Anxiety & Stress – How Stressed Are You?
Are you looking for a specialist for anxiety and stress in Chicago? If so, you are not alone. A common reality of living in a busy, bustling city like ours is the phenomenon of stress. If you having been feeling the pressures of the daily grind, which is likely compounded by work obligations, family issues or relationship struggles, you have come to the right place.
We often hear the term “Stress” but what does it really mean? Let’s take a look.
What is stress?
Physiologically speaking, stress can be defined as the rate of wear and tear on the human body. Think of stress as a state of suspended anxiety where life events and responsibilities exceed your ability to cope or manage.
Is some stress normal?
To be sure, all of us experience some amount of health. Researchers have suggested that some stress may even be good for you. Yes, you read that right.
According to a published report from the University of California at Berkley, stress (small amount) can act as a barrier against depression. It can also work in a way that keeps you at your optimal alertness. In many ways, we’re wired to deal with a certain amount of stress.
If you live in a big city like Chicago where stress levels are generally high due to traffic, weather conditions, competition for work and so forth, you likely have figured out ways to adapt and cope.
But what if you become overloaded with stress? That leads to our next question.
Are there different types of stress?
The answer is – yes. There are 3 different types of stress that you may not have known about:
- Eustress: This is considered a “good stress”. It happens when we are in certain situations that we find motivational or inspiring. If you fall in love – that might be considered a “good” stress.
- Neustress: This type of stress is neither good or bad (it’s neutral). This term is used to describe sensory stimuli. Example, if you hear about an earthquake on the other side of the world, it would likely peak your senses but not cause anxiety.
- Distress: This is considered the “bad” stress and is often referred to as simply “Stress”.
If you are dealing with distress, you are likely going to fall into two distinct categories:
Stress that is fairly intense but short in nature. An example might be cramming for an exam due next week or being pulled over for a speeding ticket. The operative words here are short in nature.
One the stress causing event is over (i.e. the exam, getting a ticket), your stress level will generally subside. These types of stresses are common and normal.
This particular form of distress is the one that you want to be careful of. Chronic stress is not as intense as acute stress but is usually long in duration.
For example, financial stress might fall under this category if you are struggling to make enough money to live. If you have the type of job with lots of responsibility for metrics (aka meeting a sales number) or if you manage people, you may experience chronic stress.
According to numerous research reports, including information from the American Institute of Stress, chronic stress is associated with illness because your body/mind are in a constant state of arousal.
What are the physical signs of chronic stress?
There are numerous ways stress can manifest in your body and it is important to keep in mind that not everyone reacts to stress psychologically or physically in the same way.
Here is a partial list of common physical responses to stress that we see within out Chicago clientele. Bear in mind that symptoms of acute stress can mirror other medical problems, which is why it is important to have a physical with your medical doctor to rule out other causes.
- Muscle soreness (shoulders, neck and back)
- Gastrointestinal issues like chronic IBS
- Headaches that come on frequently
- Problems sleeping (getting to sleep or staying asleep)
- Frequent blushing/sweating
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Increasingly irritable
- Constipation, diarrhea or a mixture of both
- Changes in appetite marked by stress eating or not eating at all.
- Bouts of depression that come from out of the blue
- Increased use of substances, such as alcohol or tobacco.
- Dry mouth, sweaty hands and/or feet
- Exacerbation of current health problems
What can I do about chronic stress?
Chronic stress is a sign of life imbalance. At some point, something has to “give” in order to bring about homeostasis; a 25-cent term to describe a psychological state of calmness.
My goal as Chicago stress counselor is to help you find homeostasis before something “gives” – meaning your physical or mental health. There are many things you can do to lower your level of stress and create a state of living that is more manageable.
Attending counseling for anxiety can help you achieve this in a number of ways, including stress management.
What is stress counseling/therapy?
At its core, anxiety counseling (aka stress therapy) is a form of counseling that directly targets the issues happening in your life that contribute to high levels of stress.
There are a number of ways that we help you to accomplish living a less stressful life, including:
- An examination of your “stress triggers” and identification of what’s possible to change in your life.
- Cognitive behavioral therapies aimed at helping you focus on the here and now through mindfulness based living.
- The encouragement of physical activity as a pathway to stress reduction.
- Talk-therapy as a conduit to emotional catharsis. This allows you to “empty” your emotional plate.
- Mindful exercises, such as homework assignments that encourage meditation, meditation and self-hypnosis.
- Stress and anxiety management approaches, designed to help you avoid common cognitive distortions.
- The chance to share some of your life story in a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental environment.
How can I find out more about stress counseling in Chicago?
All you need to do is send me a confidential email using this form or give me a call at 773.704.5300. You can also send me a confidential note via email at using my confidential contact form.
I’ve provided a brief “stress quiz” below to help you better assess your current level of stress. Some people print this off or jot down the results when they make an appointment with a counselor as tool for insight.
You don’t have to be stressed out. There are very concrete things you can do to create greater harmony in your life.