Stress ©

The term stress was coined by Hans Selye in 1936 and defined as the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand and can be caused by both good and bad experiences. Both positive and negative experiences and life transitions can lead to stress.


When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. However, it can be the opposite if the stress is in response to something emotional as there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.


Firstly, our body will judge the situation and decide if it is stressful. This decision will be influenced by things we have seen and heard and on our stored memories. If the situation is judged as being stressful, our hypothalamus, the part of the brain in charge of stress is activated and a stress response is triggered. It then sends signals to the pituitary gland and the adrenal medulla. 


Causes of stress:

  • A breakup

  • Beginning or ending school

  • Being diagnosed with a serious illness

  • Being discriminated against

  • Chronic illness or injury

  • Divorce

  • Experiencing a loss

  • Financial problems

  • Getting married

  • Having a child

  • Losing a job

  • Moving home or office

  • The death of a loved one


Emotional signs of stress:

  • Anger

  • Being more emotional

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Feeling on edge

  • Frustration

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Helplessness

  • Impatience

  • Irritability

  • Low energy

  • Low sense of humour

  • Resentment

  • Restlessness

  • Worry


Physical signs of stress:

  • Aches, pains

  • Diarrhoea, constipation

  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat

  • Clenching jaw

  • Cold or sweaty hands

  • Dry mouth

  • Grinding teeth

  • Going to the bathroom more frequently

  • Headaches

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Insomnia

  • Frequent colds and infections

  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability

  • Nausea

  • Tense muscles

  • Upset stomach


Therapy

Initially the client gets an understanding of what is happening, which in turn will assist them in gaining control of the sources of their stress. Inner conflicts and blind spots are addressed along with unresolved trauma(s) to enable the client to identify the causes of their stress. The client will learn to change their automatic thoughts and behaviours that feed their anxiety. Specifically tailored stress reduction techniques will be introduced in order to reduce the physical, sometimes unknown side effects of their anxiety.

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry