Stress is a daily feature of life for everyone, especially in this day and age. Pressure in daily life, to achieve goals, complete work and get bills paid. But when stress gets to a certain level, it is potentially harmful and damaging to our health.When stress starts to take the enjoyment out of life and causes migraines or headaches and dread of getting up in the morning, that is when it starts to be a problem, but often it goes unnoticed until it becomes a serious problem, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and related illness and death, and causing outbursts of anger or lapses of concentration which can affect driving and other activities. In extremes, stress can cause death, so the sooner it is recognized and interventions are made, the better.Stress isn’t always ‘curable’, it is part of life, and is natural when life crisis such as bereavement, divorce or moving home occur. The body has to adjust to the changes, and stress is the reaction. However, when the mind over-compensates for change or cannot process it, stress can then become a problem. The usual symptoms are exaggerated reactions to small things, for example, tears, anger or despair over easily resolved problems rather than the actual cause of the stress, and self-neglect . People are not always aware of how serious their stress has become until such an incident flares up, and sometimes it takes someone else to point it out.
What can be done to reduce stress? Mindfulness is a short answer. Being aware of stress levels and causes of stress. This helps to prevent and resolve stress. Avoiding stressful situations sometimes helps, although on the other hand, depending on the situation, facing the stressor and finding a permanent resolution can also help.
Lifestyle changes are a solution. If your life isn’t balanced, isn’t working out, changing it to reduce the stress can be a major solution. There are organizations on hand to help with almost any life situation, from marriage counsellors to childcare, debt advice, healthcare and housing advice.
Many people don’t realize they could benefit from help, or they feel too nervous or proud to reach out for help when they know that they need it, and therefore they continue in situations of stress, and suffer. The way forward is to acknowledge the stress, accept the causes of it, and find solutions before it gets too serious and has further impact on life, thus causing more stress.
When stress gets overwhelming and a serious problem, most people don’t live in isolation, and will either realize that they need help or be advised by others who notice the impact. It is rare for people to respond well to being told that they need help, but sometimes it is a relief to realize how bad things are and to seek professional help.
There are an abundance of therapists who deal with stress, and in different ways. For example, some use relaxation techniques, others a person-centred approach, looking at the whole person and their life and finding the causes of the person’s stress reactions, while benefiting the client with a listening ear to share everything that they have bottled up to cause stress, while some therapists use cognitive behavioural techniques, looking at the thoughts behind the stress reactions, and helping the client to change their thought processes to positive ones and find coping techniques.
Whatever method used for reducing stress, it all starts with self-awareness and acknowledgement of the problem, and moves on to changing the thought pattern, process and situation and finding resolution and better balance