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Stress Management: Empowering Strategies for Understanding and Overcoming Stress through Counselling in 4 Easy Steps

Women feeling stress at work


In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, stress has become an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s due to work pressures, relationship challenges, financial concerns, or health issues, stress can take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. Left unaddressed, chronic stress can lead to a variety of physical and psychological ailments. Fortunately, counseling provides a valuable resource for individuals seeking support, guidance, and effective coping strategies to manage stress.

The Nature of Stress

Stress, in its essence, is the body’s natural response to a perceived threat or challenge. When faced with stressful situations, our body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, triggering the well-known “fight-or-flight” response. While stress can be a motivating force in small doses, chronic exposure to stressors can overwhelm our system, leading to exhaustion and a compromised ability to function optimally.

Understanding the Impact of Stress

The effects of stress on our mental and physical health are extensive. Stress can manifest in a multitude of ways, including increased anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, and even physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and digestive issues. Prolonged stress can contribute to the development or exacerbation of conditions such as depression, cardiovascular diseases, and immune system disorders. Recognizing the signs and understanding the impact of stress is crucial for seeking appropriate support and interventions.

The Role of Counselling in Managing Stress

Counseling offers a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore and address the underlying causes of stress. Through a collaborative partnership with a trained professional, counseling helps individuals gain insight into their stressors, identify maladaptive coping mechanisms, and develop healthier strategies to manage stress effectively.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), one of the most widely used approaches in stress management counseling, focuses on challenging negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones. By examining the root causes of stress and reframing unhelpful beliefs, CBT empowers individuals to develop healthier responses to stressful situations.

Another effective counseling modality for stress management is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR cultivates a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, enabling individuals to observe their thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them. By incorporating mindfulness practices into their daily lives, individuals can reduce stress levels, increase resilience, and enhance overall well-being.

Additionally, counselling provides a valuable space for individuals to learn and practice various relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. These techniques help activate the body’s natural relaxation response, counteracting the physiological effects of stress and promoting a sense of calm and balance.

1. Identifying Sources of Stress

To effectively address stress, it is essential to identify the sources or triggers that contribute to its presence in our lives. Counseling provides a structured and supportive environment for individuals to explore and gain insight into the specific factors that contribute to their stress levels.

During counselling sessions, individuals can examine various aspects of their lives, including work-related stressors, relationship dynamics, financial pressures, and personal expectations. By identifying these sources of stress, individuals can begin to develop a clearer understanding of the specific areas that require attention and change.

2. Developing Coping Strategies

Once the sources of stress have been identified, counselling helps individuals develop personalized coping strategies that are tailored to their unique circumstances. A skilled counsellor can assist in exploring and implementing a range of coping mechanisms that promote resilience and emotional well-being.

Coping strategies may include setting boundaries, practicing effective time management, improving communication skills, and learning to prioritize self-care activities. Additionally, counseling can help individuals explore hobbies and activities that promote relaxation and serve as outlets for stress reduction, such as exercise, art, music, or spending time in nature.

3. Building Resilience

Resilience refers to an individual’s ability to adapt and bounce back from adversity. Counseling plays a vital role in enhancing resilience by helping individuals develop a strong support network and cultivate positive coping mechanisms.

Through counseling, individuals can explore and strengthen their support systems, whether it be through nurturing relationships with loved ones, joining support groups, or seeking guidance from mentors or role models. Developing a support network provides individuals with a sense of connection, validation, and encouragement, which can significantly contribute to their ability to navigate stressful situations.

Furthermore, counseling equips individuals with the tools to reframe their thoughts and adopt a more positive and empowered mindset. By challenging negative self-talk and reframing stressful situations in a more constructive light, individuals can build resilience and maintain a healthier perspective in the face of stress.

4. Implementing Lifestyle Changes

Counseling also helps individuals identify and implement beneficial lifestyle changes that contribute to overall stress reduction and well-being. This may involve exploring and modifying aspects of one’s diet, sleep patterns, exercise routine, and leisure activities.

A counsellor can assist individuals in establishing healthy habits, such as maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, prioritizing quality sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and carving out time for relaxation and enjoyable activities. Making positive lifestyle changes can significantly impact stress levels and overall mental and physical health.


In conclusion, stress is a common and pervasive challenge in our lives, but it doesn’t have to control us. Counselling offers an array of evidence-based strategies and interventions to help individuals effectively manage stress. By seeking professional support, gaining insight into the causes of stress, and learning adaptive coping mechanisms, individuals can develop the resilience and skills necessary to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and well-being. In the following sections of this article, we will delve deeper into specific counselling techniques and practical tips to overcome stress and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

What is it?

When things are going well for us and we feel in tune with our environment we feel able to cope with the demands of life. The scales are in balance.  However when something in our life changes and we feel that we are not able to cope with that demand that’s when stress can happen.  The scales tip, we are no longer in balance as the demands of the situation far outweigh our perceived ability to cope with the stressor.

How to reduce your stress.

Stress can show itself  in lots of different ways, and people may experience these to varying degrees. Physical symptoms can include those that we have talked about in short term stress, such as  increased heart rate, sweaty palms, muscle tension, changes in breathing and a dry mouth. It can also cause headaches, nausea or dizziness, digestive problems and sudden weight loss or gain. Other symptoms can include feeling anxious, irritable or lonely. You may be having difficulty sleeping or attending to tasks as you should, so that you begin to put off challenging situations and begin to make excuses.

If you are feeling stressed there are lots of things you can do to help yourself. Identifying the cause of it is the first place to begin. Making time for yourself to relax and also taking  exercise and eating well are  all shown to be beneficial to help  deal with stress.

What is workplace stress?

SE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Employees feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees’ skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don’t have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. Providing planning, training and support can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.

Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.

When to see your GP about your stress levels

If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, are the reason for one-in-five visits to a GP.

Can the NHS help?

The NHS website provides advice on coping with stress.

Can counselling help with stress?

A counsellor can help you to explore and understand what is causing your stress. You can then work together to find some specific solutions that will help you to combat it.

As your counsellor, we are someone you can offload to and be totally honest with. We will not judge you.

What causes stress?

tress can be due to one big thing or lots of little things building up.

Causes can include a time of uncertainty or change, being under a lot of pressure, not being in control of or worrying about something, or responsibility that is hard to cope with.

Our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol when we feel threatened, scared or under pressure. When the situation is resolved our hormone levels return to normal.

This increase in cortisol can affect us physically, mentally, emotionally and behaviourally. Symptoms can include raised blood pressure, headaches, tension and muscular pain, concentration difficulties, difficulty making decisions, moodiness, irritability and loss of confidence.

It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what’s causing your stress. A counsellor can help you explore what you are feeling and why, so that you can take steps to overcome your stress.