Therapy For Stress: What Works and What Doesn’t?
Stress is a normal part of life. Stress comes in many forms: good stress, bad stress, emotional stress, mental stress, and/or physical stress. With bad stress, you have both physical and emotional reactions to certain triggers that can cause you to worry and feel on edge. Stress can fluctuate at work or at home, while challenging situations and other changes in your life can trigger it, too. There are many healthy ways to relieve stress. Multiple methods can also be used together. If you’re curious about how you can manage stress through therapy and how to choose the right therapy for stress management, this article is for you!
Help For Stress Management
Feeling chronically stressed should not be left untreated, especially after stress symptoms start to appear. Depending on the kind of symptoms, you might need to either meet with a medical professional and/or a therapist. A medical professional will be able to rule out any other causes of your symptoms and can discuss the types of stressors in your life.
When a person is stressed due to loss, divorce, or a life-altering medical diagnosis, therapy can help address these concerns and other effects they can have on a person’s life.
When workplace issues lead to stress, for example, a therapist may help a person explore ways to deal with those issues. If an individual is stressed because of a family or relationship issue, couples or family therapy may help them resolve the issue. This can reduce stress for everyone involved.
When stress leads to drug abuse, chronic illness, pain, lack of pleasure or relaxation, or otherwise negatively affects well-being, meeting with a mental health professional or medical doctor can help. Health care professionals can work with you to treat your stress symptoms and work through the issues causing it.
If you need FREE help please contact the National Helpline about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery in English and Spanish.
Therapies For Stress
Therapists and counselors use many types of treatment to help people cope with stress in healthy ways. Talk with your therapist about any personal stressors and symptoms. Your therapist can then find the best counseling strategies for you. Therapy can be performed in person or online.
This type of therapy takes place with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or another type of mental health professional. In psychotherapy, people are encouraged to discover the underlying causes of their stress so that they can learn strategies for improving their quality of life.
There are several types of behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most beneficial ways to deal with stress. In CBT, people are taught to recognize and change negative thought patterns and apply different tools to help them improve their negative-self talk to be more positive. Relieving stress means people can learn to be less hard on themselves and to recognize that it’s ok to reduce some of their burdens without seeing themselves as a failure.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often an effective form of therapy for stress. CBT can help change negative thought patterns that develop because of stress. It is often used to help people find new ways of thinking about events that cause stress. These new ways of thinking can help reduce the impact of the stressor.
Other types of therapy that can help with stress are often mindfulness-based. This means they promote mindfulness as a method for reducing stress. Many types of therapy incorporate mindfulness. A few of these include mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
In addition to traditional methods of stress therapy, there are many activities that an individual can do to alleviate their stress. Activities like exercise, yoga, acupuncture, massage, meditation, and social support are all useful tools to try if a person is faced with intense feelings of stress or pressure.
Stress can also come from other mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD, or addiction. These conditions are also treatable with therapy. A therapist can help you understand your overall mental health. Based on what they find, they can recommend the best treatment plan for your situation.
Tips For Managing Stress.
1. Identify Your Negative Thoughts
Stress is the result of perceiving certain situations as far more alarming than they truly are. For example: being chased by a bear is a reason for your autonomic nervous system to freak out. Watching bad news, being given an unrealistic deadline, or having a phone call with your boss at 3 AM can be a trigger as well. A helpful strategy is to trace back to exactly what you were thinking about when you started feeling stressed. This way, you can pinpoint exactly what triggered your worrying, and evaluate if it is really worth the panic. This technique is a form of defusion — creating distance between you and your thoughts and not letting yourself be ruled by them.
For example, if you’re feeling highly stressed over the thought of an upcoming job interview, ask yourself why. Is it because you’re scared of failure? Of being inadequate? Or maybe because deep down, you don’t feel worthy of such a position? By doing this, you also avoid the creation of a negative habit loop. By examining your stress-driven habit loops, you directly face the behavior that created it — and most of the time, stress is rooted in another problem that we can examine and fix.
2. Focus on How the Feelings Will Change
Feelings are fluid and inevitably change. When your stress is coming on, try to write down your change of emotions in a few words. For example, if you are nervous about an interview or frustrated over a certain situation, you might want to tell yourself (or even better, journal) something like:
“I am feeling somewhat_____, which is natural when going through_____. When these feelings pass, I expect to feel happy and clear-headed again.”
As feelings ebb and flow, it is a powerful reminder that every difficult situation you experience will inevitably and eventually pass, too. Understanding that feelings change is a critical component for better handling them.
3. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts by Replacing Them with Positive, Realistic Ones
Once you’ve gotten better at identifying your irrational thoughts and negative assumptions, you can replace them with some that are realistic and positive. A helpful CBT tool is to come up with realistic, calming statements that you can repeat to yourself when you’re experiencing or anticipating a situation you know triggers your excessive worrying.
There is no quick fix for overcoming stress. It is a tedious process that is highly unique to each individual — the type of therapy you need, the aptitudes you have, and your willingness to overcome what you are experiencing will determine how quickly and how well you can improve your well-being.
While treating stress is doable, we’d all be so much better off if we prevented it in the first place — so examine the stress in your life and actively look for ways to minimize it!
Avoid situations and people who make you feel stressed. Learn to say no and draw your boundaries. Turn off your phone every once in a while and most importantly, make time for fun and relaxation in your schedule — it’s the powerful therapy at your disposal 24/7.
Published: February 08, 2022
Last Updated: February 15, 2022
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