Phone: 314-567-3040

Managing Stress




It is difficult to pick up a newspaper, magazine, or medical journal today without reading about the role of stress in causing hypertension, heart disease, ulcer, headache, arthritis, and depression. We are told that stress has surpassed the common cold as the most prevalent health problem in America, and that stress-related illnesses are responsible for 10-20 billion dollars annually in loss of industrial productivity. Stress also causes conflict in relationships. It is difficult for a person suffering from prolonged tension to be caring, understanding, tolerant, and communicative.

Stress is the state of smoldering anger that can be triggered by the nasty office memo. It is the state of tension that one can experience when caught in a traffic jam and you are already late. Stress is the term we use to describe what goes on inside the person who is attempting to cope with the challenges, the responsibilities, and the threats of everyday existence. Stress is the wear and tear on one's body that can come from too much bad news, too many hours on the freeway, too much noise, not enough time, not enough money, disappointment on the job, disappointment with one's lover. Stress is produced by exposure to many different things, either physical or psychological. Such exposure can cause the body's defenses to mobilize. Messages from the nervous system reach the hypothalamus gland which notifies the pituitary and adrenal glands. The pituitary-adrenal system pumps hormones into the blood stream. These hormones have the effect of speeding the heart rate, increasing respiration, tensing the muscles, stopping digestive activity, and elevating blood pressure.

Stress itself is not bad. It is a necessary and normal part of our everyday existence. However, our body's defense systems begin to break down if we undergo long periods of stress. Our enemy is excessive stress, unrelenting stress. Most persons are able to cope with a lot of stress, but only for relatively brief periods.

If you are experiencing too much stress, you may be experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • Tense muscles which may cause headache or backache
  • Fatigue
  • A feeling of palpitations or heart-skip
  • Phobias
  • Diarrhea, gas, constipation
  • Drinking too much, compulsive eating
  • Listlessness, depression or dullness -since stress saps us of our energy

Someone suffering from excessive stress has two options: either avoid the causes of stress, or change the way you react to these causes. Much of the time we cannot avoid the causes of stress. However, we can change the way we react. This is where psychological treatment can help. Therapists have devised a number of stress-management techniques.  These are skills that can be learned to help identify feelings of pressure, to prevent an increase of tension, to lower tension levels when they are too high, to reduce worry, and to maintain perspective and awareness.

The goal of these stress-management techniques is not merely to prevent sickness, but also to enhance health, and to improve psychological and physical fitness.

After reviewing the aforementioned information, you may be considering a thorough evaluation to determine if psychotherapy, personal growth counseling and/or marriage counseling can help. I recommend you first review the website link, "When to consider psychotherapy?" also review any other link you may think applies to your circumstances.

My name is Oliver (Mike) Siems, MSW, LCSW, ACSW.
My company, Personal Growth, LLC, has been providing counseling services since 1975.

Personal Growth, LLC is located at:
443 N. New Ballas Rd., Ste. 201
St. Louis, MO 63141
314 567-3040