Chronic stress can be debilitating and seriously detrimental to your relationships and overall health. Stress can be brought on by tangible, short-term events or situations such as a deadline at work or an argument with a family member. When the cause of stress is less definitive it becomes much more difficult to manage. Challenges like larger relationship issues, chronic illness, deep dissatisfaction with life situations, or financial troubles can bring on a more harmful and dangerous form of stress.
The effects of stress on your life and health can be serious and may include any of the following:
- A weakened immune system, causing frequent illness
- Worsened symptoms of chronic illnesses
- Fertility issues
- Digestive problems and disorders
- Disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia
- Increased risk of heart problems
Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of other physiological disorders and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
Learn more about Stress
How it feels
Some amount of stress is a normal and necessary part of life but when stress levels peak, it feels extremely overwhelming. You may feel like you are pushed beyond your limits to cope with things, like your cup is overflowing and you don’t know what to do about it. You are telling yourself that you should be able to handle this on your own. An extended period of high stress can leave you worn down and worse for wear or it can be just the opportunity you had been needing to make changes and grow. Seeking the help of a therapist can be the difference-maker in having your stress lead to an opportunity for growth.
Symptoms related to Stress
While people deal with stress in several ways, if you are having trouble coping with stress you may experience some of these key indicators:
- Agitation and frustration
- Short temper, especially over small problems
- Difficulty focusing
- Pervasive tiredness or jumpiness
- Intrusive thoughts
- Persistent worrying or ruminating
- Negative self-talk
- Excessive drinking of coffee, tea or alcohol
- Avoiding social situations
- Overeating or under-eating
- Excessing crying
Treatment and Counseling for Stress
The key to managing stress is learning to notice and respond to your own reactions, thoughts and feelings. In working with your counselor you will learn to identify your stressors and develop skills and techniques for managing them.
Coping Ideas for Healthy Stress Management
- Attend to any physical ailments that you have. Being in pain or physically unwell will affect your mood
- Eat healthy and not too much or too little
- Avoid alcohol and mood altering drugs
- Practice good sleep habits
- Get regular exercise
- Make a plan, make lists and get started making improvements
- Learn and practice meditation
- Write in a journal to get your thoughts and feelings out and increase your awareness of them
- Notice and improve your self-talk. Speak kindly to yourself and take kind actions toward yourself too!
- Think about your values and let them guide your decisions
- Spend time reading helpful and inspiring material
- Get out and socialize and build your support system
- Don’t believe everything you think!
Stress management counseling addresses the cause and manifestation of chronic stress and provides you with the support and techniques needed to manage and reduce the stress in your life, creating balance, increasing productivity and satisfaction and helping you live happy and healthy.