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Breaking the Cycle of Stress

See also: Tips for Dealing with Stress

Stress is an important natural reaction used by the body to prepare for action. Without stress we would be unable to perform to our best. Stress sharpens our senses, gives us a quick response and gives us the strength to address the task ahead.

There are various health benefits with a little bit of stress.

Research has found that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. Stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. Too much stress though can be detrimental. Stress that continues for an extended period can cause the immune system to deteriorate and can also cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease.

Stress is an automatic reaction you didn't think about or plan in advance, and because the changes in your body are subconscious it is sometimes hard to understand where that headache has come from, why you can’t sleep or why you are feeling low.

The fact is that the physical pain caused by stress is mainly due to unconscious muscle tension. Common causes are automatically clenching the jaws or involuntary tensing of the neck or shoulders.

Tension can also affect the emotions, it is widely believed that hyperarousal is a by-product of the hormones released during stress, and that is the main reason that people find it difficult to sleep. This situation can be the beginning of a cycle of stress. If you tend to worry the stress reaction can escalate, which in turn increases the negative symptoms you are experiencing.

Quite often when we are under extreme stress we can feel trapped, it can seem hopeless, as if there is no way out of our situation. The stressful feelings don’t help they just make things worse. This cycle of stress can be very difficult to alleviate, especially if we don’t realise that stress is causing the condition.

One simple and effective way of relieving stress is relaxing, but this is sometimes easier said than done.

How can you relax when you are feeling like this?

If you are going to break this cycle of stress the first and most important thing you must do is give yourself some time, you have probably given time to lots of other undertakings, to family, friends and work.

This time is just for you!

Once you have made that decision an excellent exercise is to sit or lie in a quiet room and begin to concentrate on releasing the tension from each part of your body, start at the top of your head and slowly work down releasing the tension as you become aware of it. As you release the tension from your body you will feel the pain ease.

The truth is that this time of relaxation will relieve the stress and in turn change the way you are feeling allowing you to think clearly and approach your situation with renewed vigour.

Michael Dullenty. Pr DTH. Dip Couns.