Stress Awareness Week

The first week of November, 1 – 6 November 2021 is Stress Awareness Week. Organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), it builds on the well-established Stress Awareness Day which has been observed since 1998. The ISMA is a UK charity and the lead professional body for workplace and personal Stress Management and Well-being. The week was developed as an annual event focusing on stress management and campaigning against the stigma associated mental health and stress issues.

I have written several times before about stress, but this time I wanted to focus in detail about what stress is and how to recognise the signs. The Confederation of British Industry describes stress as, “That which arises when the pressure placed upon an individual exceeds the capacity of that individual to cope”.

Stress can come from many sources, but typical sources in the modern world are work, family and finances. Stress is an ancient response to a threat. When we are stressed, we release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which prepares the body for physical action – fight or flight. While this might be useful in the short term (to run from a dangerous situation), prolonged unresolved, stress is not healthy and can have damaging effects on the body.

So how can you tell if you, or someone you know, is stressed? Well the symptoms fall into four main categories – Psychological, Emotional, Physical and Behavioural.

Psychological signs can include memory lapses and problems with concentrate (easily distracted, being unfocused, etc.), reduced creativity and difficulty sleeping. Other signs include negative thoughts and worrying, feeling overwhelmed, depressed or anxious.

Emotional signs can include mood swings, anger, irritability and frustration. Other signs include defensive behaviours, sensitivity to criticism as well as reduced confidence and self-esteem.

Stress often manifests in physical symptoms. This can be due to the negative impact on the immune systems. But sometimes the physical impacts are more subtle such as weight loss / gain, indigestion and ulcers or tiredness. Other physical signs can include raised blood pressure, hyperventilation, digestive issues and reproductive concerns such as reduced libido or menstrual changes.

Behavioural signs can include increased use of alcohol, nicotine or other recreational drugs. Other symptoms include lack of self-care, relationship problems, sleeplessness or withdrawal from friends and family.

Hypnotherapy includes a range of techniques including relaxation, mindfulness, boosting self-esteem and positive affirmation. These can help you to develop effective coping strategies for when you are stressed and ensure you remain focused and effective to resolve the stressful situation. As Andrew Bernstein (American Philosopher) said, “Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life”.

So, if you, or someone you know, could benefit from Hypnotherapy then contact me.

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