The importance of our relationship with stress

The right amount of stress can be a positive experience. It may sound strange at first, but it can help to push us, challenge us, motivate us, help us to stay focussed and it can even energise us. However, different amounts of stress affect people differently. When stress takes it toll, it can affect many different areas of your life. Whether it be relationships, mood, health, productivity or your ability to focus on things, daily life can seem difficult when we are overly stressed. In relation to the development of obsessive compulsive disorder, stress can play a key role. A large part of developing OCD relates to our biological make up. Everyone deals with stress in different ways, but for someone that it is likely to develop OCD, the chances are they have been born already sensitive, and a certain amount of stress is likely to develop into the safety seeking condition, known as OCD. So, what exactly is stress.

Modern life is full of stressful events and situations, it’s all around us. Whether it be through work, a deadline, study or exams, the death of someone close to us or even the daily grimes of life like keeping on top of the housework, stress is something that is getting harder and harder to avoid every day. The physical response of stress is a very normal one, it’s a defence mechanism which is intending to protect us from harm. Often too much stress can tip us over into what we call ‘survival mode’, which in turn can trigger our fight or flight response. Those of you that are suffering from OCD may know all about the fight or flight response, and if you don’t, you can be sure that you have experienced it first-hand.

Some common effects of the fight or flight response:

  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Sweaty palms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pupils may dilate
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Shaking of limbs
  • Palpitations

Responding to stress

It’s important to be aware of how you react to stress, and strengthening the ability to monitor one’s own stress levels. Stress can creep up on us without us even knowing it, and by that point we may already be experiencing many of the symptoms. Stress can be gradual, the feelings may be familiar or start to be quite normal, and it can be easy to forget what life is like when we are not stressed. Often you may not even be aware of stress being around, yet without knowing it, stress can take it’s toll on you both physically and psychologically.

Signs and symptoms of stress overload

Below is a list of typical warning signs and symptoms that come with being stressed. The more signs you can identify with, the closer you may be to suffering emotional burnout or being subject to stress overload.

  • Moodiness
  • Constant worrying about even the smallest of things
  • A feeling of loneliness or isolation
  • Quick tempered
  • Depression or generally feeling low most days
  • Chest pain and general bodily aches
  • Sleeping too much or too less (can also be a symptom of depression)
  • Having a ‘glass half empty’ mentality towards things
  • Procrastinating
  • Low immune system and regularly feeling unwell
  • Excessive use of alcohol, drugs or other substances to feel relaxed
  • Nervous habits, such as shaking of limbs or nail biting
  • An inability to wind down

It can be important to recognise that although these are all common symptoms of being overly stressed, experiences can largely depend on the individual. In some extreme cases in can be helpful to contact your local GP. Find out more here.

What are some of the key causes of stress?

Sometimes it may not always be clear what exactly pushed us over into feeling stressed. Although stressors (negative events that cause stress) may be obvious, such as being overly worked or worrying about a loved one’s health, the positive things in our life can also cause us equal levels of stress. Moving house, booking a holiday and changing our lifestyle can all cause us to feel stressed, and for someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, these events can be enough to push us into developing the condition. Although there are known ‘stressors’ in our life, it is often our perception and the way we see the things that happen to us, that can truly be the difference between the quality of our life. What one stresses one person may not necessarily stress another, and so how we view our experiences can often be the key to prolonged happiness.

How can our treatment help OCD and the management of stress?

A large part of our program is tailored to deal with stress in more positive and effective ways. Whilst looking at our perception of things, we cover, in depth about how our beliefs can prolong our suffering and compound stress. Often we find that dealing with many of our everyday stressors can aid the recovery process from OCD, so with the right help we are confident that by dealing with both stress and OCD at the same time, we can help you to take steps in the right direction to positive wellbeing. Through identifying many of the fundamental flaws in a person’s thinking, we also aim to empower our clients in understanding stress and its relationship with OCD. During the intensive process we can get vast amounts of positive work done, so that our clients can notice changes in themselves regarding both stress and OCD in a quick period of time.