Stress is widely accepted to be a normal part of daily life. While that may be true to an extent, some people deal with more stress than they can handle. This can eventually lead to a variety of negative consequences in their life. Rather than just hoping the stress will go away or learning to live with it, there are things you can do to help you cope with it in a healthier way. While the stressful circumstances may not be able to be changed, the way you view them and handle them can with the right therapy. Finding the appropriate therapist and strategy for stress management can have a monumental impact on your quality of life.

Defining stress

Different people may define how they experience stress in different ways. Stress is a normal reaction that your body has when something in your environment changes. It can be manifested in mental, physical, and emotional ways. Stress can have positive benefits by helping your body stay more alert. This comes in handy in dangerous situations or when you have to push yourself harder to accomplish a certain goal.

Stress is associated with the “fight or flight” instinct that humans have. When we think of stress, we are typically thinking of the negative aspects. If you cannot relax after a stressor has passed, or if you are rarely experiencing periods of relaxation, stress is a problem in your life. This is also true if your “fight or flight” response is being triggered by relatively minor situations.

What are the symptoms of stress?

The symptoms of stress may show up mentally or physically. Often, it is both. While stress can present itself in many ways, some of the most commonly reported physical symptoms include:

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  • Chest pain or racing heart
  • Trouble sleeping, chronic fatigue
  • Random aches and pains
  • Dizziness, shaking, and headaches
  • Jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and muscle tension
  • Stomach issues
  • Problems with digestion
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Immune system weakness

As for the mental and emotional symptoms of stress, they typically include feeling sad or depressed. It can also manifest as feeling irritable and anxious all of the time. In severe cases, a person may even experience panic attacks.

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How chronic stress impacts your health

How chronic stress impacts your health

Chronic stress will eventually start to take a toll on the body. You may find yourself getting sick more often than you used to. Some people deal with stress by overeating, which can lead to obesity and the health issues associated with that. Others may drink or turn to drugs, habits that carry negative consequences of their own.

Cardiovascular disease has been linked to chronic stress. This can include things like high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, a stroke, and even a heart attack. The gastrointestinal problems can progress to things such as gastritis, GERD, and ulcerative colitis. Loss of desire and other sexual problems can develop, and women can experience changes to their menstruation.

The advantages of online stress counseling and stress management therapy

If you are ready to change the way you handle stress, online stress counseling is an option worth considering. It is typically more flexible than traditional in-person therapy. This is beneficial if you have trouble finding reliable childcare or getting time off work. Ideally, therapy will not add to your stress. The convenience of online stress counseling and stress management therapy makes it the right choice for many people.

Online therapy can happen in many ways. You can do video chats, send instant messages, and write emails. Due to the way it works, you can often communicate with your therapist throughout the week rather than just one time. This can be incredibly beneficial, particularly when you are just developing your strategies for coping with stress. Unlike in-person therapy, online therapy can also be done completely anonymously.

How cognitive-behavioral therapy can help with stress

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on how our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors interact with each other. A trained therapist can help you determine how your history impacts how you deal with different stresses in life. Once the patterns have been established, you can work on changing the stress-producing behaviors and thinking.

For many people, feeling like they are not living up to their potential or other people’s expectations is a major contributor to their stress. CBT can help them set more realistic goals for their own behavior. It can also incorporate relaxation exercises to help a person derail unhealthy patterns of thinking.

Automatic thoughts are another area that CBT can successfully treat. If someone believes that their partner is going to leave them every time they have an argument, for example, that is an automatic thought. The same is true of assuming they are going to get fired whenever something goes wrong at work. CBT can train people to examine those thoughts and see if they are valid. One of the best things about cognitive-behavioral therapy is that it can be tailored to an individual’s needs.

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MBSR: Mindfulness-based stress reduction

Around since the 1970s, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a blend of meditation techniques and yoga. It has a focus on the unconscious feelings and thoughts that can be contributing to your stress levels on a daily basis. The main goal of MBSR is training yourself to stay in the moment. Doing so leads to a feeling of calm and can reduce the emotional reactivity that can contribute to high levels of stress.

MBSR is typically practiced as an eight-week course. While treating stress, this therapy can also reduce overall anxiety and issues with sleeping. Overall, it leads to the ability to handle frustration and stress better on a daily basis.

Other options for stress management

Other options for stress management

While CBT and MBSR are two of the more popular therapy strategies for stress management, there are other options out there. CBT is designed to give you nearly immediate relief by giving you strategies for coping. Psychodynamic therapy is an option that works similarly, but it is meant to be a more long-term solution. This type of therapy is best suited for those who are also dealing with other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Group therapy can also be beneficial for those dealing with stress. This is particularly true if you are dealing with a significant life event that is causing you stress. Group therapy is useful for those dealing with divorce, the death of a loved one, or dealing with someone struggling with addiction. Some people use it to deal with stressful situations like natural disasters.

How Psy-world helps people

If you are struggling and not sure where to find help, Psy-world can help point you in the right direction. There are many types of online therapy available. Knowing more about your options will be the first step toward finding the therapist that will help deal with your stress, along with any other mental health struggles you may be having.

Stress is a fact of life that cannot be completely avoided. That said, it does not have to control your life. If ignored, high levels of stress can cause devastating problems. The symptoms will manifest both physically and mentally, making it harder and harder to cope with new stressors. Finding an online therapist will allow you to learn the strategies necessary to deal with stress in a healthy way that will not have long-term consequences on your health and happiness.

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/stress/get-help

https://www.healthline.com/health/therapy-for-stress

About the Author

Laure

Editor

2004- MS, psychology- Walden University, Minneapolis, MN