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Updated: Jan 24

What is stress?

Stress is how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we don't feel we can manage or control. Sometimes a small amount of stress can help us to complete a task and feel more energised. But it can become a problem when is lasts for a longer time or is very intense. Acute stress happens within a few mins or hours of an event. It tends to last a short period of time, usually weeks and is very intense. Chronic stress lasts over a long period of time or keeps coming back. The latter example can result in a multitude of other health problems.


What can cause stress?

Many things can cause stress. It may be due to one big event or situation in your life, or it might be a build-up of lots of smaller things. This can sometimes make it hard to identify what is making a person feel stressed or to explain it to others.


  • Internal stressors

These are stress inducing thoughts or behaviours. These thoughts come form one's psychological mindset or expectations. It could be that you strive for perfection in your home, relationship, job or appearance. Another example is that you are unable to cope with uncertainty e.g. in relation to your health.


  •          External stressors

Other stressors can come from the external environment. These are forces that you can't easily control. This may include major life events such as bereavement, financial worries, housing situation…etc


Useful stress

Stress can help to increase your motivation e.g. the stress of a deadline can help people to focus and pay more attention. Stress can force people to problem solve, ultimately building confidence and skills that are important for future experiences. With increased resilience and confidence people tend to feel less threatened and more in control of their situations. It may be helpful to use stress to help you face your fears or a challenge which can help you grow as a person.  It can also help on a physiological level, in that it helps to protect against cellular oxidative damage which is linked to aging and disease.


Harmful stress

Chronic stress can cause new psychological symptoms, or they can make pre-existing symptoms much worse. The emotional effects of stress may eventually grow into depression or an anxiety disorder unless the person seeks assistance and acts. Anxiety and depression are linked to high stress but people may experience other mental health effects like: anger, irritability, restlessness, and poor focus. Behavioural effects can include weight loss or gain. It can also lead to poor sleep, gastrointestinal problems, changes in energy levels and social problems. With time, the intensity and frequency of health-related problems tends to increase.


Some idea on how you can manage your stress?

The key to good stress management is to stay physically active, have a good social network, learn a new skill, giving to others and to remain grounded in the present moment. Being active won’t make your stress disappear but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you are feeling. It may help to clear your thoughts and allow you to deal with your problems more calmly. Connecting with people can help you ease your troubles and help you see things in a different way. The activities we do with friends help us to relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever. Challenging yourself can help you build confidence e.g. learning a new language or sport. By continuing to learn you become more emotionally resilient as a person. It arms us with knowledge, confidence, increases your self-esteem and self worth. Giving to others, by volunteering within the community can give you a sense of purpose, pride, confidence and increase your self-esteem.  This will help to increase your sense of wellbeing. Staying grounded in the present moment can help you to focus on the now and change your focus away from the past and future. This in turn can help your sense of wellbeing.

How can Cranial Osteopathy help?

Cranial osteopathy can help to address the symptomatic consequences of stress on the body. Cranial osteopathy can help with releasing muscle tension all over the body brought on by stress. Stress can also result in poor breathing. Osteopathy can help improve breathing mechanics by softening the ribcage and the diaphragm. The treatment itself can help to make you feel relaxed and calmer. Osteopaths will also prescribe exercises, provide management and lifestyle advice which can help you further on improving your sense of wellbeing.


Other Support available:

Peer support groups- (this is not a crisis service)

Talking therapy- (individuals living in Lincolnshire over the age of 16 can self-refer to this service). (individuals living in Lincolnshire up to the age of 19 or 25 with special educational needs/ disability or leaving care). There are also private counsellors and psychotherapist that you can self refer to.

GP – for further information for local support and as a last resort medication.

Local services that can help with specific causes of stress, such as:

- Citizens Advice Bureau

- Local authority housing department

- Local credit union for financial guidance

- Trade unions for work disputes.


Useful website:

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