Stress refers to the ways in which your body responds to the high demands of everyday living. And, although we’re about to highlight the bad rap that stress has acquired in our modern world, stress itself isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, there are times when your body’s reaction to stress serves an adaptive, or performance enhancing function. “Good” stress can equip you with the adrenaline-fueled laser focus that you need in order to ace Dr. Ramowitz’s impossible Physics exam, or to sink that winning lacrosse goal during the state championships.
And then, there are those times when stress isn’t so constructive—like when the pressure to achieve perfection works against you to diminish your performance.
Instead of feeling more alert during that Physics exam, you sink down into your seat and stare at your blank test answers, feeling sick to your stomach, and utterly debilitated. All of those “acceleration and free fall on an elevator” problems that you knew inside-and-out twenty minutes before that test paper graced your hands? Yeah, completely banished from your memory!
But you’re not alone: for a surprising number of Americans—77% to be exact—chronic stress is the background fuzz of everyday existence. Even non-crippling stress can take its toll: 60% of all human illnesses can be attributed to the long-term destructive impact of stress. Given the modern stress epidemic, it’s no wonder that the American Institute for Stress identifies at least 50 adverse side effects of the condition!
Anxiety: Generalized anxiety, panic attacks, or stress-induced tremors
Cardiac symptoms: Including hypertension, angina, or rapid heart rate
Heart attack or stroke
Digestive upsets: Including diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, or constipation
Weight loss or weight gain
Underactive sex drive
Impaired immune system function: Viruses, infections, and cold sores—oh my!
Skin conditions: Rashes and hives
Depression: Feeling defeated, drowning in responsibilities, feeling inadequate, or dejected
Cognitive disruptions: Impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, racing or sluggish thoughts
Sleep Disturbances: Sleeping too often (hypersomnia) or too little (insomnia), nightmares, or chronic fatigue
Irritability: Impatience, snapping at loved ones or strangers, or dissolving into angry tears
Aches & Pains: Headaches, muscle aches, or neck and back pain
Bruxism: Clenching or grinding teeth
Substance Abuse: Harmful drug or alcohol consumption to “take the edge off”
Reduced Functioning: Decline in social, romantic, occupational, or academic functioning, and more+
Losing your job; starting or searching for a new position; receiving the additional work responsibilities entailed in a promotion; tolerating unfriendly, difficult work environment; overwhelming or unreasonable workloads; debt or financial stress; and unexpected financial hardships (see: any car repair ever)
Pop quizzes, midterms, and finals; departing for college; starting middle or high school; difficult project overload; combatting destructive perfectionism; striking a healthy balance between education and social life (for bookworms and chronic partiers alike)
Surviving breakups and divorces; resolving disagreements and resentments; recovering from infidelity; learning how to successfully cohabitate (without murdering each other); supporting a partner through a physical/mental illness or addiction
Bridezillas and in-laws—enough said!
Prepping to become first-time parents; rearing colicky babies; sleep deprivation; postpartum depression; pregnancy or becoming pregnant complications
Losing a beloved family member, friend, romantic partner, or pet
The frustrations of the job search; missing old friends; coping with emotions of loneliness or homesickness; moving to a new city or town
Receiving and coping with a diagnosis of chronic illness (cancer, HIV, diabetes, etc.) or mental health (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse)
Your life is already busy enough as it is! You shouldn’t have to take on the additional responsibility of trying to solve all of your “stuck” stress problems on your own. At Lifeologie Counseling, our team of 30+ counselors works collaboratively to ensure that your stress management program is customized to address your unique lifestyle and specific stress reduction needs. We do all of the behind-the-scenes dirty work to guarantee that you can kick back and relax! Although each of our stress management plans is tailored to fit the individual, your therapist may suggest the following: