An individual can benefit from stress management therapy in the sense that it can help them cope with life's changes in a more healthy way.
Today, we live in a fast-paced world where many people experience stress on a weekly or even daily basis. While not all stress is bad and essential for survival, chronic stress can be detrimental to a person's mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
When stress becomes overwhelming and begins to affect a person's physical health, therapy provides a safe place to express emotions and develop strategies to manage it throughout life.
There are many approaches to stress management, and working with a trained mental health professional will ensure you receive the proper care for your specific needs.
What therapies work for stress?
Stress can affect every aspect of a person’s life, but therapy can help. There are a variety of different treatment methods therapists can utilize to help individuals manage stress. Below are the most common forms of therapy used for treatment of stress-related problems.
Cognitive therapy helps address the mind's negative thought patterns to alter unwanted behaviors or treat mood disorders. An individual suffering from stress can work with a therapist to identify their stressors and learn skills to overcome them.
Similar to cognitive therapy, psychodynamic techniques help identify stressors and teach strategies to cope with them. Unlike cognitive therapy, psychodynamic therapy is usually a longer process that addresses underlying problems that have been going on for a while.
Behavioral therapy focuses on a person's actions and behaviors. When undergoing behavioral treatment for stress, a therapist will help you change your behavioral response to stress, create new patterns of behavior, and develop strategies to avoid stress in the future.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy teaches people skills to regulate their emotions, handle stress in a healthy manner, improve relationships, and live mindfully.
Originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT therapy is now used for a variety of mental health conditions, especially for those with difficulty in regulating emotions or exhibiting self-destructive behavior.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy helps individuals accept their emotions and behaviors rather than avoiding or fighting them. With the help of a licensed professional, individuals will develop valuable coping mechanisms that can be used to handle challenging experiences throughout life.
Exposure therapy helps people confront their fears. Commonly used to treat phobias, PTSD, and anxiety disorders, this form of treatment works by gradually exposing a person to their fears and helping them to become less stressed about their triggers as time goes on.
Group therapy gives individuals an opportunity to share their feelings with others who are going through similar experiences. When going through situations like divorces, loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, or addiction, group therapy can help individuals feel more supported and empowered to move forward in life.
Who makes the ideal therapist for stress?
Psychologists and licensed therapists are generally the most suitable mental health professionals for stress-related issues. They assist you in identifying stress triggers and learning strategies to reduce or eliminate them.
Although psychologists and licensed therapists are typically the most helpful in assisting with stress-related issues, other mental health professionals may be more suitable for therapy in certain situations. These mental health professionals may include:
- Psychiatrists - Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose medical disorders and provide medications to address chemical imbalances in the brain.
- Group counselor - Group settings allow people to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
- School counselors - School counseling helps children work through stress from school, life, and other situations.
- Play therapists - Play therapy can help children who struggle to express their emotions effectively.
What other things help reduce stress?
Exercise is important for physical health, but many people forget how beneficial it can be for the mind. A great way to boost endorphins and distract the mind from worry, almost any form of physical activity can help relieve stress. Not only can exercise improve mood, but it can also help you sleep better at night — and better sleep leads to better stress management.
What you eat can play an important role in your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. A healthy diet boosts your immunity, stabilizes your mood, lowers blood pressure, and supplies the body with antioxidants that fight stress-related damage.
However, a diet high in sugar, saturated fats, and processed carbohydrates can add stress to the body. When trying to reduce stress, opt for lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fatty acids, and lots of veggies and fruits.
Quality sleep is critical to reducing the body's cortisol, or stress hormones. In addition, a good night's sleep can help regulate your mood, improve concentration, sharpen your thinking skills, and restore the body. If stress and worry are making it difficult to sleep, incorporate these habits into your routine:
- Create a regular sleep schedule
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Avoid caffeine close to bed
- Turn off electronics an hour before bed
- Exercise regularly
Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing techniques can help counteract the stress response by turning on your body's ability to relax. As you take in more oxygen into your body, you will notice your heart rate and mind will begin to slow down.
When you feel stress coming on, close your eyes, slow your breath, and breathe deeply through your nose.
For thousands of years, meditation has helped people relax and achieve tranquility. By triggering the body's relaxation response, meditation can help lower stress, improve immune function, regulate emotions, lower blood pressure, and aid the body in recovery.
To meditate, find a quiet space, get comfortable, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. If you are new to meditation, there are many online resources and guided meditations for beginners.
Why is managing stress important?
While reducing stress can help alleviate internal tension, many other benefits can occur with better stress management. These benefits are commonly linked to physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects. Some of the most common benefits of reduced stress include:
- Improved sleep
- Less muscle tension
- Better weight management
- Better mood
- Improved relationships with family and friends
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved digestion
- Less risk for medical conditions like heart attack and stroke
How Therapy Can Aid With Stress Management
Stress can happen, but if we fail to address it properly, it can become harmful. If you are struggling with stress management, therapy can help you identify your stressors, confront your feelings, and develop effective ways to cope with stress.
The first step to managing stress is to identify what is causing your stress in the first place. Many people can recognize their emotions, but are not sure where their stress stems from. Working with a therapist can help you uncover the true source of your stress and learn how it impacts your emotions.
Work Through Feelings
Many people carry their stress inside, as they do not want to lean on others and bring stress to family and friends. Therapy creates a safe place where individuals can talk about their feelings and release their emotions.
As people begin to recognize and offload their emotions, many notice a reduction in stress levels and feel more relaxed.
Develop Coping Mechanism
As stress will come and go throughout life, it’s important to develop skills to help you manage your stress moving forward. Working with a trained therapist will help you implement valuable coping skills into your everyday life to manage stress in a healthy and effective way.
When to Seek Therapy for Stress
Stress is a normal part of life and can happen to anyone of all ages. Maybe you recently lost your job or are stressing about a test coming up.
In other instances, work, divorce, loss of a loved one, financial struggles, a new baby, or even dealing with a medical condition, are common triggers that can bring about stress for anyone.
While it’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, some cases may require help when your health and ability to function are diminished. Below are the top signs that you may benefit from seeing a therapist:
- You feel overwhelmed easily
- Anxiety or worry consumes you
- You are having relationship problems
- You do not sleep well or are over sleeping
- You’re eating less or are overeating
- You’ve recently suffered a loss or trauma
- You’re abusing alcohol and drugs
- You feel hopeless
- Your stress is affecting your physical health
- Loss of interest in activities
- Inability to control emotions
Stress Management with CHE
Stress can overwhelm you, leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, or physically drained. When there seems like no end to your stress, an experienced therapist can help.
At CHE Behavioral Health Services, we offer a safe space to express your feelings and manage stress during major events or in everyday life. With a network of over 850 licensed therapists and psychiatry providers, we offer convenient, compassionate care for stress and a variety of other mental health conditions.
To learn more about stress management at CHE, please call 888-515-3834.