The UK’s Health and Safety Executive estimate that out of 1,242,000 cases of work -related illness, 35% are directly attributable to stress ( HSE 2015). They estimate that the total number of working days lost due to stress averages 23 days per person. Left untreated, stress can have a significant impact on our lives, affecting our work, social life, relationships, and health ( McEwan 2008 )
The Stress Response
The stress response is a natural, protective mechanism that aided survival in our ancestors. This is often referred to as the fight or flight response, it prepares the body for immediate action in order to protect itself from harm. Modern stressors and our responses to them do not compare to those faced by our ancestors. We are rarely faced with physical threat, with the majority of our stress occurring at a psychological level. As our minds perceive psychological stress as being a threat to the body, the fight / flight response is activated. However, we do not utilise this preparedness of the body for immediate action and this can, in the long run, result in damage to both our physical and mental health. – ( LCCH International)
Modern Stressors include :
- Work related issues
- Environmental issues
- Economic issues
- Relationship issues
- Bereavement issues
The consequences of prolonged exposure to stress
Short Term effects
Headaches /Gastrointestinal problems / aches & pains / trembling / sweating / insomnia / elevated blood pressure / compromised immune system
Panic attacks / Anxiety / aggression / depression / poor concentration / feeling helpless / lack of confidence / withdrawal from social activities / performance anxiety, exam nerves.
The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale ( DASS21)
This is a 21 item self -report questionerre designed to measure the severity of a range of symptom common to depression, anxiety and stress ( Henry and Crawford 2005) Although the DASS is not a diagnostic tool, it used extensively by therapists and medical professionals within the NHS to highlight levels of emotional stress. For Stress Management clients it provides a useful tool for obtaining a baseline measure of a clients current emotional state. Where extremely high levels are present, then this can indicate that a particualr client shoud be referred onto a relevent professional.
This was set up to offer a 3 session program over 6 weeks ( preferably) that delivers a solution focussed approach to managing stress whether short term or for those living with stress medium to long term.
An assessment is made using the DASS scale at the beginning of the session to assess suitability for the program to gauge current the stress level and also taken again on session 3.
The program aims to educate participants about Stress, encourage self -awareness, provide tools for reducing the physiological effects of stress along with Mind Skills Training (MST) to help take charge of your thoughts and emotions when faced with challenges. There is also powerful Relaxation techniques taught which facilitate improved well being in Mind and Body. The objective is to help the client to reclaim control over there lives.
Having a positive outlook does not mean that everything will be ok in your life. It means that YOU will be ok no matter what happens.