Life-dynamic counselling, hypnosis and hypno-psychotherapy in Bristol, London and Taunton for stress management
Self-help resources for stress
Below on this page: Learn what stress really is
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Stress is the endemic disease of the 21st century. It may be caused by relationship problems, pressure at work, family situation, illness, adversity, trauma, bereavement, feeling unfulfilled, excessive responsibility, or feeling out of control of your life. For these and many other reasons, the body enters a state of permanent fight-or-flight syndrome which it is not designed for. Stress results.
Stress can creep up on us slowly, so that we feel awful without perhaps knowing why. Take this stress test. If you discover you are suffering from stress, feeling better may be a lot easier than you think.
My work is deeper and far more effective than conventional stress managment. While conventional stress management techniques are excellent, and are always a foundation of the work, they are often not enough. When things really pile up, the very steps intended to help with stress can feel impossible, irrelevant or even insulting. Also, many problematic situation have hidden emotional or unconscious roots unique to you. In both of these situations, hypnotherapy and other brief therapy tools including cognitive self-help (as in CBT) are extremely powerful to gently uncover and to heal the hidden emotional roots of stress.
My work is gentle, respectful, and helps you to heal the very heart of the problem. I offer an individualised programme which works with you using to find the root causes and effect your own solutions, unique to your situation, which feel perfect for you.
Hypnotherapy helps you find lost or forgotten inner resources which can be surprising and delightful to discover. I am very, very good at helping people discover positive inner resources which they had despaired of ever finding in their lives.
The earlier you seek help for stress, the less is needed. Best is to come as soon as you think "I feel stressed." But if you are already in the final week of work-related stress leave, don't worry, many people are when they come to me. It's still possible to sort everything out and feel enormously different. The hypnosis-based work I do is quicker, deeper and far more effective than conventional stress management tips, and is safe and easy.
To take the first step to find your personal path to peace beyond stress, give me a ring today. I am happy to talk. Andrew White 0845-351-0604
We all need input to stimulate our alertness. Too little is like living in solitary confinement. The right amount is needed for life. Challenge, alert-alarm and pressure can be very good things - and they are inevitable. Challenge is good. But input, challenge and pressure which we feel is too much is damaging. It shortens life. This is stress, and it is never good. It’s surprisingly hard to define, but basically, stress is when you fear that you are about to lose, or have lost, things you need for your well-being. Stress is set to be a main cause of ill-health in the next century.
The term “stress” was first made popular in the 1930s by researcher Hans Selye. He discovered that the body has a similar response to any demand placed on it. If you experience extreme heat or cold, a birth or a death, a new job or a redundancy, very similar body-mind hormones are released.
Roughly, this is "flight or fight" response. It is a necessary and valuable emergency response to gear us up to deal with difficult situations. But it is intended for situations which come and then go again. In the modern world we can enter this emergency state almost continuously, and this is stress. When it goes on too long, it causes short-term symptoms plus a proven risk of major long-term illness. Here's an example.
Let’s say you’re reading this and suddenly you smell smoke and someone shouts, “Fire! Fire! Help me!”
Immediately a cascade of over two dozen hormones, including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol begins to flood through the body. Your heart pumps faster, your breathing speeds up. This is Short Term Stress. It is the “flight or fight” response. It is valuable, natural and gears you for emergency action. Your pupils dilate so you can see better, your hearing becomes sharper, your blood will clot more easily. You become capable of great things: you can pick up an injured person and carry them and hardly notice the weight. You lose interest in food and sex - they don’t matter just now.
And you develop “emergency thinking”. Your mind focuses down to the essentials for survival. You see danger everywhere. You tend to see everything in black and white as safe or unsafe, with no in between. If you are in an earthquake, or being attacked by wild dogs, this is how your thoughts naturally run. It’s appropriate to think like this in an emergency, but it eats you up if you think like this every day.
