HAPPENS WHEN EVERYDAY STRESS AND ANXIETY BECOMES "TOO
By: Dr. Keith Comeau, MD/Family Physician
Keith Comeau is a Medical Doctor and Transformation
Strategist who lives and practices in Burlington, Ontario.
His interest in Stress and Anxiety Management was inspired
by professional and personal life experiences. He has
developed and personally leads a program the “Transform:
A Personal Evolution” that enables individuals
to better understand, manage and control their stresses
Comeau has a successful family medicine practice and
a private coaching practice that serves the business
community. He developed "The
Practical Transformation Program",
a program designed to enable individuals, groups and
organizations to effectively change/transform themselves
from where they are in their personal, professional
and business lives, to where they would like to be,
could be or should be. He has also developed the "Managing
Stress in the Work Place (and in your life) ".
This 3 hour introductory program has been designed
to enlighten participants about the effect of "stress"
on their personal, professional, business lives
and how to change/transform
in his career, Dr. Comeau was a social worker with special
interests in individual, group and family therapy. He
received formal education and training for this through
the Clinical Behavioral Sciences Program at McMaster
University. For more information on Dr. Comeau see www.drkcomeau.com
This article was designed to create
an awareness about what happens when stress becomes
"too much".....what it looks like,... what
happens as we become more stressed,...how it affects
mental and physical health, our family, and our work.
It concludes with some fundamental steps one can take
to begin to manage their stress/anxiety more effectively.
when you put too much data into your personal computer
(our body’s mind/brain equivalent)? There is only so
much room for file storage space. The system gets overloaded
and its ability to further function is compromised …
it “crashes”. What happens when you over work and do
not maintain a machine (an equivalent to our body).
Eventually it breaks down and “crashes” also. The human
mind and body system functions in many ways similar
to a computer and machine. Our mind/brain system can
only handle so much emotional information and data (stress)
before it becomes overwhelmed. Ongoing and escalating
stress can lead to this system breaking down.
is responsible for sending signals to the body, giving
it messages about what it needs to do next. A mind/brain
system that is overwhelmed, will send “overwhelmed signals”
to the body. The body acknowledges these stressed signals
and begins to experience overload.
in the form of increased blood pressure, heart rate
and respirations, headaches, back and neck pain, diarrhea,
stomach pains etc. As well, the immune system will become
compromised, putting us at greater risk for infections
(colds, flu, pneumonia etc.) or more serious illnesses
(diabetes, heart attack, cancer, etc.) The mind/brain
response to stress is emotional and physiological in
nature. These symptoms include worrying, nervousness,
upset, irritability, fatigue, trouble sleeping etc.
that we use to best explain this work life stress situation
is in the form of a continuum.
people live without tension and stress. Tension is in
our everyday life. Examples of tension are being stuck
in traffic, waiting in line at the bank or grocery store,
rushing to pickup the kids, waiting to hear back from
someone over a very important issue, wondering whether
you will get that new promotion etc. As the degree and
amount of tension increases, it leads to stress. Symptoms
of stress are worrying, nervousness, irritability, fatigue,
trouble sleeping, and feeling you do not have enough
time. As a person continues to feel this way, it impacts
their personal and professional life. This further impacts
their relationships at home and at work. Most often,
it affects their relationship and connecting with their
partners and their children. As the degree and amount
of stress increases, people begin to experience anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety are excessive stress and worry,
restlessness, feeling keyed up, being on edge, feeling
tense, tired with difficulty sleeping, feeling irritable,
angry and upset, difficulty controlling thoughts, panic
attacks, forgetfulness, worries about your health, not
feeling you are in control of your life. Ongoing unresolved
stress and anxiety can lead to depression. Symptoms
of depression are; feelings of sadness or irritability,
loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed,
changes in weight or appetite, changes in sleep pattern,
feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, inability
to concentrate, remember things or making decisions,
fatigue or loss of energy, restless or decreased activity,
complaints of aches and pains, for which there is no
medical explanation, and thoughts of death or suicide.
high stress work/life situations usually find themselves
at the edge of stress with some anxiety symptoms. A
large number of people experience outright anxiety and
a small group of these will go on to full-blown anxiety
and panic attacks. Others may experience symptoms of
has different experiences in the life-stress continuum,
depending on their personality makeup, past history
of worrying/anxiousness, current life situation and
the issues they are dealing with in their lives.
It is our
interpretations of these situations that stimulate the
mind/brain to react (and over-react). We can not change
or control the source of our stresses (the boss, the
demands of our job, busy family household with complicated
life routines etc.) but we can learn to manage our thinking
and mental processing of these issues and learn new
healthier ways to live our lives that will allow us
to better deal with life’s stressful situations. By
doing this I can guarantee you will improve the quality
of your life as well as reduce the stress, anxiety and
depression in your life, as well as significantly influence
positive changes with your family, friends and work.
are several simple changes that can be made to our day
to day life, which will positively impact our life stress
- Be aware
of what you are feeling. Understand the symptoms are
stress, anxiety and depression related.
to and share this information with a friend, partner,
family member etc.
- Get help.
Speak to your doctor for advice and to ensure that
the symptoms are not medically related.
style modification. Increase exercise and decrease
substance use such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine,
non-prescription drugs and high fat foods.
to a counselor, read a book on stress-anxiety management,
take a course, join a support group etc.
anxiety is very real and can take over and control one’s
life. It is extremely common and effects most individuals
at some point in life. My advice for you is to embrace
the stress and anxiety in your life because it will
not just go away. Learn to understand what is at the
true root of your symptoms and feelings. Develop a method
or system to manage and control it. Most of all, find
people who understand and support your recovery from
stress and anxiety, to a place of higher power and personal
success. Begin the journey to take control of your life
and your future.
information on Dr. Comeau and/or "Transform:
A Personal Evolution” please visit our website www.drkcomeau.com
or contact us at our office at (905) 333-0116 in Burlington,
version for print