Stress is a bodily response to the demands and challenges of life. In other words, stress is defined as an internal conditioned response to external pressures. There are mental and emotional elements of stress that can be expressed through thought and feeling, as well as in the body. The American Institute of Stress calls stress “America’s leading health problem.” In ancient times, stress was running away from real dangers in the wild, such as a saber tooth tiger or fearing not being able to eat. Now, it’s more a response to psychological threats.
These threats could manifest as losing your job, a loved one, or relationship problems. It could also include environmental worries. When one or more of these challenges occur, it can exacerbate stress and the stress response, leading to a stress illness. The way the brain handles stress is by sending out the fight or flight response as a way to protect you from perceived dangers. Adrenaline and cortisol releases into the bloodstream, which causes increased blood flow, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
There are a plethora of causes of stress. Still, some of the most common includes, losing a job or starting a new one, getting divorced or going through a breakup, getting married, having a child, moving, being bullied or discriminated against, being diagnosed with a serious illness, even following the news or politics.
For many people, this is a normal part of life, but not everyone will experience even half of these. Some will react calmly, and others will develop anxiety and panic disorders, depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Good stress can affect someone significantly, just as bad stress can. Weddings are particularly stressful, so is having a new baby.
For many people, stress can cause serious problems, even illness. When someone is going through withdrawal, the stress can increase significantly and is why stress management therapy is usually included in a person’s recovery plan. Stress management therapy can involve various elements, including counseling, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and even medication, if necessary.
A qualified therapist will usually uncover major stressors that are affecting you and then teach you tools in which to manage your stress levels and response. The treatment may involve processing traumas or retraining your brain to not overreact to stress. They will sort out issues and find better ways of helping you learn to cope with life’s challenges. Some other modalities a therapist may use include:
Stress can be managed with the right therapy protocol. When you learn to manage your stress response, it won’t affect you as much. Your health will improve, and your overall wellness enhanced.