What is stress?
Stress is something we all feel from time to time. How often do we find ourselves talking about how stressed we are? Ironically, however, we are often not clear about what it actually is, and in many cases we are confused about what we are actually experiencing.
Stress is a common-place reaction to the demands and frustrations of modern life. When we feel stressed, our body releases increased amounts of the hormone cortisol. Not all stress is bad. In small doses it can have a positive effect; giving us the extra energy and concentration that can help us meet that deadline, or react to threatening situations. It can even save your life. Optimal performance in these situations is reached with moderate levels of stress.
When stress becomes chronic, or levels reach too high levels , however, it can cause major problems with relationships, work and our mental and physical health. Feeling rundown or getting sick increasingly often are common signs we’re overly stressed. As our bodies are responding to the stressful environments and situations in our lives, our immune system is overworked and overtired, so that it can no longer protect you.
Stress can be associated with particular phases of life. The stress of parenting, for instance, is emerging as a major issue for couples, and Psychology Melbourne offers particular expertise in this and other specific stress issues.
What are some of the signs of stress?
- Headaches, general aches and pains
- Upset stomach, indigestion
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of confidence
- Depression or unhappiness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of being lonely and isolated
What can cause stress?
Stress can be caused by many things. These include demands at work or at home, health problems, having too much to do and little time to do it. Stress can be exacerbated by your coping style, your personality, your thought processes and factors such as fitness levels and sleep patterns.
Some common situations that can lead to high stress include:
- Relationship problems
- Financial problems
- Interpersonal conflict
- Work issues
- Social isolation
- Family or personal illness
Strategies to help manage stress
- Learn to recognise when you are feeling under stress.
- Keep notes on the events or thoughts that trigger it and try to identify any warning signs.
- Establish routines for sleep, meals and exercise, to minimise physical causes of stress
- Make time for relaxation; participate in enjoyable activities; practise meditation, yoga or breathing exercises
- Avoid situations which make you feel stressed
Psychology Melbourne can help
Our team of experienced psychologists are trained to help you manage and reduce stress through a number of evidence based treatment and therapeutic approaches. These may include mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavioural stress management, stress inoculation training and relaxation techniques.
When to seek professional assistance
If high stress levels persist or are significantly interfering with your life, you should seek professional help. In addition to individual sessions, we also run classes on How to Manage Stress and Anxiety which are highly popular and attract a Medicare rebate with a referral from a GP.