Stress: Good and Bad

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. It comes from both the good and the bad things that happen to us. Basically, it is how we respond to the events that happen to us. Each of us automatically evaluates the situations that we find ourselves in and we use these evaluations to determine whether we feel threatened by the situation or whether we feel capable of handling it. When we believe that our coping skills and abilities outweigh the demands of the situation, we do not feel stressed by the circumstances. Because of these individual factors (thought patterns and perceptions, coping skills available), different people may react quite differently to the same, or similar stressful event.

Some positive situations may also be perceived as stressful. For example, positive life events like marriage, the birth of a child, retirement, or a promotion at work, can be perceived as stressful if we are not sure how to cope with the demands of these positive changes. Either way, too much stress can lead to serious mental and physical health problems ranging from anxiety, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal effects and cardiovascular disease.

While it is often possible to make some changes to improve the stressful situation itself at the source, some stresses are inevitable in life (work, school, relationships, financial management etc.) and so it is essential to learn how to manage one’s reactions to these scenarios.

In my approach to stress management counselling, I seek both to:

  • help find ways to limit one’s exposure to stressful situations, or find ways to improve/change the specifics of the situation
  • help clients learn skills and strategies to learn how to better manage the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that they have in reaction to their stressful situations and ensure that their physical health is being looked after properly