What is Stress?
The Mental Health Foundation defines Stress as a ‘feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure’. We can all experience stress in different ways which is down to our capacity cup – how much we can handle at one time and our ability to manage our emotions and reactions to difficult situations and triggers.
How often do you hear or use the phrase, ‘it was so stressful!’ or ‘I’m stressed’?
It’s a very normalised way of us expressing to others that things are difficult for us right now. It is a reaction to how we are finding ourselves put under pressure and having difficult feelings to deal with.
How do I know I am stressed?
Physical signs, what is your body telling you?
- Are you tense in the jaw or experiencing headaches?
- Does your stomach feel tight or are you really tired?
- Have you lost your appetite or eating too much?
Emotional signs could be:
- Feelings of anxiety or constant worry
- Being overwhelmed
- You might find it difficult to concentrate or relax
- Low mood or feeling frustrated
What might you be doing in response to being stressed?
- Not sleeping
- Eating too much/too little
- Drinking too much
- Withdrawing from those you feel connected to
How can I help myself when I feel stressed?
Think about the strategies that can help you when you are feeling stressed. This could be looking for extra support from family or friends, or talking to a counsellor. Perhaps you need to connect more socially or cut back on the socialising and spend more time relaxing, doing the things you love most – reading, gardening, listening to music. Are you exercising enough and eating well?
Checking for balance in your life can be a great strategy to reduce stress. Look at the different amount of time you spend in your day or week on everything you do. A good trick is to draw a bicycle wheel, fill in how much of your time you are at work, sleep, eating, self care, connection, exercise (any other activity) in each of the spokes – is there balance? Is there anything that you are doing too much of that isn’t helping? What needs to change?
Show yourself some self compassion, be supportive of yourself and bring awareness to what is happening right now in the moment, respond to how you are feeling and offer yourself what you really need without judgement. A great way to help yourself with this is to journal, write down a small note each day about how you are feeling and what you have been doing. Notice what comes up for you.
How can counselling help me when I feel stressed?
Speaking to a counsellor can be really helpful when you feel stressed especially when you need to work out what the triggers might be. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) (click here to find out more About) is a great way to identify what you are experiencing right now. You can work with your counsellor to identify your emotions about how you are feeling in the moment, connecting these to any behaviours and physical reactions you are experiencing. Finally looking at your thought processes, breaking down the worries or racing thoughts that might be keeping you up at night. It is a simple but powerful exercise that can really empower you as the client to identify what you are experiencing and where the changes need to be made.
Are you feeling stressed right now? Would you find it helpful to talk to an independent, neutral person to talk things through? Feel free to get in touch to find out more about the CBT approach or other ways in which we can work to alleviate stress. Feel free to use the button below to find out more.
Picture credits to Pedro Figueras and Maria Ovlova