Let me shock you – stress can be good and is an essential physical and mental reaction to survival!
Yes. Feeling stressed, under pressure, wanting to run away, wanting to attack someone or something, wanting to hide – all normal human instincts that have been within us for thousands of years. You may have heard it called the Fight, Flight or Freeze response? It is our bodies built in mechanism to deal with an immediate challenging or emergency situation.
• Fight – meet the challenge head on to overcome it.
• Flight – get the heck away from the challenge
• Freeze – “rabbit in the headlights” don’t do anything and it will go away
An emergency stop in a car, taking a crucial penalty, walking into an exam room; all moments when our nervous system kicks in, sends in adrenaline and cortisol and readies our body for the challenge. Our heart rate increases, breathing increases, pupils dilate and blood vessels widen to get more blood to our muscles. Working properly, the body’s stress response enhances a person’s ability to perform well under pressure.
A little of this stress can help keep you on your toes, ready to rise to a challenge. And then the nervous system quickly returns to its normal state, standing by to respond again when needed.
In the days of the caveman, this nervous system response was ideal; however, today’s stress doesn’t just happen when faced with short term dangers or challenges. Longer term events (such as coursework, relationship issues, parental divorce) can cause a longer lasting, low level of stress that is hard to cope with.
The nervous system sees the consistent pressure and can remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period. This can wear out the body’s reserves, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed, weaken the body’s immune system, and cause other problems.
Some of the common issues that lead to sustained teenage stress include:
• Exam and coursework pressures
• Sporting competitions and challenges
• Expectations of yourself and on you from others
• Self-image concerns
• Relationships with others or of those around you
Our therapeutic approach will never remove stress from life – what a boring world it would be without some challenges! What we will strive to provide is a perspective on stressful situations and events; coupled with tools and techniques that can help you to deal with stress now and in the future.