Tag Archives: Stress Management

Why We May Severely Over-react To Minor Stressors.

Over react stress

We have seen from previous articles that I have posted on this site that, if we suffered chronic stress during our childhood, our ability to deal with stress as adults can be drastically diminished, making it difficult to cope with the daily stressors that others may easily be able to take in their stride.

We may, for example, become disproportionately enraged if we temporarily misplace our keys, inadvertently snap a shoe-lace, or are thwarted in our vehicular progress down the street by a succession of obstinately and infuriatingly red traffic lights.

The reason for such overreactions can lie in the fact that our chronically stressful childhoods have disrupted the process in the brain associated with the production of stress hormones.

In particular, levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol may have become chronically too high.

It follows that, when we experience a minor stressor, too much adrenaline and cortisol are released. Let’s look at the effect that these two stress hormones have upon the body:

1) The Effect Of Adrenaline On The Body:

– causes heart rate to increase

– causes blood pressure to go up

– causes breathing rate to become more rapid (sometimes leading hyperventilation, a distressing reaction associated with panic).

2) The Effect Of Cortisol On The Body:

– transports energy to muscles by diverting it from areas of the body where it is not immediately needed (such as the stomach).

So, the effects of adrenaline and cortisol combined are to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’, as if we were being threatened by a ravenously hungry tiger (when, in fact, we are just stuck in traffic or have mislaid our keys etc). In such a case, energy builds up in the body which is not dissipated, causing great tension.

 

Why do people overreact?

Above: Over-reacting to minor stressors can be caused by chemical/hormonal inbalances resulting from a chronically stressful childhood.

In order to attempt to free ourselves from this unpleasant feeling of tension, we may try to partly dissipate it by shouting obscenities or pounding our fists against some wholly innocent inanimate object (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as a displacement activity).

In other words:

We are responding to minor stressors as if they posed severe, even life-threatening, danger. Our brain is preparing us for fight or flight because it has grossly overestimated the risk the minor stressor poses to us. It is ‘fooled’ into making this error due to the disruption of the body’s system that produces adrenalin and cortisol caused by our chronically stressful childhood.

And, following the same logic, when we’re unfortunate enough to experience major stressful events in our adult lives, we may find ourselves going into nuclear meltdown, utterly overwhelmed and unable to cope.

 

 

GOLDEN RULES FOR DEALING WITH STRESS

 

According to the British Medical Association, the GOLDEN RULES OF STRESS MANAGEMENT are as follows:

1) Decide what is really important in life and concentrate upon that (i.e. develop a good sense of priorities).

2) If you know you have a difficult situation coming up, try to plan how you will deal with it in advance

3) Try to develop a supportive social network and discuss problems with others

4) Lead a regular life-style which includes exercise

5) Give yourself rewards (however small) for positive thoughts, attitudes and actions

6) Try to strengthen any important  weak points

7) Avoid brooding about problems – this is very important and you might need to distract yourself by doing something pleasant, rewarding and interesting

8) Try to think realistically about problems, keeping them in proportion. Where possible, TAKE DECISIVE ACTION to remedy them, rather than continuously having futile worries about them.

9) Be compassionate and forgiving towards yourself

10) Seek professional help if you feel you need it

11) Don’t over-exert yourself mentally or physically – rest and peace of mind are essential for proper recovery which will sometimes necessitate taking time off from work (taking time off work for psychological health reasons is just as valid as taking time off due to a physical problem).

12) Try to make small, frequent, positive changes – these soon mount up making a big difference

13) Make time for yourself – everyday.

14) Undertake as many enjoyable activities as possible.

 

HYPNOTHERAPY FOR STRESS :

 

Hypnosis can be combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to effectively help break the vicious cycle of anxiety. For many sufferers of anxiety, a vicious cycle of worry often develops which will often comprise the following five stages:

1) A specific situation or event (internal or external) triggers the initial automatic anxiety response.

2) Specific automatic, apprehensive thoughts are triggered about what could happen

3) The individual switches into ‘anxiety mode’ with the accompanying unpleasant symptoms and bodily sensations

4) The individual experiences ESCALATING WORRY. This can include expecting a catastrophic outcome and assuming one is utterly helpless. As a result, maladaptive (unhelpful) avoidance, escape and safety seeking behaviours frequently take over.

5) Frantic attempts to control and/or eliminate the anxiety (paradoxically making it worse).

hypnotherapy for anxiety

Why does trying to control and eliminate the anxiety paradoxically make it worse? This is due to something called the REBOUND EFFECT – by trying to exercise thought control, the unwanted thought tends to come back at us all the harder. In other words, when we try deliberately not to think about something, we can actually think of little else. For example, try very hard not to think of a pink elephant for the next 30 seconds and see what happens! Cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome this problem by training us to ACCEPT our anxiety, which leads to it becoming less intense and less painful.

