Anxiety and stress
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sam (Sandra) Dring MBACP
23rd April, 20150 Comments
Anxiety and stress is the body’s natural response to changes or demands made on it. When under a lot of stress you can feel like your life is out of control or that you’re a victim of circumstance. The good news is we do have some control over the way we respond to these stressors.
When the body’s under too much stress it sends out warning signals such as headaches, stomach upsets, depression or anxiety attacks. Sometimes we may not be aware that we’re stressed – sometimes it just creeps up on us gradually. It’s not until we realise we’re drinking way too much every day, feeling continually ill or just feeling flat about life that we might make that connection.
In my experience of counselling in the city of London, I’ve noticed the working environment for many city workers can be very stressful. They may have to deal with workplace bullying and very high expectations from employers, leaving very little time outside work. Relationships with friends, partners or children, that need our time and energy can suffer as a result. Finding a reasonable work-life balance is something that counselling can really help with.
We can manage stress through utilising coping mechanisms; time management, problem solving, physical exercise, personal support systems like family and friends, healthy eating and natural remedies, or meditation. In counselling we’d help you learn coping skills that could manage the stress more effectively.
Another approach to reducing stress is to change our perception of the stressor so that is does not have such a negative effect on us. Our upbringing and the ways our parents dealt with stress have a large impact on how we deal with it. Our positive or negative self-image, our life events and how we perceive them and our attitude play a large part in how we deal with stress.
If you were brought up by anxious parents who are inordinately worried about safety you may well grow up to similarly see the world as a dangerous place. Without knowing it, you’ve taken on board that anxiety and therefore lots of situations would stress you. The impact on your life would be that it could stop you progressing, creating a barrier to you getting more out of life.
For example, moving house is a pretty stressful experience for most people, but if you have an anxious disposition it may be excessively so. You might concentrate on the negative things like, “look at all the things I’m going to have to get rid of” or “what if the delivery people don’t arrive on time?”. You might worry about not getting the best price for the house or concentrate on all the things you’re leaving behind. From this perspective it could feel like a real upheaval and a horribly stressful time. You might even avoid moving at all. Someone with a more positive disposition could see the same situation very differently. They might be looking forward to having a bigger house, a nicer garden and being near friends and therefore would not be so impacted by a few mishaps along the way.
In counselling we would explore the root of your anxiety and stress so that you get some insight as to how you came to operate in this way. We would identify your particular stressors and help you recognise your overstressed signals. You could then acquire coping skills to deal with stress, and even eliminate stress altogether through gradually changing your perceptions and beliefs. The key thing to know is that you do have some control over your experience of stress. You are more powerful than you think!
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