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7/24 Total Health and the Downhill slide – Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Before we go onto our next series for the Boardroom, let’s take a quick break and look at the stress levels your system might be feeling.   Here is an interesting look at ‘The Downhill Slide: Stress, Anxiety and Depression.

A. We all feel stress.

1. .Sometimes of the year carry greater stress for some people!  Why?

a) This time shows up some unreal expectations of others – saying ‘no’.

b) It stretches thin the resources that are already stretched too thin.

c) It shows holes in relationships, esp. families.

d) It can show wrong priorities, money spending habits, etc.

e) It adds more straws to ‘the camel’s back’. Others you can think of?

Understanding why holiday and certain times of the year are such a time of stress will help us all understand the sequence of stress, burnout, anxiety and depression.

So, what is stress?  An amazing 70% of the people who see a doctor do so for stress related reasons.  30% of Australians are on prescription drugs – not counting the drugs sold over the counter.  Most people go to the doctor when the body can no longer cope with stress levels and physical damage has been done to the body’s systems.  I am sure theses stats are similar to many, many nations.

2. We all handle stress differently.  One person’s stress nightmare is another’s challenge.  Virtually anything can cause stress, from losing your keys to visits from relatives or neighbours, to Christmas and birthday shopping.

3. Warning Signs of Too Much Stress:

An increase in anxiety and tensions levels, confusion, irritability, feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, or the suppression of feelings, reduced effectiveness in communication, withdrawal, increased feelings of isolation, alienation, or boredom, mental and emotional fatigue, lower intellectual functioning and concentration, loss of spontaneity and creativity, lowered self- esteem and feelings of self worth.

4. Affects of stress on behaviour:

Increased procrastination, avoidance of work, lowered overall performance and productivity, increased alcohol and drug use and abuse, overeating or under-eating, loss or gain of appetite, weight gain.  Increased aggression, vandalism and stealing, deterioration of relationships, tendency toward despair and suicidal thoughts are also signs of high stress.

5. Learn to deal with your stress levels before anxiety grows. 

a) Learn your personal signals of ‘alarm, overstress and exhaustion’. 

b)  When the prolonged stresses of life become too unbearable, burnout can happens.  Burnout is the depletion of the physical and emotional resources that enable a person to keep on going.

c) Burnout happens to most givers who have too little consciousness of, or care for, their personal needs.  They fail to do what is necessary to replenish their selves from the intensity of their giving.

d)  Depression is the emotional manifestation of the depletion of one’s physical resources for dealing with stress over a period of time.  Just as the physical body has finite, exhaustible resources, the emotions draw on a limited supply as well.  When these resources are spent, the result is depletion, devastation and desperation – depression.

6. The most common stress, burnout and anxiety personality includes:

those who gain their sense of identity and self-worth by doing, over-achieving, trying to rescue others, who feel indispensable and those who have trouble setting their “Noooo-limits” and personal boundaries.  These are the “stop when I drop”, driven to ‘providing for everyone’ type people, who have trouble knowing their own self-worth and value, who aim to fill the gaps of love in their own lives by doing for others – but at the expense of themselves.  They see fun as a waste of time and feel guilty whenever they are not doing something?  How many Mums fit this description?

If stress levels exist for long periods of time, without rest or replenishing the fuel tank, other problems develop – such as anxiety.

B. from overwhelming stress, anxiety can grow.

1. 35% of counselling cases relate to anxiety.  Learning to understand our own anxieties can act as a guidance system for protection and survival.

2. What is anxiety?  This is a generalised, persistent feeling of worry nervousness, apprehension, restlessness, fear or an inability to relax, without logical reason as to why, especially after the ‘threat’ is gone. Anxiety includes not being able to control the body’s autonomic systems: a heightened state of body arousal, skin, blood vessels, startle response, heartbeat, breathing, etc.

3. Prolonged stress and anxiety actual change the chemistry in the brain, causing an imbalance.  The centres of the brain most affected that controls our fear, our sex drive, our weight and a female’s menstrual functions, where our memories are stored, the flow of blood is regulated, Our perceptions of reality and decision making are affected.

4. The internal ‘fight or flight’ responses are triggered, leaving the body in a constant state of readiness to do something.  Some environmental event triggers or ‘kindles’ the memory patterns, resulting in this state of arousal.  “Anti-kindling” drugs help to suppress or ‘dull’ the brain’s capacity to remember.

5. Anxiety can result from:

a) Overwhelming life events that have not been worked through.

b) Lack of personal resources, coping methods, support networks.

c) Problems with general physical health.

d) Other pressures of personal, lifestyle or environmental stresses.

e) One’s general view of life, esp. negative personal views or traits.

f) Related fears, phobias, compulsions and mental struggles.

C. After anxiety levels have been allowed to continue beyond endurance, depression often results.

1. Depression is that all-enveloping, pervasive sense of doom, a lowering of mood, loss of interest and motivation increased by the presence of depressive thinking patterns.  Depression can strip you of personal resources and weigh you down with a deep sense of blackness.

