Anxiety and stress in the city
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sam (Sandra) Dring MBACP
4th May, 20160 Comments
Much has been written linking mental health with working in the city.
The causes of this have been put down to the culture of working very long hours, massive competitiveness and a basic lack of empathy between people, resulting in the breakdown of personal relationships, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, alcohol abuse and depersonalisation.
The city tends to attract people who want to prove themselves. Banks and the financial sector play to this need. Many city workers want to control everything in their lives and are perfectionists. The necessity for control often goes hand in hand with overwhelming feelings of self-hatred that can lead to self-harm.
Although such people are often highly intelligent they have low self-esteem.
Many such clients have come from families that didn’t express their feelings or they weren’t allowed to. They may have been sent to boarding school at an early age or experienced an early tragedy in their life e.g. the death of a parent was not discussed or mentioned so bereavement was not allowed. This causes much distress which may trigger the client to become disassociated and take a trajectory that pleases others rather than themselves.
In therapy, exploring the origins of the fear behind the need to control and caring for the client teaches them to care for themselves. This helps them to become more confident in what they are feeling and what they need.
Many city workers are ex pats. They won’t feel this is their home, feelings of loneliness and not belonging could cause them to drink, take drugs or become workaholics. Exploring ways of connecting with other ex pats and families, practical things like pursuing interests etc. help people to feel more connected to their surroundings and grounded.
It is not an option to admit anxiety or depression, this would possibly result in a job loss.
Therefore in this covert atmosphere therapy is a lifeline where clients can discuss openly to an impartial professional without fear of being judged, this process will help them cope with their emotions and challenges. With a better understanding of their motives for being in the job they may make choices based on their more authentic selves and find work that is better suited to their needs as they understand them now.
If they make the decision to stay, using some CBT tools or putting some boundaries in place will help to deal with their stress in a practical way and so managing their own experience within this culture.
However it can’t be denied that the impact of the city culture is a contributing factor to a persons’ mental health.
About the author
I have been an integrative counsellor for 19 years - the last 9 years in the city, based in Fleet St.
I have a masters in counselling.
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