What is Stress?
The Mosby’s Medical and Nursing Dictionary (2nd Edition) defines stress as; “any emotional, physical, social, economic or other factor that requires a response or change”. It refers to General Adaption Syndrome which it defines as; ‘the defense response of the body, or psyche, to injury, or prolonged stress. It consists of an initial stage of shock or alarm reaction. Then follows a phase of increasing resistance or adaption, using various defense mechanisms of the body or mind. And then culminating in either a state of adjustment and healing, or exhaustion and disintegration’.
Stress is the energy exerted by one thing or another. It is those energies and tensions that move through our central and autonomic nervous systems that allow us to function as living human beings.
We can define it as being either, an essential or positive type, or undesirable or negative type stress. Positive type stresses are the energies and tensions that allow us to achieve our goals. They help us succeed in our pursuits, experience health and vitality, happiness and a sense of well being.
Negative type stresses are the undesirable excess energies and tensions that, if we experience for prolonged periods of time, can result in physical and psychological ill health, even to the point of debilitation and death.
The Nervous System
The human nervous system comprises of the central nervous system, which controls all of our voluntary actions, or conscious actions, and the autonomic nervous system which controls certain types of involuntary actions or subconscious actions. We can divide the autonomic nervous system into two parts; the parasympathetic nervous system, and the sympathetic nervous system.
When a stimulus is mediated through the parasympathetic nervous system, a person can experience feelings of well being, relaxation, harmony and stabilising emotions. The role of the parasympathetic nervous system is to bring the body back to its normal relaxed harmony between stresses. It helps to promote healing and repair the body.
When a stimulus is mediated through the sympathetic nervous system, it can cause a person to experience stress. The stimulation of negative emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, hatred over prolonged periods, if repressed, can lead to psychosomatic illness and stress related illnesses. The normal role of the sympathetic nervous system is to set the body into the “Fight or Flight” state. This is the normal reaction to an outside threat or danger. But when the actions of ‘Fight or Flight’ are not acted out physically and the negative emotions continue to be stimulated and repressed, a person may suffer a stress related illness.
As mentioned previously, stress can be either positive or negative. Positive or desirable stress is necessary for living, good health, success and achievement. For instance, daily or regular exercise is necessary in order to continue to maintain good health. Laughter and fun, group activities, personal growth and development, career or work challenges, sport, hobbies and interests, family and friends are all forms of positive type stress. They are necessary to a person’s psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual well being. When we feed our imagination with positive ideas, this gears our thought processes to think positively, and hence affects our performance in a positive way. So the effects of positive stress are beneficial to our entire health and well being. They propel us forward to achieve and succeed in fulfilling our desires and goals.
Negative stress is mismanaged stress. Just as positive stress can produce a positive spiral moving us towards success and attainment, negative stress can produce a downwards spiral leading to more unhealthy stress levels and negative thinking. This can then lead to physical and psychological ill health and debilitation. Often a person’s belief can be that the world is a dangerous and stressful place to be. This therefore, can become his/her self fulfilling prophesy. “As a man thinketh, so is he”. The belief and expectation together are a powerful combination when used positively or negatively. We cannot confine the effects of negative stress just to the person who is suffering from it. It affects families and friends of the person also. Families can disintegrate, friends no longer feel that they can help. They may find that the person is just not pleasant to be around anymore.
Stress and anxiety are fast becoming one of the leading causes of disease and ill health that exists today. Heart attacks, stroke, cancer and other major types of life threatening illnesses, can in many cases be traced back to high levels of negative type stresses. These can include prolonged repression of anger, resentment, fear, hatred, and prolonged periods of anxiety.
Hypnotherapy is an effective and natural intervention for reducing or eliminating negative type stresses. If you are suffering with stress and anxiety issues, call NOW to find out how hypnotherapy can help you.