Stress is defined as your body’s response to anything that disrupts your normal life and routines. Stress within your comfort zone is common and can be positive, motivating you to do your best while under pressure. Whilst everyone experiences some stress, it can develop into a serious problem when it becomes overwhelming, negatively affecting your ability to lead a normal life.
If left untreated, stress can lead to a large array of physical, mental or psychological problems. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms as early as possible, and to take the appropriate steps towards managing your stress positively.
What is stress?
When you are faced with a demand or threat, your body releases chemicals that give you the added energy and strength needed to protect yourself. It may also shut down your ability to think, act and feel, influencing your body’s ability to repair itself. This process is referred to as the “fight or flight” response.
When working correctly, these responses are your body’s way of protecting you. Stress allows you to stay focused and alert, playing an important role within emergency situations, such as slamming on the breaks to avoid an accident.
Stress starts to become a problem when your automatic nervous system is unable to distinguish between daily stressors and life-threatening events. The repeated fight or flight response can have negative consequences on your blood pressure and immune system, also leaving you vulnerable to a host of mental and emotional problems.
Common responses to stress
While each person manages their stress in different ways, research strongly suggests that there are three major ways of responding to anything that we perceive as stressful:
Mobilisation (fight or flight): The body prepares for mobilisation when we need (or think we need) to either defend ourselves or run from danger. Stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol are released, preparing the body for emergency action. Muscles tighten, heartbeat and breathing quickens, blood pressure rises and your senses become sharper. Body functions not needed for ‘fight or flight’, such as the immune and digestive systems, temporarily stop working.
Immobilisation (freeze): This response commonly follows after a life-threatening, traumatic experience. Sufferers tend to find themselves “stuck” in a panic-stricken dysfunctional state, unable to move on. Immobilisation response is especially damaging physically and emotionally, with recovery often being slow.
Social engagement: This is one of the most evolved ways of overriding the fight or flight response. Social interaction, such as relaxed talking, making of eye contact and attentive listening can play a major role in instantly calming one down, putting the brakes on ‘fight or flight’.
What determines your stress management ability?
Your ability to tolerate stress is determined by a number of factors. The most common influences include:
- Your sense of control
- Your attitude and outlook
- Your support network
- Your knowledge and experience
Riverview’s stress management treatment
Stress often seems easy to manage, although many people cope with stress in ways that only compound the problem. In an attempt to unwind, unhealthy coping strategies commonly include drinking too much, overindulging on comfort food, self-medicating, lashing out at others or spending hours in front of the computer or TV.
Riverview’s programme offers a number of activities that assist you in managing your stress in ways that have a positive impact. Our adapted 12-step programme, individual and group therapy sessions as well as reflection and relaxation techniques are offered as tools to help clients understand what causes stress and how to manage it healthily.
Our intensive programme includes:
- Individual Therapy
- 12-Step Programme
- Group Therapy
- Life Skills
- Relapse Prevention
- Medical Lectures
- Lifestyle Management
- Psycho Education such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
- Spirituality Recreation
- Physical Activities such as gym and walks
How to enrol in the programme
If you would like more information about stress, or wish to enrol in Riverview’s programme, you can contact us on 033 710 1911. You can also click here to contact a medical professional.