Stress Management Counseling in San Antonio
According to the American Psychological Association stress in the U.S. in 2022 has reached “alarming crisis levels”. The economic, social, and political turmoil of the last 2 years coupled with the fallout and uncertainty of Covid, followed by the existential crises of Russia’s war with Ukraine, fundamental risks to our democracy, and climate change—all add to a culture of drama and stress.
Just as none of us share the same exact pandemic experience, we also don’t share the same impacts on our personal wellness of all these events swirling around us. But it’s not coincidental that rates of opiate overdoses, obesity, and alcohol-related deaths have increased during these tumultuous times of upheaval and isolation. We’ve been living in a state of hypervigilance for over 2 years now and it’s all taken a toll on our individual and collective levels of stress and overall well-being. The term being applied to describe what many of us are experiencing is “post-pandemic stress”, which is characterized by mood instability, anxiety, and mental exhaustion to the measure where it’s interfering with our everyday lives. Below you’ll find a comprehensive overview of “stress” followed by next steps on how we can help you conquer it!
What is Stress?
Stress is our body’s natural defense against threat and danger, causing the body to flood with hormones preparing it to escape or confront the threat or danger. Some commonly refer to stress as the fight-or-flight mechanism of the body. Stress is so pervasive in our everyday lives it would be the rare exception to find a person who could not relate to feeling overwhelmed at some point. Though all of us experience stress, we’re affected by stress in different ways. One of the major concerns when it comes to stress is how it limits your ability to do the things you love, be a productive member of society, or simply get out of bed in the morning.
All too often people ignore the warning signs of stress and fail to take action until the stress reaches the boiling or burnout point and health suffers or something serious happens, like a stroke or heart attack – forcing a slow down. Others maintain the grind and power through only to realize later they’ve lost the important things they were enduring the stress for in the first place: their relationship with their children, their partner, their ability to unwind and enjoy life.
While it’s not always an option to avoid stress, we can learn effective ways to manage stress. By improving our resilience and forming coping strategies, we can all lead lives that are a little more satisfying and a little less stressful.
What causes stress?
Nearly any event has the potential to cause stress and what’s stressful for one individual may not be for another. While there is no identifiable reason why one person may feel less stressed than another when facing the same stressor. Stress can emerge from both negative and positive situations that greatly heighten the intensity of one’s normal routine. Simply thinking about a triggering issue or several smaller triggering issues can cause stress. Typical situations that can trigger stress include:
● Illness or injury
● Relationship problems
● Social Media & Technology
● Financial problems
● Work-related problems
● Death of a loved one
● Being too busy
● Getting married
● Having a baby
● Work promotion
● Losing your job
● Excessive noise, overcrowding, and pollution
After a traumatic event, such as an accident or incident of abuse, many people feel an ongoing daily stress – rooted to the incident. This is characterized as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Everyday things like noisy neighbors, traffic, a broken appliance or countless other simple occurrences can also cause stress. Even watching the news on TV or negative thoughts can raise your stress level.
What are the symptoms of stress?
The most dangerous aspect of stress is its broad effects on a person’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing. Awareness of the symptoms as an extension of your stressor(s) is essential to an effective coping strategy. Common symptoms of stress include:
● Inability to concentrate
● Memory problems
● Ongoing anxiety
● Irritability, anger management issues
● Unhappiness or depression
● Loneliness or isolation
● Aches and pains
● Nausea, dizziness
● Diarrhea or constipation
● Sleeping difficulties
● Substance abuse
General burnout can have a variety of symptoms but in general, people suffer from three main symptoms of burnout:
Feeling physically drained and overall emotionally exhausted. Unable to cope with difficulty, stomach pains and bowel problems.
Alienation, depersonalization, & isolation
Feeling frustrated more frequently, less empathetic, and simply too exhausted to even care. You’re feeling disconnected from the world around you. It’s hard to feel enthusiastic or compassionate about anything.
Diminished sense of accomplishment or performance
Feeling generally ineffective and finding it difficult to be positive, creative, or focus.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, people now spend nearly 10% more time at their work as compared to 20 years ago, and nearly 15% of people have taken a second job. Nearly half of Americans report their jobs to be stressful, and more than 25% report feeling burned out by their work.
Any number of factors can contribute to job stress, including being overworked, career insecurity, job dissatisfaction, and conflicts with co-workers.
Whether you’re feeling overworked and or unfairly treated, placing your job ahead of all else can negatively affect aspects of your life, including relationships, physical and mental health. Matters outside of your job also contribute to work stress, including your general health, personal life and the emotional support you have in place away from work.
