Are you a worrier? Do you often find yourself worrying about day-to-day things excessively? Do you feel "on edge" due to constant worrying? Do you find it almost impossible to relax? Are you up late worrying in bed, unable to sleep, or find it difficult to stay asleep? Do you think worrying keeps the worst from happening in your life? Have you found yourself wishing to be free of constant stress and worrying? Finally, do you often wish for a life with peace of mind and a sense of calm, free of negative thinking and continuous pressure?
Maybe you have tried meditation, closed your eyes, and tried to calm your fears and negative thoughts? Perhaps you have been attempting to shut negative thoughts when they become too much? Maybe you have tried unhelpful coping mechanisms to mask your stress and anxiety, only making matters worse. Or perhaps you have convinced yourself that this stress is every day and most people live with it, and there's nothing much to be done about it.
Stress indeed has become a part of our modern-day existence. It's also true that most people will experience some stress concerning their work or personal life. In small amounts, stress and worrying are natural. If stress results in anxious thoughts from which you cannot switch, it can become a draining and exhausting experience. When stress is ongoing and all your attempts to manage it have come up short, it has become a serious problem.
But what is so problematic about stress? Well, stress is the body's natural response to danger or anything perceived as disruptive or threatening. At times stress can be healthy as it allows us to interpret our environment and adapt to it through means that are positive. However, when chronic stress is experienced through myriad emotions of continuous fear, tension, anxiety, and feelings of pressure and strain, it can have a debilitating effect on our daily lives.
It's crucial to understand that causes of stress can be different from person to person and very well could be a result of a host of factors. Alternatively, stress could result from a specific situation or be associated with a specific relationship. Common stress triggers include financial insecurity, career roles, education, marriage, social discord, life changes, parenting, grief, personal relationships, illness, extreme circumstances and overwhelming responsibilities.
The emotional and physical manifestation of stress can result in exhaustion, dizziness, fatigue, muscle tension, upset stomach, insomnia, headaches, lack of focus, low sex drive, drawing away from friends and family, panic attacks, depression, weight gain or loss, chest pain, mood swings, constant irritability and overreacting to things that usually would not have such an impact.
Stress leading to emotions like acute anxiety, fear and restlessness can undoubtedly leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. We need to understand that stress and worry are normal responses to danger or a threat and anxiety. It is also seen as a protective mechanism triggered when we face danger. This protective mechanism is referred to as the "fight/flight" response. It can prepare us to fight for our lives or flee. Ideally, we would want stress to be activated when we face real danger. However, in society today, often stress and worry kick in, even when there is no real danger. It leads to a constant "feeling on edge" or results in the inability to relax. That's when it has the potential to take over and impact the quality of our lives. What's important is to understand that there is a solution. With the help of a registered psychologist, you will be able to make sense of your stress and anxiety. A trained psychologist is qualified to support you by examining the causes of your stress and anxiety and help you navigate through them to understand the underlying causes and unsolved problems related to your experience of stress and anxiety. Stress counselling happens in a safe and supportive environment where you can confidently share your feelings and seek help.
So, whether you have recently experienced a life-altering event such as a divorce, loss of job, bereavement, or a close friend or family diagnosed with a severe medical condition. Or if you find the pressure at work too much to handle, keeping up with academic tasks is taking a toll, and you get anxious more than usual. No matter your situation, if stress and anxiety are limiting your quality of life, therapy can support you and help you learn new and positive ways of dealing with and managing stress.
Did you know one in four Canadians screened positive for stress and anxiety symptoms? In fact, according to a recent mental health poll, it was found that in January 2021, 25% of Canadians reported having more mental stress than the previous month. The fact that many people have seen an increase in their stress and feel less able to manage it suggests that you’re not alone if you’re feeling stressed out. No matter the underlying cause, stress can take over the lives of people living with it. It might appear to anyone under these circumstances that there is no way out of this cycle of stress. It is helpful to remind oneself that this is not true. And with therapy, it is not only possible for anyone living with chronic stress to manage it better but eventually be able to live a full life devoid of constant fear, worry and patterns of negative thinking.
It would help if you considered seeking a professional psychologist when you cannot function at your natural pace, whether at home or work, despite your best efforts. If you are increasingly experiencing common symptoms related to stress like exhaustion, numbness, constantly questioning your self-efficacy or feeling disconnected from loved ones, it's beneficial to seek help. Each person's experience and struggle with stress are different. What's important is to remember that there is no right or wrong time to seek help for anxiety and worry.
Unsure about asking for help?
You may have some concerns about stress counselling.
What to expect in stress counselling?
Stress counselling happens in a safe environment that allows you to share details of your experiences. The space is there for you and your therapist to set some therapy goals that could include learning relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and many others. Additionally, with the help of a trained psychologist, you will be able to explore and process your conscious and unconscious worries. Stress counselling allows you to learn helpful coping mechanisms to recognize and adjust worst-case scenarios thinking patterns. What's more, therapy can also promote ways of understanding self-care techniques where you will be able to manage life stresses better.
My stress is not attached to any significant event in my life. Can I seek professional help?
The helpful thing to keep in mind is that you do not need to justify your emotions in relation to other people's experiences. Stress can occur due to multiple reasons and can impact people differently. Simply because you did not go through a large, life-altering event does not mean your experience is not relevant. If, despite your constant efforts to feel calm and change how you are thinking about life, you cannot do so, seeking help can be beneficial. You do not need to have experienced a crisis to give therapy a chance. Therapy is for anyone who wants to focus on feeling better and learn ways to improve their well-being. Sometimes therapy is an opportunity for you to learn about how to grow in certain aspects of your life, such as improving communication or reducing avoidance.
At Ward & Associates, we understand that the experience of stress and anxiety can be challenging to navigate alone. We believe that a positive alliance is imperative for any healing to take place. Ours is an approach that is based on the individual needs and requirements of our clients. Together, we will begin this journey of healing where you will find us at every step with you, whether it's setting your personal goals or inculcating the skills that ensure your growth. Our trained therapists at Ward & Associates are competent, sensitive and encouraging with a client-centric approach. The therapy sessions aim to provide you with a safe and supported space where your healing and well-being can take precedence.
It is beneficial to remind yourself that stress and anxiety are not signs of weakness or failure. More importantly, it is not your fault. If you reach out for help, we promise to be there for you.
If you're looking for counselling in Sherwood Park, Ward & Associates Psychological Services is here for you. We specialize in individual counselling for adults, teens, and children and couples counselling and trauma counselling for first responders. We also offer online therapy for clients residing in Alberta. Contact us to learn more about our services or to book an appointment.