For many people all over the world stress is a part of everyday life. There may be bills to pay, a rough period at work or something as simple as a traffic jam on the way to an important meeting. These stresses come and go regularly, and the majority of people deal with them reasonably well. However, a susceptible person or anyone trying to cope with a high level of stress for an extended period of time runs the risk of letting their stress balloon into something much harder to control. When stress starts to take over your life or in some way dominate your existence, professional help from a therapist can help you manage your stress in a healthier way.
Stress is a useful response from an evolutionary perspective. When we encounter something that puts us in some form of danger, the brain initiates the “fight or flight” response. This basically primes the body for immediate action in response to the particular threat, either in the form of a head-on confrontation or by simply fleeing in any way possible. Before modern society, this reflex helped us stave off predators and serious threats to our survival. The primitive mechanism still operates, but now the more mundane, non life-threatening stressors are its focus.
The fight or flight response triggers the release of several chemicals, most notably adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. The body releases sweat to regulate temperature, whilst increasing heart rate, breathing and mental alertness. The symptoms of stress come from this chemical injection, and because they’re designed to prime the body for physical exertion, the chemicals can stack up if you’re often immobile. This abundance of stress-chemicals puts the individual permanently on edge, causing insomnia, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, chest pains and sweating. Counselling is the most efficient treatment for this chronic type of stress.
An important thing to remember about stress is that it’s very much dependent on the individual. What is extremely stressful to one person might be no trouble at all to another. This is largely dependent on the individual’s personality, so someone determined to succeed, for example, will experience more stress than most people. There are also short-term ways of dealing with stress, like drugs and alcohol, which lead people to ignore the problem and allow it to mount up. If you or your loved one is drinking more than usual, snapping at loved ones and not sleeping, psychotherapy is the best option. If left unmanaged, stress can have a variety of effects, such as suppressing the immune system and making you more susceptible to illness.
Therapy to help with stress management generally focuses on the specific things in the individual’s life which contribute to their stress level. By identifying the day-to-day stressors and looking at how they’re dealt with, the counsellor helps the individual develop new coping mechanisms. Additional problems like low self esteem can be tackled, and the therapist will also help people set more realistic life goals where needed. Medications to help manage the symptoms of stress are prescribed in some cases, but ordinarily some form of talking therapy is the primary treatment.
If you or your loved one is having trouble with stress management, we are here to help you. Stress is very common, so assessing the severity and determining whether further treatment is necessary can be challenging.
For more information about our costs for stress counselling services please see the about us page.