This Website is still **UNDER CONSTRUCTION** with a projected completion date of Summer 2014. Feel free to explore and use the resources already listed on the site. Additional Resources will be added in the near future.

Stress, Distress, The Mind, The Body

Coping with stress is essential to learning to relax.   Stress is part of our everyday life but there are ways to deal with stress.   First we need a clear understanding stress and how it affects us physically and mentally.   .

Stress is a type of alarm reaction, involving heightened mental and bodily states - it is both a psychological and a physiological response to the environment. Your brain produces a stress reaction when you are in a situation that is physically or mentally demanding.   A stress reaction is a response to a real or perceived threat. Different people perceive things in different ways, so a situation that one person finds very stressful might not be to someone else.

Some people may have a nervous system that goes into a stress reaction more readily than others. This could be due to individual differences in genetics and brain chemistry.   Research has suggested that major stressors in our lives are life changes, for example, moving house, marriage or relationship breakdown. Work-related factors, including unemployment and boredom, are also common causes of stress. Differences in personality may also play a part.

A stress reaction is a response to a perceived threat. Different people perceive things in different ways, so a situation that one person finds very stressful might not be to someone else.

Stress is normal. Some stress is good for you- it keeps you alert and protects you in times of danger or when you need to act or think quickly.    Normal stress levels can energise and motivate us, directing our behaviour in useful ways. But excessive stress becomes a problem when it causes long-term disruption to our ability to function or mental or physical  illness.  In most modern lifestyles, the pressures on people are immense and most people find themselves having to find ways of coping with stressful situations in their everyday lives.

Excessive stress over long periods of time can be harmful to both your mental and your physical health.   Being over-stressed can make it difficult to relax.   But learning to relax and spending increased time relaxing can overcome the negative effects of stress and help us deal with stressful situations more effectively.   Employing the relaxation resources on this website on a regular basis can prepare you to deal with stress without letting it overcome you.   You an effectively manage stress in your life if you give your body ample rest, healthy nutrition, and regular periods of relaxation.

What Does Stress Do to Us?

Your brain is on the look out for anything that threatens to upset its equilibrium - if there are serious 'stressors'around, it triggers off an 'alarm reaction'.  The alarm reaction prepares your body for action - sometimes known simply as the 'fight or flight reaction'. Stress hormones and the action of the sympathetic nervous system prepare your body for vigorous muscular activity as follows:

Stress and Illness
Research has shown strong links between prolonged stress and many disorders, mentally and physically. The immune system is easily affected by stress.

The 'risk factors' linked with cardiovascular disease include diet, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise (or over-exercise) and stress. Indeed, stress may well be a cause of other behavioural factors.

Coping With Stress

There are many approaches to coping with stress.  Among the  simplest  approaches to reducing the symptoms of stress are relaxation, deep breathing and meditation techniques.

Progressive muscle relaxation can reduce physical tension and meditation can reduce anxieties. The effects of these techniques tend to be pretty short-lived though, so to be effective they need to become a regular part of a person's lifestyle.