What is stress?

You may experience stress when you are involved with a situation that appears to be threatening or harmful. You may feel incapable of dealing with this situation. Some mild stress can be a good thing, as it can assist you to perform at your best when under pressure. People cope with stress differently – some people choose to block or ignore their feelings of stress, some let stress out through physical exercise, and some people deal with stress by talking about it with another person. However, these coping methods are not always helpful, particularly if you experience stress for long periods of time. Ongoing feelings of stress can become a very serious long-term health issue that can intensify rapidly, and cause you great unhappiness and restlessness.

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What causes stress?

Factors that might contribute to stress include:

  • Grief and loss
  • Changes in life circumstances
  • Limited social support network
  • Work-Life imbalances
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial strain or unemployment
  • Unhelpful coping strategies
  • Excessive levels of activity
  • Unhelpful coping strategies
  • Misuse of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication
  • Complete avoidance or withdrawal from social supports and normal activities

What are the symptoms of stress, and how do I know if I am suffering from stress?

Stress is a normal physical response to situations in which you feel upset or fear being harmed. Temporary or mild stress can be helpful – it can help you feel active and alert when you are in a threatening situation. Stress can help you to perform at your best during pressured situations such as sport, exams, and job interviews. However, if you experience the symptoms of stress for long periods of time, it may affect you in the following ways:

  • Inability to concentrate, or memory problems
  • Constant worrying, or racing thoughts
  • Irritability and quick to anger
  • Feeling lonely, unhappy, or isolated
  • Rapid heartbeat, nausea, or other anxious feelings
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Inability to relax or “wind down”
  • Changes to appetite, sleeping patterns, or sex drive
  • Substance use or abuse
  • Nervous tics and behaviours

Don’t ignore the symptoms of long-term stress

If you leave stress unresolved, it can lead to anger, depression, severe anxiety, and physical health complications. Ongoing stress can affect your relationships with friends and family, and also negatively impact their health and wellbeing.

Advice to help you reduce your stress

  • Achieve deeper relaxation with:
    • breathing exercises (see following article for some helpful relaxation techniques)
    • meditation and mindfulness exercises
  • Improve your exercise and diet:
    • eat healthy food and keep a regular sleep pattern
  • Cut down on coffee:
    • caffeine exacerbates anxiety
  • Talk about your feelings:
    • by internalising feelings of long-term stress and anxiety, you are likely to feel more distressed.

What are the treatment options for stress reduction?

At Seed Psychology, our psychologists can help you learn new coping strategies to deal with ongoing stress.

In consultation with our psychologists, you will discuss and understand the origins, underlying causes, and patterns of thinking that contribute to your feelings of stress. Our psychologists will discuss your appropriate treatment, and identify new coping strategies that will reduce your stress in a way that will not affect your life negatively.