The word 'Stress' has many definitions dependent upon the context in which it is used. For the purpose of this Stress Management Program we will define stress as 'The emotional, physiological and psychological effects caused by a build up of either internally or externally generated mental pressure'.
My name is James Barugh, and I work closely with people who are suffering from all forms of stress, both in their domestic lives and in their working environment. The last thing that most people who are suffering from excessive stress will admit to is the fact that they are suffering from the effects of stress, or that they cannot handle that stress.
They tend to view it as some sort of weakness to even admit to having excessive stress in their lives. It can seem like a weakness to admit to family and work colleagues that they are under too much pressure. They can be afraid that their boss will see it as a sign of weakness, and or a sign that they cannot do their job properly. This puts extra worry and stress on the nervous system, making an already poor situation appear to be even more intolerable.
It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you are suffering from the effects of excessive stress. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for or to seek professional help. The aim of this stress management program is to enable you to recognise the signs that excessive stress can have upon your mind and body.
To put you in control of your own mind and body enabling you to learn to manage the negative effects of stress and to cope with stressful situations that may arise in your life - whether they are dramatic or just the everyday act of getting on with work and living life. What you will not be doing, is taking away all stress from your life.
Stress can come in many guises. It can be cause by many different things. Stress will manifest itself in a myriad of ways, but remember, we all need an amount of stress in our lives, to be able to survive, to be able to do our jobs, and to give us the will and the energy to cope with emergencies. Stress is not only helpful and necessary; it can often be a positive force in your life.
When you have a deeper understanding of stress and its negative effects on you, you will actually find that you can learn to control the negative psychological and physical effects that it has upon you. This control over yourself will enable you to use stress to work for you, not against you.
Stress can and does affect men and women from all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor, no matter what your job, or even if you have no job. Stress and its effects have no respect for your status or position, or lack of it, in life. Most emotional stress is about what may happen - "what if this happens?" "What if that happens?" It has nothing to do with the here and now.
Emotional stress is about what we think may occur in the future. In a word, we anticipate some sort of threat to our well-being. This feeling, that something of a threatening nature will occur, is the primary factor in causing most of the stress conditions that have such an adverse effect on our lives. Stress is like a disease. You can catch it from others. You can pass it on. You can suffer from it. Or, you can learn to recognise stress and its effects, and you can learn what to do about it.
After using the relaxation program you will find that it is going to continue to get easier and easier to control stress and its negative effects on your life. Something that you thought might be difficult is going to turn out, with a little practice, to be easier than you had thought possible.
What is hypnosis and what can it do? One thing it is not is magical, nor is there anything mystical about it. Hypnosis has many uses. During this Stress Management program you will learn the art of self-hypnosis, enabling you to become a much more calm and relaxed person. There is no need for you to tolerate something inside of yourself but outside of your control, provided you are prepared to devote time, effort and self-discipline to free yourself of your problem.
The use of conscious hypnosis can dramatically change the way you perceive and manage stress and its effects. Results can be achieved in just a few weeks. Hypnosis is increasingly being used as an aid to doctors and dentists as an alternative to drugs for anaesthesia, to accelerate the healing process, to relieve stress, and to help with the control of pain.
It is not possible that you could be made to do anything that you did not want to do, and you would not blurt out any of your secrets. The person in hypnosis may experience their senses more, and their memory may well be enhanced. The state of hypnosis is a most pleasant and particularly relaxing, natural phenomenon, during which a person can converse quite easily. It is inconceivable that any harm could befall you.
Stress and it's effects
Prolonged excessive stress can lead to depression. Both depression and stress can affect the immune system. This in turn opens you up to certain physical illness, such as the high risk of a heart attack. At times of stress or perceived stress, our adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys, release into the bloodstream the hormones Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol.
These hormones, which are also produced by nerve cells, are very powerful, stimulating chemicals, which affect almost every organ in our body, including the intestines, appendix, eyes, bladder and tonsils. These hormones also switch off most metabolic activities, such as the digestive and reproductive systems, which are not needed at times of danger or perceived danger.
The release of these stimulating chemicals into the bloodstream is essential to us. In times of danger they give us the extra energy to help us to run away, or stay and fight. (Fight / Flight) Unfortunately, in this day and age we generally have nowhere to run to; nor do we have the opportunity to fight the danger, even if we could see or understand what it is that is threatening us. Because of this we have generated a new response to danger - we freeze, both mentally and physically. Now we have fight, flight or freeze.
Some of the first signs of the onset of stress on the body include alert breathing rhythms, quickening heart rate, raised blood pressure, nerve activation, muscle tension and release of essential body nutrients. These are all designed to give the body the power to cope with danger, or perceived danger.
When we go into Freeze mode, our body finds it difficult to dissipate the excessive build up of Adrenaline etc. If we do not dissipate these hormones and their effects from our system, our ability to produce the vital defence substances known as Interferons is drastically reduced. Interferons are antiviral proteins produced by cells that have been invaded by viruses.
