Stress Management

I have now retired but will continue to keep this web site live as a resource in case it is helpful to people. 

Stress comes from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or anxious. Different people feel different amounts of stress in the same situations but it’s often caused by your reaction to too much change- too fast. Finding the right technique(s) for YOU personally is critical.

However, not all stress is unpleasant. Many people thrive on the buzz they get from meeting exciting new challenges and they may only work effectively if they are nearing a deadline. Some people can rise to a big occasion and surpass themselves, the adrenalin rush they experience is addictive and they feel stress is positive & motivating & that life without it would be dull and boring. Too much Stress is when it becomes dangerous for us.

Surprisingly most of us don’t know we  have the ability to manage stress and reduce anxiety. We are sometimes unaware that we can actually relax our bodies or  minds in response to stress  but we don’t always recognise that stress has crept up on us. Here is a link to one of my relaxation hypnotherapy recordings:

Relaxation hypnotherapy recording

Stress & anxiety accumulates over time as well as being a response to a traumatic event and in the current pandemic or with a recent serious illness diagnosis these can feel more overwhelming.

Identify your stressors, together with any significant life events and changes  to understand the types of stress which are causing your problems, i.e. emotional, illness, environmental, hormonal, allergic or burn-out. e.g. :

Very High Stressors: Death of a close family member, cancer diagnosis, Marriage, Job loss, House move, overwhelming workload with no recovery time.

High stressors: Retirement, new child, job change, sex difficulties

Moderate Stressors: Start or finish of school, trouble with in-laws, trouble with the boss

Low Stressors: holidays, negative letter from the bank manager, argument with partner, sleep difficulties

Stress is particularly bad when events are unpredictable, major, intense and unavoidable – like a diagnosis of a serious illness. It can also come from inability to cope with responsibilities, conflict in your life and an unrecognised illness.

In the early 2000s, life was 44% more stressful than 50 years ago, now with the pandemic and more technology and more uncertainty and inability to plan a secure future it must be significantly higher! And that is before receiving a critical illness diagnosis.

Recognise the warning signs. These can vary from person to person but examples are: Eczema, headaches, diarrhoea, tension, irritability, moodiness, gain or loss of appetite or weight, lack of ability to feel pleasure or enjoyment inability to make decisions, fear of imminent death, feeling mentally drained, feeling under pressure, feeling tense and unable to relax.

What is happening physically? Your body will be displaying : muscle tension, spasm, headaches, butterflies in stomach, rapid shallow breathing, heart pounding , seating, feeling sick, pins and needles in extremities, cold hands and feet, indigestion, frequent need to pass during, sleep problems, and the liver releases energy giving increased sugar spikes and cholesterol.

Your adrenal glans are releasing adrenalin, and noradrenalin (stress hormones) designed to put your body into “fight or flight” . This prepared neanderthal man to face a physical challenge. Cortisol is also released creating fatty acids to be used by the muscles to help us move fast. If this isn’t used it is deposited in our blood vessels and can lead to coronary heart disease.

The stress response may be less severe but cumulative and insidious, if we never actually fight or flee it is not discharged.

COPING TECHNIQUES: Develop appropriate strategies and explore the best techniques to enable YOU to be personally aware, recognising when negative or nervous thinking starts (which lead to more stress). This is vital so that you can learn & employ new thinking patterns which eventually take over and becoming your newer, much healthier, habit. Here are some which I have found particularly helpful with clients and I use them myself.

BREATHE OUT longer than breathing in. In for 6 beats and out for 8. The body chemistry changes and becomes less oxygen rich so the stress hormones evaporate. Singing has a similar effect.

RECOGNISE YOUR STRESS, explore it rather than distract yourself, keep a note of the signs you experience, note how severe they are and how long they lasted, Worth down the possible causes of them. You could sort them into 1) those that have a practical solution, 2) those that will go away on their own with time, and 3) this you can do nothing to change, LET THE LAST 2 GROUPS GO!

RECOGNISE FALSE FRIENDS THAT DRAIN YOUR ENERGY AND AVOID alcohol and tobacco, they both increase stress hormones.

TALK TO A THERAPIST OR FRIEND ( one who is really on your side!). Having no-one to talk to can make you feel worse.

PRACTICE RELAXATION. This will help you find your equilibrium again Then you can listen to what our body is trying to tell you. You can become more in touch with your spiritual and emotional self.

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Only you can change your life. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotTake full responsibility for making the improvements that you need to be made

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Slow down to become aware of the warning signals your body us sending you. Become more aware of your responses to stress, Face what is othering you head on rather than avoid it otherwise nothing will improve

HAVE MORE FUN. Move yourself up your list of priorities. Allow yourself to accomplish less in your life . Don’t cut back on the things you enjoy but increase the healthy things that make you happy.

LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFE. Regular exercise, proper diet, enough sleep are necessary to keep your body healthy If you have a sedentary job then this is even more important,

OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS. Practice positive thinking. Recognise and stop the negative self talk Stop beating yourself up for things you didn’t do perfectly. Negative thought s lower your achievement level and increase stress, positive thoughts have the opposite effect.

USE THE WORD “NO”! Practice saying it! Learn to say No to the things you don’t want to do , can’t manage or simply don’t feel like doing Recognise your own limits. It feels weird and uncomfortable at first but gets easier with practice!

Further complex reasons for being under Stress:

Maybe it is that your authentic self is not being expressed. You can apparently function perfectly on the surface but deep down be stressed because of other peoples’ values  conflicting with your core-self. Exploring and working through the inner conflict together in a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere is important.

But this is about  learning to give yourself permission to take “time out”,  recognising, prioritising & taking care of your own needs.  It has even been suggested that a serious illness like cancer can be the result of an accumulation of stress, maybe not having been able to attend to your own needs because so many other demands exist on your time. Cancer and other life limiting illnesses  make every thing stop and you absolutely have to put yourself first, maybe for the first time in your life, while you have treatment. 

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Updated 15/01/21