Stress Counselling Sydney

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What is Stress?

Stress can be a response to challenging or new situations be it physical, mental, or emotional. Stress hormones cause certain physical changes in your body to help you react to stressful situations.

When you experience stress, your body releases hormones that stimulate the “fight or flight” response.

Everyone feels stressed at times. But each person’s experience will differ. By recognising what makes you stressed and how you react to challenges, you can learn to manage your stress.

However, stress can turn into an issue when it lasts a long time or keeps you from functioning in daily life whether at home or at work. When this happens, it may be time to get help and improve the situation.

a man needing to see a work stress psychologist

Types of Stress – Acute and Chronic

Acute Stress

Stress can be acute or chronic. Acute stress is short-lived and often your body recovers from it quickly. But if stress becomes chronic, then it can take a heavy toll on your health.

Acute stress, such as starting a new job, dealing with a financial matter (car repair), or being faced with a work deadline, is only fleeting. The body can recover easily from acute stress if it is managed well by the person experiencing it. Acute stress in the form of mild challenges even provides the brain and body with the chance to ‘practise’ its adaptive response in preparation for future challenges.

However, a single traumatic event, such as being the victim of an assault, can cause mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for some people.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is the type that lasts for a long period of time. It builds up and doesn’t go away. For example, this could be situations of continued financial difficulties or uncertainty. Physically or emotionally abusive environments at home, at work or in relationships. Health problems. Caring for somebody. Overworking. Social isolation and loneliness and so on.

If your mind and body are in a constant state of chronic stress it can have negative effects on your overall health and wellbeing. Your mind and body need time to recover so you can bounce back from stress. But chronic stress can stop this process from happening. If you have cumulative chronic stress, for example, multiple stressful things happening at once, it can start to impact your health and may be something worth getting help for.

Acute and Chronic Stress Symptoms

  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Pupils dilate
  • Sped up breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Issues with libido
  • Insomnia
  • Upset stomach
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anger
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Worry and fear
  • Feelings of overwhelm
  • Inability to cope
  • Mood changes
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Helplessness
  • Issues with concentration or memory
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Causes of Stress

a man booking an appointment with a work stress psychologistStress can be a result of various life events and experiences. People are stressed by different things and to varying degrees. Some common events which bring on stress may include:

  • Significant life events like the loss of a family member, friend or loved one
  • Financial struggles or uncertainty
  • Demands of work or problems within the workplace. Or the loss of a job.
  • Divorce or relationship problems.
  • Problems at school or university

Stress Management

Here are a few tips to use that can help reduce stress:

Sleep – be sure to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and day. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and turn off all screens and devices – substitute them for physical books, audiobooks and podcasts. Avoid stimulants like caffeine 12 hours before bed. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible and at a cool temperature if possible.

The book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker has some great practical tips on the importance of sleep.

Diet – try to eat as clean a diet as possible made up of leafy green vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes and non-refined grains. Drinks lots of water and avoid alcohol and drugs, sugar and processed foods.

Exercise – Try to get at least 40 minutes of vigorous exercise per day or 90 minutes of moderate exercise like walking.

Relaxation Exercises – use relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and abdominal breathing. Mindfulness and meditation are valuable activities also, as well as yoga.

Problem Solving – We’ve written an article here on: Problem Solving For Stress

Talk To Family and Friends – speak to family and friends about your situation and get an outsider’s perspective. There might be something that you haven’t noticed about your situation. Plus, you may feel better just by talking about your problems. 

Speak To a GP or Mental Health Specialist– if the above stress management tips don’t help reduce your stress and you still feel overwhelmed it is best to seek a professional. Speak to either your GP or a mental health professional like a psychologist or counsellor who deals with such issues day in day out.

Stress Treatment

Stress Treatment

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for stress. It essentially involves learning a more flexible way of dealing with situations by changing unhelpful beliefs, thoughts and behaviours that are causing you problems. Much scientific proof has shown how helpful CBT can be for stress and is worth a try if things do not seem to be getting better.

Getting help with stress management, counselling and treatment in Sydney or your city can be a great resource.

This video explains CBT can help with stress. We use it to help our clients with stress management and treatment in Sydney.

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