Do you find it a struggle to cope with the demands of everyday life?
Do you feel like you are being pushed and pulled in different directions, making it difficult for you to manage all that is required of you?
Do you feel overwhelmed and that too much is being demanded of you?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may be experiencing symptoms of stress.
Do I Have Symptoms of Stress?
If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, it is likely that you will feel tense, irritable, anxious and overwhelmed. You might feel physically exhausted, light headed, experience butterflies in your stomach; as well as experiencing poor concentration, no energy and disturbed sleep. Furthermore, you might feel like everything is too much and you’re unable to cope, causing you to feel like a failure.
What Causes Stress?
Particular life events can cause people significant problems with stress. Difficulties that were once manageable can become more challenging and overbearing. For example:
- moving house;
- getting married;
- having a baby;
- divorce or family turmoil;
- death of a relative or close friend;
- health problems;
- starting a new job;
- being made redundant;
- financial difficulties.
How Do I Deal With Stress?
People often find it easier coping with one form of stress, for example: difficulties at home often feel more manageable when things are going okay at work. Similarly, when things are not going okay at work, but someone’s home life is stable and okay, it makes the difficulties at work more bearable. Things often feel more unbearable and difficult to cope with, when a person experiences stress at work and home simultaneously.
The first step towards managing stress better is to recognise when we’re feeling stressed. Recognising when something is a problem is the first step towards dealing with it.
Dealing with stress is not easy. It is therefore important to be prepared. This will involve looking at a number of things:
- Making sure that you look after yourself both physically and emotionally – this will involve eating well, getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep and cutting out things that are not good for us. It also means learning to relax, have fun and think more positively about things;
- Challenge unhelpful thoughts – try to think more positively about yourself;
- Deal with difficult situations rather than avoiding them – divide your problems into tiny bite sized chunks and learn to deal with them one by one;
- Try to deal with problems or difficult situations as they arise;
- Prioritise what problems need to be dealt with now and what can wait;
- Choose what you want to change and be SMART!! This means being:
Specific in what you want. For example: rather than making ‘to get fit’ your goal, make it more specific – I will walk home from work on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday;
Measurable – set goals that you can measure. For example: it’s hard to measure ‘to get fit’, but it’s easy to know if you walked home from work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday;
Achievable – think about dividing your goal into tiny bite sized chunks. This will make it both realistic and achievable;
Realistic – choose goals that are realistic, so that you don’t set yourself up to fail. For example: do not set your goal to walk home after work on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday if you live far from your work place! Maybe think about reframing this goal and making it more relevant to you;
Time Focused – set a target date and reward yourself when you achieve your goal.
Stress is often about the problems we face in the here and now. Sometimes, however people’s problems can have a lot to do with the past and what happened. It can therefore be helpful to talk to someone who is professional, independent and removed from your situation. This is where counselling can help. Similarly, you may be experiencing stress which is in no way related to the past. You may have tried to resolve your difficulties yourself, but feel that you’d benefit from talking things through with a professional, independent person, who is removed from your situation. Counselling can be very helpful in this instance too.
Why Counselling Can Help:
- A counsellor will enable you to recognise whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of stress;
- A counsellor will help you understand what stress is, what is causing it and what keeps it going;
- A counsellor will work with you as you find ways to understand, manage or overcome your stress;
- A counsellor will help you to recognise when you are experiencing an unhelpful thought and help you challenge it;
- A counsellor will enable you to explore how you relax, both physically and mentally, whilst supporting you to make any changes in this area;
- A counsellor will support you as you build on your problem solving skills.