Stress can be defined as any pressure or accumulation of pressures – physical or psychological – that is too much for a person to cope with comfortably. Stress causes a wide range of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms.
In Human Givens terms all forms of stress are caused by not getting one or more of our essential physical or emotional needs met. It may happen suddenly when for example a person is involved in a tragic event, a victim of rape, violence or tragedy. Or, it may be an accumulation of events (daily hassles) that happen over a period of time, until there is one thing happens that sends you ‘over the top’. It is ‘the straw that breaks the camels back’. You could cope with any one of the events on their own, but you are now feeling totally overwhelmed. You probably find that you are not sleeping well, you have so many thoughts going through your mind, perhaps you’ve got a constant headache and your eczema has flared up. Then the other day you began to feel unwell in the supermarket, your heart was pounding, you felt hot and sweaty, you were breathing fast and you jumped to the conclusion that you might be having a heart attack. This alarm reaction caused more adrenaline to be released and intensified the panic symptoms even more. Since then you have been feeling extremely anxious, scared to go out in case it happens again and you feel as if you are going mad. This is an example of how easy a panic attack can occur. However this does not happen to everyone who is stressed as some people respond in other ways such as anger and rage.
In fact, what is happening is that your mind is interpreting all these unusual or alarming events as a threat to your life. This triggers the ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response which is a primitive life-saving function.
Inner Harmony Stress ManagementThis stress response has one sole purpose and that is to enable your muscles to work very hard and fast if you need to escape or do battle. To make this happen many physiological changes occur in your body, for example your heart and blood pressure increase whilst your digestion slows down. The concept is that when the danger is over, your parasympathetic nervous system calms down and everything carries on as before. This response is a life or death response that is built in to us to save our lives and to be used occasionally as required. However, in reality the pace, pressure and expectations of life today is such that for many people the stress response is triggered many times in a day, for weeks or months, and the body never has a chance to calm down and regain its equilibrium.
Your body can cope with this for a while, but eventually it begins to suffer and you start experiencing symptoms. Over time, this can, and does, lead us to develop debilitating stress, mental distress and illness.
Most people who have experienced ‘burnout’ can look back afterwards and say “Yes that is what happened to me”. I am talking here about people (whether they are directors, managers or company owners) who are working in a permanent state of stress. Now this is very different from someone who has had a hard day at work and goes home exhausted. These individuals have been working flat out for many years at a relentless pace to stay ‘on top’ they have been ‘running’ even when exhausted and there’s certainly ‘no time’ for pleasure or fun. Burnout happens when a person has been “running on empty” for a long time, they have gone beyond exhaustion, they find it impossible to rest or relax and they see no way of stopping or slowing down. The Mind and Body becomes totally and utterly worn out.
Then one day, they suddenly find that they can’t go on, can’t get out of bed or they have an emotional breakdown. To the person involved it is a scary experience as they feel their world is falling apart. This is a signal that something needs to change. For the person involved this is a time of re-evaluating their work-life balance and regaining their equilibrium. It is time for ‘Time-out’, rest and recuperation. However, if you are aware of the signs, it need not get to this stage.
Fortunately this is possible. Just as our bodies can recover after a surgical operation so too can we recover from burnout or chronic stress.
This is where the importance of the mind-body connection is realised. Many people believe that the brain is the part of us that is there to think, process and problem solve, whilst the body is the physical means to get us about. In reality, our mind and body are inextricably linked and affect each other even at a chemical and cellular level and therefore support one another’s well-being. For example, using a visualisation exercise can help an individual relax before a stressful event such as a job interview. So to enable an individual to regain their natural equilibrium, we need to work with the mind and the body. This is achieved by using a variety of techniques and exercises.
As an individual understands and changes the way they respond to stress, they will benefit from improved health, well-being and happiness.
There are several options available to you:
- One hour sessions of counselling/therapy at weekly or fortnightly intervals.
- A day of personal intensive therapy in which there will be time to explore your individual responses to stress. Therapy will include a variety of techniques and exercises to lower your emotional arousal, challenge irrational beliefs and change patterns of perception. This day is designed purely for you and will have an immediate impact on your life. You will leave feeling relaxed and with a greater sense of control.
- A stay in our holiday apartment combined with some intensive therapy over a few days or a week. During this time you may have as many or as few sessions as you feel is right for you. Therapy can be discontinued at any time and you only pay for the sessions you have received.