Stress is a normal part of life and the human body is equipped to respond and react to it. Stress can have positive impacts: it assists the human body and mind to be alert, to avoid danger and to be focused and productive. Modern life however, includes pressures to achieve, to juggle many responsibilities and to excel, including personal and family life. This constant pressure can lead to continuos stress which can become intolerable over time, impacting negatively on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Stress becomes negative and creates “distress” when you face continuos challenges and pressures without sufficient time to recover or relax.
When we are constantly stressed without much relief it can have significant physical and psychological impacts on our health. People who experience distress on a regular basis may suffer from headaches, physical aches and pains, stomach problems, elevated blood pressure, skin problems, chest pain, anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties. These problems can increase if alcohol, tobacco, drugs or sugary and fatty foods are used to ‘self medicate’.
Distress can also impact on our interactions with others as intolerance and impatience increase, and can decrease concentration and can reduce your ability to perform. Over time this can lead to decreased confidence and self esteem.
The good news is that you do not need to experience constant distress in your life. Small changes can make a significant difference and you can learn to become more effective in how you overcome distress. Some people can struggle to break the cycle and seeking support could be the first step to tackling the issue.
Cork’s Smart Psychology will present a lecture on Stress and Anxiety on May 19th in The Kingsley. They will also be facilitating a skills–based course commencing in June which will teach practical steps for reducing distress and increasing a more fulfilling life. For further details visit smartpsychology.ie.