
Stress can also leave you feeling restless and unable to maintain regular sleep. As stress affects your immune system’s functionality, you may find yourself fighting regular colds and infections. Studies have also shown a strong relationship between stress, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. If left untreated, stress can also develop into mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
More and more, clients attend counselling because life just seems too difficult.
Thankfully, by employing a change in thinking along with a shift in how you approach each day, stress can melt away. Not only that, once you have a better understanding of what stresses you out, it’s easier to accept and not feel so daunted.