Do you feel stressed most days? Does stress affect your day to day life? Here is some helpful information you will be interested in.

What is Stress??

Stress is very common and will be felt by the majority of us in our life time. Stress can be caused in many different ways whether it be stress at home, school or work. While we commonly think of stress as too much mental or emotional pressure, physiological or physical stress is also important. Stress can affect how you feel, think and behave as well as how your body works, because your mind and body constantly interact.
Stress can be defined as the brain's response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, travelling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home. Changes can be mild and relatively harmless, such as winning a race, watching a scary movie, or riding a roller coaster. Some changes are major, such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes are extreme, such as exposure to violence, and can lead to traumatic stress reactions.Not all stress is bad. When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival. In the short term, it can even boost the immune system. However, with chronic stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life-saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren't needed for immediate survival. Your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally. Once the threat has passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Problems occur if the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. There are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:
  • Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family and other daily responsibilities.The AOC. Counselling & Training 2012
  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.
  • Traumatic stress, experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where one may be seriously hurt or in danger of being killed.
The body responds to each type of stress in similar ways. Different people may feel it in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.Of all the types of stress, changes in health from routine stress may be hardest to notice at first, because the source of stress tends to be more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.Stress can cause both emotional and physical symptoms. Signs to look out for are as follows;

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless and depressed
  • Avoiding others.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Excess sweating
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth.

Who Does It Effect?

Stress can have an effect on the people around the ‘stressed person’ i.e. family members, friends or work colleagues. If you feel under severe stress this will have an effect on your overall mood, it could cause you to be upset or angry. You may then become volatile toward peers or those around you at the time. Although you may not mean it this is going to have a negative effect on them and maybe make them sad or angry which could then lead to more stress for both parties.Stress can have an effect on people of all ages, ethnicities and genders at any given time. A survey shows that adults are mainly stressed over money, and work related issues, as they reach closer towards retirement the national survey showed them becoming more relaxed. It is said that most young people are caused stress throughout school and college when they are taking exams.

Statistics

  • In 2011/2012 10.4 million working days were lost due to ‘stress, depression and anxiety’.
  • An average of 24 days were taken off for each case.
  • Up to ½ million people in the UK have work related stress often resulting in illness.
  • Up to 5 million people in the UK are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed through work.
  • ‘Stress, depression and anxiety’ are the second most commonly reported work related illnesses.
  • In the UK 25% of absenteeism is due to stress
  • Work related stresses such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) are on the rise
(www.Stressuless.com)
  • A recent study carried out by the NSPCC found thatacademic worries were the biggest cause of stress for nearly 50 per cent of children
  • Further research has confirmed that exam worries cause children more stress than peer pressure to be 'trendy' or find a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Children as young as two or three are showing signs of stress
  • Children do not just worry about what happens at school. Family life and their lives outside school can all be sources of stress
(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-145732/Is-child-suffering-stress.html)

Examples of People with Stress

“If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.” – Kris Carr“Getting stress out of your life takes more than prayer alone. You must take action to make changes and stop doing whatever is causing the stress. You can learn to calm down in the way you handle things.” – Joyce Meyer“When you're growing up, you play dress-up - it's a game, it's a pastime. And then as you get older, getting ready and looking nice becomes this constant stress. I want to make it fun again.” – Lauren Conrad“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James www.theaoc.org (19) 

How Can it be Treated?

Stress can be treated in many ways. In some cases, it may not need treatment as it is not that severe. The AOC can help you to overcome any stress you may be under. We can offer you one-to-one counselling, group therapy or if the stress has had an effect on your family, we can also offer counselling to a family. All clients must be aged 5+ to receive our treatment. If would like to receive treatment from The AOC for stress you can fill out one of our referral forms online. There are 3 separate referral forms;
  1. For individuals or couples
  2. Family referral form
  3. Group referral form
Simply click the following link to find out more information and complete one of our referral forms:https://www.theaoc.org.uk/about-the-arts-of-change/self-referral-therapy-forms/We provide our clients with high-quality, evidence based expertise in the form of personal therapy and counselling. To help anyone suffering with stress The AOC offer two main forms of treatment in the forms of dramatherapy and integrative counselling.DramatherapyCreative Arts Therapies (drama, art, movement, music therapy or psychodrama)Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy/psychotherapy in which all of the  performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapy addresses a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties. Clients who are referred to a dramatherapist do not need to have previous experience or skill in acting, theatre or drama. Dramatherapists are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to engage in group or individual therapy to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable. Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages:
  • In schools
  • In mental health
  • In general health and social care settings
  • In prisons
  • In hospices
  • In the voluntary sector
  • In private practice
Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their training's in theatre, drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes.  The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a dramatherapist may employ.  These will enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through a creative-expressive approach. Dramatherapists are vtrained in both psychological and arts-specific assessment and evaluation techniques. They are committed to generating practice-based evidence and deliver sound evidence-based practice.
The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth)
 Integrative CounsellingIntegrative therapy, or integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood - no one theory holds the answer. All theories are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other - hence the need to integrate them.The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of a person's personality and needs - integrating the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems within one person, as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects. Essentially, integrative counsellors are not only concerned with what works, but why it works - tailoring therapy to their clients and not the client to the therapy.Courses & WorkshopsThe AOC design and also deliver bespoke creative training courses and workshops on a wide range of subjects for community groups, charities and for small or large organisations and we have over twenty years’ experience. Our courses and workshops are delivered either in house at your place or at our lovely building with large, modern group and conference rooms on the border of Sandwell and Dudley, in the heart of the West Midlands. However, we also provide training across the UK and internationally. Our creative, informative courses and workshops are highly interactive, using creative tools including dramatic play and exploration.You may find our range of courses and workshops more suited to your needs when tackling your stress levels. Our courses can range from anger management to mindfulness. The stress you are under may cause you to get angry at times and our course/workshop can help you to learn to control that anger and turn it into positivity. The mindfulness course will teach you a range of relaxation techniques to again help you control you stress and relax more often causing less stress overall. We have many more courses available to you, for more information visit our website at the following link: https://www.theaoc.org.uk/services/creative-self-development-training-services/ or for more information please email support@theaoc.org.uk

Top Health Tips

  1. 8 hours sleep plus 2 hours’ relaxation each day
  2. Do what you can and leave the rest
  3. Eat regular and sensible food
  4. Reduce coffee intake to 2 cups a day or decaffeinated
  5. Avoid cola drinks as they contain caffeine and stimulants
  6. Take regular exercise, to help the body manage stress
  7. Take up yoga or tai chi for relaxation techniques
  8. Therapeutic massage can relieve deep muscular tension
  9. Take up a relaxing hobby