Stress is a natural response that the body has developed as a defense mechanism for survival. Although it is mostly viewed in a negative light, some stress can be positive, since the physiological response to the stimuli results extra energy and endurance through the release of adrenaline. For many people, stress can act as a motivator, since the surge of neurochemicals generates the incentive for action.
However, it should be noted that positive stress responses will also naturally subside once the threat or stimulus is removed. For people who do find that stress is a good driving force, this also means that as soon as the task or deadline that is causing the stress has passed, the individual will also be able to fully relax.
The negative perceptions of stress are not as much from these actual effects as they are from the severity of a person’s reaction to the stressor. As mentioned, in a person with a stronger mind and body balance, or simply a personality type that is able to easily release emotion, once the trigger for stress is gone, the reaction subsides. However, many people will still continue to feel stress, even after the threat is gone, and this is what can cause health issues.
There are several reasons as to why a perpetual stress reaction may be present:
It is often necessary for people to examine the variables in their life in order to determine whether these may be contributing to higher levels of stress.
Unfortunately, many people who are in a perpetual state of stress are not always aware of it. This is mostly because the emotions and sensations of this experience have become so familiar, that the reaction does not actually register as a change in function. When stress levels have reached this point, there can also be further complications.
High levels of continued stress are linked to:
Although many of these co-morbid conditions can be reversed as long as intervention is sought quickly enough, allowing monumental stress to continue can lead to chronic issues.
Although the use of medication for anxiety is often used to reduce stress reactions, this approach is not always amenable to all people. Concerns about dependence, side effects, and the need for rising dosages are all points that should be considered. Further, while medication can mitigate the reaction, it is a palliative response. The result is that individuals may reduce the stress response for a while, but they are not actually gaining the behavioral learning that can lead to more lasting change.
Often lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise and altering diets can provide a considerable outlet for the emotional overstimulation that can lead to chronic stress reactions. There are several reasons that this is applicable.
Any type of counseling, either group or private sessions can also obviate many of the impacts of chronic stress, as well as help to teach people positive ways of coping and reducing the overstimulated reaction to the stressor. Depending upon needs, group or private alternatives can both be highly beneficial.
Group therapy afford people the experiential and interactive aspect of counseling, and can often provide greater insights through learning from other participants about their own struggles with stress and their personal journey to balance. Further, the group dynamic can also be important to healing, since it generates a space of synergy and peer support among participants. This can also be beneficial for sustaining long-term positive outcomes from the counseling.
Along with seeking outside support for natural stress relief, individuals can also utilize internal resources to better manage the triggers and reactions to stress. Schedule management can be a highly proactive means of lower stress stimuli, as it also creates a commitment and personal responsibility to overall wellbeing.
Although schedule management can include properly planning how tasks fit into the day in a manner that will not become overwhelming, it can also include making the commitment to actually schedule down time or mental health days. Frequently, simply being removed from regular stressors for a time can also lower the hyper-reaction to the triggers, as this gives the body and mind the chance to regain balance.
Further, scheduling free time also means scheduling me time. This can include any type of activity that brings relaxation and pleasure. Although many people are tempted to also use me time as a social call, it can be better for stress relief to use this time alone, as it also allows for introspection and self-awareness, which can provide further stress relief.