Feeling stressed can be beneficial and can motivate us to complete tasks. People manage this type of short term stress without adverse effects. However, according to a NHS website, a prolonged build-up of stress known as chronic stress, can cause serious illness, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Stress has a very powerful effect on our immune system. Most people are aware of the ‘fight or flight’ response which is a powerful survival mechanism and very useful in stressful environments such as running away from a hungry lion. And once the perceived threat has subsided, your nervous system can recover from the stressful encounter.
But what if the perceived threat i.e stress comes in the form of job demands, worrying about finances or relationship difficulties and things you can't escape from? Then it is likely your immune system won’t be able to easily recover from this type of ongoing stress. And stress isn’t always caused by the bad stuff, for example, planning a wedding, moving house or starting a new job can be hugely stressful.
As prolonged or chronic stress has an inflammatory effect on our immune system, some people may start to notice physical symptoms such as headaches, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, eating too much or too little, loss of concentration and generally feeling down and irritable. Some people may begin to feel quite withdrawn and experience low mood and anxiety.
Treatment for stress
Counselling can be an effective treatment for chronic stress symptoms. With the right support, you can begin to learn to identify what triggers your stress and employ new methods and techniques to manage stress differently.