Sunday, March 20, 2011

Transitional Stress

Q. I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately! I just got married, bought a house and started a new job. All of these things are so exciting and are good changes, yet I feel stressed out! Is this normal? What is wrong with me?

A. What a wonderful question! It does seem confusing for all these good things to be happening yet, you don't feel wonderful yourself. Kristin Lowrey, Pathways Professional Counselor in Birmingham, will be answering your question today.

"Life is full of changes. Transitions from one stage of life to another are a normal part of life. These transitions are often happy times like marriage, the birth of a child, starting a new job or moving to a new home. Although these times give us great joy they can also be a source of great stress.

In 1967 Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe created the SRRS (Social Readjustment Rating Scale). It can be found at: Rahe and Holmes concentrated on 43 life events that can create stress and ranked them according to level of stress. This list includes both positive and negative life changes. Take the test now and see where you rank. The different areas of your life that could be contributing to your stress level may surprise you.

Stress can affect us in many different ways. It can cause physiological, emotional and behavioral changes. These changes can be manifested in depression, fatigue, headaches, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, sleeping to much or too little, weight gain or loss, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, and/or trouble with concentration and memory. In essence, you might not feel like yourself and feel there is something wrong with you. But remember, most of it can be attributed to transitional stress.

We can’t avoid stress, but we can learn to recognize our response to it and work to minimize the severity in which it affects us. It is important to pray regularly, eat healthy, exercise, get enough restful sleep, and maintain a hobby. Also, make sure you have someone that you can share your concerns, worries, and triumphs with. Most importantly… Take Care of Yourself.

And last, but not least, if you don't feel you can handle the stress on your own, seek out a professional counselor who can help you identify different ways to handle your stress. You might just need a different perspective on the stress or issues."

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

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