We all undergo stress from everyday life and, believe it or not, a little stress is good for you. Most of us have way too much. But how do you hit that happy medium? It’s not easy. Chronic Stress sabotages your well-being. I’m here to help you de-stress and have some fun in life again.
“Stress not only affects you emotionally but also physically” states Nick Ortner. Nick has been on the Dr. Oz show and written a book on the NY Times best seller list. “It puts your health at risk. If you want to improve acute and chronic conditions, then take a thorough look at your stress. It’s important to realize that stress is strongly connected to physical illness.”
Do I really have stress?
Often we aren’t consciously aware of the stress we are experiencing or more importantly, holding in our body. Ok, so you work out at least several times a week, get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, usually eat properly (lots of veggies), practice mindfulness or yoga. So, that should take care of stress overload. Right?
Not necessarily. Frequently, we are so accustomed to having a built in stressful schedule and life style that we consider it normal- demanding job, children that need nurturing and attention, trying to have a date night with your spouse. The list of stressors goes on. You say, well that’s life, I can’t do much about it. Even though you do have a very busy schedule, it is possible to manage the stress and dislodge the accumulated stress that is building on itself and perpetuating the stress response you deal with every day.
Of course, it is good to get someone to help look at what’s producing the stress and eliminate as much as possible. It is not a good idea to force yourself to accept your stressful life as what you have to do. Changes can be made that help you reduce your stress and still meet you’re your demands.
The attitude of, “So why bother? Just suck it up and live with it,” adds more stress and is not a healthy mind set. In every situation that I have worked with, adjustments and changes can be made that ease your schedule and decrease some of what you feel you HAVE TO do.
What happens to me emotionally and physically from the stress from everyday life?
Your amygdala (in the mid brain) goes to work sensing danger and this pushes you into the fight or flight response that was so useful in cave man days. Now you sense that fight or flight would be a great alternative but, can’t rush out of a conference call or give a tongue lashing to an annoying person. So, the stress gets internalized. Even though your body is responding in a fight/flight response by releasing stress hormones-adrenalin and cortisol you’re not in a position to handle it immediately in a way that is helpful to your body.
Not only are you in an elevated emotional state, but your body is suffering – food doesn’t get digested and now you have indigestion on top of the irritation. Releasing of the cortisol often leads to weight gain. Your sleep can be affected-waking at night from a restful sleep to find yourself thinking about things that need attention or problems you need to tackle. The list goes on. You’re up and running in a stress response.
Eventually, you are bone tired, physically and emotionally exhausted, and usually depressed. This is why it is so important for a therapist to evaluate depression wholistically. Depression is a symptom that can be brought on by many different factors. Treating symptoms alone does not get to the root cause of the issue so the issue perpetuates if you only deal with the symptom.
What about those little things that bug me which I try to ignore?
I’ve been discussing the kind of stress you see in a more hyper vigilant crisis mode, the kind of stress that you would more readily recognize when you see and feel it. What about the things that go on daily that don’t throw you into a full blown fight or flight?
We don’t usually count these small irritations or recurring thoughts that are also stressful and affect your mind and body. Sometimes you don’t even count these more seemingly minor stressors because you think you can’t get rid of them completely. Still, they stay with you and work on your body in the same negative way that the more obvious stressors do.
Often addictions arise from stress. You self-medicate yourself with alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs, gambling, shopping, sex, etc. You’re just trying to feel better and think that a substance or behavior will make you feel better in the long run. It never does. Adding a new issue does not resolve the old one.
So, what can I do about all of this and do I want to do anything?
There are many ways to address stress and its effect on the body. Of course, exercise, sleep and proper diet will definitely help. I highly recommend adding these to whatever else you do to minimize and eliminate stress. Therapeutically, I suggest you engage in therapy and I do mean engage, not just attend.
An assessment of your life style and transgenerational, as well as present issues that have led you to where you are now. Then, a course of treatment that will give long lasting results, not just putting a Band-Aid on the problem by dealing with the symptom. Those under stress often turn to anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressant drugs, which will treat the symptom and frequently give temporary relief. If the core issues aren’t resolved, your body will know and your will feel the effects.
I recommend EFT (emotional freedom techniques) as a good starting place. EFT is explained elsewhere on my website. Of course talk therapy is often a good adjunct to EFT although EFT accesses the emotions and the body at the same time. Hopefully, you want to really resolve all of the issues surrounding this potentially debilitating stress.
Give me, Sandra E. Hennies, M.Ed, LMFT a call if you have questions stress from everyday life or want to schedule an initial appointment at 803-787-3130.