Stop Stress Before It Stops You

We are all familiar with stress. Most of us even know that prolonged bouts of negative stress, or chronic stress, can be harmful to our emotional and physical health. But can it be avoided?

Stress is likely something everyone experiences, but that doesn’t mean that it has to get the best of you. Our bodies are essentially designed to make the most of a stress reaction, be catapulted into life-preserving action, so to speak. Chemicals flood our bodies and we get to the task at hand. From being jolted out of sleep by a crying baby (feeding it so it survives is preserving the species) to fighting off a wild animal, we react with more power, focus, agility, or quickness than our day-to-day activities require. Our bodies are also designed to completely recover from the stress episode. Here lies the rub.

Sources and Types of Stress

Modern life presents us with stressful events all day, every day. Traffic, noise, the barrage of violence on TV; we are almost at the tipping point all the time. Imagine if your life had other situations that created stress. Things like an illness, an impending birth, unemployment, or the stress of racism. The pressure could seem insurmountable.

Before you can find effective ways to cope and manage stress (READ: a stress management plan), you need to know the source of the stress. There are many different types of stress in your life, from financial to relationship stress. And to put it plainly, dealing with situations head-on and early on will always be the best policy!

Acute and Chronic Stress

First of all, two common types of stress are acute and chronic stress. All other types of stress will fit into one of these categories. Acute stress is more about individual situations that will lead to you feeling stressed out, such as your car breaking down or a relationship ending. With chronic stress, it is something you experience on a regular basis. This might be from work, finances, or other problems in your life that tend to keep happening over and over again. Chronic stress can also be related to a simple overwhelming feeling that you can’t quite keep up with everything in your life and are so overwhelmed on a regular basis that you experience stress almost constantly.

Personal and Relationship Stress

A very common reason to be stressed is due to your personal life, particularly with a relationship, family, or children. This type of stress can be acute, but is often related to chronic stress. You want your kids to be safe and grow up healthy, so this leads to being stressed about them almost constantly. Then acute forms of stress might be going through a divorce or feeling like your personal life is not quite what you would like it to be.

Work and Financial Stress

Another very common area of stress in your life might be related to your job or your finances, or a little of both. This can be from having a great job but not having enough time for anything but work, to where you bring your work home with you. Another way your job can stress you out is if you simply don’t enjoy it or you don’t get along well with co-workers. You might have financial stress like struggling to pay your bills, not advancing enough in your career, or being faced with last-minute expenses and no clue how to take care of them.

Seeking Professional Help

Getting professional help might seem like something only people with major relationship problems or mental health disorders get, but just about everyone can benefit from it. If your stress is getting to where you can’t take control of it and it is severely affecting your life, now is the time to seek help.

Why You May Need Help

First of all, it helps to know exactly why someone might need to seek a counselor or therapist for their stress. While it is true that there are many natural and healthy ways to relieve stress on your own, sometimes it tends to be a bit much. For example, if you are going through a major life event, such as a divorce, the emotional and financial stress can be overwhelming to where you can barely take care of yourself, let alone your kids. In this situation, seeking professional help is ideal.

Signs You Should Seek Additional Help

You should also know that stress can have a large impact on your overall health. It can cause mental and emotional health issues, including anger, resentment, depression, and anxiety. It also increases your risk of abusing drugs and alcohol. In addition, some physical effects include migraines, stomach pains, increased or decreased appetite, and insomnia. If you are struggling with any of these effects, it is a good reason to get professional help.

How a Helping Pro Can Help You

There are many ways a therapist, coach, counselor, or mentor can help you with your stress. Here are just a few of the different methods they use:

Family counseling – When your stress is the result of home or family issues, therapy with your entire family is highly recommended. The professional can work with you each individually, with you and your significant other, and with the entire family. This is often combined with talk therapy, where you can release some of the feelings or thoughts you have been holding back.

Pain coping therapy – If your stress is due to suffering from physical pain, especially chronic pain, then a therapist can help with that as well. While you should still see a medical doctor, the mental health professional helps you cope on a daily basis with the pain, instead of giving you options to relieve that pain. They help with the stress that often comes from physical ailments.

General Stress Management Plan– Everyone has different levels and sources of stress, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t severe enough for help. Therapists can also help with general stress, whether you are having a hard time with your kids leaving the nest, you are struggling with a career choice, or you have more serious problems that are causing your stress.

Life/Wellness Coaching – In my business, I offer a course on stress and assist my clients with identifying and balancing three key areas in their life so that they can experience some quick relief. I teach and practice practical, easy to incorporate methods and strategies that can de-escalate an immediate event or stress attack and others that help decrease the stress severity and longevity of stress reactions in the body.

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