Stress Management Therapy and Stress Counseling
Stress Management Therapy: Stress can be defined as a state of mental and emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress can also come from within – for example, from experiencing negative thoughts or anxiety.
Severe and long-term stress can have a negative effect on your daily life. Chronic stress for years can cause significant mental strain and long-term health problems, which is why it’s important to seek help if you’re experiencing severe or chronic stress.
Treatments include stress management therapy, stress counseling and stress management counseling, CBT for stress, and other stress relief therapy.
What is stress?
Stress is a natural bodily reaction that occurs in response to any changes in your life that require a response or adjustment. Stress can come in many forms such as emotional, physical and mental stress. Experiencing stress is a normal part of life, and you can feel stressed from a range of situations such as your environment, your thoughts, and your body. It is not only negative situations which cause stress. You can experience stress in relation to positive life changes as well, such as the birth of a baby, getting a mortgage, or getting a promotion.
Everyone experiences stress and stressful situations in their lives. But how you are affected by these depend on your ability to learn to manage them and get through tough times in your life.
The causes of stress
As every person is a unique individual, we all perceive and manifest stress in different ways. However, research has shown that over 85% of adults in the UK experience stress regularly, and 39% admitted that they feel overwhelmed by stress in their day to day lives.
With over a third of UK residents stating that they feel stressed for a least one full day a week, it is clear that stress plays a big part in our lives. The most common cause of stress in the UK are finances. This is followed by work, health concerns, failing to get enough sleep, and household chores.
Some other common causes of stress include:
- Illness and injury
- Emotional problems
- Caring commitments
- Traumatic events
- Unrealistic expectations of yourself
- Uncertainty about the future
- Your attitude and perceptions about your life
- Not adapting well to changes
The symptoms of stress
The symptoms of stress present themselves differently from person to person. However, the most common symptoms of stress include an increase in breathing rate, muscle tension and a slower metabolism. Chronic stress and high blood pressure is also common. Additional physical symptoms include:
- Feeling sick
- Weight changes
- Lack of sleep
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
- Digestive troubles
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Pins and needles
- Getting ill more often
If you are stressed, you may also experience emotional reactions as well. These emotional reactions may include:
- Difficulties concentrating
- Feeling insecure
- Being forgetful
The effects of chronic stress on your health
When you feel stressed your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Stress becomes chronic when you face continuous challenges without relaxation or relief between feeling stressed. With chronic stress for years, cortisol builds up in your body and the body’s autonomic nervous system becomes activated. This stress response is also called the “fight or flight response”. This fight or flight response is often activated in the event of an emergency, however, it can also be chronically activated during long periods of feeling stressed. This causes emotional and physical wear and tear on the body.
Chronic stress for years can also lead to a condition that is called distress. Distress is defined as a negative stress reaction. If you are experiencing distress your body’s internal balance, or equilibrium, will be affected. This can lead you to experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, stomach-ache, high blood pressure, problems sleeping and sexual problems. Distress can also lead to emotional problems such as panic attacks, depression, anxiety and worry.
Research suggests that long-term stress can also bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress can exacerbate heart problems, respiratory conditions and digestive issues. Stress is seen to be linked to six leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease, accidents, lung problems, liver cirrhosis, and suicide. It can also cause long-term muscle tension, leading to a higher chance of getting injured during physical exertion.
If you engage in compulsive behaviours or use of substances to relieve your stress, you may be making your stress worse and more harmful. Substances and behaviours include alcohol, food, tobacco, drugs, gambling, sex, and shopping. These items tend to cause more problems and keeps the body in a state of stress. This then causes you to become trapped in a vicious cycle.
Online stress counseling and stress management therapy
Online stress counseling and stress management counseling allows you to seek out the root cause of your chronic stress and high blood pressure and to work on ways to manage it. Stress counseling and stress relief therapy works to help you explore the causes of your stress, such as stress created by family, work, and past experiences. With stress therapy, counsellors work with you to understand what you are doing to maintain your high stress levels and work with you to develop stress reduction techniques. This is to promote healthier patterns of living.
As the causes and symptoms of your stress are unique to you, during your stress management counseling, your stress therapist should tailor your therapy to you and what you are experiencing. Research has shown that online therapy is just as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy and comes with added benefits such as there being no need to travel or to book time off from other commitments such as work.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for stress
One of the most widely used types of stress therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy. The focus of cognitive behavioural therapy is not on external events, but instead on the way in which our thoughts affect how we feel. For example, it’s not the situation that determines how you feel, but your perception of it.
Your stress therapist will help you to address the negative patterns and distortions in how you look at yourself and the world. Seeing a stress therapist with this type of therapy can enable you to explore how your negative thoughts contribute and build on your stress levels, along with how your behaviour and reactions can also trigger it. CBT for stress can also enable you to challenge your thoughts. This is where your stress therapist helps you to challenge your negative thinking patterns and replace them with more positive ones which helps to lower your stress levels. This involves working with your therapist to identify any key negative thoughts that you experience when you start to feel stress. With CBT for stress, you then evaluate the thoughts and question the evidence of them, for example, is the thought realistic? The last step is to then replace the negative thoughts with more positive and accurate ones.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This approach of stress relief therapy uses methods such as yoga, meditation, and mind-body exercises to help you to learn how to cope with stress. It aims to give you greater clarity on what if happening in your life and enable you to explore patterns of thinking, feeling, behaviour and action. MSBR has been shown to have beneficial effects such as relaxation, stress reduction, and improved quality of life. MSBR usually takes place as weekly group sessions, however, you may be able to find sessions online.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress, you may find it useful to spend more time in nature. Spending time outdoors, exercising outdoors, and being around animals have been proven to have multiple positive effects. These effects include improvements in mood, reduction in stress and anger, feeling more relaxed, improved self-esteem and confidence, and improved physical health. You may find it useful to go for a walk through woodland, do some gardening, or help with conservation efforts. You may also find complementary therapies such as yoga and massage useful in reducing your stress levels. These complementary therapies are designed to work alongside your stress therapy.
There are also various medications which are available to help to reduce and manage your symptoms of stress. These include sleeping tablets if you’re having trouble sleeping, antidepressants if you’re also experiencing depression or anxiety, and medication to treat the physical symptoms of stress such as high blood pressure or irritable bowl syndrome.
How Psychologyhelp can help you
At Psychologyhelp, you can speak with a therapist online about stress therapy within 24 hours of sending your request. However, responses to completed forms on the website and initial emails are likely to be replied to faster than this.
At Psychologyhelp, we will always match you with a qualified therapist who specialises in the issue that you’re experiencing. This is so you know that you’re receiving the best therapy possible for your stress. We have therapists that are especially experienced in dealing with stress and the symptoms of stress. Some of the other areas that our therapists have experience in also include: