Traditionally stress was thought to be the result of external stressors in our lives. For example in 1967, researchers Holmes and Rahe developed a stress scale of 43 life events (including deaths, divorces, sicknesses, house moves, new baby etc). The thought was that the more stressful events we face, the more vulnerable we are to illness.
More recently, researchers have pointed out that the effect of stressful events depends on the way we see the situation we’re faced with, and whether we think we can cope with it.
We typically feel stressed when we think there is too much to do – there are too many demands, and we’re stretched in many directions. At these times stress can feel overwhelming. Sometimes in talking with people we find that they are taking on too much and no-one could reasonably handle the amount of work they are expecting themselves to do in a sustainable way. Therapy may then be about finding ways to alter their behaviour and become more assertive.
Sometimes we find people are trying so hard to do their work perfectly, that they feel paralysed to even begin tasks because their standards are so high. In these cases we might work on reducing perfectionistic thinking, and tackling procrastination.
Whatever the issue, we can help you figure it out and change your patterns of thought or behaviour.
What causes stress?
In line with the view that it is not the situation but how we experience it that causes our stress levels to rise, anything can potentially be a cause of stress.
The biggest cause of stress for a number of people is some element of their working life. Interactions with one’s partner, children, family and friends can also be stressful, as can health concerns (including exercise/diet/food related issues), loneliness and other difficult emotions.
If you’ve identified that work is the main source of stress, your symptoms might include finding it difficult to focus and having your mind wander, having a tendency to put things off, not being able to get started on tasks, long periods of being non-productive, or noticing that you surf the net and check emails a lot more than usual.
These symptoms might have become more apparent after changes in the environment such as:
-changes in your workload (e.g., tighter deadlines) or position (more responsibility)
-other changes in the organization (e.g., restructure)
-job insecurity (e.g., fixed contract or knowing the organisation is struggling)
-sense of lack of control
-a difficult or noisy work environment
-insufficient skill for the job and feeling unable to ask for help
-inadequate working environment
-poor relationship with others
-pressure from others
It is common to feel inadequate when you are not coping. But it can be liberating to figure out what is causing the problem and take steps to do things differently so you don’t have to keep avoiding tasks or people, or working crazy hours to keep up.
Dealing with Stress
Dealing with stress usually involves understanding more about its specific effects on you, anticipating and planning for periods of stress, and finding the optimum level where you function best. Using a systematic approach to problem solve what you can (breaking the tasks down into smaller steps and making a plan to do the steps) also can help you feel more in control. Often the hardest thing for people is recognizing and accepting their feelings as we tend to berate ourselves harshly when we are feeling like we’re not coping.
Developing new skills, whether it be learning to say no and be more assertive, dispute perfectionistic thinking through cognitive behaviour therapy, work when you feel like procrastinating or giving up control by delegating, can be an effective part of managing stress.
Many people we see find it very difficult to take breaks and schedule pleasant activities. Using stress as a reminder to step back and to look at ones values and overall life meaning can be effective. Learning mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very effective in stress reduction.
How do I book?
For fastest handling of your query, book now through our contact form and we will respond within one working day. We look forward to working with you on changing it – having more confidence and happiness in your life.