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When Stress becomes a REAL Problem

A man holding his face in his hands in a moment of stress

When stress  becomes a real problem toxic stress – West Chester, Allentown, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Newark, Wilmington, and Milford, Delaware based Telehealth Counselor- Therapist Paula Tropiano, LPC, LCMH


We frequently talk about being stressed. We are stressed from rushing to work, getting to kid’s games, and getting things done – Too much to do – the never-ending list. There is a distinct difference, however, between the stress that comes from high expectations of ourselves verses what is called chronic – compounded or what is referred to as toxic stress from multiple negative events coming at us “rapid fire”; illness, death of a loved one, job loss, financial decline, etc. We have more control over the first and less, if any, over the latter. The less control we have over what is happening to us, the more damaging the stress, especially not having a moment to catch a breath, let alone regroup.


So, what is stress? Stress is our inner response to challenges – The more threatened we feel by challenges, the more stressed and overwhelmed we get—the less equipped we are to cope and manage, the more stress. Therefore, stress is a highly individual and personal experience. 


A baseline of early life adversity can make for less bandwidth in dealing with stressors. Compounded stress can involve adverse childhood experiences (violent home, divorce, alcoholism, poverty, etc.). As stressors pile on top of vulnerable and undeveloped foundations without skills to manage and feel a sense of personal control damage to health, mental health and functioning can easily occur.


All stress is not created equal.


Unmanaged/ unresolved stress can create a downshift in energy and functioning, including depression and disillusionment about life – it can change a person and lead to burnout and even disability – This is why stress is both a medical and behavioral health issue. 


Intervening and healing stress and learning how to manage stress is a crucial life skill that protects our health and well-being. Stress management is not a “fluffy” topic or about soft skills; it is preventative health in the truest sense. It is also a lifelong process!


Only we know our own strengths and vulnerabilities –

It’s important to start today to prevent tomorrow’s physical and mental health problems.


Click here for Tips, Tools & Insights about timely health and mental health topics from Paula Tropiano Counseling & Coaching.

I’m a collaborative, skills-based counselor. I work with adult clients to increase their awareness, build the skills and resources they need to be more resilient and stress-hardy, and better manage themselves, their relationships, and problems more effectively.

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