We all experience changes in our mood, feelings, our perspective on life challenges, and our success at managing these challenges as a normal part of daily living. The changes we experience on a short-term basis result from everyday stressors in our immediate environment, such as: relationship conflict, family problems, financial responsibilities, problems at work, and other common daily occurrences. We tend to experience feeling "stressed, frazzled, frustrated, anxious, irritable", or even "overwhelmed" at times, but these feelings are temporary. We tend to weather the storm through most of the daily stress in our lives with little or no lasting effects. Managing stress in our lives becomes second nature when we are mentally and emotionally healthy.
When stress becomes unmanageable
Most people have a time in their life when they experience a significant increase in the number of stressors, more severe or ongoing stressors, or stressful events that will have a lasting effect on their lives. Such stressful events can include problems, such as: health problems; economic hardship; loss of a job, friend, or a support system. During these times coping can become increasingly more difficult. When stress becomes difficult to manage, there are often subtle changes that occur that we may not even be aware of or are unable to explain
More noticeable changes can occur in response to severe stress, including: increase in physical complaints, changes in emotions, mood, and many other potential concerns. (Read more about: Common symptoms of high levels of stress @ Elttila.com > Elttila Education System > Learn More About Stress). It is important that once ongoing difficulty in managing problems and coping with stress becomes apparent we take action to begin to address the changes that are negatively impacting our life.
Symptoms begin to appear due to ineffective coping:
The uncertainty and confusion that comes with stress that is unmanageable for us can produce thoughts of self-doubt. We ask ourselves: "Are we trying hard enough to manage our problems? Why does everything seem so difficult lately?" or "Why aren't I as motivated, productive, or successful as I was before." We may feel ineffective or inadequate about not being able to successfully manage problems effectively or feel less productive as well. This self-doubt can lead to long-term feelings of sadness, frustration, anxiety, irritability, and depression. If these symptoms are not addressed the result will likely be instability in our mental health and overall well-being.
There are many types of professional services and support groups that can help resolve these types of problems; however educating yourself about the nature of these problems, how they develop, and what symptoms are common in such situations can be the first step to regaining a feeling of control over your situation. Understanding changes that occur in the way that we think, feel, and behave can be very effective in helping us cope more effectively and work to prevent problems from becoming more serious.
Written by Tara Jones-Tartaglia, LMSW