Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stress or Anxiety?

By Tonya Elliott-Walker, LMFT

People often refer themselves as feeling stressed out when their lives get busy and hectic and they can't seem to get a breather. People put a lot of time, energy and money into manage their stress in the form of gym memberships, massages, eating out or an occasional glass of wine to take the edge off.  But what do you do when these things aren't helping anymore and you have tried everything you know and you still feel stressed out? It may be time to begin examining lifestyle patterns that have led to chronic long term stress or perhaps even an anxiety disorder.
 Anxiety can be genetic biochemical imbalance, it can be caused by long term chronic stress or trauma where the body has exhausted all of the stress hormones that typically allow us to recover and return to a normal level of relaxation. It can also be caused by chronic negative thinking or any combination of the above. Severe anxiety can lead to panic attacks, irritability, tumultuous relationships and wreak havoc on the physical body.
 One type of treatment for anxiety consists of identifying the things that trigger a stress response and then making a conscious choice to change the way you think and feel about that trigger. Over time this can prevent the rush of stress hormones that usually happens after the trigger.  We call this type of treatment cognitive restructuring, or challenging negative beliefs.  The long term benefits range from experiencing more positive relationships to having health benefits such as lower blood pressure and an overall sense of well being.

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