Cells that are under attack from viruses release Interferons to provide protection for other cells, which may be open to attack from the invading viruses. They also provide protection against any other organism that tries to invade the body. So, if we experience prolonged or excessive stress, not only is our body under direct attack from within, it is also far less able to defend itself from even simple external infections such as the common cold. This makes it harder for your body to cope with a wide range of illnesses.
The body and mind become more vulnerable to further stress, our general health declines, and we can enter a vicious downward spiral. This can give rise to negative attitudes and actions.
Some of the numerous negative effects of Stress:
Minor health problems, such as upset stomach, headache, colds, flu, back pain, muscle cramps and missed menstrual periods can increase
Skin rashes can appear. If you suffer from a skin complaint, such as psoriasis, it can become aggravated
One can suffer a loss of confidence, and can gain a feeling of low self-esteem; a feeling of hopelessness and depression can set in
A feeling of intense fatigue can follow you about all day. Even when you wake after sleep, you still feel fatigued and tired
Sleep patterns can become distorted, waking at 3 or 4 AM
Indigestion and eating disorders
Self-blame, guilt, cynicism and a sense of total failure set in
Anger and resentment at nothing in particular
A feeling that something is missing
You may find an extreme reluctance to go to work builds up, making it harder to face going to work each day
Self confidence is lower
Self esteem is lower
Sex drive is lower
Depression can set in
Worry Related Stress
If Stress is permitted to become established, it becomes a self-reinforcing process, giving rise to more and more negative actions and attitudes. This in turn leads to further stress and withdrawal. At the first signs of mental or physical discomfort, have a check-up with your doctor.
There is some good news. Learning how to handle stress, getting help for depression, will improve your quality of life. By keeping your stress under control you will find that your health will improve. By improving your health, you will improve your ability to fight and control.
Don't Ignore the Symptoms
Worry related stress can affect people who, on the surface, appear relaxed and confident. One thing that you can be sure of is that you are not the only one suffering from stress. Chronic worries and acute worries are the two main types of worry. Most people experience a mixture of both chronic and acute worries at times of upset or stress. You may become more of one type than the other.
Please read the following descriptions to see which one you recognise the most:
Chronic worries: No matter how distracted you become, or how busy you are, your worries are never far from your thoughts. No matter how enjoyable things or activities used to be, chronic worries cast a dark cloud of gloom and despondency over everything that you do. Very severe chronic worries can lead to a general lack of interest in living, the loss of interest in the pleasures of life, a loss of the ability to enjoy things, and an inability to find pleasure in anything.
Acute worries: Can come to mind unbidden and without any effort on your part. Something you've heard or seen can trigger off a chain of associations that are negative, at first below the level of consciousness. Because this is going on below your level of consciousness, the stress may be overwhelming, even before you become aware of acute worries, leading to the condition referred to as Awfulising.
This is where, by carrying the worry to absurd extremes, minor difficulties soon appear to be major problems. Hence the old term 'Making a mountain out of a molehill'. The time that we are at our most vulnerable to attacks of both chronic and acute worrying is in the hours before dawn.
Do you find yourself waking at 3 or 4 am for no apparent reason?
Around this time of the morning our blood glucose levels and temperature are low. The metabolism is sluggish and our physical resistance is at its ebb. Our bodily state can and does exert a considerable influence over our moods. It is not surprising that any worries about relationships, career, money and health, chase each other endlessly around and around inside your head, thus driving sleep farther and farther away. You are now on the worry-go-round. This Stress Course may teach you how to get off that worry-go-round.
Monitoring Your Stress Levels
It is important to monitor your stress levels. Most of us don't always appreciate how and why our stress levels have become so out of balance. Stress levels can rise rapidly, without you noticing that it is happening, until your physical and mental health have deteriorated to such a point that recovery is far harder.
At times of over-stress, it can be extremely hard to put your finger on the precise nature of the problem; everything, work, life, just living, can become harder and harder to cope with, until you feel that there is not much that you can do about it.
On the other hand, you may be fully aware of the reasons why you are feeling so stressed, or apathetic, yet the feeling of being trapped by the causes of your difficulties can be so strong that you can become more stressed, making it appear difficult to do much about it. But there is something that we can all do about it, and that is to learn to control the negative effects of stress on our mind and body.
It is extremely important to monitor yourself for any build up of the negative effects that stress can have upon you. By monitoring your stress levels you can learn to avoid the build up of unnecessary levels of stress. So use your stress card and keep your eyes open for the telltale effects that stress can have on your mind and body.
At times of crisis, or even a perceived crisis, you may get a sudden surge of the hormones Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol into your bloodstream, giving rise to feelings of panic, fear, anxiety, and so on.
At such times it can feel as if there is little or nothing you can do about it. On such occasions there is much that you can do to enable your mind and body to return as quickly as possible to normal running. Just by using this stress control program you can soon learn to control your stress levels. When your body is suffering from excess stress it sends out distress signals.
Listen to it. Don't ignore the signs that may be given to you. Be vigilant, it is essential to recognise the symptoms of stress, and to take prompt action.
