Stress is a part of life. Each of us has a certain amount of stress such as work deadline pressure, exam stress, money worries, health worries or maybe we feel a consistent general stress because we have become so used to feeling stressed! Stress affects us all in different ways. It can cause illness, headaches, or lack of work productivity. Some people can’t sleep, others want to sleep all day and not get up. Sometimes not eating occurs, or binge eating. Stress can lead people to drink, drugs, gambling or other addictions that take the mind away from stressing briefly but won’t solve the issue.
Our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can change due to stress. Where we would usually be calm, fairly relaxed and able to reason out our predicaments in our own minds, stress can lead to a kind of thought paralysis whereby, because we feel so panicked and under pressure to find solutions quickly, it becomes difficult to think clearly or logically about a realistic or doable answer to problems that we otherwise could.
In short, when stress becomes chronic, or an everyday issue, then stress becomes a hindrance and a health problem. It no longer serves to spur us on to find answers or get jobs done on time. Instead, it mentally, emotionally and physically debilitates us. At this point, if we’re aware that we are stressed, we can try to slow down, or we can get support.
Supporting ourselves to manage stress can happen in various forms. We can take up exercise through going to the gym, walking, yoga, meditation or breath work. We can talk to a partner, friend or family member about the hard time we are having and get it all off our chests. Who knows, maybe the person we talk to might even come up with an answer we hadn’t thought of before.
If our problems feel embarrassing or out of control at this point, then speaking to a counsellor or therapist can support us in understanding how stress is badly affecting us and from there, we can explore what we would like to do next.
Therapy for Stress
Stress can leave us overloaded and overwhelmed. Getting the opportunity to talk to a therapist about how we feel while stressed, what makes us stressed in the first place, and how we usually handle our stress, lets the therapist see our thought, feeling and behaviour patterns around stressful situations. Once stress triggers have been identified, the therapist can help with why we are triggered or stressed by certain situations. Sometimes the triggers stem from childhood messages internalised by us in the family environment growing up.
We may have picked up behaviours or beliefs in school or college that led to continual stressful thinking. Sometimes there may be religious expectation such as arranged marriages that cause stress. Peer pressure causes stress if we are made to feel inept or unacceptable if we do not conform to the will of others. No matter what the reason, we have received clear messages from our individual environments that we are under pressure here to get this right, or there could be negative consequences otherwise.
At this point, it’s all down to perception. How do we perceive or understand the stressful message? What do we believe we have to do? What do we really have to do? A therapist can help to differentiate between what we believe we have to do and what is really at hand here. The therapist can also help with what we can do going forward by means of a solution instead of what we would usually do that only leads to more stress. Therapy happens in a safe and confidential environment where in an atmosphere of genuine non-judgement, we get an opportunity to speak about our issues free of ridicule or negative opinions.
This article was written by Michelle Fowler, pre-accredited and newly qualified Psychotherapist at The DMC Clinic. If you are affected by the issues mentioned above, you can book an appointment. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.
Mayo Clinic. (2023). Healthy lifestyle: Stress management.
BACP. (2023) Counselling changes lives. Stress: What therapy can help with.