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any technique developed to help someone cope with or lessen the physical and emotional effects of everyday life pressure

In psychological terms, stress is a response to a stimulus (stressor) that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. We live in a world that produces stress, and we live in bodies that are designed to respond to stress. Stress can result from serious experiences, such as an accident or injury, a physical or emotional attack, fear of losing our job or an important relationship, etc. Stress can also result from positive experiences, such as moving to a new house, changing professions, getting married, etc. What causes stress depends, at least in part, on our perception of it; something that’s stressful to one person may not be stressful to someone else. Each of us is equipped with a highly sophisticated defense system to help us cope with events that threaten and challenge us.

During a stress response, the body experiences a series of physiological changes that put it into a state of high awareness. The brain and senses become alert; the heart beats faster; and our entire body tenses to help us stand up to or run away from an “attack.” The stress response is often called the “fight or flight” response.

Although some stress in life is normal and even needed, too much of it can affect our quality of life and our health. Small amounts of stress can sometimes be beneficial, as in improving athletic and professional performance, and can also be a factor in motivation, creativity, and reacting to our environmental situations. Chronic or excessive amounts of stress, however, can lead to physical and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, exhaustion, high or low blood pressure, and even heart problems requiring medical attention. Physiological responses to stress demand much of our body’s energy and resources.

It’s important to address areas of stress in our lives, which takes time and effort. Successful stress management includes methods of coping with stress responses while we work toward changing and resolving stressful situations. Coping methods can include exercise, eating healthier, getting enough sleep, meditation and relaxation.

The therapists at New Leaf Center help clients formulate a plan to help reduce negative physical and emotional responses to excessive stress, while guiding them through identifying and addressing the stressors in their lives.

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