Portarlington man Dr Eddie Murphy is the expert psychologist on RTE’s Operation Transformation. In the fourth of his six week series ofor the Offaly Express he looks at the stress
Stress. What is it? We’ve all heard and used the term. Stress is a reality of daily living. A moderate amount of stress can be helpful and make you more efficient.
How we cope with the stresses of work, home-life and relationships determines the quality of our physical and psychological health. A lot of stress can have a major effect on our capability, functioning, confidence, self-esteem, energy levels and quality of life. Coping with stress is very individual. One person’s stress is another person’s challenge. Stress management emphasises strengthening of coping skills.
Psychologists who have studied stress have indicated that experiencing the following specific life events in any previous two-year period indicates a high probability of the development of a stress related illness.
• Bereavement, separation or divorce.
• Personal illness or injury.
• Job loss / unemployment.
• Family relationships.
• Sexual difficulties.
• Financial difficulties.
• Physical environment.
Some personality styles are more prone to developing stress related difficulties. These include the Type A personality who is characterised by ‘trying to do more and more in less and less time’.
How troubled are you by Stress?
Scientific research strongly suggests that stress is bad for our health. Stress related problems account for more than six out of ten visits to doctors surgeries. Our bodies response to stress can be physical, emotional and behavioural. Our response will vary from individual to individual and is determined by our ability to cope.
Physical symptoms of unmanaged stress include increased heart rate and blood pressure, tense muscles, soreness in neck, shoulders and back, headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, frequent colds, flu and other infections, sexual difficulties and weight gain.
Psychological symptoms of unmanaged stress include acting defensively or aggressively, being over critical, being less sensitive to others, having difficulty in decision making and concentration, thinking in all or nothing terms, being depressed and angry. Behavioural symptoms of stress include eating in a hurry, inability to unwind, loss of interest in sex, not looking after yourself, restlessness, road rage and smoking or drinking more.
Unrecognised and unattended levels of stress may gradually lessen your quality of life and wreck relationships with work colleagues, families and friends. The most serious stress reactions are anxiety, panic attacks and depression with or without suicidal tendencies.
Manage your Stress
The good news about stress is that it is not a condition for life. To make effective changes requires some basic changes in lifestyle nothing extraordinary. How do we protect ourselves from stress? Attaining and maintaining control over stress involves increasing our self awareness, choosing to de-stress and be proactive about self-care. Learn to Identify Your Own Signs of Stress. Identify areas of your life in which stress occurs. Note how your body reacts to stress.
Dr Murphy runs a private psychology and counselling practice in Portarlington, helping with panic attacks, anxiety, anger, depression, PTSD, etc for children, adults, and families.
Call 0871302899 or visit www.dreddiemurphy.ie