Symptoms of work-related stress can be psychological and physical, including:
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Heart palpitations
- Mood swings
- Muscle tension and pain
- Stomach problems
- Job stress can give rise to:
- Diminished creativity and initiative
- Drops in work performance
- Increased sick days
- Reduced patience and increased frustration
- Problems with personal relationships
Chronic v. Acute Stress
Stress is generally characterized as either chronic or acute. Acute stress typically occurs in reaction to a short-term stressful event, like a car accident or an intense verbal argument with a friend. Fortunately more times than not, acute stress responds well to coping techniques like calming breathing and quickly passes.
Chronic stress occurs when triggers and symptoms of stress don’t let up. Chronic stress is rooted broadly, from controllable and avoidable situations (participating in toxic relationships) to circumstances that are difficult to escape (poverty, discrimination, or racism). Chronic stress can deteriorate both your physical and mental health, leaving you feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate, causing digestive problems and headaches.
Simple self help steps to deal with basic stress
First of all be mindful stress is generally experienced in 4 ways:
● Physical symptoms: headaches, stomachaches, sleep problems, hypertension, etc.
● Emotional symptoms: tension, anger, fear, anxiety, irritation, etc.
● Behavioral symptoms: increased irritation & withdrawing from others, etc.
● Cognitive symptoms: self-defeating thoughts like “I’m a loser” & “I can’t do anything right”, etc.
Mindful of this and while overwhelming at times, there are a variety of ways to deal with stress to ensure stress does not compound and grow into a more serious problem. Selfcare, physically and emotionally, is commonly the ideal method for preparing yourself against your daily psychological stressors. Simple steps serving as effective coping mechanisms are:
● Eating a healthy diet
● Exercising regularly
● Seeking support from family and friends
● Adopting a pet
● Listening to music
● Prioritizing your daily tasks
● Getting a healthy amount of sleep
● Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake
● Practicing relaxation techniques, i.e., meditation or yoga
● Attending a group stress management program
If this preliminary effort of simple self help steps is not achieving your coping goals, the next step would be to contact Rhapsody Counseling and learn about our Stress Management Counseling services.
Stress Management Counseling
While the aforementioned simple steps to deal with basic stress can help, seeking a little extra help from a professional can be enormously beneficial. If you are suffering because of stress, know that you aren’t alone. Everyone experiences stress and a therapist can help you identify and better understand your triggers, deal with concerns and problems underlying your stress, and develop an action plan to cope with stress in a way that’s effective for you. Stress management counseling helps individuals manage their stress-related problems from work, school, family or other aspects of their life. It’s commonplace to have only a few meetings with a stress counselor be helpful in resolving occupational, academic or other problems producing stress.
Treatment is individualized based on the needs of each person, but there are several approaches we draw from to help you make your stress more manageable. First and foremost, Rhapsody is a no-judgement zone, so you can come and vent about whatever you’d like to get off your chest. We will listen, offer feedback as well as tools and strategies for managing stress, including steps that can be started immediately.
Healthy stress management is a life-long journey and as you progress, so too will your stress coping skills. The clinicians here at Rhapsody Counseling are highly trained and will impart upon you several stress management techniques. We’ll start by identifying the underlying matters that trigger your stress. Whether it’s family, your job, or other parts of your personal life, working with our therapists we’ll explore ways to minimize the influence of your stress triggers. Once the cause of your stress is understood, together we’ll work to build a robust swiss army knife of coping skills that can fit in your pocket and you can turn to when needed – per the situation.
Sometimes, people are hesitant to seek professional help for stress because they think that therapy is only for those with diagnosable mental health conditions. According to the American Psychological Association, therapy helps people of all ages and backgrounds address a wide variety of concerns, including life stressors in order to obtain a healthy well-being.
In working with a therapist, you can:
● Build tools helpful in managing your body’s stress responses so you aren’t at the mercy of your stressors
● Boost your resiliency
● Identify and adopt a healthy lifestyle to keep stress at bay
● Gain insights & develop a new relationship with your triggers so you can achieve positive outcomes
● Gain more confidence and control in your daily life
You do not have to endure your stress alone, feel free to give us a call to explore how you can learn to manage your stress and live your best life.
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Free Discovery Call to Talk with a Counselor
Take the first step in your wellness journey and book a free 10-20 minute discovery call with a Counselor. The Counselor will start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you’re considering counseling, how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for counseling.
If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for counseling. But don’t worry, if you can’t verbalize the answer to any questions, our counselors know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say and the Counselor will welcome you to ask questions about counseling and Rhapsody.