Stress

Stress is the body’s reaction to being under too much physical or psychological strain. At times, this reaction can be protective and appropriate, as in the ‘fight-flight’ response, but in our normal daily lives, this reaction is generally excessive, inappropriate and disabling, with potentially negative long-term consequences.

There are a range of features which people with a stress reaction may have, such as:

  • an inability to ‘switch off’ from work issues
  • feelings of being irritable and ‘on-edge’
  • low mood or tearfulness
  • decreased levels of energy and motivation
  • feelings of being overwhelmed by life events
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • a sense of failure or poor self-esteem
  • strained relationships with family or colleagues
  • constant negative ruminations
  • difficulty falling asleep, and unrefreshing sleep

Stress reactions seem to be increasingly common, due to the relentless, time-pressured demands placed upon many of us. It is important to recognise the features of stress and to respond appropriately, as trying to ‘push through’ the condition can make the illness worse.

Treating stress

The good news is that stress is a highly treatable condition, and is usually very responsive to psychological treatment. Typically, this may take the form of some small-group treatment, perhaps together with targeted one-to-one therapy and other lifestyle adaptations. After the recovery from a stress-related illness, many individuals find it beneficial to make life-long changes to maintain their wellbeing, and to develop a new, sustainable balance in their lives.

Contact us to learn more about our treatments for stress, or to book an appointment.


 

Case Study

Derek was a successful 31-year self-employed businessman in the financial services industry. High-achieving, driven and perfectionistic, he had noticed a deterioration in his functioning over the previous couple of years. In particular, he described feeling ‘flooded’ with work, with difficulty concentrating and trouble falling sleep. Derek freely admitted to pushing himself hard both at work and when not in the office; the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. His days were packed with early starts, late finishes, teleconferences and when not in the office, putting himself through a rigorous training programme at the gym. He came to see us feeling demoralised and at the end of his tether. After a full assessment, it became clear that there were a range of thought distortions which had led to such an unsustainable lifestyle. Derek had been operating using inaccurate beliefs; ‘If I don’t finish the report by tomorrow, I’ll let myself down’ and ‘I should take this piece of work on, otherwise others will think badly of me’. Once Derek had engaged in an active group therapy programme, meeting others in a similar situation and learning from the therapists to recognise and change these unhelpful beliefs, he was able to make rapid progress, implementing fundamental adjustments in his life, restructuring his working day, deciding to delegate part of his role to someone else, and learning to ‘live in the moment’, rather than to worry about the ‘what ifs’ of the future.

Indicative case study, based on the experiences of several patients.

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