-Do you spend every day rushing from one task to another?
-Do do find it hard to sleep because you worry all the time?
-Does your work or home life cause you to feel anxious, overwhelmed or inadequate?
-Are you experiencing regular headaches, fatigue, concentration problems or feelings of being worn down?
Stress is the one of the most common issues people face today. In the United States of America for instance, roughly 20% of people report feeling “extremely stressed” on a regular basis. Similar numbers of people in New Zealand report very significant stress levels. There are a few people today who do not experience stress. Stress is everywhere and it is a killer.
“Stress is everywhere and it is a killer.”
What is stress?
In general stress is a normal physical response to events that pressure or threaten us in some way. When we sense a threat (real or perceived), the human body may enter what is called a “fight or flight” response. This response prepares the body to act, either by attacking the perceived threat or by running away.
While the bodies stress response originally evolved to cope with physical danger, in modern life much of what we perceive as threats are results of daily demands of living. Traffic may stress us. An important presentation at work may stress us. Parenting our children on a daily basis may be stressful. In short, stress is everywhere!
What causes stress?
While the experience of stress may have many causes, these causes can be broken down into either internal or external factors. Internal factors are the aspects of stress that are due to how we are reacting to a situation. Internal factors may include our self-perception, our beliefs, our values and the way we think about situations. In contrast, external factors are those aspects of a situation that are external to us. These factors may include work or financial pressure, demands from family, having to move house, the death of a loved one and so forth. It is important to realise that in most cases internal and external factors combine to lead to stress for a person. Stress is rarely caused solely by internal or external factors only.
Regardless of the cause of stress, stress can lead to many unwanted consequences for a person. When we are stressed, the brain releases large amounts of hormones into the body, including cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones prepare the body for action. Over time however, the body cannot cope with continued high levels of these hormones. People who are under stress for long periods of time typically experience:
• high blood pressure
• less efficient immune systems, making them more susceptible to illness and disease
• greater risk of heart attacks and strokes
• a greater vulnerability to depression and anxiety
• faster aging within the body.
How to tell if I need stress management?
There are many signs that a person may need stress management to help them deal with unhealthy stress. These include:
• general irritability and moodiness
• a short temper
• feeling pressured or overwhelmed on a regular basis
• constant worrying
• frequent illnesses, such as colds or flu
• feeling like “Its all just not worth it”
• changes in sleep or eating patterns, including over and under-eating
If you are experiencing two or more of these signs, then you may be experiencing unhealthy levels of stress.
How can counselling help stress?
Counselling can help you learn simple stress management techniques to take charge of your thoughts, feelings, your daily schedule, your work environment or any other aspect of your life that is contributing to the stress you are experiencing. Counselling can also help people look at the aspects of stress they can avoid and help them deal with unavoidable stress. With clients I will often discuss the following four aspects of stress management:
a) Avoidance: Are there certain stressors, such as unnecessary meetings or daily tasks that you can simply avoid?
b) Alter: Can you alter certain situations that are leading to stress? For example, can you approach situations at work differently? Can you change aspects of your family life?
c) Adapt: Is some of the stress that you feeling due to your response to situations? For example, can you reframe a problem that you are facing? Are you overreacting to insignificant situations?
d) Acceptance: Is accepting certain stressors better than fighting against them? Do you need to learn that no one, including yourself, is perfect?
By looking at the above four factors, as well as teaching relaxation techniques and other stress reduction methods, counselling can make profound differences to the amount of stress people experience.
“By using this and other techniques, including teaching relaxation techniques and other stress reduction methods, counselling can make profound differences to the amount of stress people experience.”
How long does counselling for stress management take?
As with all counselling, it is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to help people manage their stress. However most people can significantly reduce their levels of stress in three to five sessions of counselling.
I am keen to start. What do I do?
The first step to begin stress management counselling is to contact me using the contact button below or to use my online booking system to book a counselling appointment now. You can also phone me on 021 137 0228 to ask any questions or to arrange an appointment. I look forward to talking with you!