Stress is part of everyday life. The degree of stress individuals experience can differ from a reasonable amount which can be deemed acceptable, to too much stress which can cause burnout. Burnout means that you become emotionally and physically exhausted. It can develop slowly and can creep up on you before you know it! Working too hard or too many long hours, working in a high-pressured environment or working for an overly demanding boss.
It can affect anyone at any age, in any position and treatment for stress depends on a number of factors affecting the individual.
Individuals who are more competitive and tend to have high expectations of themselves and of others are more likely to experience burnout. They are less likely to delegate work and, like to be in control and are unlikely to ask for help when they need it or are under pressure.
So how can you recognise the symptoms of stress in yourself or with somebody close to you? Insomnia can be one of the first signs, leading to heightened tiredness, irritability our feeling angry. This can lead to a low mood, becoming less tolerant of people and situations and a feeling of not being able to cope with normal daily tasks, which can start to feel quite overwhelming.
You may also find that you become more defensive or cynical or start finding fault with yourself and others more, which can bring on the feelings of frustration, anxiety and low self-esteem. Physical signs can include headaches, indigestion, and shortness of breath, which can also cause prolonged anxiety attacks. Extreme stress can cause high blood pressure, weight loss or gain or recurrent illness such as colds.
So how can counselling help with stress? Counselling can help individuals become more aware of their attitudes and behaviour, which may include self limiting thoughts or negative automatic thoughts that have become habitual. Therapy can help you achieve greater self-awareness and help to change habitual thoughts, which can lead to destructive behaviour.