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  • Writer's pictureHeather Steele

Does Mental Health Counseling For Stress Work?


A man looking stressed out with his hands on his face. Multiple people stand around him demanding his attention.

Our modern lifestyles are pre-loaded with seemingly endless opportunities to cause stress. Hectic work demands, fast-paced city living, negative news cycles, and unhealthy personal relationships can all become sources of stress. The simple fact is that it is practically impossible to live an entirely stress-free life in today’s world.

So, if stress is unavoidable, how can we manage it?


There are many ways to control the negative impact stress has on your life. Changing habits and actively avoiding known sources of stress is always helpful. However, if the strain of living with stress becomes overwhelming, it is always wise to seek professional help. Mental health counseling is an excellent avenue for individuals searching for ways to cope with stress.


How Counseling Helps With Stress Management


Mental health counseling, also known as talk therapy or psychotherapy, is a form of treatment that involves talking with a trained professional to address mental health concerns. This type of counseling can effectively treat various mental health conditions, including stress.


Stress is a normal part of life, but it can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being when it becomes overwhelming or prolonged. Common symptoms of stress include anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and physical symptoms such as headaches, changes to our appetite, or muscle tension. When left unaddressed, chronic stress can lead to more serious mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or even physical health problems.


When to Seek Counseling For Stress-related Problems?


Since stress is a universal human experience, some might think involving mental health caregivers in treating it is unnecessary. This could not be further from the truth. Left unchecked, stress can seriously impact your quality of life. Health problems and mental turmoil have long been associated with stress, and if you have been suffering from them for a prolonged period, then it is definitely time to get help.


Here are some signs that you should seek out a suitable mental health counselor to deal with your stress:

  • You have been experiencing symptoms of stress regularly for an extended period

  • You have gone through an upheaval or significant change in your personal life and are having difficulty adjusting

  • You will be involved, or are already involved, in a project or undertaking that you know will be hard on your mental health

It is also important to remember that every person experiences stress differently. Some individuals may have a lower threshold than others. Therefore, there are no rigid criteria for when to seek counseling for stress. Instead, the choice to get help completely depends on the individual and their unique mental health needs.


Mental health counseling can be an effective way to manage stress and its symptoms. During counseling sessions, individuals can explore the root causes of their stress and develop coping mechanisms to manage it better. For example, a counselor may help individuals identify the triggers that lead to their stress and teach them relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to help them better manage their stress response.


Stress Therapy: What Works For You?


Many different types of therapy tackle stress and its associated disorders. Mental health professionals are trained to recognize the signs of stress and choose a treatment plan that will be most beneficial to their patients. Some of the most commonly used techniques to treat stress by mental health counselors are:


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of mental health counseling that is particularly effective in treating stress. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns contributing to stress and other mental health conditions.


Through CBT, individuals can learn to challenge and reframe negative thoughts and develop more positive, realistic thought patterns. They also learn skills to create positive behaviors and improve their thinking. CBT is an excellent therapy for people experiencing stress due to sleep disorders like insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), or irrational phobias.


Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Another approach that a counselor may use is MBSR, which emphasizes learning to be present and aware of the present moment. Through MBSR, individuals can learn to pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment, which can help them better manage stress in the moment.


The MBSR method of dealing with stress is excellent for people who have experienced mental burnout and fatigue or are feeling stressed due to an underlying condition like anxiety or depression.


Group Therapy

Group therapy is another option for managing stress that can be very effective. In group therapy sessions, individuals can share their experiences and learn from one another. It allows for a sense of community and support, which can be especially beneficial for those who feel isolated and alone in their stress.


Group therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to explore their feelings and develop coping mechanisms. This is particularly effective for individuals who may have just experienced a very stressful event, like losing a loved one, a natural disaster, or being fired from their job.


The Benefits of Seeking Counseling For Stress


So you’ve taken the big step of seeking help for your stress. Congratulations! The road ahead is filled with many benefits you will unlock as the counseling program teaches you ways to manage your problems.

As you begin to reclaim your peace of mind from under the dark cloud of stress, here are some changes you can expect:


Physical Benefits

  • Improved digestion

  • Better sleep quality

  • Improved immune system function

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Reduced sensations of pain

Mental Benefits

  • It provides a healthy outlet for negativity

  • Positive mood

  • Increased focus and productivity

  • Better mental and emotional health

  • More positivity in personal relationships

  • Increased self-awareness

Mental health counseling can benefit people experiencing stress in all ages, gender, and culture. It can help individuals understand and manage their stress more effectively and in turn, improve their overall mental and physical well-being. It can also help individuals develop the skills and tools they need to handle stress better in the future.


Additional Stress Management Techniques


When it comes to dealing with stress, mental health counseling is an essential piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the whole picture. While counselors can point one in the right direction, the individual must also put in work for themselves. While availing the services of a counselor, there are also other activities that you should incorporate into your life to keep stress at bay.


Regular Exercise

The physical benefits of exercise are self-evident. However, the mental aspect of working out regularly is just as beneficial to your overall well-being. Exercising causes our body to release endorphins, which boost our mood and alleviate stress. Also, the mental discipline that comes with training yourself to exercise regularly helps you exert control over other parts of your life.


Conscious Relaxation Techniques

Remaining fixated on a single task or purpose with no breaks is a surefire way to stress yourself out. The value of taking a break solely to relax your mind can do wonders in keeping your temperament even and preventing you from feeling too stressed.

Taking a relaxation break is easy and can be performed even from the comfort of home.

Some popular conscious relaxation techniques include deep breathing exercises, art therapy, stretching and muscle relaxation exercises, and meditation. In fact, a relaxation break can even be something as simple as reading a few pages of your favorite book or listening to your favorite song!


Social Interactions

Being around other people can help take your mind off your problems. It’s not a coincidence that people who live or work in isolation are much more vulnerable to experiencing stress. Being around loved ones makes us feel like part of a community and reduces the negative effects of stress. In our digital world, it’s possible to feel socially connected even if in-person meetings aren’t possible. So there’s no reason to face your stress alone.


Time and Boundary Management

One of the most common feelings associated with stress is the sense of being overwhelmed by things to do. This is especially common with highly productive individuals with a strong work ethic. While working hard is commendable, making sure that mental health is a priority and learning when to say “no” to stressful responsibilities are vital to fighting the effects of stress.


Once your time management improves and you begin setting boundaries for yourself, you will find that stress has a much less adverse effect on you than before.


In conclusion, mental health counseling can be an effective treatment for managing stress. By working with a trained professional, individuals can explore the root causes of their stress and develop coping mechanisms to manage it better. Whether through one-on-one counseling, group therapy, or MBSR, mental health counseling can provide the support and guidance individuals need to improve their psychological and physical well-being.


Contact our team to find out if we are the right fit for you. Our professional counselors and therapists serve Durham, Morrisville, Raleigh, and Cary residents.


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