When stress is too intense or lasts too long, however, it becomes toxic. You feel (or others tell you) that your reactions to stressful situations are “too big” or last longer than necessary. You don’t have time to reset and calm down after one stressful situation before the next one occurs. The “switch” of your stress response system seems stuck in the on position, and you can’t turn it off. You feel overwhelmed all of the time and unable to manage your life. Depression, anxiety, trauma and grief can make it more difficult to cope with stress and make these bigger stress reactions more likely to occur.
These bigger stress reactions happen because your brain thinks you’re in danger and is trying to protect you. This is helpful under the right circumstances, but sometimes your brain goes into danger mode when there is not actually a life-threatening danger. I can teach you techniques to calm your brain and nervous system so that you can better manage stress, decrease the frequency of these bigger stress responses and get them under control quickly when they do occur. We can also work to address any underlying issues to try to prevent these reactions from happening in the first place.
Sometimes stress can be helpful. Low levels of stress can alert you to a problem, motivate you, keep you focused and help you perform better or be more productive. Even higher levels of stress can be useful in certain situations. When you are in a truly dangerous situation, stress can save your life. If you were being chased by a bear, for example, stress would help to concentrate all of your attention and energy on the single goal of survival.