Counselling to reduce stress

Counselling to reduce stress

Do you feel like you have very little control when you are feeling stressed? Do you feel overwhelmed and as a result, do you find yourself being short-tempered with loved ones like your partner? It can feel exhausting trying to balance professional and personal expectations. We can work together to find this balance so you feel more in control, less stressed, and overwhelmed.

What are some possible explanations for why you feel stressed?

There are many reasons why someone may feel stressed. Your work may be demanding and while you used to enjoy going to work, you may now dread it. You may find staff meetings or presentations overwhelming. You may struggle to meet deadlines and find yourself working overtime which then impacts your relationships with friends and family. You may feel no matter how hard you work or how hard you try, you are always behind and playing catch up. Even when you are not at work, you are not able to relax or switch off as you find yourself thinking about what you need to do the next day.

You may have grown up in a family where your parents worked long hours and as a result, you were raised by your grandparents or by other family members. In certain cultures for example, within some Asian communities, this may be necessary and deemed acceptable and normal. Thus, you grew up with parents who value working hard and instilled a strong work ethic into you. As you started your professional career, your parents continued to empathise the importance of working hard, job security, and consistency. You may not remember seeing your parents feel stressed or overwhelmed. Thus, a part of you wants to follow in your parent’s footsteps and fulfill their expectations. However, there may be another part of you that feels overwhelmed with working long hours and maintaining your personal life. You may feel like a failure for not being able to balance everyone’s expectations.

You may have grown up in a family where your parents immigrated to a Western country similar to my parents. Your parents may have struggled financially, or perhaps with the language barrier and learning to assimilate into mainstream Western society. Due to these and other struggles, your parents may be keen for you to uphold cultural norms and values while also embracing the mainstream Western culture that you are part of. For example, your parents may be South Asian and they may encourage you to attend a place of worship with them once a week but they also encourage you to watch hockey. This may impact your sense of self and your identity and may prove confusing at times as you may not wish to adhere to your cultural norms and values. You may wish to integrate more into mainstream Western society and feel accepted by your friends. As a result, you may find yourself getting into arguments with your parents which are heated and intense. This may leave you feeling misunderstood and unheard. 

You may have grown up in a family where your parents place importance on gender norms and expectations. For example, some South Asian families may have traditional views on how you, as a woman, should live your life once you are married. Your in-laws may expect you to cook for example and do the majority of household chores. Your in-laws may also expect you to have a baby and take time off work. You may disagree with some of these expectations and while your partner may be understanding, it may feel exhausting and challenging for your partner to have to choose between you and his family. It may also be frustrating as some expectations perhaps were not present before you got married thus, it may feel confusing and unexpected. As a result, you may find yourself disagreeing with family members which feels overwhelming. You may be left, not feeling valued by your in-laws and this may put a strain on your relationship with other family members including your parents.  

How does stress impact your life?

You may find yourself up at night thinking about work, projects you need to complete, and emails you need to send. With all of these thoughts and more in your mind, you find it difficult to sleep. You may find yourself able to sleep a few hours before waking up with thoughts racing in your mind. You may wake up earlier than planned due to not being able to sleep and start working on tasks. However, you may feel tired sooner in the day and may struggle to stay awake.  

You may struggle with self-care and find that you are not able to proritise activities you enjoy which may include going for walks, spending time with friends, or going to the gym. You may justify not being able to engage in these activities as you may not view them to be a priority. Part of you may believe that this is temporary and that once your presentation or project is completed, things will change. In the meantime, you may not view your self-care as a priority.

Your diet may be impacted and you may struggle to do meal preps or make time to eat and enjoy meals. Your diet may not be a priority and you may not have time to pick up groceries so instead you are ordering takeout. You may also find yourself eating more snacks as a means to seek comfort when you feel overwhelmed. As a result, you may find yourself eating even when you are not hungry. 

Your family members or partner may also be concerned about your emotional well-being and when they express how they feel, you may feel irritated or minimise their concern. You may find yourself unable to attend social gatherings and may cancel on friends because you feel drained and don’t feel like socialising. Your friends notice that you are no longer attending and engaging in social gatherings like before but you deny that anything has changed.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can help you identify what is going on beneath the surface. Your external appearance and behaviour may indicate that you are feeling stressed but it may not show what is going on internally. A part of you may feel stressed due to work and while you work harder to try and catch up, it may feel like you are not able to catch up. As your counsellor, I would explore what would help you cope with the stress. For example, some people reach out to their supervisor and reduce their workload or hours. This helps them feel less overwhelmed and they are left with tasks and expectations that feel more manageable.

You may not wish to talk to your supervisor and you may want to continue working the same hours. As your counsellor, I would be curious to learn about your thoughts and beliefs about asking for help and what that would mean for you. I would also explore how your stress is impacting your life currently and how your life may be impacted in the future if you continue to live your life in the same manner. For example, some people experience burnout or they experience a physical health condition like a stomach ache or headache. Some people experience physical pain, aches, and soreness as a result of the stress they are experiencing. 

You may believe that medication will cure your physical symptoms and while this may be true, your body may be trying to give you a sign that you need to reduce your stress. As your counsellor, I would explore any blocks that prevent you from implementing changes in your life that would help reduce your stress. For example, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed that you are feeling stressed. Part of you may believe that asking for help may be a sign of weakness or failure. Another part of you may be used to feeling stressed and overwhelmed thus, the idea of slowing down or doing less may be foreign. 

You may believe bringing work home and working overtime is common. While it may be common, this may be contributing to your stress, and as your counsellor, I would explore boundaries and determine whether or not you would like to create a healthy work-life balance. It can sometimes be challenging to change work habits however if we want to reduce how stressed you feel, it may be helpful to change some of your work habits. 

Does any of the above resonate with you? Are you a busy, successful professional woman who struggles with stress? Perhaps you feel stressed at work and this impacts your personal life in particular your relationship with family members and friends. You may find yourself snapping at your partner or missing social gatherings due to stress. If this sounds like you or someone you know, I invite you to get in touch.  

I offer individual in-person counselling sessions to both professional women and youth and online counselling sessions. My in-person counselling sessions are based in Burnaby and my online counselling sessions are held on Jane.

Individual counselling session $140 for 50 minutes

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