If you were an animal, say a zebra being chased by a lion, you would burn away all those stress chemicals in a frenzy of physical activity. In the modern world we have the stimulus to flight-or-fight - impossible demands from your company, exams to pass, negative equity, painful relationship. But we get no outlet in physical activity. We are stuck with the tension without the release. Zebras don’t get ulcers, but we do. (Metaphorically - stomach ulcers are now known to be due to a bacterial infection.)
What’s more, zebras are placid souls. Unlike us, when that lion is gone, they don’t “catastrophise” about the next one. Their view is, “Hey, there are lions, jackals too, but so what? Life goes on. Say, this grass looks good. Let’s chew some.” When zebras are stressed, they are stressed; when they aren’t, they are calm. Many of us however, have come to have lives of permanent stress. One thing piles on another and we enter a state where the short-term stress response becomes permanent. The body was not designed for this.
Results are manifold, and all negative. They include extra fat being stored and possible cravings for fatty foods which release "comfort chemicals". Muscle mass is lost and there can be feelings of exhaustion, tiredness and depletion. You feel irritable, anxious or depressed, maybe all three. The immune system is undermined, and coronary heart disease is twice as likely in those under intense stress at work.
Indeed in Japan, it's recognised that people die from overwork. It’s termed “karoshi”, a heart attack following a period of working very long hours. Chronic stress causes hypertension, migraine and insomnia and contributes to a wide ranges of diseases including cancer and arthritis. In everyday life it causes all the symptoms in the stress test.
The effects can be major. One study compared two tribes of native peoples. As far as genetics and nutrition, the tribes were the same. The difference was that in one, the young men went through a highly stressful manhood initiation ceremony; in the other, the manhood ceremony was easy and stress-free. As adults, the women were the same height. But the men who had been stressed as teenagers were an inch and a half shorter than those who had been unstressed. (We are talking of life-threatening stress here, so don't worry about your son's GCSE's!)
Now there’s one big difference between human beings and zebras: how we think about events. Selye stressed his laboratory rats by doing things like dunking them in freezing water. Probably, you would find that stressful too. But unlike his poor shivering rats, some people will find the same situation exhilarating. It depends on how you interpret it. Some people really enjoy to swim in the sea on Boxing Day. One factor is that when we don't feel in control, the body finds the situation stressful. Other things which make life feel less stressful are commitment – the feeling that your work or family gives your life meaning and purpose; and welcoming the changes which life brings as a challenge. Take the definition of stress above: “fear of losing things you need for your well-being.” That fear could be real – or all in your mind. Either way, you will feel stressed. Stress depends enormously on how we think about the situation.
Indeed, sometimes we create stress entirely inside ourselves. Maybe we criticise ourselves,or try to please others and don’t take time for ourselves, or we get triggered into self-doubt by what others say. Or we are un-necessarily competitive. Or we think things HAVE to be some certain way or else it's a CATASTROPHE. Or we fail to take action to bring things under control - or we are control freaks. Or, we call the situation stressful when really it is exciting.
Some people ramp that up to a whole lifestyle which creates chronic stress. EVERYTHING is a crisis. They may be “awfulisers”, eager worriers, Olympic champions at fearing the worst and expecting the least in every situation. Or they may be so-called “Type A” personalities – ambitious, aggressive, irritable to the point of being hostile, driven, and very possibly with a feeling of inferiority underneath it all. For such people life is one episode of Short Term Stress followed by another. It is their lifestyle. They are stress addicts.
Good news, however. You have at your command powerful methods to deal with stress. In short - live like a zebra! – more exercise, more relaxation, and change how you think about things. A good diet also helps, though chewing grass is optional. Other ways to look after yourself can be easy and highly effective and even fun, but these are basics. For my outstanding collection of stress tips, see here.
As stated above, my work goes far beyond conventional stress managment and CBT to help you deal with the hidden unconscious and emotional factors behind stress. To take the first step to find your personal path to peace beyond stress, give me a ring and leave a message (24 hours.) 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I'm happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol or Taunton, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective.
It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.
Hans Selye, pioneer stress researcher
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