Behaviour and personality traits in adults are just extensions to the childhood experiences we obtained. The way we manage and express our stress responses as an adult will often be acknowledged by our children, despite how much we may try to hide our situations and emotions away from them to protect. Many people may dismiss these related issues and any consequences stress may have on our offspring by thinking ‘they are just kids.’ In fact, it is these experiences within their early development that shape all aspects of our children within their future self.
By experiencing our parent’s reactions towards stress, ‘learnt behaviours’ are unconsciously formed within their early development and will add towards the key traits built, related to their responses to stress and all other areas.
For children, their bodies and minds are still growing and a well-tuned stress response system is especially important. Impaired behavioural and emotional development is linked to high levels of early stress being experienced. Stress usually arises if a child is putting themselves under too much pressure or if they are not able to reach the demands or expectations of their parents. Research has shown that the vulnerability to childhood stress can be traced back to infant behaviour and therefore: kids are just kids but kids, but kids who develop into adults via all the experiences they encountered….. as a kid!
How we, as adults, relate to stress.
Stress is classed as a ‘pressure or tension exerted on a material object’ or ‘a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’ People often say ‘don’t stress!’ Let’s get real here. Stress is a normal fact of life! Seriously, more often than not, we all experience some level of stress on a daily basis: We are running late for the school run, work or an appointment….. stress!!! The kids are arguing…. stress!!! Our job is so challenging….. stress!!! The house is a mess….. stress!!!! Having recently opened up my private counselling practise, I have a jobs lists that only grows instead of decreases……. stress!!! There are so many things in our everyday lives that cause us to becomes stressed. It’s life. It’s human nature. It’s a normal functioning process. However, it is how we manage it that is important!
Life can be stressful for all, albeit, some more than others. Within our childhood, we would have started to adapt many traits which greatly results in the outcome today, in adulthood, in how we can manage our stress levels. People will either have a high, moderate or low level of experience stress. While it is important to take steps to reduce and eliminate day-to-day stresses, no one can avoid ‘stress’ entirely. Therefore, to benefit our-self today and every day forward, it is better to gain an understanding of how to stay calm through stressful situations, or even to prevent the extent of stress we will experience tomorrow and every day forward and how to keep our brains and bodies from being subjected to the harmful effects of stress. If you’re struggling with ways to cope on a daily basis, it might be causing serious harm to your health.
Not all stress is bad.
In fact, some stress heightens our senses, helping us to avoid accidents, power through unexpected deadlines, dealing with difficult situations by being able to keep a clear mind. This is known as our “fight-or-flight” response. This is a natural process our brain responses trigger, in times of any duress. For instance; you question yourself about receiving counselling. In your fight response, you look for a counsellor and start the process of attending therapy. In your flight response, you will dismiss the idea and carry on as you are. Stress is only ever beneficial to us if it is short-lived and all functioning’s return to their natural state shortly the situation your difficult situation has passed. You should find that any of your symptoms related to stress have gone. If you can still related to any areas related below, then it may be a case that you are still experiencing stress-related issues.
When stress becomes unhealthy?
Long term effects of stress can create various mental and physical implications. Stress causes our heart to beat faster, more forcefully and therefore, results in the need to pump more blood around our bodies. This harms our cardiovascular systems. Long term stress can result in increased heart rate, damaged blood vessels, high blood pressure, and increase in serum in our cholesterol levels. All of which, lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also increase the chances of us developing mental health issues, experiencing fertility difficulties, weakening our immune systems and various other problems, not to mention the implications it could, possibly, have on our mental and physical health and overall well-being.
Food for thought. Ask yourself now, as honestly as possible. ‘If you are stressed, how does it affect your mood, your behaviour, your children’s/family’s moods, your job and/or your ability to carry out simple daily tasks?’ Counselling has so many benefits, stress relief is just one.
Stress can affect how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically. The issue’s you experience may, more than likely will differ than that of another you know who is also experiencing difficulties relating to stress.
Some examples of STRESS indicators/symptoms are:
- The feeling of being overwhelmed
- Mood swings
- Lacking in self-esteem/confidence
- Constant worrying
- Regularly feeling irritable and/or “wound up”
- Regularly feeling anxious and/or fearful
- Having headaches more than usual or are more intense
- Experiencing racing thoughts you cannot control
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Muscle tension or pain
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in eating habits
- Loss of interests
- Feeling low or depressed
- Finding it hard to make decisions
- Avoiding people and/or situations that are troubling you
- Biting your nails
- Smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
- Experiencing emotions that are out of character or that you cannot control
- Lack of energy
- sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
- frequent colds/infections/illnesses
- chest pains
- high blood pressure
- indigestion or heartburn
- changes in bowel habits constipation or diarrhoea
- feeling sick, dizzy or fainting.
Work – Unemployment, a high workload, redundancy or retirement…..
Family/Relationships – Divorce/separation, responsibilities, children, relationship difficulties, friendships or being a carer…..
Housing – Moving house, benefit or circumstance changes, or problems with neighbours…..
Personal issues – Coping with an emotional/physical illness; anxiety/depression etc, a loss/bereavement, financial issues, changes in personal circumstances…..
Lifestyle changes – Having a baby, getting married, turning of a certain age…..
Different types of stress?
- ACUTE STRESS
- EPISODIC ACUTE STRESS
- CHRONIC STRESS
(These will be explained in-depth in another blog to follow, along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Self-help and management tips
- Get help from counselling.
- Create some ‘me time’ or activities with your family that will promote positive emotions, not of which can cause stress….. Alone time may often more the most beneficial.
- Try relaxation techniques and/or music.
- Get more sleep.
- Eat healthier. Certain foods can help.
- Try calming breathing experiences.
- Work smarter, not harder. Know your limits!
- Avoid unhealthy habits and/or lifestyle choices.
- Talk more openly to people close to you.
- Exercise can have amazing benefits in all areas, stress relief being one of them.
- Gain new hobbies and interests.
- Reading – Diverts and focuses your brain on the context rather than allowing your thoughts to race.
Any experience of ‘loss’ related issues could be a major cause of stress. Please take a look at my blog
‘A loss, is not just A loss! It is B,C,D,E,F,G……….’
This blog offers an in-depth explanation into the dramatic effects on how, just one loss, can cause an enormous impact on our own life’s, as well as our children’s and all other family members. Loss is not just a death! It is so, so much more. Hence, I offer counselling for over 80 loss related issues. It’s a good read!
Thank you for reading.