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Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can help us work better, help us to be more focused at many types of tasks like sport or work based performance and quite often it can help motivate us, but too much stress for long periods can increase our levels of anxiety leading to physical and emotional problems. Relationships both at home and in work can be put under pressure, people can become confused, short tempered and show other characteristics such as being constantly on the go and forgetful.

Physical stress

When we place physical stress on the body it also has an affect on our mind, such as over working or having to keep constantly on the go when we need to rest, and we also have psychological stress that has an affect on our physical self. Anxiety can raise the heart rate and even lead on to panic attacks or muscle pain. If our body is feeling fatigued it often will impact on our emotional well being, when we are overworking or not taking the time to rest that we need it can lead to mood changes and over the long term manifest its self as depression or anxiety.
Eating a well balanced diet is all part of our physical needs that will help us cope in times of stress, another way to help is exercising to keep fit, if you’re feeling fit you tend the have a better out look on life and have more reserves of energy when you need it, it also helps our recovery times after any activity, people who smoke will place more stress the body, this is because processing the toxic chemicals in our system means that the body has to do more work and this raises the internal stress levels on average by about 10%, and this will have an affect how we feel, another problem with smoking is that stress increases the amount people smoke.
Alcohol is enjoyed in moderation by many people without ill affects, but if you combine stress and anxiety with alcohol it can lead to a spiraling problem that can end in substance abuse, we all like a drink as it helps us socialise and relax but if we use it to combat stress we can find that with more stress we need more drink until the alcohol becomes the bigger problem.
So you may have a better understanding how our physical self has an affect on our mental health.

Symptoms of stress

Some signs of being over stressed include:
Increased irritability.
Eating less.
Eating more.
Anger and frustration.
More fidgeting or nail-biting.
Difficulty sleeping and early morning waking.
Smoking and drinking more.
Forgetfulness.
Lack of concentration.
Night terrors.
Sexual problems.
 
If we find ourselves stuck in traffic on the way to an appointment we feel stressed, this is due to not being able to have any control, we feel helpless and the out come is uncertain so we feel emotions like frustration and anger building up, leaving more time to complete the journey will reduce the stress.
When we find ourselves unable to control a situation or outcome we get stressed, when we are unprepared for a situation we get stressed, changing the way we approach situations and giving ourselves time to prepare can reduce stress related anxiety, The good news is that you can influence your imagination. You can influence your thoughts. You can change your anxiety levels with help from counselling and other types of therapy.
Phobias and panic attacks are both anxiety based fear responses that can be very life limiting and upsetting for the person involved and can be treated effectively with psychotherapy and other therapies like hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and that includes online counselling or online psychotherapy.

Psychologically stressed

If we use our mind to focus on happy memories or thoughts we tend to feel happier if we think of sad thoughts we   usually feel less happy this is generally true for most people.
If you are feeling sad you may discover it’s hard to think of happy thoughts,so the thoughts and images we see and feel inside affect how we deal with the out side world.
People with depression who are asked to think of a happy time in their life can find it almost impossible because when we feel sad the mind often looks at images and thoughts that match the mood.
Too much stress alters the way we process information, long periods of concentration become can become harder the more stressed we get, until its all but impossible to think clearly, you must have seen people in a panic running around but actually achieving very little, or it takes them twice as long due to the many mistakes and lack of attention to detail.
In a work environment this lead to even more stress and anxiety and sometimes a lowering of self esteem and confidence.

Some of the internal factors that negatively influence our stress levels
Self esteem

