Feeling Stressed - I’m not sure where to start...
We all know what it feels like to be so exhausted we cannot sleep, our heads are spinning with things we should have done, or to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with work, school, family or personal time. Without finding good ways to manage stress and anxiety, we can turn to more damaging coping strategies that can cause further and more serious problems. Some of the more damaging ways we try to manage stress such as smoking, over or under-eating or abusing alcohol and drugs will make matters worse and can even kill.
Fortunately, given the right coping strategies, most of us can learn to manage our stress by recognising and dealing with the trigger situations. Of course, it must be remembered that all psychological problems have a cause, and to bring permanent relief it is necessary to deal with the underlying reasons, however, a great deal of comfort can be obtained just by learning to relax.
Furthermore, if you talk to a therapist you can work out whether stress is a problem for you and what's causing it. Once you have this information, you can decide what changes you want to make to keep stress from escalating to damaging levels.
It is helpful to recognise any signs or symptoms of stress and anxiety early. These may include:
• Low self-esteem
• Problems sleeping
• Changes in eating habits
• Problems concentrating
• Temper outbursts
• Muscle tension and pain
• Tearful episodes
• Diminished sex drive
• Dry mouth
• Loss of motivation
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Heightened blood pressure
Recognising any of these signs could help you decide on new ways of coping and therefore steer you away from unhealthy coping methods such as drinking and other addictions. It is always better to begin opening up and speaking about your fears, anxieties and stresses sooner rather than later. Try to not let things bottle up as these things have a tendency to become worse.
Anxiety is a normal reaction, if at times unpleasant, part of life. Mostly it comes and goes without leaving you too unsettled. However, it becomes a problem when it 'sticks around' and persists, making the sufferer feel exhausted, frazzled and down-right miserable.
Anxiety can make you feel as if situations in your life are much worse than they are. You catastrophise about lots of different things and are unable to stop the negative thoughts compounding any sort of situation. You may feel constantly tearful, have an overwhelming sense of doom and find it difficult to even breath. These reactions, although not dangerous to you physically, overtime can erode your confidence and leave you frustrated, weak and angry.
Some people know why they are suffering from anxiety because of an external event such as moving house, getting divorced or work troubles. However, others do not have a specific cause for their anxiety so this in itself causes more of the same so the sufferer is caught up in an anxious loop. My experience working with clients is that there is no magic cure, tool or technique that instantly relieves anxieties distressing symptoms. That said, over time and working side by side a plan can be devised that will help you manage and cope with life feeling happier and more in control. In fact, often simple ideas such as remembering to breath, challenging the negative thoughts when they start and engaging in relaxing body work can bring about a great deal of relief.
General Anxiety Disorder
There is a type of anxiety called General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is quite common and leaves the sufferer with a mostly constant, anxious feeling. Again, a plan to not avoid anxiety entirely, as some is useful and required, but to allow a tolerance to build that helps manage more difficult situations. You will find there is masses of very practical and useful information on the internet and many books on how to manage and cope with your GAD.
Please note: There are times however for some when their anxiety is exceptionally high and any tools, techniques and rational understanding about their condition does not shift the overwhelming anxiety. When this is the case I would recommend seeking other professional help perhaps with a family doctor, mental health worker or psychiatrist.
Depression - open up when you're feeling down...
Most people at some point in their lives has a period when they feel down. Sometimes you may hear people casually say, I’m depressed,” when they have had a bad day at work or been in conflict with their partner or friends.
Bye and large, these feelings tend to pass or at least improve within a short length of time. However, these more typical, normal feelings differ from the more extreme and pervasive emotions associated with for example, clinical depression.
If you are given a diagnosis of depression, you might be advised that you have mild, moderate or severe depression. This mostly describes the kind of impact your symptoms are having on your day to day activities and the type of help you may be offered. Notably, you might move between different mild, moderate and severe depression during a single episode of depression or across different episodes.
Types of depression
There are also some specific types of depression:
• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – depression that usually (but not always) occurs in the winter. SAD Association provides information and advice.
• Dysthymia – continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or more. Also called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.
• Prenatal depression – sometimes also called antenatal depression, it arises during pregnancy.
• Postnatal depression (PND) – occurs in the weeks or months after becoming a parent. Postnatal depression is usually diagnosed in women but some men may also suffer.
If you’ve been feeling low for a period of two weeks or more, it’s probably time to speak to your GP or a mental health professional. Remember you are not alone and that you can get help.
As a counsellor for Marlow Counselling Service I am ready to answer any concerns you may have regarding your current emotional state. I understand it’s not easy to talk about what you are going through so I always try to make it easier for you to open up. The sooner you begin talking the better you might feel.