If there’s one word that sums up modern life, it’s probably stress. Over-scheduled, over-worked and over-worried describes many of our lives, but when stress begins to interfere with our normal functions and behaviors, it may be time to get help.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines stress as any uncomfortable emotional experiences that result in biochemical, physiological and behavior changes, causing a feeling of being overwhelmed.
According to the 2015 APA Stress in America™ survey, money and work are the most common causes of stress. The survey found family responsibilities are becoming more stressful, coming in third in the survey followed by personal and family health concerns.
While stress can affect anyone, women reported somewhat more stress than men, and younger adults (Millennials) are more likely to be stressed than their parents and grandparents. Almost a third of the adults surveyed said stress has a strong or very strong impact on their body, physical health, and mental health.
Types of stress and symptoms
Acute stress tends to last only a short time and is relatively easy to manage. Acute stress usually has an easily identifiable cause, linked to recent events. Acute stress can be taxing over time if it’s not addressed, but because it doesn’t last long, acute stress doesn’t tend to cause significant health issues. Acute stress can actually be beneficial if the person experiencing it responds in a positive way.
Unlike short-lived acute stress, chronic stress is constant and persistent over a long period of time. This can result in health issues including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Over time, chronic stress can also contribute to more serious disease. Signs of chronic stress include physical and mental tension. Chronic stress can eventually become physically and mentally debilitating.
Episodic acute stress
This type of stress is in between acute and chronic. People who suffer from acute stress often experience it in frequent episodes, without even realizing it. People we think of as Type A personalities, worriers and “nervous Nancys” tend to be more susceptible to episodic acute stress because it becomes normal to them—part of their identity and daily habits.
How Crosswinds can help
At Crosswinds, we believe that while the stressors in our lives are not always in our control, we can control how we respond to them. Crosswinds therapists work with you to understand and assess the level of stress you are experiencing. We then tailor a treatment program to help you manage stress, focusing on helping you make choices and decisions that can make you feel more in control of your stress. This might include therapy focused on changing your behaviors in response to stress, or changing your way of thinking when stress occurs. We also work with our clients to develop other skills and habits that can help mitigate stress: time management, exercise, meditation, breathing exercises and even changing daily routines can all help make stress more manageable.
Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm your life. With new skills and ways of thinking, you can learn how to manage and cope with stress to keep your body and mind healthier and live a fuller and more enjoyable life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with stress, please contact Crosswinds today.