Confidence .
Negative thinking.
Self image.
Past trauma.
Communication.  
Self-awareness.
Self-worth.
Guilt.
Our ability to change how we handle stress and anxiety are often flawed by our inability to understand how our own thoughts and perceptions self sabotage the capability to deal with life in general. Your self defeating thoughts and negative internal feed back can change the way you deal with stressful events.
If you have low self esteem the option to stand up for what you need becomes harder to do, so instead of saying no you find your self saying yes, yes to working on when you really need to go home or yes to helping another person when you do not really have the time, saying yes when you need to say no will place you at more risk of long term debilitating levels of stress.
Negative thinking is another way we place ourselves at more risk from stress, situations always seem worse and more stressful than it actual is, we can even create our own stress by constantly looking on the negative and ignoring the positive.
So how we think and feel about ourselves has a bearing on how we can protect ourselves from the affects of stressful situations, this is where online therapy could possibly help us to not  the immediate problem or issue but help us with future experiences and allow you to improve the quality of life in general with stress counselling and learning  to manage the way we think with therapy.
I am often asked what the difference is between fear and anxiety.
Fear is a reaction to an actual physical threat, such as the prospect of a physical attack or a situation that puts us in danger, like having to escape from a fire or having to take action to avoid an accident while driving; all such events can trigger the flight or fight response.
This flight or fight response is an automatic reaction that is hard wired into our instinctive behaviour. When this reaction is activated, hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body, this speeds up the heart rate, and slowing digestion, also pushing and increasing blood flow to major muscle groups like the legs and influencing various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a short burst of energy and strength and also faster reaction times. We as a species adopted this response to help us react to threats such as being attacked by wild animals and it is still very effective today in the same situations.

Anxiety

Anxiety is the imagination of fear or danger; its an anticipation or an expectation of a possible threatening event. Any thoughts that raise your fear level when there is no actual danger present is an anxiety driven response, this can also can trigger the flight or fight response, our imagination is a very powerful and influential thought process that cannot be ignored, but can be used to both help and hinder our lives.
Anxiety driven problems range from conscious reactions to a past event or experience to unconscious feelings of anxiety that seems to have no obvious triggering event, this type of issue often needs more exploration to try to uncover the underlying problem.
If you have had a car accident you may feel anxiety when you return to driving or when thinking about getting back behind the wheel that would be anxiety that has a conscious trigger, the trigger being the past accident and the anxiety is the fear of it happening again.
If you have never had an accident in a car but you now start to feel anxiety when driving or getting into drive the car and do not know why, this would be unconsciously triggered anxiety that seems to have no obvious reason behind the feelings and may need some psychotherapy to uncover any deeper issues. these issues can come from another part of your life that seems to have no connection with the anxiety expressed.
Feelings of stress and anxiety in one part of your life can have a knock on affect on your emotional well being or add to any work stress issues already there, if you are feeling stressed, the added levels of anxiety can spill over into other parts of your life, When you need to talk you may feel like shouting for example, problems in dealing with anger can make it harder to control feelings and emotions that could place more stress on any relationships you have.

Anxiety symptoms

Some of the common symptoms

Irritability
Lethargy,
Hyperventilation
Irregular heart beat (palpitations),
Excessive worry, inability to relax
Dry mouth,
Excessive sweating,
Shortness of breath,

Stomach ache,
Diarrhoea,
Headache,
Restlessness
Frequent urinating,
Painful or missed periods,
Difficulty in falling, or staying, asleep.
Panic attacks
Imagination

The imagination is probably a major factor in human evolution, without it humans would probably still be living in caves, all the major advances in the sciences and arts have been made possible by people using their imaginations to solve problems and create ideas and dreams. Our imagination is able to impact on any part of our life, from sexual arousal and confidence to relationships and anxiety, even our personal physical abilities can be both enhanced or reduced just by how we think and feel. Have you ever been scared of the dark or frightened by a film or book? Or been worried when your child is late home, then you can start to understand the power the imagination has to influence our thoughts and emotions and ultimately how we live life
With help from online psychotherapy/Counselling or hypnotherapy or as I use a combination of many types of therapy, it is possible to change the way you use your imagination or how thoughts and feeling affect your life. how we create images and thoughts are automatic and trying not to think of something can have the opposite affect, if I ask you not to think of a pink elephant you cant, as soon you read the word pink elephant your mind has provided you with the image in your mind, so if you had a fear of pink elephants your anxiety level would go up slightly, so that is why we need to understand how we think and feel
So anxiety is not just a silly response but a complicated affect of several thought processes that include the imagination and any personal experience of fear, it also has a positive influence that helps keep us safe, anxiety stops us from doing actions that could put us in danger, like driving to fast or crossing the road without looking. So you could say that there is good anxiety as well as bad, the good anxiety helps keep us safe while the bad anxiety limits our life.
There are more in depth explanations that will explain in more detail the psychological and physiological state and the Cognitive & Behavioural Elements of anxiety but I hope this short explanation has given you some idea about your anxiety.
Anxiety can be triggered or made worse by some physical problems and your Doctor is the best person to help you explore this possibility

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