Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world. It is almost impossible to live without some stress and for most of us a certain amount of stress gives a sense of excitement, incentive and enables us to achieve. If however stress becomes out of control, it may harm our health, relationships and enjoyment of life. Common stress reactions, when things get too much can be mental, such as tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, feeling tired all the time and having trouble sleeping.
We may also suffer physical symptoms such as headache, feeling sick, tightening of muscles which might lead to pain, visiting the toilet frequently. Different reactions vary from person to person.
Over-eating, drinking, smoking, drug abuse and other addictions can be a symptom of stress. They allow a temporary escape, but do not solve the underlying problem. If you are suffering from stress there are many self-help techniques you can try, Google: ‘suffering from stress’, for some ideas to try can try or of course speak to your doctor.
The NHS Direct definition of stress is as follows:
What is Stress
Stress is the way that you feel when pressure is placed on you. A little bit of pressure can be quite productive, give you motivation, and help you to perform better at something.
However, too much pressure, or prolonged pressure, can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for both the mind and body. Everyone reacts differently to stress, and some people may have a higher threshold than others. Too much stress often leads to physical, mental, and emotional problems.
In the UK, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems, and the majority of cases are caused by stress. Research by mental health charities also suggests that a quarter of the population will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
When faced with a situation that makes you stressed, your body releases chemicals, including cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These invoke the 'fight or flight' feelings that help us to deal with the situation. However, when you are in a situation that prevents you from fighting, or escaping, such as being on an overcrowded train, these chemicals are not used.
If the chemicals that are released during stressful situations build up from not being used, their effects are felt by the body. A build-up of adrenaline and noradrenaline increases blood pressure, heart rate, and the amount that you sweat. Cortisol prevents your immune system from functioning properly, as well as releasing fat and sugar into your blood stream.
Combat Stress is an ex-Service society which provides support to those of have suffered injury of the mind.
Another useful site might be the Counselling Directory
See also Mental Health