Stress means the total demands made upon the mind and body by situations and activities. It is beneficial where it “stretches
us”, motivating us to “rise to the occasion” and discover our own strengths.
This is one reason why many people freely choose very stressful occupations,
such as the Armed Forces, when they could have settled for a less demanding
Stress becomes harmful when the demands on the
person exceed their capacity to handle, causing permanent anxiety. It
may be too intense, or too prolonged, especially if there is no end in
sight. At this point the individual becomes exhausted, and cannot even feel
pleasure. They feel emotionally flat or irritable, and cannot think or
remember. A vicious circle thus develops, because the person cannot use his
intelligence to deal with what is stressing him. Prolonged stress causes
physical diseases such as high blood pressure and heart problems.
Abusive relationships make people more vulnerable to stress even when they have escaped, because they are accustomed to things spiraling out of control. Controlling relationships have the same effect, because the suppressed partner is not used to making decisions for themselves.
Modern life is so different to the lives of our ancestors, that our brains are just not equipped to deal with modern stresses.
We need to be realistic here. Some people are just in the wrong job or the
wrong relationship. If they feel much happier when their partner's not around, their relationship clearly needs some serious rethinking! Everyone has their limitations, and some people may need to
reconsider their own lifestyle and priorities, if they have reached their maximum
capacity to deal with stress. However most of my clients just help to change
how they react, and this helps them to think more clearly and decide what
matters and what doesn’t.
When we handle stress better it can strengthen us
instead of weakening and exhausting us. Handling and overcoming stress builds