How Therapy Can Help You Manage Stress
Though therapy has helped generations of people achieve their goals, lead meaningful relationships, and tackle life’s biggest challenges, its use remains somewhat stigmatized. Therapy isn’t for “crazy” people. It’s for people who have enough self-awareness to know that they need help to get life back on track. If you struggle with chronic stress, don’t pick up a beer or a cigarette and hope for the best. Get to therapy! Here are four ways therapy makes stress manageable.
Understanding Your Stress
Sure, you might think you already know why you’re stressed. But if you’re screaming your lungs out sitting in traffic or ready to kill the bank teller just because she made you wait too long, there’s a problem. Therapy helps you understand what’s really going on behind your emotions. Maybe you take your anger toward your mother out on service workers, or perhaps your refusal to deal with your crumbling marriage is why you get so mad in traffic. Facing the actual sources of your problems is the first step toward fixing them.
Addressing Automatic Thoughts
Odds are good that, when you’re stressed, you unleash a torrent of abuse on yourself. Maybe you tell yourself you’re not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. These thoughts aren’t empty; they affect the way you interact with the world, not to mention how you feel about yourself. Therapy helps you notice these thoughts, then offers you the tools you need to replace them with thoughts that help you live the life you want—not leave you feeling terrible about yourself.
Eliminating Problem Behaviors
Here’s a revolutionary concept: stress is a behavior, not a feeling. Sure, it might feel like stress is out of your control, but if you’re like most people, you probably do a number of things to contribute to your stress. From lashing out at your spouse to procrastinating, odds are good that eliminating a few problem behaviors will make a world of difference in your life. Therapy helps you find ways to steadily work toward eliminating problematic behaviors, all while offering you the skills you need to incorporate more effective strategies into your repertoire.
Improving Your Relationships
Do you blame your spouse for the problems in your marriage? Or think that, if only your children were better behaved or calmer, life at your house would improve? It takes two to create a problematic relationship, but a few changes from one person can change everything. Therapy helps you understand other people’s behavior. By cultivating empathy, you’ll be better equipped to respond to that which bothers you—and ignore that which doesn’t really matter. All of this adds up to a better life and a happier relationship—no fighting required.