Stress is a reaction to life’s challenges and potentially harmful situations. When you feel scared or threatened, your mind and body respond by switching on your fight-or-flight response. That is a primitive reaction that prepares your body to run away from danger or, where this isn't possible, do your best to fight your way out.
Your body does this by releasing hormones into your bloodstream, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones activate your autonomic nervous system, which controls things like your heart rate and breathing, so you're stronger and more alert.
In addition to preparing you to avoid or deal with danger, the stress response has some benefits like providing motivation. Stress can be useful in other ways, like keeping you awake and focused when you're studying for a big test or pushing you to achieve your best on the sports field.
However, for many people, stress becomes a chronic problem from which they get no relief. It's especially common to develop chronic stress because of your job, which can lead to burnout if you don't get help.
Occasionally experiencing the stress response doesn't cause any harm. However, when you're experiencing chronic stress, your body constantly floods with high levels of hormones. That causes issues such as:
People who are trying to manage chronic stress often do so by drinking alcohol, smoking, using drugs, comfort eating, or developing compulsions like gambling or shopping. While these activities offer a brief period of distraction from your stress, they ultimately make the problem worse.
There are numerous ways to help reduce stress. These include:
The team can help you tackle issues like smoking and excessive drinking, substance abuse disorder, gambling addiction, and eating disorders, which often result from stress. They can also treat anxiety disorders, for which stress is a major risk factor.
Psychotherapy can help by exploring the causes of your stress and enabling you to understand them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you to reorder your thoughts so you don't overreact to minor stressors.
If you're feeling run down from stress, get expert help by calling CyFair Psychiatry today or book an appointment online.