What is Stress?
Stress is a physical, emotional and mental response to perceived external pressures and our belief that we lack the resources to meet them. In addition to contributing to feelings of anxiety and depression, stress also manifests itself physically and has been linked to elevated blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and other serious conditions.
A range of positive and negative experiences and life transitions can trigger stress. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory identifies some of the following events as common and stress-inducing:
Discrimination of any kind
Having a child
Grief or loss
Dealing with stress is complicated by its subjective nature – a stressful situation experienced by one person may be a simple roadblock for another individual, hindering ones ability to acknowledge the need for help and instead choosing to dismiss it as normal. A mental health professional can often help treat any difficulties experienced as a result of coping with high levels of stress.
Chronic stress can be draining and debilitating. High levels of stress has been linked to a range of mental and physical health issues, including:
Emotionally – anxiety, depression, tension, anger
Thought patterns – poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness
Behaviourally – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, nervousness, gambling.
Physically – chronic pain, elevated blood pressure, diabetes heart attack and stroke
A mental health professional can often help provide treatment of your struggles and challenges experienced as a result of coping with high levels of stress. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness exercises for individuals, or exploring family therapy or couples counselling for issues stemming from personal relationships.
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