2. Many things can cause depression: chemical imbalance in the brain, substance abuse, some medical conditions, traumatic life events, childhood traumas, buried emotions such as anger, a ‘trapped in life’s pain’ feeling.

3. The Signs of depression include:

a continuous, depressed mood measurable within the last 2 week period, diminished interest or pleasure in all activities every day, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, agitation of slowing down of thinking, speech or movement observable to others, fatigue or loss of energy every day, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, indecisiveness, can’t think, recurrent obsessional thoughts of death or suicide, definite, major functional distress in living.

D. But there is a way through! 

Most of us have learned to handle our anxieties by denial, worry, obsessional thinking, compulsive behaviours, blaming others or in other self-destructive ways. The question becomes what prevents us from taking care of ourselves, from loving ourselves enough to be as good to ourselves as we are to others?

There are many lists written to help people through their stress and anxiety.  Here is a personal one that I’ve learned the hard way:

a) Work past denial and face your own personal heart issues.   Begin by taking responsibility for the valuable “person” who lives within your body.

b) Grant yourself permission to be important enough to God, to others and to yourself to allow yourself to care for yourself.  Give yourself permission to begin to work on your issues with the Creator God who loves you.

c) Give yourself the gift of life by planning time into your day for you, to find your loving Father’s way through.  Feed your spirit/soul.  Take something in to really live on.  Like the computer or car that you us, you can only live on and give out what you’ve put into your life.

d) Deal with your present stress load in Godly ways.  Deal with and unload past stresses to lighten the present load.  Value and learn from your lessons of the past.    Look for Father God’s “love language” to you.  Don’t take in the enemy’s most believed lie: that Father God is not a God of love – or that He is punishing you or mad at you for something you did or didn’t do.!

e) Tap into your “muscles of faith”.  Work with your Creator – not against Him. Take time to process life.  Step back and get a positive perspective.  Learn to laugh at yourself and life a little.  Try to be open, have fun and be less serious.

f) Learn to know your own heart – its condition, weaknesses, strengths and its rooms of private pain.  God is after working out of our heart issues.

g) Learn to listen to your body and know your own red and yellow lines.  Treat your body like the wondrous ‘house’ that it is.  Feed it, exercise it and learn a healthy lifestyle of discipline.  Learn to be your own ‘best friend’.  Discipline is the way out of the destructive stresses of life.  To really love myself is to discipline myself in a healthy way.  Allow for personal growth.

h) Know and listen to your own limits. Set boundaries for yourself and watch other’s influence on you – especially your children!  Let others learn to carry their fair share of the load.  Watch the “I’m Super Mum” expectations.

Our loving Father God is writing an Autobiography and each one of us is in His story. What is He saying in the chapter about you?  We do not need to fear stress and its message to us.  Learning to see life from a positive viewpoint is important.  Belief in a better future, that whatever is happening to you is for your benefit (Rom. 8:28), can result in a huge reduction in stress.

 

QUESTIONS TO TEST THE LEVELS OF STRESS:

If you answer yes to all of these questions, please seek help!

1.  Do you suffer from insomnia or hypersomnia almost every night for the past month?  _______

Wake up more often not feeling refreshed?  _______

2. Have recurrent thought of death, deep fears of dying of have made secret plans about suicide.  Compulsive thoughts are beyond your control? _______

3. Have you experienced significant weight loss or weight gain within the last month without attempting to diet.  _______

Over-eating or denying food to your body? _______

4. Does it seem like you have little time for your own personal growth, interests or appropriate friends?  _______

Lost that gentle, quiet feminine feeling? _______

5. Does it seem like the hurts and ‘baggage’ of your past life continually hit you and your emotions respond.  _______

Forgiveness and release are hard to do? _______

6. Do you find yourself getting irritated more often now?  _______

Have you found minor annoyances throw you into deeper frustration than in the past, allowing little slips in behaviour or language?

Anger bubbles up more? _______

7. Do you feel guilty for taking time out for yourself, your partner or for a special occasion?  _______

Time demands push you into long hours or overwork? _______

8. No matter how hard you work, it seems like you never get caught up with your “List of things to do”, accomplishing less and less more often? _______

9. Do you have trouble sharing with close friends?  _______

Trust has been shattered? _______

10.  Do you feel conflicts are growing in your life without being able to settle them?  _______

Do you find it’s hard to say ‘no’ to others when their wants interfere with your needs? _______

Comments to yourself?

If you find this is an area you need to find more information, then come on over to our other blog site and see the Book Review of ‘Handling Stress Before you Reach Burnout’!  Come find us on www.thebookaboutyou.mentorsnotebook.com

Thanks for joining us on this quick study on Stress, Anxiety and Depression.  In our next post, we will set the course for our next series on the Boardroom: the place of your physical body on the circumstances and decisions of your life.  Join us then,

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author

www.totalwholeness.mentorsnotebook.com/blog

 

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