Especially in the middle of a time full of changes – the results of a global pandemic – mental health has become an increasingly important focus for individuals around the world. Mental health challenges have affected so many individuals over the course of the year, especially with a rising number of unemployed, increasing financial pressure, fluctuating markets and the closing and limited hours experienced by a wide variety of industries.
Stress has been a familiar emotion this year. In fact, stressful moments, conversations and news breaks have been largely responsible for the increase in mental health challenges worldwide. So often, it can be difficult to determine whether the stress we experience is the result of our situation, or whether it’s perhaps indicative of a deeper issue.
If you’re not sure whether the stress you’re experiencing is simply a byproduct of the moment, or if it’s perhaps rooted in a deeper anxiety, we’ve outlined a few benchmarks that can help you tell the difference.
Before we dive into a few of the ways to tell the difference between isolated stress and anxiety-related stressful reactions, here’s one important item to note: this information is not meant to serve as medical fact. We are only identifying trends to help you progress toward a better understanding of yourself. If you’re serious about pursuing help, either for your isolated stress or for underlying anxiety, reach out to Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling today to take the first steps toward a healthier, happier version of yourself.
What happens when the body encounters conflict?
First, let’s state the obvious: identifying whether or not you need professional help to deal with your stress is not an easy task. One of the reasons why it’s oftentimes so difficult to tell the difference between isolated and chronic stress and anxiety is the fact that both stress and anxiety are part of the body’s natural response to different situations.
When you come into contact with conflict, the body immediately goes to work engineering a solution. Your hypothalamus – found above the pituitary gland in the brain’s undersurface – is largely responsible for many of the complicated functions of the central nervous system. Among these processes is your body’s response to problems. When your hypothalamus senses that you have come face-to-face with a significant issue, it begins to trigger a reaction.
To be specific, that reaction is the production of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone known as your “fight or flight” indicator). When you are facing a legitimate threat, this reaction can help to keep you alive, and to condition the body in an appropriate response. Whether it’s a fast-approaching car, the threat of physical conflict or simply a looming deadline on a neglected project, the brain’s production of adrenaline and cortisol help to prepare you for impending danger.
The right reaction at the wrong time
Your body’s natural reaction to potential conflict can help keep you alive and out of danger. By fostering increased feelings of fear and anxiety, your brain essentially jumpstarts your body’s “fight or flight” reaction. When facing a serious issue, that reaction is exactly what your body needs.
However, issues arise when you begin to experience feelings of stress and anxiety when your body is not in immediate danger. When your brain floods the body with “fight or flight” hormones despite your safety, it’s a reaction that can easily compromise your productivity, fostering fear and crippling self-confidence along the way
In the short-term, the heightened state of awareness, and even outright fear, can seem like it adds an extra boost of productivity. However, living in a constant state of stress can do much more harm than good over time. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself simply distracted by the fear and stress that accompany an anxiety reaction. Other times, that distraction becomes downright more serious: prolonged reactions of anxiety can interfere with your confidence and peace of mind, causing considerable discomfort.
There’s never a bad time for counseling
Here’s the bottom line: there’s never been a bad time to consider counseling. Whether you find yourself experiencing the effects of stressful life events, or the results of sustained anxiety or another mood disorder, counseling can help you identify, understand and address your stress and the most appropriate response.
At Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling, we understand your concerns. We’re living during a time where so many people are experiencing the direct and indirect effects of a global pandemic. If you’re worried that the stress you’re feeling may be tied to underlying anxiety issues, or you’re simply looking for ways to better mitigate stress, we can help. Our licensed therapists and psychiatrists offer a full spectrum of mental health counseling services, to help you gain control of your thoughts and feelings. Call 1-800-809-2925, or reach out directly to Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling, to start putting our counseling services to work against your stress today.