therapist helping patient with stress management

Can a Therapist Help Me with Stress?

Even the most experienced professionals have difficulty defining stress. In some ways, stress is the way that the body responds to certain triggers, particularly those that require an immediate reaction. However, if you have a mentally or emotionally taxing life, you know that stress can take place in the mind as well.

Although most people use the term “stress” to talk about negative feelings, stress can describe positive things as well. For example, having a baby can be both incredibly rewarding and profoundly stressful.

Whether you’re dealing with physical, emotional, mental, or positive stress, it’s important to understand how those feelings affect your well-being. You may also learn some at-home stress busting techniques and find out how a therapist can help.

Effects of Stress on the Body

The American Psychological Association asserts that stress can affect any or all of the following systems in the body:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Respiratory
  • Reproductive
  • Nervous
  • Cardiovascular
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Endocrine

As such, there is not much in the body that stress doesn’t touch. Although it’s impossible to avoid all stress, an excess of this feeling can cause several short and long-term health effects. In the middle of an acute stressful event, you may notice that your muscles tighten, your breathing becomes shallow, and your pulse rises.

While these short events don’t cause too much bodily harm on their own, chronic stress can cause serious damage. For example, ongoing stress can leave you at greater risk for:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Immune disorders

Because stress affects the body so much, it’s important to learn how to cope with stressors in your daily life.

Stress Reduction Techniques

The best thing you can do to relieve stress is to remove triggers from your life. However, this is not always possible. Stressors are part of modern life that you cannot avoid entirely. As such, everyone should learn healthy coping skills for stress management. Some of the best stress-busters include:

Exercise

Getting regular exercise can help you cope with stress when it happens and prevent stress reactions to triggers. Getting in a good sweat lowers stress hormones, including cortisol, which decreases the risk of some of the diseases stress can cause. Exercise also can help you feel more confident and improve your sleeping patterns, both of which reduce stress.

Decrease Caffeine Intake

While you may not need to ditch your morning cup of joe entirely, it may be a good idea to cut back on caffeine. While this stimulant affects everyone differently, some people are particularly sensitive and feel jittery after consuming too much. This reaction can increase anxiety and stress.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

When you’re stressed, thoughts about the triggers can fill your mind and perpetuate a cycle of tension. Try breaking that cycle by filling your head with thoughts about the good things in your life. Each day, write down a few different things that make you feel grateful. This can help you train your mind to look for the good in life.

How a Therapist Can Help

While all of these things and other stress reducers can help, it’s sometimes not enough. If you’re doing what you can to cut back on stress and you still feel overwhelmed, consider seeking help from an experienced therapist near you.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have a disorder to get help from a mental health professional. Counselors can help you develop different ways of thinking about the stressors in your life, whether you have an anxiety disorder or you just need a little extra help dealing with things. Talk therapy techniques such a cognitive behavioral therapy can retrain your brain so that triggers don’t hurt you nearly as much.

If you’re having trouble coping with stressors in your life, contact GBHP today. Our trained mental health professional can teach you to destress in healthy, constructive ways.

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