We’re all faced with stressful situations, whether once in a blue moon or on a daily basis, but it’s knowing how to deal with pressures and maintain a healthy balance.
The five complex belief systems called “Drivers”, create behavioural habits that we all utilise to deal with the challenges or stress in our life. Many of these habits are useful when well moderated, but counterproductive when less well controlled and even the basis for major personality disorders when fear allows them to become too extreme.
Stress is defined as an internal pressure that is generated by external factors that make us feel “under threat”. This creates rapid physiological changes in the reptilian brain known as the amygdala, leading to the primal fight or flight defence mechanism kicking in. We can either fight the stress or withdraw from it until we can return to a more balanced state. The workplace is a major component for stress generation as we are continually asked to reach deadlines, cope with ever increasing workloads, as well as working effectively in teams for maximum output.
New workplace statistics show the average person works five times as much as they did 30 years ago with up to 90% of the population know suffering with insomnia and sleep deprivation as a consequence. We work on average 46 hours a week with continued job insecurity due to technological advancement and access to cheap labour. It is believed 1 in 4 students are now on some form of prescription medication to cope with the stresses at university to realise their personal desires and fulfil parental hopes for them. Poor dysfunctional coping mechanisms like using alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling are on the rise as society and the workplace demand more and more from the individual.
CBT is a very effective method to evaluate the factors creating the stresses by creating a structured treatment plan to cope better with the stresses. The first session assesses the underlying personality type and drivers that are forming the internal and external conflicts
Personality variables would be areas like.
- Achievement striving and approval seeking
- Multi-tasking skills and time management
- Lack of recuperation and time for relaxation
- Poor interpersonal skills creating hostility and isolation
- Poor self esteem
These variables can contribute to high arousal and an accumulation of internal pressures if they are not addressed effectively. Within the next few sessions we would identify the negative through patterns and belief creating the underlying faulty thinking and resultant behaviour. Some of the techniques we use are as follows:
They are used to test thoughts and monitor maladaptive behaviour. They test ideas of perfectionism and inflated responsibility .They examine controllability of thoughts, overestimation of threat and intolerance to uncertainty
Keeping a record, mentally or written down, of concrete pieces of evidence for and against negative thoughts can help a client come up with more balanced perspective to supported healthier thoughts
Pleasant activity scheduling:
The idea is to schedule of daily activity that you enjoy and may not normally do. It can be simple or more complex – from reading a chapter in a novel to making a nice dinner. Another method of this is to schedule an activity a day that gives you a sense of mastery, competence, or accomplishment.
Situation exposure hierarchies:
In this method a client put things they normally avoid on a list, such as distressing situations and experiences which lead to the problem behaviour wanting resolution. Your client rates these on a level of distress scale and how likely the maladaptive behaviour will present itself. You then work through the list from lowest to highest, exposing the client gradually and safely to these situations, increasing their capacity to deal with the distress without using the defensive behaviour as a means for coping.
Mediation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the primary acceptance strategy in CBT. It would allow a client to address parts of his emotional experience that cannot be directly changed, like many of the spontaneous sensations, feelings, urges and thoughts that arise within the depression. This would allow Steve to soften the experience, by adjusting the intensity enabling him to sit more easily with fixed emotional patterns as they run their course.
Clients can learn to modify these deeply held beliefs which will lead to a change in behaviour and a hopefully improved well-being. Helping our clients develop better tools and awareness will allow them to highlight the external factors and internal beliefs causing them stress, leading to a reduction in arousal levels, mitigating the intensity of the stress and the chances for relapse. Let us help you and give you the tools to not just survive under stressful situations, but to thrive and create a positive well-being.
We’re not here to judge your level of stress, but we are offering to help teach you to control it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today, we’re here to help.