What is Stress?
Stress is our internal, conditioned response to the demands of the environment. It is primarily a physical response, evolved from our primitive ‘fight or flight’ reaction to physical threats in the olden days. Though we no longer encounter physical threats these days, we experience stress in response to modern day stressors, such as unemployment, death of a loved one, or relationship issues.
We have all experienced stress at some points in our lives. However, stress is often experienced differently among different individuals. For example, an event (e.g. public speaking) that may be perceived as stressful to one individual may not be perceived as stressful to another. Different individuals may also respond differently to the same stressor (e.g. unemployment), because of differences in coping and personal resources.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and need help dealing with it, talk to our counsellors or psychotherapists today.
Measuring Your Stress Levels: The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, also known as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), is a tool used to measure the amount of stress you are experiencing at present. The scale consists of a list of stressful life events and each event has been assigned a numerical value (‘Life Change Units’) according to its estimated impact. By adding up the values of stressful life events that one has experienced over the last 12 months, the total score predicts how likely one is going to have a major health breakdown due to stress.
Here are some of the common stressful life events that we may experience:
- Death of a spouse (100 units)
- Divorce (73 units)
- Marital separation (65 units)
- Being fired at work (47 units)
- Troubles with the boss (23 units)
Interpreting Your Scores
- 300 and above: High risk of a major health breakdown (80%)
- 150 to 299: Moderate risk of a major health breakdown (50%)
- Less than 150: Slight risk of a major health breakdown
You can score your stress levels using the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
Have you experienced major changes in your life in the past year? If your score on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is moderate or high, you may want to consider getting professional help to find healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Stress is experienced differently among different individuals. However, here are some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with stress:
- Difficulties in falling and/or staying asleep
- Falling sick easily
- Experiencing various physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, gastric pain, fatigue or sexual dysfunction
- Constantly feeling tense, worried, anxious, depressed, frustrated or overwhelmed
- Easily irritable and quick to anger
- Experiencing interpersonal conflicts with others
- Difficulties in concentrating
- Having negative and disorganized thoughts
When Should You Go for Stress Management Counselling
Stress tends to build up over time, and as a result, weakens our ability to cope and can lead to burnout. Hence, it is important to seek help for managing your stress when it starts to feel overwhelming.
You should seek help for stress management when you are:
- Feeling increasingly overwhelmed in your day to day life
- Using unhealthy methods to cope with your stress (e.g. alcohol, drugs or smoking
- Having angry outbursts that are affecting the people around you
- Feeling that the stress is affecting your physical health (e.g. headaches, gastric pain, chest pains, falling sick easily)
Approaches Used To Manage Stress
2 commonly used approaches for managing stress include counselling and mindfulness.
Counselling, or psychotherapy, is a process that allows individuals to talk about their personal problems through structured conversations. The individual can work with the counsellor on identifying and managing personal stress triggers, changing negative thoughts, and exploring effective stress management strategies.
A common intervention for stress is called Stress Inoculation Training. Stress Inoculation Training is a form of psychotherapy method that helps individuals. prepare themselves in advance to handle stressful events successfully.
Mindfulness practices can help individuals struggling with stress as well. Mindfulness is the practice of being focused on the present moment. The practice of mindfulness helps individuals accept what they are experiencing, and not dwell on stressful or unpleasant situations.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are two mindfulness-based programmes that have been developed for stress, anxiety and depression.
Our Counsellors for Stress Management
Claire works with a wide range of clients from youths to even the elderly. She believes in forging strong bonds with her clients and helping them thrive in various aspects of their lives.
FAQs about Stress Management Counselling
How can counselling help with stress management?
1. Identify stressors
Counsellors and psychotherapists can help you identify your stressors and manage negative thoughts.
2. Provide an opportunity to express your emotions freely
Counselling sessions provide a safe space where you can share your feelings, thoughts and emotions without fear of judgement.
3. Explore strategies for managing stress
Our counsellors will work with you to explore different techniques for managing stress to find one that is suitable for your needs. This will help you better cope with your stressors.
What are some techniques for stress management?
1. Understanding your stress trigger
Understanding your personal stress triggers will allow you to make changes in your environment and identify appropriate strategies to cope with the stress.
2. Maintaining positive habits
Developing positive habits in our daily lives can help with stress management and relief. Some important habits include eating well, getting enough sleep and having adequate exercise.
3. Relaxation techniques
If you are feeling overwhelmed, simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visual imagery can help to calm you down.