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Stress Awareness Month: Unraveling the Origins of Stress and the Power of Counselling

Updated: May 5


Stress Awareness Month, observed every April, is a significant period dedicated to raising awareness about stress, its impact on our lives, and strategies to manage it. This annual observance provides a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about stress, including its origins, manifestations, and coping mechanisms, with a particular focus of the role of counselling to managing stress effectively.

The Origins of Stress

The term "stress" as it relates to the psychological and physical responses we experience was popularised in the 20th century by Hans Selye, an endocrinologist. Selye observed that patients suffering from various ailments exhibited similar symptoms, which he attributed to their bodies' efforts to manage adverse conditions. He coined the term "stress" to describe this nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change. Over time, the concept of stress has evolved to encompass not only physiological responses Selye described but also and psychological reactions to perceived threats or challenges.

Examples of Stress

Stress manifests in various forms and can be triggered by numerous factors, both external and internal. Common sources of stress include job pressures, relationship issues, financial difficulties, and health concerns. It's essential to recognise that stress is a subjective experience; what might be stressful for one person may not affect another in the same way. For example, while one person may find public speaking exhilarating, another might experience it as intensely stressful.


The symptoms of stress can be equally varied, affecting our physical health (such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and high blood pressure), mental health (including anxiety and depression), and behaviour (such as increased alcohol consumption or social withdrawal).

The Role of Counselling in Managing Stress

Counselling plays a crucial role in helping you manage stress effectively. Through counselling, you can:

  • Identify Stressors: Counselling helps in identifying the specific sources of stress, which is the first step towards managing them effectively.

  • Develop Coping Strategies: Counsellors work with individuals to develop personalised coping strategies, which may include time management, relaxation techniques, and setting realistic goals.

  • Enhance Self-Awareness: Counselling encourages a deeper understanding of one's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours related to stress, fostering greater self-awareness and insight.

  • Build Resilience: Counselling can help you build resilience, equipping you to better handle future stressors

  • Provide Emotional Support: Perhaps one of the most immediate benefits of counselling is the emotional support it offers, providing a safe and confidential environment for you to express your feelings and concerns.

Counselling approaches to stress management may include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thought patterns, and other therapeutic modalities tailored to your needs.


Conclusion

Stress Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of recognising, understanding, and managing stress. While stress is an inevitable part of life, effective management techniques, including counselling, can significantly mitigate its impact. By raising awareness and encouraging open discussions about stress, we can create a more supportive environment for everyone to learn healthy coping mechanisms. Remember, seeking help through counselling is a sign of strength and an important step towards achieving a healthier, more balanced life.





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