High stress levels can affect our emotional regulation, but why does stress affect our emotions? It all has to do with how we are programmed. We are equipped to survive in the wild and when we get very stressed, our brains believe our lives are in danger. It does not understand that most of us live in man-made environments where daily threats to our lives are just no longer a reality. As the brain registers those high levels of distress it triggers our survival responses – fight, flight or freeze – and powerful hormones start being produced. These hormones are meant to give us that extra strength to survive. This can be by fighting our adversary which is where the emotion of anger comes in, or by running away which is where the emotion of fear occurs. This is why some of us are either irritable or angry when we are stressed and then others are anxious and fearful when they experience high stress levels.
So, it is only logical that high stress causes emotional overload. Recent studies show that if people experience continuous high stress levels over longer periods of time it leads to a deterioration of health. Stress has been linked to physical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and also affects our immune system. Chronic anger and anxiety impacts our ability to focus and concentrate and therefore will impair our performance at every level.
Workshop participants learn through a combination of psychological education and a range of interactive exercises:
- how stress affects our bodies
- why it can lead to mental health problems, such as excessive anger, anxiety or indeed apathy
- which physical symptoms they may be experiencing
- what to do to avoid getting stressed
- how to maintain low stress levels