Dealing with Stress
“Dealing with stress is the most helpful thing you can do for your health. Stress is a part of daily life. But if you can manage it, you’ll be less vulnerable to illness and more able to recover from it,”says Dr Erica Frydenberg from the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education.
Who to See for Stress?
If you are suffering from stress, your first step might be to visit your GP and seek a possible referral from them.
The referral might be to see:
- a counsellor – who is a specialist counsellor
- a psychologist
- a psychotherapist
- a psychiatrist – is less a counsellor and more a specialist in mental health disorders that probably require medications
It is important to check out referrals, do some online research and before committing, speak with the person to see if you sense some rapport with them. You will want them to understand your issues in order to build a useful therapeutic relationship for you to thrive in. The therapist will take into account how you deal with stress, your coping mechanisms, your life-style, health and any traumas / issues that may have contributed to or triggered your current stress condition. A holistic treatment plan would be considered to help you manage your approach to stressful situations, and aim to reduce and manage the levels of stress that you experience.
Symptoms of Stress
If you have gone through a life-changing event, such as the death of a loved one, divorce or abuse; you will probably experience normal temporary symptoms of stress. Such as:
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Flushed and/or sweating
- Increased heart-rate
- Inability to think clearly
- Confused and foggy brain
Stress is a heightened inflammatory response state, in which the body and mind exhibit certain symptoms that cause the sufferer distress. Not addressing these symptoms increases both the intensity and regularity of the stress state, causing it to become eventually, a default response and reaction to any perceived distress that the person experiences; and eventually becomes chronic stress. What the mind thinks, the body feels, and what the body feels causes the body to behave in ways that perceives it is under attack; and so the cycle repeats itself. Seeking relief from what’s in your head and body often causes people to seek substances or activities to block out / numb/ ignore the symptoms. It may work for a while. Stress, if left untreated will eventually worsen, and lead to anxiety and possibly depression. It’s important to learn how to manage stress and seek appropriate support and treatment.
New research from Carnegie Mellon University in the US seems to confirm that chronic stress can lead to ill health. “Doctors have been broadly aware of the connection for years. Now more research is proving it. Stress alters the reaction of your immune system and changes the outcome of illness,”says Dr Steve Hambleton, president of the Australian Medical Association
Inflammation alters immune system
“Specifically, stress affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation,” says Professor Sheldon Cohen, lead researcher in the Carnegie Mellon study. He exposed people to a virus, then monitored them for the production of cytokines, chemical messengers that trigger inflammation.He found people who were less able to regulate the inflammatory response – which happens when you are stressed – produced more messengers, leading to more inflammation. “When stressed, the immune system’s cells can’t respond to hormonal control,” Cohen says. “Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when it is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control.”
Hambleton says: “In the correct quantity, cortisol keeps inflammation down. It’s linked to the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in humans. A rush of cortisol is helpful when you need to escape danger. But if that rush is ‘switched on’ permanently, like it is when you’re stressed, it’s a different story.”
What helps with Stress?
- CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – to help with your thinking
- Mindfulness – to introduce a sense of peace and stillness in your mind
- Hypnosis – to explore useful resources and reconfigure old beliefs
- Massage and bodywork – to allow the body to detoxify and let go of physical stress
- Exercise – that fits for the person, otherwise it will never happen!
- Diet – a review of the person’s diet to ensure your nutrition is optimal for you
- Nurturing relationships – how do you do that?
- Dreams and goals – to build purpose and life fulfillment
Free 15 minute consultations to talk more about your concerns and individual needs.