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A Guide to Understanding Stress




Chapter 1




This book is meant to be a simple guide to coping with stress. All too often people’s lives are devastated by this invisible plague. But this need not be the case, if caught in the early stages stress can be a short term inconvenience, rather than a long term soul destroying illness.

Contrary to popular belief some form of stress is a necessary commodity in our lives. We need a certain amount of stress in order to function. An element of stress is needed to get us out of bed in a morning, indeed for any kind of movement.

However when we become overstressed this begins to have a negative effect on our lives. This is generally caused by situations which put us under pressure, it could be a major trauma such as bereavement or loss of one’s job etc. Or it could simply be a build up of small irritations which accumulate, and build into a situation where we no
longer have the ability to cope. It is only when our stress levels become overloaded that problems arise. At first they may seem quite minor. You may find yourself tired, disinterested, a discontented feeling, though you may not know why. A general feeling of lethargy is very common at this time. Put simply at this stage we find we do not have the ability to live life to the full.

Those around you may notice a moodiness that is uncharacteristic, they could accuse you of not listening to them, of being short tempered.

In the early stages these symptoms may not be there all the time. It could be you have a bad day or two and then cope quite well for the next few weeks. But the bad day’s become more frequent and the good day’s less. This is the time to seek help, intervention at this stage is very necessary. If this un-happy state of affairs is allowed to
continue, the illness quite commonly takes over your entire life. In severe cases it can be totally debilitating, destroying careers, relationships, entire lives. In severe cases it can even lead to an early death. When it reaches these stages there is no such thing as a good day. It has been said that at this point the blackness is there when you go to sleep at night and is waiting on your pillow when you wake in the morning. That’s if you’re lucky enough to sleep, more typically someone in this state tends to cat nap, finding a full night’s sleep impossible.

It is a soul destroying illness, not only for the sufferer but also for those around them, family, work colleagues and friends. As the illness takes over the victim’s character may seem to change beyond recognition. In extreme cases smiling becomes impossibility.

Stress has been called the silent killer. A modern day equivalent to the plague. It can be the cause of many physical illnesses. Some medical research suggests 90% of untreatable illnesses are stress related. Left unchecked it can quite literally destroy lives.

Quite commonly sufferers will turn to alcohol or drugs to try and alleviate the misery.It is not
only the individual and their families who suffer the consequences.
Employers quite literally pay the price, and it is high. A report from CBI estimated absenteeism costs our Industries £5 billion per year. With alcohol and drug abuse costing a further £1 billion. A high price indeed when you consider that in most cases intervention in the early stages could have brought about a swift and speedy recovery.

A once happy well balanced person becomes a shell, with no joy or laughter in their lives. Unable to cope with even the simplest of tasks. To a person in this dreadful  state making a simple decision of whether to drink tea or coffee becomes such a major issue they find it impossible, and are likely instead to explode in anger.   


 Chapter Two

In The Workplace


Managers should be trained to spot the early warning signs of stress.All good employers recognise the benefits reaped by looking after their staff, and stress is a crucial area which is all too often misunderstood and neglected.

When a previously good employee starts to manifest signs, such as poor time keeping, forgetfulness, apparently not listening and not paying attention to their work, making frequent mistakes, not getting along with their colleagues and easily losing their temper. All of these indicate a stressed out individual.

If the signs are not recognised and acted upon the disruption to the work force in general can be great.

Arguments and resentment set in, and you suddenly find yourself with a divided work force.

Now instead of not getting the best from one member of staff, you may well find yourself in a position where you are also not getting the best from those working around them.

The cost is rising as you no longer get optimum output from your work force, smoking breaks become more frequent, absenteeism increases, mistakes (which can be costly) begin to increase.However this can be avoided.By employing a stress management consultant managers can be trained to spot the early warning signs. Also by the use of regular stress management techniques, the situation need never arise.

Prevention is better and certainly much cheaper than the cure.


Chapter 3


Are You in Control


There are always signs that all is not well, and these signs should be acted upon as soon as they appear.The sufferer
obviously feels something is wrong. At first it may be quite vague. Very often at this stage they find themselves questioning themselves, what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? It is not un-common to hear them frequently saying “oh dear”.
They find they cannot switch off, and therefore are constantly in a stressed out state.They become inward looking, with no thought for those around them.They begin to dwell on negatives, until it gets to the point where they can’t see any positives.They lose all confidence in themselves and their abilities, to the point even the simplest of tasks seems a major undertaking.

A person who may once have been calm and considerate has now changed beyond all recognition.

If help is not sought this dreadful condition can drag on for many years.


Chapter 4


A Case Study of a lady who would not seek Help.


I knew a lady, let’s call her Sarah for the purpose of this book. Sarah was in her late twenties, she was extremely happily married, with three children whom she adored. She had a very good responsible job, no money worries, a beautiful home, everything seemed perfect. She was
all set to sail through life in her own little Utopia.

Stress however had other plans for her.

Following a family bereavement Sarah began retreating into herself. At first it was not significant, every few weeks she would have a bad day or two. She would lay on the sofa not speaking to anybody, and seeming not to hear when they spoke to her. If they persisted it was as though she was dragging herself back from a far distant place.

These isolated times became more and more frequent, she became prone to floods of tears without being able to explain why.

She confided in me that her life was perfect, and she just could not understand what was happening to her.

As time went on Sarah once a light social drinker, became a heavy drinker. She took up smoking. She could no longer work. Sleep was nearly nonexistent, she would take naps but found it impossible to have a long sleep.

Sarah’s once beloved family no longer held any meaning or interest for her.

She could not handle even the smallest of responsibilities.

Eventually she left home, leaving her devastated husband and children to come to terms with this apocalypse which had hit their lives.

Throughout it all Sarah steadfastly refused to seek help, declaring it was everybody else that was ill not her.

It took nearly twenty years for her to work through this. Had she sought help in the initial stages a few months of effective therapy could have saved all this heartache.



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A goal without a date is just a dream.




Life will bring

you pain all

by itself.



is to create



Milton H Erickson


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