By Dr. Lisa Correa
It’s a new year and a new chance to make changes to achieve your personal best wellness. One area everyone should consider is reducing stress in their life. Stress management is a vital factor for your health. For many, individual counseling with a Psychologist can do a lot to help with stress relief.
However, before you can treat stress, you have to know what kind of stress you feel. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the three principal types of stress include:
Acute Stress: As the most common form, this sort of stress represents feelings related to the demands and pressures of the immediate or recent past, also referred to as short-term stress. In small doses, it’s not harmful. However, too much can be depleting, triggering symptoms like tension headaches, muscle, back and jaw pain, and other muscular tightness. It can also evoke feeling angry and irritable. Another common side effects are digestive difficulties from upset stomach to bowel problems. In the moment, it is not uncommon to have elevated heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and dizziness, among other symptoms.
Episodic Acute Stress: Some people suffer acute stress often. These patients often have too many demands on their time (self-inflicted or otherwise) and have difficulties managing their commitments. Achievement-driven and competitive personality types are prone to this kind of stress. People experiencing frequent anxiety can also subject themselves to this sort of pressure. Episodic acute stress can lead to more sustained symptoms of Acute stress. It can be difficult to treat because often the patient is unaware of how they contribute to their condition, thinking that this is “just the way they are.” The best way to manage this type of stress is to start by becoming more self aware and working with a licensed professional to reduce stress over time.
Chronic Stress: As the most destructive form of stress, this type refers to the constant stress related to circumstances of the patient’s life or even from childhood trauma, e.g., poverty, family or marriage difficulties or job problems. Often sufferers of chronic stress don’t recognize it anymore, having resigned themselves to the situation and seeing no way to change it. In some ways, it can become part of the individual’s personality, e.g., the need to be on alert or at one’s best at all times. These deep-seated beliefs about chronically stressful conditions or personality manifestations can make it difficult to address and change without professional expertise. The symptoms of chronic stress can be severe and include suicide, violent behavior, heart disease, mental health issues, strokes and possibly cancer.
To read more details about the three types of stress, please click here.
Professional help is an excellent way to treat the causes and symptoms of stress. A licensed therapist can often point to behaviors and triggers that the patient can no longer recognize and help provide mechanisms and processes that can alleviate the amount of stress a patient feels. Treatment includes utilizing excellent stress management techniques.
Making a determination that reducing stress is a priority in your life is a critical first step every patient must make. Finding a Psychologist with whom you feel comfortable is another important key to success. Once you have a regular therapy schedule, some simple activities can help with stress relief between appointments, including:
- Recognizing how you feel in different moments of your day and eliminating triggers for stress
- Exercising regularly, like taking a brisk walk every day
- Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense whole foods; good nutrition can provide a foundation for a healthy lifestyle, which goes a long way to helping you manage stress
- Writing (or typing) about your feelings
- Releasing emotions (e.g., crying, laughing, punching a punching bag at the gym)
- Indulging an interest such as a new hobby, art medium, musical instrument, or sport
- Volunteering for a good cause to help others, an activity with excellent mental health benefits
- Finding a retreat in nature; many people find natural surroundings can soothe stressful feelings
- Breathing deeply, an exercise that can alleviate immediate symptoms in moment of stress, anywhere, anytime
- Participating in traditional self-relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation or tai chi
- Using aromatherapy techniques to stimulate different parts of the brain
Stress is present in everyone’s life in some form. A little bit isn’t a concern, but frequent or intense short-term stress or chronic, long-term stress is in need of stress management techniques. Be sure to consider your options, including individual counseling to find stress relief for yourself this year. Make 2016 the year you made stress relief your priority and you’ll thank yourself for your resolution.
“Stress: the different kinds of stress.” www.apa.og. Web. 14 January 2016. Http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx.
“Stress Management Health Center.” www.webmd.com. Web. 14 January 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-topic-overview>.
“Stress Basics.” www.mayolclinic.org. Web. 14 January 2016. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495>.