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What is Stress?

Stress is a normal part of everyday life that affects pretty much everyone at some stage. Some stress can be good for us in so far as it helps us too learn and to develop. Stress causes hormones and neurochemicals to be released into the body in what is often called the 'fight or flight' syndrome.

If we are constantly in this state and do not find ways to relieve this stress this can be damaging for our mental health and physical well-being. Prolonged high level stress is the most destructive type.

It is vital to develop mechanisms such as meditation, vigorous exercise, yoga or Pilates to help us manage the effects that stress can have on us.

What Causes Stress?

Stress is caused by anything that creates high levels of demand on your mind or body and these are called stressors. It is a case of; stress is in the eye of the beholder.

Death of wife, husband, or partner
Marriage separation
Going to jail
Death of someone close
Sickness or physical injury
Losing your job
Marriage reconciliation
Career retirement

Everyone has there own thresholds or tolerance levels things that cause stress in one person may not have even the slightest impact on another. For example, some people become almost overwrought by air travel and others take it completely in their stride.

According to the Holmes-Rahe the following are the ten most stressful situations that we are most likely to encounter during our lives in order of severity.

Stress Factors

There are external and external stressors. External stress factors include, bereavement, personal relationships, work problems, financial difficulties, and being over busy. Internal stress factors are those that we create for ourselves such as negative thoughts, undue pessimism, being a perfectionist, being uncomfortable with uncertainty, and having unrealistic expectations.

Signs of Stress

Stress manifests itself in different people in different ways that can be emotional, behavioural and even physical.

The insidious thing about stress is that it can be present without you being conscious that it is there.

It is important that we learn to recognise when we are under harmful stress.

The telltale signs or symptoms of stress can be almost anything but here is a list symptoms some of which you might recognise.

Stress - Behavioural Symptoms

Stress - Emotional Symptoms

Nervous habits e.g. biting of nails
Overeating or loss of appetite
Disrupted sleep patterns
Increase use of coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs
Procrastination or neglecting duties
Avoiding contact with people
Mood swings
Being agitated / unable to relax
Sense of being overwhelmed
Feeling lonely
Feeling unhappy and / or depressed

Stress - Cognitive Symptoms

Stress - Physical Symptoms

Difficulties make balanced judgements
Can't concentrate
Inability to remember things
Racing mind / anxious thoughts
Ceaseless worrying
Constant negative thoughts
Facial tics
Diarrhoea or constipation
Loss of libido
Racing pulse / heartbeat
Neck pain, back pain or other aches

Prevent Stress / Manage Stress

As mentioned earlier stress can be positive so long as it is managed appropriately. Our body reacts to stress by preparing for either a flight response or a fight response. In modern socIET®y usually neither response is appropriate to the stressful situations that we encounter yet our body is prepared for either. Regular vigorous exercise is an excellent way to actively manage stress. Exercise helps to reduce the body's production of the stress hormones and neurochemicals. Research has proven that regular exercise is a powerful antidepressant and promotes healthy sleeping patterns.

Meditation techniques are excellent at releasing tension from the body. For centuries Eastern socIET®ies have used meditation to excellent effect. A daily 20 minute meditation session, done properly, will go a long way towards stress prevention and management.

Avoid turning to unhealthy stress management techniques such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, binge eating, prescription or illegal drugs. These only mask the symptoms but do not deal with the underlying issues. Try to identify the sources of stress in your life and deal with them head-on - do not procrastinate. Of course this is easier said than done and some people keep a stress diary which helps them to identify sources and patterns that cause stress. Once these have been identified you are equipped to prevent stress by avoiding or altering the stressor; or by learning to adapt or accept the stressor.

Stress Relief - How to Cure Stress

There are many holistic methods to relieve, and indeed cure, stress. These are non-invasive stress relief methods that do not involve the use of toxic substances. Many people that have suffered from stress have found a long term cure to their stress through complementary and alternative therapies. Such therapies include Reiki, Kinesiology, CranioSacral, Homeopathy, Massage, and Pilates classes. If you have tried conventional methods without finding a Stress cure there are a number of complementary therapists listed on this site that may have the solution to your stress problems.


The material and information contained on this site is for educational purposes only. This information should not be interpreted as any form of medical advice. If you are experiencing any medical or health difficulties please consult with your doctor.

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