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Stress – A Medical Perspective


Stress – A Medical Perspective

Ava Stapleton MIACP   An accredited counsellor and clinical supervisor for the last 20 years.   My office is based in Cork street Dublin 8. Ph for appointment is 0864043109.

What is Stress?

Do you often feel like you are about to fight a tiger?     Are you constantly “chasing your tail”? ,  busy, busy ,busy.   Alternatively, maybe you feel immobilized, wanting to do something but can’t seem to get going?  If you answer yes to any of these questions then you may be expirencing stress overload.   These three different examples   are called the fight, flight or freeze stress response. And is the body’s automatic response to situations of danger or threat whether real or imagined.  Depending on your personality type and life circumstances, you may find that you are often in one of the states mentioned.  Each has different functions within the nervous system. For instance   if you have to fight, get into an argument or face a difficult person or situation.  Your system responds by releasing hormones that can give you extra physical strength and sharper responses.  This has the effect of an increased heartbeat and raised blood pressure.  Or maybe the response is to freeze and so the body starts to” shut down”. This can be seen quite notably in animals who are about to die having been caught by a predator.

A certain amount of stress in life is needed to keep us motivated and on our toes.  Being nervous if you are challenged and so on is healthy.  Problems only arise when we get into overload.  If too often our body is getting ready for fight, flight or freeze, this has an effect on our physical and mental wellbeing.  We often do not recognize when this happens as it slowly builds.   We “forget” to relax, eat properly or take time out.  And get stuck doing the same thing repeatedly.  People differ in how they handle stress as well.  What is a stressful situation for one person may not affect another.  In addition, there are times when we are vulnerable and more prone to feeling stressed.

Extra external stressors for everyone are death, divorcee, getting married, moving home, unemployment and retirement.

Internal stressors are a tendency to worry, negative self –talk, black and white thinking, and unrealistic expectations of self or others.  Also including,   should, must, and have to rules for your life.

If you feel that you need help the first port of call is your G.P who can assess your physical and mental health. Alternatively, you could get an assessment from a Counsellor /Psychotherapist. The following are self- help remedies’ and protection against stress overload,   in no particular order.   Regular physical exercise, eating regular healthy meals, learning practical relaxation and breathing technique’s,  try to get enough sleep, 6-8 hours are the recommended amount, less or more than that can have an effect on your health.  Practise acceptance of things you cannot change, focus on the positive and say No!  More often.

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