What can we do about feeling stressed?

Issue: 32 - 18 May 2010
Stress is a feeling that's created when you react to certain events. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.
Stress becomes a problem when you become over-stressed and it starts to affect how you cope with day to day stuff.
Symptoms of stress
People who are experiencing stress overload may notice some of the following signs:
  • Anxiety, irritability or panic attacks
  • A feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried
  • Allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
  • Problems sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or doing drugs
  • Sadness or depression
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Feeling frustrated at having to wait for something
  • Feeling restless
  • Becoming easily confused
  • Having memory problems
  • Thinking about negative things all the time
  • Negative self-talk
  • Having marked mood swings
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Not having enough energy to get things done
  • Feeling you can't cope
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Having emotional outbursts
  • Generally feeling upset
  • Lack of sense of humor
  • Muscle tension
  • Low back pain
  • Pains in shoulders or neck
  • Pains in chest and headaches
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Muscle spasms or nervous tics
  • 'Pounding' or 'racing' heart
  • Sweaty palms
  • Sweating when not physically active
  • 'Butterflies' in stomach
  • Indigestion and 'the gurgles'
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or holding your breath
What Can We Do About Being Stressed?
Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price.
If you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself by learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
What is stress?
The Body’s Stress Response
When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.
Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.
Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body's defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response.
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, or pushes you to keep studying at exam time.
But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
Left unchecked chronic stress can also develop into an anxiety disorder
Almost everyone experiences some anxiety. This is normal. Anxiety disorders are different from everyday anxiety because they are more severe, can persist and may interfere with a person’s daily life. The good news is that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated.
Common anxiety disorders are:
  • Panic disorder – a condition where a wave of sudden panic overtakes the person for no apparent reason. The person experiences many physical symptoms. People tend to avoid situations that they fear might trigger an anxiety attack.
  • Specific phobias – fears of particular situations or things: for example, a fear of heights, open spaces, spiders, snakes or blood. This also leads to the person avoiding situations.
  • Agoraphobia – fear of a public place, such as a shopping centre or park, or of being away from a place of ‘safety’ such as one’s home. This is based on a fear that escape from this place may be impossible and anxiety will become overwhelming.
  • Social anxiety disorder – a fear of the scrutiny and judgments of others, including a fear that the person will behave in a way that is embarrassing or causes others to think negatively of them, such as when speaking, eating or writing in public.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – experienced as ongoing distress and intrusive re-living of experiences as ‘flashbacks’ or nightmares months after experiencing or witnessing a real and very distressing event such as a disaster, accident, war or torture, violent death or assault.
Other anxiety disorders include:
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – experienced as uncontrollable intrusive thoughts, fears or images and a compulsive urge to repeat certain often irrational behaviors to lessen the anxiety.
  • Acute stress disorder – a form of posttraumatic stress disorder that happens soon after experiencing or witnessing a very distressing event.
  • Generalised anxiety disorder – a disorder in which a person is constantly worried, often about irrational things, and cannot be reassured. Most commonly they worry unnecessarily about their health, the safety of members of their family or their finances.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders can have a variety of symptoms including:
  • Anxiety, leading to avoidance of particular associated situations
  • Panicky feelings Palpitations (pounding heart, accelerated heart rate)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or smothering sensations
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea (upset stomach)
  • Feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed
  • Derealisation (the world feels different and unfamiliar)
  • Depersonalisation (the body feels different)
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
How can we treat Stress?
  • Inositol is a natural supplement that can help with stress or anxiety
  • Transpersonal Counselling is very helpful in dealing with stress and anxiety
  • Acupuncture
  • Eat a Healthy Diet, don’t skip meals or eat fast food
  • Make sure you drink around 2.5 to 3 litres water daily 
  • Exercise – Is very important as it is a good stress relief. Also when you exercise you release endorphins into your body, which are your feel good hormones.
  • Relaxation music, breathing exercises or meditation is excellent
  • Yoga or tai-chi is also great
  • Delegating or sharing your responsibilities at work
  • Avoiding confrontation with difficult colleagues
  • Learning to be more assertive
  • Not using drink or drugs to cope
  • Finding humour or absurdity in stressful situations
  • Never taking on more than you know you can cope with
  • Organising your time better to get as much done as possible
  • Talking to friends or family, and sharing your thoughts and fears
  • Tensing and then relaxing your muscles, starting at the toes and working up to the head and neck

What is Transpersonal Counselling?
Transpersonal counselling simply means looking beyond the “personality self”.
Transpersonal Counselling can benefit many in the healing of individuals, families and groups from diverse backgrounds and with many types of problems and issues.
Understanding the past gives us the freedom to live life more fully in the present, and with the support of a transpersonal counsellor we can look at building a future that is authentic, meaningful and spiritually fulfilling.
Transpersonal Counselling is client-centered counselling which works to reveal inner guidance while reserving judgment or analysis. It works with the whole person and recognizes the person in the context of their psychological, social and cultural life. It looks at finding purpose and meaning in life.
With the therapists support we can access our own deeper levels of wisdom, creativity and potential. By focusing on self-healing, self-development and self-realisation we can uncover our true essence and embrace life with more awareness.
Transpersonal work provides people in crises with an alternative to symptom suppression. It helps them to creatively adapt to their crisis, using the experience to grow and truly heal. The experience is transformed into a breakthrough rather than breakdown.
This creative approach to counselling draws on ancient and modern systems.
Transpersonal counselling incorporates many different healing methods including:
  • Personal journeys 
  • Self hypnosis and related states 
  • Relaxation techniques 
  • Dream work and analysis 
  • Shamanic model
  • Energy and chakra work 
  • Body focusing 
  • Expression though art 
  • Symbolism
  • Archetypes 
  • Mythology
Counselling can assist you in understanding what element you need to develop within yourself to make any decisions, transformations, breakthroughs and changes.
Nowadays we are so busy with everyday life that we never spend any time in the moment. We worry about the past and worry about what the future holds, most of what we worry about never manifests, so we have wasted all that energy and precious time on a figment of our imagination. Then all of a sudden we blink our eyes and we have wasted years, and we have missed out on important memories and experiences in our life.
I challenge you to take a couple of minutes a day and live in the NOW, take time out to stop and smell the flowers, engross yourself in what it looks like, how it feels, is there a wind blowing, can you smell the scent in the air. Feel the energy that vibrates within you while you are standing quietly and observing nature. Now tell me you don’t feel revitalized, calm and relaxed.
There is a fantastic book on the market called “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I have read this book myself and found that it is an excellent book for everybody regardless of who you are or what you believe in.
"I have a constant feeling of well being. I find that when I started taking the Natural HGH my sleeping really improved and I was waking up in the morning refreshed and full of energy. I now find that my energy is not only excellent but I maintain it throughout the day, not needing those afternoon naps anymore."
Joan, Retired Nurse, QLD

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