• Stress is a normal part of life—but it can become harmful if it grows in excess, as a result of our failing to address and manage it properly.
  • Fortunately, if you are struggling with stress management, a therapist can help you: first, they’ll assist you in identifying the major stressors in your life.
  • Additionally, therapy will serve as that safe place for releasing all of your emotions: your therapist will help you to understand and address these difficult feelings.
  • Finally, a therapist can help you to determine effective coping mechanisms as well as self-care activities that will help you better manage stress.
  • These mechanisms and activities can be simple, as they often involve things like exercising, listening to music, and deep breathing.

The car isn’t starting. Work is hectic. Your husband is in a bad mood. And the kids won’t listen. You try to take a deep breath in, as every “bad” thing pushes to the forefront of your mind. But you fail to regain control—and you’re left wondering what to do, where to turn.

Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: stress is a normal part of all of our lives. It’s when we fail to process and manage this stress that it becomes harmful. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Alexis Elliott explains: “It is important to note that stress is a part of life. There is good stress and bad stress, but it is all around us. Stress itself can be harnessed as a useful tool for motivation, it’s not all bad. But it’s when we have an abundance of unchecked stressors in our lives and ineffective coping mechanisms to deal with it that it becomes a problem.” That’s when therapy or counseling can make a big difference. If you’re struggling with stress management, a mental health professional can help you identify your primary stressors, confront your feelings, and discover effective means for coping with stress:

1. Bring awareness to the major stressors in your life.

If you’re considering working with a counselor or therapist for stress management, you can expect them to help you identify the major stressors in your life. “Therapy can bring about awareness of what is actually causing an individual stress,” Stevon Lewis, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, explains. “Oftentimes, we aren’t aware of what is creating feelings of stress and making us feel overwhelmed. Talk therapy can assist with identifying stressors and singling out which is causing you the most distress.” He gives an example: “Sometimes we are stressed because we can’t or won’t say “no”. As a result, we take on too much and neglect ourselves. Therapy can help a person work through why they feel the need to say “yes” to everything and implement more appropriate boundaries that allow for them to place some priority over their own needs.”

2. Provide a healthy outlet for releasing your emotions.

Also, therapy serves as that safe place for releasing all of your emotions, even the ones you’ve kept tucked away. “Therapy techniques give people an opportunity to deal with and offload the emotions in this proverbial bag, which ultimately decreases the stress response in the body,” says Tiffany Toombs, Mental Wellness Expert. “By facing and addressing one’s issues and finding a resolution or peace with their problems, they subsequently lower their stress levels, allow the sympathetic nervous system to relax and turn off, which decreases the concentration of the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol in the body. By switching off the sympathetic nervous system and lowering our stress levels, we have a greater capacity to face and address future stresses with ease as they come.”

3. Help you find effective coping mechanisms and self-care activities.

Finally, counselors and therapists can help you identify coping mechanisms and self-care activities that work well for you. “It is important to help clients identify coping mechanisms to implement into their everyday life that are doable for them in order to manage their stress in a healthy and effective way,” Psychotherapist Ariel Sank explains. “Self-care is an extremely important part of stress management and finding ways for clients to implement self-care into their routine will be very helpful in managing overall stress while coping mechanisms can be helpful to combat stress in the moment. Examples of this may be exercise, deep breathing techniques, listening to music, or finding activities that you enjoy and making them a priority in their daily life.”