We all feel the complete range of emotions throughout our lives, depending on what is happening around us and to us. Our ability to feel emotions, yet not be overwhelmed or controlled by them, is what allows us to cope with emotions such as stress, loss, loneliness, and anger.
The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
A person with good emotional health has the ability to express all emotions appropriately, and to maintain a balance of emotions so that negative emotions are not dominant.
Stress is the body’s natural response to emergency or crisis situations. It’s the “fright/flight” reaction that helps protect you when you’re in danger. For example, your stress response is what makes you move out of the way of a car on the road to avoid being hit. Stress can also help you achieve things, for example by studying extra hard before an exam. You’ve probably also experienced stress before an important event, such as a presentation at work, and are familiar with the symptoms it can cause. These can include a racing heartbeat, sweating hands, nausea, indigestion, dizziness, sleep problems, food cravings and constant tiredness.
Different things can make different people feel stressed. For example, one person may feel stressed about retiring from work, while another doesn’t. Other things that can induce stress include major life events such as getting married, being made redundant, relationship problems, a serious illness, a new job, a new baby, moving house or money problems.
The feelings you get due to stress are perfectly natural and they should start to fade as soon as the event or crisis is over. But if you have too much stress in your life your stress response stays on for too long and can harm your body.
Possible signs of long-term stress include:
- Feeling anxious or irritable a lot of time
- Back pain
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- High blood pressure
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling short of breath
- Stiff neck
- Changes in weight
Stress is very common. Research suggests that around 12 million adults see their GP with mental health problems each year. Most of these are due to anxiety and depression, both of which can be stress induced
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