Most of us feel under stress from time to time. Sometimes we feel under a great deal of stress for longer periods of time. Stress can build up over time and the cumulative effect may leave us feeling low, dealing with difficult psychological and physical symptoms. We may feel less able to cope than normal.
Stress can be brought on by events that are happening in our lives – often this involves pressure we (or others) put upon ourselves. It's common to feel stress through situations at work whether you are a CEO or have just started work. Other situations in our lives may be very difficult and complex – difficult relationships, bereavements, moving house, getting married, being made redundant, and so on. These may add to our stress levels to the point we feel we are not our usual, resilient selves.
Perhaps we have ways of ‘seeing the world’, including our thoughts, feelings and habits, that actually seem to increase the stress we place on ourselves. In other words, we may have become stuck in unhelpful patterns. The effects are not just psychological but physical too. Our levels of cortisol, serotonin and adrenaline / noradrenalin, are all effected when we are under stress for prolonged period, and this can leave us feeling physically impaired. Emotionally you may feel symptoms such as increased irritability, feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, and with low self-esteem. Physically you may be experiencing sleeplessness, dizziness, sweating, digestive issues or palpitations. If you feel stress is taking over your life and causing you to suffer, then one way forward is to talk to a therapist.
Work in therapy would be likely to include helping control the symptoms of stress, and also to understand the underlying causes of the stress you are experiencing. We may explore issues that trigger the strongest feelings of stress and work together to bring about changes to improve your physical and emotional wellbeing and get back that sense of control in your life, which is so often lost when under acute stress.
If you are currently experiencing very acute stress, please also take a look at my Resources page, or if the symptoms are physically acute consult a GP or go to your nearest A&E department.