Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Stress

Stress is something we are all likely to be able to relate to. The World Health Organisation (WHO) named stress as the epidemic of the 21st Century. It is something more of us are struggling with and can include work related stress and burnout.

CBT can help us identify our stress triggers, consider our current response to them and learn how to cope in ways that are more helpful for us.

What is Stress?

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We experience stress when we feel under pressure. This can result from the demands of our life feeling out of balance with our perceived ability to cope. Sometimes we can feel this way if we lack resources that would help us cope, such as finances, time, control or support from others.

Stress can be helpful and motivating in small amounts but when high or sustained over longer periods of time, it can have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing - both physically and mentally. 

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Stress and Mental Health

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Stress is not a mental health condition itself. But if we remain stressed for extended periods of time, stress can affect both our physical and mental health.  Prolonged stress can make us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression and burnout.

Stress is often associated with negative events but it can also be triggered by positive things too. This might include starting a new job, getting married, moving house, having a baby or going on holiday. So even if things are celebration-worthy, it can be helpful to keep an eye on our stress levels.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can feel very similar. This is because they both activate the body's stress response which triggers a number of physical changes aimed to prepare us to fight, freeze or flee from a threat. Here are some of the things you may notice in your body when you feel stressed:

Headaches

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Ringing in ears

Muscle tension

Blurred vision

Dry mouth

Increased heart rate

Tight chest

Sweating

Nausea, stomach cramps

Urge to use toilet

Shaking muscles

Pins and needles

Evolution and Modern Day Stress

Our stress response helped us survive threats, like predators, when we were hunter-gatherers. But in modern life, our threats are very different and don't usually need the physical action our body prepares us for.

Common modern day threats, or stressors, can include:

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Work pressures. This may include high workload, tight deadlines, lack of work-life balance, and a lack of control or support at work. 

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Relationships. This may include people at work or in our personal lives such as managers, colleagues, parents, partners, friends or children. 

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Increased pressure or responsibility. This may be at work or at home. Examples could include a promotion, performance reviews, team restructures, a change in housing, lifestyle or finances. 

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Health problems. This may be concerns about our own health or the health of those we care about. Changes in our health may impact a number of other life areas.

Usually, when struggling with stress, it is related to a combination of things. You might relate to several of the above and be able to think of even more things. 

How CBT can Help with Stress

We can't always change the situations that trigger stress, but we can learn to change our response to them. In CBT, we recognise that we all have unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving. We work together to identify yours in the context of the stress you are experiencing. Once we understand these, we can work on making positive changes so you can respond to stress triggers in a way that is more helpful for you. By learning how to deal with stress, we can manage - and even protect ourselves - from some of the health issues caused by stress.

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We work through exercises and strategies for stress to help you manage. This may include relaxation techniques and mindfulness practices. The aim is for you to develop a tool kit that helps you cope, both now and in the future.

Is this how you're feeling right now? If so, we're here for you. Book an Initial Consultation now and we can take the first steps towards you lightening your load and regaining a sense of balance.

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If you're interested in reading more about stress and CBT, you might like the following: