I’ve been a therapist now since 2004 and, for most of that time, when people asked me what I specialised in, I told them that anxiety disorders and work-related stress management were my forte but, on reflection, and for several years now, I would say that both life and work have made me a stress specialist.
That term still covers anxiety disorders and work-stress but, it also covers a whole lot more. Stress affects us all and we are becoming more stressed, not less so. In fact, research from the Chartered Institute of Development has found staff absences due to stress are at their highest levels in over a decade, with the pandemic, the high cost of living and other issues all being significant contributing factors, (click here). But what is stress?
According to the World Health Organisation, “stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.”
However, there are two types of stress: good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress).
Eustress refers to the sort of challenge and pressure that you thrive under or rise to meet with excitement. It could be a work deadline, or a wedding, or a rollercoaster ride. Meanwhile, distress is what we often mean when we are talking about ‘stress.’ It can refer to seemingly insurmountable pressures in any context (life or work), pressures that you feel you can’t cope with, or are not dealing with as well as you’d like. But stress isn’t a diagnosis in and of itself. It’s an umbrella term for a variety of things including:
- Reactive depression
- Insomnia (often stress related)
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis (also often stress related)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, (nearly always stress related)
You can turn to unhealthy coping strategies when you are stressed, such as alcohol, drugs (both prescription and recreational) and comforting eating. Stress can wear you down, it can affect you physically as well as mentally. You can become distracted, less productive, more forgetful, and more prone to illness (stress affects your immune system). Chronic work stress even has its own diagnosis: Burnout Syndrome. This is a purely occupational phenomenon not official recognised until 2019 and characterised by exhaustion, increased negativity (or cynicism) towards your job, and reduced professional efficacy.
Stress is such as small word for something with so many distressing ramifications.
Stress affects both your mind and your body. A little bit of it is good for you, but too much stress can easily overwhelm you. And we are living in a very stressful world; one that doesn’t seem to be interested in getting any easier. Stress quickly mounts up and it soon takes its toll.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to help mitigate your stress, such as yoga, meditation, taking regular breaks, and going for long walks. And, if those things aren’t enough then therapy and coaching can help.
I practice rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) and clinical hypnotherapy, and both can help you mitigate your stress and build effective coping strategies in the face of it. With REBT and hypnotherapy the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your daily live become something much easier to deal with.
So, if you think your stress is getting the better of you, feel free to book a call. I work face-to-face and online and can see anyone, anywhere (time zones permitting). And online therapy is just as effective as face-to-face, studies say so (click here).