Online sessions now available.Kristian S. Nibe - clinical psychologist and ISTDP practitioner.
Symptoms of stress.
Stress is something that comes from within and is the body’s alarm system that alerts about unconscious feelings that the stress covers up. Stress is therefore just another word for anxiety, nervousness, and muscle tension. Stress is the body unconsciously activating itself with muscle tension, and it’s a process that happens automatically since stress is triggered by unconscious processes.
Humans only become automatically stressed by two external factors; loud noises and heights. Therefore, it’s an idea to interpret all other stress as unconscious feelings (i.e. anger, sadness, frustration, happiness, guilt, or disgust) that you are not aware of.
It may seem like stress is something that comes from outside of you. You may believe that stress comes from work, other people, or things that “must be” done, but these things are only external factors. These external factors then trigger feelings in you that consequently the stress (i.e. muscle tension) tries to keep out of your awareness.
The physical symptoms of stress are therefore the same as the symptoms for anxiety. The stress/anxiety can be channeled in three different ways; 1) through the striated muscles, 2) through the smooth muscles, or 3) through cognitive/perceptual disruption (i.e. our ability to think clearly or to comprehend reality).
As shown in the figure above, the physical symptoms may include; neck and back pain, tiredness, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, light-headedness, chest pain, heart pounding, headache, dry throat and mouth, sweating, loss of sexual desire, impotence, and cold or heat sensations. These symptoms may also have other medical causes, so if you suspect that the symptoms are not stress related it’s advisable to consult with a doctor to eliminate other causes.
Cognitive symptoms are memory reduction and loss, difficulty concentrating, reduced decision-making capability and doubt regarding past decisions, focus on worries and negative thinking, and difficulty thinking straight.
Emotional symptoms include mood swings and emotional instability, crying tantrums, irritability and having a short fuse, manic episodes, inability to relax, and a sensation of being overwhelmed and lacking control.
Behavioral symptoms include isolation, changes in appetite and weight loss/gain, disturbances in sleeping pattern, procrastination, renouncing personal responsibilities, impulsive behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, and an increase in neurotic behaviors such as nail biting and fidgeting.
What causes stress?
Situations that initiates stress in the body are known as triggers or stressors. These are events that trigger feelings that next causes the stress. This because stress is the unconscious anxiety mechanism that try to cover up our feelings. In other words, stress isn’t transferred directly from a person or situation and over to you. A psychological process inside you creates this stress based on how you view the situation, yourself, others, and how comfortable you are with our own feelings.
Many people believe that stress comes from an external source such as work, other people, or a relationship. However, stress may be activated by any event depending on how the world is being viewed, and to what extent contact with own feelings and the ability to regulate these are available. Some become stressed just because it is raining outside or they have an anxiety attack because the bus was five minutes delayed, while others don’t stress even if the boat they’re sitting in capsizes.
Whether stress is triggered depends on the understanding of the situation. Something you might perceive as stressful might be something others view as exciting or boring. Even supposedly positive events like getting married, having kids, buying a house, beginning university, or getting a promotion, are endured with significant stress by many.
Some people are comfortable and thrive speaking in public, while for others public speaking is a fate worse than death. Some like deadlines and clear objectives, while others get tense and start worrying whether they will make the deadline. Some find joy and meaning by helping family and friends through difficult times, while others think of it as a nightmare.
The ability to accept uncertainty, letting go of controlling the outcome of a situation, the ability to prioritize, set boundaries, and tell people “No!”, the ability to strike a balance between work, family, and leisure time, the ability to notice when stress is triggered in the body and the ability to regulate it, and the ability to identify, accept, and feel feelings, are factors that determine whether one person gets stressed while another can remain calm in the same situation.
How to regulate stress in the body.
It’s important to notice when anxiety and stress activates the body and learn how to immediately regulate it rather than trying to distract yourself away from it. Unattended, the stress level has a tendency to gradually increase so that we get accustomed to more and more stress. In the end, being stressed becomes just something that one considers part of life and a part of ones personality and identity. When it reaches that level, a person is no longer aware of how detrimental the stress actually is.
To regulate stress you need to deliberately calm down the inner tempo, control your breathing with your stomach, and observe the body and not resist the tension. To learn how to perform this simple technique in any situation click this link.
Online consultations available.
Use the contact form below for any inquiries. Please state briefly the nature of your problem, when and how you are available, and how you prefer to conduct payment (Credit Card or PayPal).
Consultations are available for either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, and are conducted by video either through Skype or appear.in. Alternatively I also offer sessions through chat/e-mail.
The price per 45 minute consultation is 160 Euro. The price for a 90 minute consultation is 300 Euro.