Another way cognitive hypnotherapy helps us to overcome our anxiety is to help us to ‘ACT AS IF’ we are not anxious. By thinking what we would be doing if we were not anxious, and then just doing it anyway, is a very effective way of loosening its grip.

Thirdly, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to not get caught up and enmeshed with our worried thoughts – it does this by helping us to take a more DETACHED view of them (for more on the benefits of this, see my post on MINDFULNESS).

A fourth way cognitive hypnotherapy can help is allowing us to EMOTIONALLY REVIEW whatever it is we are worried about. In essence, this means IMAGINATIVELY EXPOSING ourselves repeatedly to what we are concerned about so we EMOTIONALLY HABITUATE to it – this emotional habituation to our concerns weakens feelings of anxiety connected to them.

Finally, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us see that our feelings are connected to our thoughts, and that our thoughts may be inaccurate and full of errors. The type of thinking errors that lead to anxiety and which cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome are as follows:

a) PROBABILITY – anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate the probability of the bad outcomes they are expecting happening

b) SEVERITY – even if the feared outcome does actually occur, anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate how bad it will be

c) VULNERABILITY – anxious thinkers also often greatly overestimate their vulnerability, whilst underestimating their ability to cope

d) SAFETY – anxious people tend to overlook evidence that they will be safe from what it is that they are concerned about. Also, they often overuse maladaptive (unhelpful) safety behaviors, such as avoidance, which can, in the long-term, worsen the anxiety.

Some specific techniques cognitive hypnotherapy can help individuals develop which are very useful for reducing anxiety are as follows:

i) PERFORMANCE ACCOMPLISHMENTS – this technique helps the individual focus on times in the past when they HAVE COPED with something that caused them anxiety and realize that they can cope in the future too.

ii) VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE – here hypnotherapy is used to help the individual imagine how others have coped (or would cope) in a similar situation and then to imagine how they themselves could cope in a similar manner.

iii) VERBAL PERSUASION – hypnotherapy can help develop the technique of giving oneself positive and helpful self-instruction and activate appropriate cognitive interventions (thought processes).

iv) LOWERING EMOTIONAL AROUSAL – hypnotherapy, too, is very effective for helping individuals develop deep relaxation techniques.

eBook:

brain damage caused by childhood trauma.  depression and anxiety

Above eBooks now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Effects of Stress and How to Manage It – 2 Infographics.

causes of homosexuality

Several of my posts have examined how the experience of serious childhood trauma can adversely affect the physical development of the brain (eg click here to read one of my articles on this) and, because of this, make it much harder for us to manage stress in later life compared to those who were fortunate enough to experience a childhood in which no major traumas occurred. In this post, therefore, I include 2 infographics – the first shows the various ways in which stress can affect us, whilst the second shows ways in which stress can be managed :

INFOGRAPHIC 1 : HOW STRESS AFFECTS US PHYSICALLY :

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

lllll

INFOGRAPHIC 2 : HOW STRESS CAN BE MANAGED.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

nnnnn

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Above ebook available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Fifteen Emotional Symptoms of Stress

symptoms of stress

If we have suffered long-lasting significant stress when we were children it is very likely to have affected the physical development of our brains in an adverse manner which makes it very much harder to cope with the effects of even minor stress as adults. On an emotional level, we react far more intensely to it than those whose brain development was normal (click here to read my article on how childhood stress affects the physical development of the brain).

kkkk

In this post, I therefore thought it might be helpful to list some of the main emotional symptoms we might have indicating that we are suffering the effects of stress.

Before I do this, however, I should also point out that when we are finding it difficult to cope with the effects of stress it affects other aspects of ourselves, too – not just our emotions. It also affects us physically and how we behave.

It is important to point out that different people are affected by stress in different ways. In some, the symptoms of stress may be obviously apparent (overt), whilst in others they may be hidden or ‘invisible’ (covert). Furthermore, in some individuals the symptoms may be short-term, whilst in others they may be long-term (i.e. chronic). The warning signs that someone is suffering the effects of excessive stress may include headaches, chest discomfort, indigestion, muscle tension (physical symptoms) or behavioural symptoms (e.g. physical aggression, increased alcohol intake etc).

However, in this post I want to focus on EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS, and, in keeping with the title of this post, I list 15 of these below :

– inability to feel pleasure (psychologists sometimes refer to this as anhedonia)

– feelings of aggression towards others

– feelings of frustration

– a tendency to become easily tearful

– feeling constantly under intense pressure

– increased feelings of suspicion

– increased feelings of irritability and increased likeliness to complain

– more easily triggered ‘fight/flight’ impulse and feelings of wanting to ‘hide away.’

– feeling in a constant state of fear

– finding it hard to make decisions

– a feeling of being mentally drained and exhausted

– feeling tense, agitated and unable to relax

– impaired ability to concentrate

– social self-consciousness

– fears of imminent death, ‘madness’ or collapse

RESOURCE :

Complete Stress Management Pack | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Top