As well as the symptoms of Burn-Out Stress Syndrome be aware of other warning signs, such as:
Breathing becomes shallow
Heart rate goes up, and sometimes races
Blood pressure goes up
Blood sugar levels are increased
You can at times feel detached from the world, on a high (caused by too much Noradrenaline)
Being unable to perform work or tasks as well as you used to, clouded judgement
Your concentration becomes impaired
Feelings of fatigue, even after a night's sleep (caused by too much Adrenaline)
You can become very irritable, agitated, for no apparent reason. (Caused by too much Adrenaline)
You may suffer a loss of confidence, and a loss of enthusiasm
You can gain an increasingly cynical outlook
You can suffer from sleeplessness, and, especially, early waking
Your sex drive can become lower, or you can feel sexually unsatisfied
You may start to have a greater dependency on alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or drugs
Aches and pains can increase, especially in the neck, head, jaw, lower back and shoulders, colds and flu (caused by too much Cortisol)
Your appetite can alter to either a desire to go on a binge, especially on sweet, sugary foods, or, you may suffer a loss of all appetite
With extreme stress, bowels may loosen
Feel depressed, tearful and irritable
All over tension
How many of these signs do you recognise in yourself? Make a note of all of the warning signs that you recognise, and over the next three weeks or so watch as those feelings start to alter for the better. By being able to deal with and control your stress, you will be able to do away with those excessive effects that are not good for you.
Don't ignore the symptoms of stress.
Often people can appear to deal with some of the most dramatic crises in life: death of a loved one, redundancy, divorce etc, with very little sign of stress build up. This is often because one part of their life, at least, is continuing in a stable, positive way. We need balance in our lives, between work and play, but also in the other areas of life too.
When you obtain a balance in those different areas, you will find that you can move through life in a calmer and less stressed way. Treating different areas of life with equal or near equal emphasis will help to balance those areas that include stressful situations.
You can learn to control unnecessary worries.
Worry solves nothing. The more you stand back and look at your worries from afar, the smaller they will become. A study carried out at Columbia University has produced scientific evidence to show that:
Forty percent of the things that you worry about never even happen - this is the "what if this happens?" and "What if that happens?" scenario. We go looking for problems before they exist.
Thirty percent of your problems are over and done with before you even get around to worrying about them.
Twelve percent of our worries are about health problems that will never exist.
Ten percent of our worries are directed onto the wrong things.
As you can see, only 8% of your worries have any substance to them. Because these worries are real they need attention. Take control. Say to yourself "I am in control"
You must give yourself time to worry. Actually allocate some time, 20 - 30 minutes, and use this time to set strategies, define goals and make decisions. You will be able to look at your problems in a logical and analytical way. Be more constructive. Always stay within the allocated time. Once your worry time is over, tell your mind that it's now time to get on with life, (or sleep, if in bed). You are in control.
Whilst there is no single method that will work on its own to control the stress of worry, you can help yourself by using the relaxation program. This program may help you to control unnecessary worries, to learn self-hypnosis, and to put your worries into perspective.
Reasons Why You May Suffer Too Much Stress
Stress arises from within you. It stems from the way you interact with what happens, and your perception of what is happening in your life. You will become over-stressed whenever the demands being made on you are greater than your capacity to cope. There are different ways that this can happen.
In the late 1960's two American Psychologists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, of the University of Washington in Seattle U.S.A. published in chart form, in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, a list of events commonly associated with everyday life. Their research showed that they could calibrate the degrees of stress, based on a scale of 1 to 100, associated with these events.
Whether or not you feel your own stress levels coincide with the findings outlined in the chart, it provides a comprehensive checklist of stressors, which affect all of us. Dr Holmes calls these stressors Life Change Units.
Death of spouse (100)
Large mortgage or loan (31)
New responsibilities at work (29)
Marital separation (65)
Children leaving home (29)
Jail term (63)
Trouble with in-laws (29)
Death in family (63)
Outstanding personal achievement (28)
Personal injury or illness 53
Spouse begins or stops work (26)
School or college ends or begins (26)
Losing a job (47)
Living conditions change (25)
Marital reconciliation (45)
Personal habits change (24)
Trouble with boss (23)
Illness of family member (44)
Change in working conditions (20)
Change in residence (20)
Sex problems (39)
Change in school or college (20)
New baby (39)
Change in social activities (18)
Business readjustment (39)
Change in sleeping habits (16)
Change in financial circumstances (38)
Change in eating habits (15)
Death of a close friend (37)
Change in work (36)
Increased arguments with spouse (35)
Minor violations of law (11)
Please add up the total score of Life Change Units, which have occurred in your life within the last four months, and bring it along to the next session for discussion with your stress management consultant.
As you can see, even events normally thought of as a happy or joyful time (such as Marriage) can also be stressful. For more information or to make an appointment for this 4 session Stress Management treatment Program
Call now 0800 015 8502 for a FREE consultation
54 London Street
01189 639 302 Reading (24 hrs)
07947 609 970 (24 hrs)
01344 609 020 Bracknell (24 hrs)
01628 439 150 Maidenhead (24 hrs)
01256 68 8163 Basingstoke (24 hrs)