Counselling for Stress in London
Stress can keep us on our toes and be a force for good in our lives. However too much stress and feeling overwhelmed with what we are dealing with, can damage our health and our enjoyment of life. Counselling for stress can help you to recognise the root causes and help you to learn stress management techniques.
What is stress?
Stress is a physical reaction caused by hormones in our bodies. Often when we experience a demand or requirement on ourselves, our brains produce adrenaline and cortisol and this helps to manage the pressure we are facing at that time. It is a physical response that causes us to go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode and this boost of physical adrenaline gives us a surge of energy and we focus on the task at hand.
As a result, it is important to realise that stress is not wholly a bad thing. This physical stress reaction has the effect of making us focused, alert, able to cope and motivated.
However, stress can become a negative force when the physical response does not go away, and we remain with the feeling of stress continuously, even when the situation does not warrant it.
How Much Stress is too Much?
It can be hard to know when the stress levels in your life have tipped over into ‘too much stress’. It is often the case that it creeps up on you, in part because you have become used to the level of stress in your life and do not realise the impact it is having on you.
It is also very much the case that we are all different. As a result, what can be too much stress for one person, will be a very manageable amount for another and vice versa. This will be down to a multitude of factors including the level of an individual’s connection with, and ability to deal with, their emotions, their support network and their understanding of stress and how to cope with it. All these and other factors will affect how an individual reacts to stress.
Am I Stressed? Am I in Overwhelm?
Here are some common signs and symptoms of that indicate that you have reached your stress saturation point:
Cognitive Symptoms of stress:
- Unable to concentrate
- Memory problems
- Racing / anxious / worrying thoughts
- Only seeing the negative in most things
Physical Symptoms of stress:
- Needing the toilet frequently / diarrhea
- Aches and pains
- Feeling nauseous / cramps and pain in your stomach
- Chest pain /palpitations
Emotional Symptoms of stress:
- Moodiness / irritability
- Feeling depressed or unhappy
- Feeling angry / having angry outbursts
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling isolated and alone
These symptoms will, understandably, have an impact on your behavior and you may:
- Experience insomnia
- Notice the impact of your symptoms on your friends and family
- Withdraw from others
- Eat too much, too little or rely on highly caffeinated and sugary food and drink to cope with tiredness
- Use alcohol / drugs / cigarettes as an attempt to relax
Stress and the Impact on Physical Health
When we are in a state of stress either frequently or constantly, it will begin to have an impact on our physical wellbeing. The stress reaction is normal, but only when it comes and goes and helps us to cope, in the short term, with a demanding situation.
However, when we cross over from being ‘occasionally’ in a ‘stress reaction state’, to this being most or all of the time, it takes its toll on the body.
Some of the impacts on physical health are:
- Heart Disease
- Skin Conditions such as eczema
- Digestive problems
- Sleep Problems
- Weight Issues
- Thinking and memory problems
- Reproductive issues
What are the Causes of Stress?
The things that cause stress are known as ‘stressors’. These are situations or events that put demands on you and can be positive as well as negative. For example, . . . getting married, promotion at work or buying a property can all feel very positive things but they can also be ‘stressors’. Negative examples are financial worries, relationship difficulties or health concerns.
These are known as ‘external stressors’.
There are also ‘internal stressors’, which are things you worry and become anxious about in your mind, rather than because of an external situation. For example imagined scenarios or negative approaches to things.
Finally, there are levels of things in life that some find stressful and others will not.
It might be that, on a regular basis, you manage high levels of stress that you enjoy and thrive on. However something occurs that may seemingly be of no consequence to someone else, but feels intensely stressful to you despite your ability to manage stress normally. In the same way, another individual can find many things stressful that you find inconsequential, or that you actively enjoy.
There are a variety of external and internal factors that cause stress and each person’s unique and individual makeup will be a key component to what causes and does not cause them stress.
Stress Management Tips – Things you can do today to help manage your stress
Self-care is fundamental for beginning to manage your stress levels. It is essential to look after yourself consistently before you can begin to manage the many people, work and other components of your life at present.
- Relax – Finding some time, every day, for yourself to do something that you enjoy and that relaxes you. It’s important this is for you, not anyone else and is personal to you – your favorite program, a bath, going for a jog, cooking, boxing. Whatever it is, find ‘your things’ and make sure you enjoy these things regularly though the week
- Exercise – Again, it does not matter what exercise this is – it could be that you go outside for a walk – but make sure that you are moving your body. Moving helps you to break out of stress and gain perspective
- Eat Well / Food & Stimulants – try not to rely on caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks to give you energy when you are tired and feeling stresses. They provide a ‘fake’ boost of energy that lasts only a short while and leaves you feeling more depleted and dependent on another sugar or caffeine hit. This creates a vicious cycle.
- Connect with others – connecting with others can be soothing and relaxing. Communication, socialising and spending time with others tends to dissipate when stress is beginning to take over. Make sure you don’t allow your social life, friendships and family to dissipate as a result of the responsibility and overwhelm you are experiencing. Allow your relationships to be a source of communication and comfort for you.
- Rest – prioritse sleep. Do not take your phone and laptop to bed with you. If you need to, wind down with a book, music, a bath, whatever relaxes you, but try to make sure you are having a full night’s sleep.
How does working with a Counsellor for Stress help?
Counselling can be a way to gain perspective on your stress. Within a few sessions it is likely that you will begin to understand what areas in your life are causing you overwhelm and the ways in which you can being to change and manage the stressful areas of your life.
Counselling for stress means you are dealing with the problem, beginning to manage it and understand it rather than simply feeling overwhelmed, anxious or worried about what is occurring without doing anything about it.
Counselling is also a safe and confidential space where you can speak openly and freely about what it is that is causing stress in your life and how you feel about those people, experiences or situations at present.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Stress
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a specific type of talking therapy that can provide practical tools to help you to manage stress and your stress levels when they occur.
CBT is something that can be incorporated into your counselling or we can focus on a purely CBT approach if that feels more suitable for you.
Counselling for Stress With Rachel Buchan
Stress Counselling helps you to recognise and then manage the triggers to your stress and find ways to reduce them or even develop a positive response to them.
Take the first step to bring your stress levels down and reduce your feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, contact Rachel to discuss Counselling for Stress.
Useful advice and further information about Stress
This is a stress test that you can fill out, designed by the Stress Management Society, to see what level of stress you are experiencing at present. It also provides a variety of ways in which you can begin to understand, recognise and deal with stress:
A simple online ‘Stress Test’ that you can take
Offers some useful insights into the Harmful Effects of Stress and What You Can Do About It