Everyone experiences stress in one form or another in their lives. Stress can occur when there are too many pressures to deal with.
Some examples of pressures we experience:
- Raising a child,
- School work,
- Financial issues,
- Work related issues,
- Looking after an ill family member and more.
(Canadian Psychological Association, 2021).
Stress can occur from a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Your brain and body can only handle feeling overworked and overwhelmed for so long (CPA, 2021).
How can counselling help with stress?
Counselling can offer guidance by;
- Helping you identify causes,
- Exploring possible coping strategies,
- Navigating any life challenges contributing to your stress.
It’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life. Learning ways to best cope with stress through short-term and long-term interventions helps build long lasting resilience (CPA, 2021).
What types of stress are there?
There are various types of stress including;
1. Routine stress related to the pressures of school, work, family, and other daily responsibilities.
2. Stress that is brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, going through a divorce, or coping with an illness (National Institute for Mental Health, 2021).
3. Traumatic stress can be experienced during an event such as a major accident, war, assault, or natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress may have very distressing temporary emotional and physical symptoms, but most recover naturally soon after. Some may require a little help with post traumatic stress (NIMH, 2021).
Is all stress bad?
No, not all stress is bad. Stress brought on by a response to danger signals the “fight or flight response” which is a built in survival mechanism in our bodies. In non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people. For example, when they need to take a test or interview for a new job stress can provide motivation and optimal performance (NIMH, 2021).
But, long term stress can have a negative impact on your health. With chronic stress, those same lifesaving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems (NIMH, 2021). Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability (NIMH, 2021). Continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
What about “burnout?”
Burnout is something we hear a lot in our culture today. The term “burned out” refers to workplace stress. In 2019, the World Health Organization identified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” – something due to the conditions of work (CPA, 2021). The term burnout is used to describe a group of signs and symptoms that consistently occur together and are caused by chronic workplace stress.
The three dimensions of burnout
1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,
2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job,
3. Reduced professional efficacy.
According to recent research, burnout refers specifically to the work environment and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life (CPA, 2021).
Can I manage my stress? How?
It is possible to effectively manage stress. The following tips can help you cope with stress and reduce the risks of negative health effects.
- Be observant. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy (NIMH, 2021).
- Talk to your health care provider or a health professional. Don’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your stress. Start the conversation and get proper health care for existing or new health problems. Effective treatments can help if your stress is affecting your relationships or ability to work (NIMH, 2021).
- Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health (NIMH, 2021).
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities (NIMH, 2021).
- Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do (NIMH, 2021).
- Stay connected. You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations (NIMH, 2021).
If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional. You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, or are using drugs or alcohol more frequently as a result of stress. Your doctor may be able to provide a recommendation (NIMH, 2021).
If you would like to download our free stress test report, click this link https://brantmentalhealth.com/reports/take-our-stress-test/
This blog was written by Patricia James RP, CNP, BA (Psychology), CMHN, RPN. Patricia is a Registered Psychotherapist at Brant Mental Health Solutions. For more information about Patricia and her services, call 519.302.2300 or email email@example.com