There are many reasons and degrees of stress.
Stress is a natural reaction of people to various situations and stimuluses. People have many conditions of life with which they feel comfortable, familiar, calm and confident. However, when a person is 'stressed' they are living or working outside the boundaries of their 'comfort zone'; often however, they will not realise this.
Natural stress is intended for infrequent, short time periods. It provides extra energy, awareness and fight, flight or freeze capabilities for dangerous situations. It is one of the survival tools of the human animal. It works well, usually.
Unnatural stress is a result of the modern development of mankind. Modern situations often cause stress to continue for prolonged periods, sometimes over many hours of many days of most weeks. It is these unnatural stress situations which are unhealthy. Modern stress is often without physical danger, which is another apparent conflict for the mind to deal with.
Natural stress is a normal, essential, attribute of animals, including humans. It increases the chances or survival and wellbeing as a species. It works in the following manner.
- A danger or other stress situation is detected by one or more of the senses. An example may be fear and realisation of being hunted by a predator; or alternatively the opportunity to hunt a prey.
- Physical reactions progressively occur, to enhance the survival of the human animal. The autonomic nervous system is triggered by the unconscious part of the brain. Hormones, including adrenalin and cortesol, are released into the bloodstream. Pupils dilate; periphial vision decreases, giving enhanced concentrated vision: hearing eyesight and other senses becomes more acute; digestion system closes down; mouths go dry; immune system shuts down; pain nerves are desensitised; heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase. Muscles tense, skin hair pricks up. The senses which are being activated or alerted become more acute. Awareness changes to concentrate on the stressing stimulus. Energy is 'made ready', for fight or flight. These are normal stress reactions which assist survival in desperate physical situations.
- If the human acknowledges, subconsciously, that they cannot fight the attacker, or flee successfully, the instinct will be to be overwhelmed and "freeze". This may result in the feelings of being overwhelmed in situations which are not really dangerous.
In modern days those reactions may be useless, inappropriate and harmful when they repeatedly 'kick in' during most home or workday stress situations.
In modern life humans are often subjected to stimuluses which are not 'natural'. Unnatural stress examples might include:
- too many emails to answer at the workplace,
- fear of debt or unemployment,
- traffic jams,
- unrealistic work expectations,
- personal or professional disagreements.
Unfortunately, the unnatural stimulus of modern life often alerts the natural stress reactions and emotions. The modern human brain cannot recognise any difference.
Stress Counselling in Exeter can help bring healthy awareness of stress problems and solutions, leading to a healthier state of well-being. We will do this in a number of co-ordinated and interacting ways:
- Understanding what stress is, and why is exists. What is the reality that is being dealt with.
- Developing knowledge of the differences of natural and unnatural stress.
- Identifying and understanding what are the stress triggers for yourself.
- Understanding the possibility of coping methods to reduce unnatural stress and its effects.
- Establishing stratagies where the mind can start to recognise the differences between natural stress alerts and unnatural stress situations.
- Stepping back on the kerb to avoid a bus, is not the same as being afraid of an upcoming job review or finding a parking space.
- Counselling helps to reduce the negative feelings and emotions of unnatural stress. Stress affects people in various ways, I work with clients according to their individual needs. Learning and understanding where the stress originates brings awareness to the issues. Understanding problems enables clients to work with and devolop methods to reduce stress to reasonable and healthy levels.
The best method is probably not to encounter unnatural stress at all. For most people that is unrealistic. Recognising and understanding your stress is a first step of improvement. Why, when, and where does it occur? What are the symptoms? Counselling helps clarify your stress, assisting in methods for you to improve your situation.
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