Stress in Life

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one”.
– Hans Selye

Psychological stress affects everyone.  Stress is a normal part of life.  We now understand that stress helps us grow and get stronger, provided it does not reach a critical level that becomes harmful.  Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (fight or flight).

Stress becomes increasingly damaging when it becomes more intense, prolonged, uninterrupted, unexpected and unmanageable.  Stress can come from common external factors such as school pressures, work pressures, relationships, family problems and financial issues.  Children and teens also experience stress from a variety of sources including peers (which can include bullying), parents, teachers, coaches and perceived societal expectations.  Internal personal factors can influence our response to stressful external factors.  Our ability to handle stressful life events can be affected by our fitness, nutrition, sleep habits, as well as our mindset and expectations.

An unhealthy stress response can be detected by noticing some combination of a wide variety of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms that may signal a harmful stress reaction:

  • sleep disturbances
  • muscle tension
  • headaches
  • gastrintestinal problems
  • fatigue
  • changes in appetite
  • worrying
  • loss of motivation
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • negative changes in lifestyle
  • feeling overwhelmed

At the Centre for Cognitive Therapy the approach to managing stress is individualized.  All aspects of the stress response are considered and strategies to help reduce the negative effects of stress may include helping clients change lifestyle habits, incorporate mindful meditation or relaxation exercises as well as help clients with positive changes in mindset.  Particular targets of change is tailored to the individual based on a collaborative relationship between the client and the therapist.

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