THE THERAPY ROOM: Stress

Posted on 18 April 2019 by LeslieM

Stress is a very common word and topic discussed with my patients during their psychotherapy sessions. It is expressed so often in therapy that I thought it would be an interesting subject matter to write about for this month’s Therapy Room column.

What is stress?

Stress is a process, not a diagnosis. When the word stress is used clinically, it refers to a situation that causes one to have discomfort and even pain at times. Stress can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and physical illnesses, including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues.

Jay Winner, MD, of the Stress Management Program for Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, CA, says that “stress can exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.” Stress can increase the risk of conditions like obesity, diabetes and asthma.

Work, Family and Life Stress

Types of Work Stress:

• Being unhappy with your job

• Working too many long hours

• Unclear expectations of work requirements

• Salary and benefit expectations

• Unsure of advancement opportunities

• Fear of termination

Types of Family and Life Stress:

• Death of family member or a loved one

• Relationship issues to include marital separation and divorce

• Financial obligations and insecurities

• Legal matters

• Home relocation

• Family responsibilities

• Illness

• Health costs

• Aging

• Emotional problems and traumatic events

Coping with Stress

Many individuals use poor coping strategies, including alcohol, drugs and thoughts of suicide to deal with stress. As a psychotherapist, I help many people who realize that drinking alcohol and taking drugs to cope with stress only creates unwanted behavior problems.

Strategies to Manage Stress

To successfully manage or eliminate stress, one must first acknowledge that stress is affecting their quality of life and then one can begin discovering new ways to successfully manage their stressful situations.

Psychotherapy

As a licensed psychotherapist, I confirm that therapy helps individuals address their stress-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors. My work allows me to help individuals alleviate, reduce, manage and eliminate stressful work, family or life situations that cause depression, anxiety, pain, fear, headaches, confusion, illness, etc. I am passionate about my full-time work as a psychotherapist helping so many realize they can live a full, healthy, meaningful and stress-reduced life.

Physical Activities

Exercise, and other physical activities, produces endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins also improve sleep and reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy and deep breathing can produce endorphins and these practices reduce stress.

Rest and Sleep

Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. If you follow a regular sleep routine it will calm and restore the body, regulate mood, improve concentration, and sharpen judgment and decision making. You become a better problem solver and better able to cope with stress when you are well-rested.

In conclusion

Taking time every day to be grateful for the good people and things in your life and realizing that “change is possible” will allow you to successfully address and manage stress.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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