Friday, May 15, 2009

I'd like to talk about Stress!

STRESS. Something all of us are so used to being in our lives these days, especially Mums who juggle children, partners, households, and work (some seemingly effortlessly).

But what is it all about? And what can we do about it?

Stress is the result of some sort of strain to our physiological (physical) or psychological (mind) abilities. It is one of the most common problems of Western Society, and costs Australia millions in lost productivity. Stress affects everyone at some point in his or her life. Stress is caused by either internal or external conflict or pressure and affects one or more of our physical, emotional and mental selves. It is the “response” of a stimulus and response association and can manifest itself as a long-term ever-increasing cycle.

Certainly what this can mean is that a stimulus that would not normally affect a person can cause a strong response if that person is already stressed. Many nervous breakdowns and even crimes occur after a period of intense stress.

Stress is broken down into two groups – acute and chronic stress (or a combination of the two). Acute stress is a brief, once off occurrence (having a car accident or, how about this one for all those mums, your child throwing a major tantrum in the shopping centre!). Chronic Stress is when there is recurrent or long-term stressors that may even be in place for many years (a child suffering child abuse or someone in an abusive relationship).

Stressors can be either external (the conflict between an outside stimulus and the desire for need expression) or internal (the cause of stress comes from within).

What happens to a person in a high-pressure job who is pressured into going on at all costs? I don’t know about you, but when in a position like that I feel STRESSED, I feel like I am not coping well and I am suffering INTERNAL stress about what to do.

What about seeing someone close to us suffering from being in a car accident? Or seeing our child sick and in pain? EXTERNAL stress is the conflict between this outside stimulus and the desire for need expression.

Stress will affect our physical, emotional and/or physical selves. Some possible PHYSICAL effects are muscle tension, tiredness, sleep disturbance, low immunity to illness, skin irritations, drug dependency, and health risks such as increased susceptibility to migraines, hypertension, ulcers, etc. Some EMOTIONAL effects could be anxiety, apathy, irritability, and mood disturbances. Some MENTAL effects are poor concentration, negative thinking, memory problems, attention difficulties, and poor judgement.

All in all BAD news, right? Well no! Not all stress is bad for, in fact we need some tension for performance and the right amount of stress can be beneficial!

The key is to recognise our own levels of beneficial stress and act accordingly. Stress can be managed through physical mental, emotional, behavioural, or spiritual techniques. Get professional help if you think you need it, and always find that excuse for a beauty treatment or a nice long hot soaky bath!

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