Stress: is it controlling you?

People in Hong Kong are “stressed out!” This is something we hear often.

Any why is that?

Increasingly, people are viewing their job as a major source of their stress – and in response many corporate organisations are beginning to offer programs to help workplace stress.

But there are other common triggers to stress: pressures from family members, money troubles, lack of sleep, an illness – but a greater and often unacknowledged pressure is the stress we put on ourselves. This type of stress is caused by unresolved emotional conflicts and unexpressed emotions, such as grief, sadness, hurt, pain, fear, anxiety, anger, and rage.

Not all stress is bad. In fact, some stress can be beneficial – and those who learn to find balance and manage their stress are those who truly thrive and succeed in their life. It is only when stress is overwhelming that it becomes a problem – and the breaking point will be different for everyone.

“Stress is like a violin string,” says Dr Allen Elkin of the Stress Management and Counseling Center in New York City. “If there’s no tension, there’s no music. But if the string is too tight, it will break. You want to find the right level of tension for you — the level that lets you make harmony in your life.”

When stress becomes too much for you

Stress produces a chemical in the body that is designed to tackle serious life-threatening events – known as fight or flight situations. When the body is in stress, the blood circulation to the stomach is minimal and peristalsis stops, so food and nutrients literally cannot be digested. Also, high levels of adrenal hormones increase your blood pressure, which affect sleep and interferes with normal hormonal balance. Stress not only affects the mind but also the digestion, circulation, immune system, and hormonal balance.

What are the classic symptoms of stress?

  • Do you find it hard to concentrate? Do you find it hard to listen attentively and deeply?
  • Are you irritable? Do you snap at people?
  • Do you suffer from insomnia? Are you constantly tired even after a night’s sleep?
  • Do you feel drained? Have you lost your joie de vivre and your creativity?
  • Have you lost your sex drive?
  • Do you have physical symptoms (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), headaches and migraines, knots in your stomach, twitchy legs?)
  • Do you feel a need to overeat or binge eat, smoke, drink alcohol, or take recreational drugs to calm down and chill out?

What can you do about stress?

At IMI we recommend a holistic approach to your wellbeing. There are a number of options open to you, including:

  • Talking to a professional counsellor/psychotherapist to identify any unresolved conflicts and learn to express your internal emotional stressors. A counsellor/psychotherapist can also help you reconnect with your highest aspirations for yourself and your wellbeing. You can receive support in developing different mindsets, such as acceptance or whatever is pertinent to you.
  • Learn breathing and mindfulness techniques.
  • Be in nature or find a quiet place – to reconnect within and perhaps to meditate – to witness your mind and emotions.
  • Avoid substances that create stress in the body (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and sugar – all addictive drugs.)
  • Eat to support your body: complex carbohydrates and whole grains (e.g.  brown rice, millet, oats, or quinoa, whole-meal bread, brown rice, brown pasta); large amounts of fruit and dark leafy vegetables (e.g. watercress, spinach, kale, broccoli), almonds and other calcium and magnesium boosters, and, for a treat, quality dark chocolate! Supportive foods to reduce stress include whole grains, such as
  • Taking a high quality supplement. A whole-food vitamin B complex supports the adrenals and can help to calm them down. 

What to do next?

If you need help with stress our experienced counsellors and psychologists would be a good starting point.
Further physiological support can be found in naturopathy and nutrition and with prescribed potent herbs and supplements. Other therapies such as acupuncture and craniosacral therapy can be relaxing, healing and restorative for your energy and nervous system.

To book an appointment with one of our practitioners, call 2523 7121 or submit the enquiry e-form below.

Catriona Rogers

About Catriona Rogers

Catriona Rogers is a UK trained counselling psychologist, an executive coach (US trained), and a meditation facilitator, who brings to her work many years of experience, wisdom and compassion. She works in depth with clients on issues of self, relationships and work, empowering them to re-connect with their core strengths and their own deepest truth to ‘re-author’ their life story.