I use a two-pronged approach to help clients deal effectively with stress:
- I help them learn problem-focused coping strategies to directly address sources of stress in their lives stemming from work, finances, relationships, etc.;
- I help them learn self-focused coping strategies which allow them to cope more effectively with these various sources of stress.
Clients learn skills in stress counselling to use their thinking and behavior to remain calm in the face of sources of stress which previously led them to feel overwhelmed.
PROBLEM-FOCUSED COPING STRATEGIES
In my role of Calgary psychologist, I help my clients learn problem-focused coping strategies to directly address sources of current stress in their lives stemming from work, finances, relationships, etc. Reducing the size of these stressors or having a plan to do so makes coping with stress much easier. Problem-focused coping strategies also target sources of stress stemming from past events which contribute to current stress. These include abuse, assault, bullying and other traumatic events. I work with my clients to help them heal from the effects of these past traumas so that they do not add to their current stress.
SELF-FOCUSED COPING STRATEGIES
I also help my clients learn self-focused coping strategies which allow them to cope more effectively with various sources of stress. Self-focused coping strategies include: (1) Behaviours and activities to cope with stress such as exercise, enjoyable social interactions and relationships, hobbies and interests, skills such as assertiveness, relaxation techniques, and rehearsing upcoming challenging situations; (2) Thinking skills to manage stress. Psychological techniques such as thought records, behavioural experiments and core belief records help train your mind to view events in a balanced perspective rather than an overly negative one. Such balanced thinking makes it easier to cope with stressful events; (3) Physical well-being activities such as getting enough quality sleep, eating properly and taking care of physical health issues contribute to your ability to cope with stress.
HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD STRESS AND BAD STRESS
Clients often find it helpful to be aware of the difference between ‘good stress’ and ‘bad stress.’ ‘Good stress’ typically refers to the enjoyment of meeting and overcoming challenges, setting and pursuing goals, and seeking out other forms of stimulation and excitement. ‘Bad stress’ usually involves either being faced with too many challenges or too much stimulation at a given time or facing challenges or goals which are beyond your ability to cope or succeed at. I help my clients structure their lives and use skills to help them enjoy the benefits of good stress and avoid succumbing to the effects of bad stress.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DEALING WITH STRESS ON MY BLOG:
- How to be happy during stressful events: Focus on your activities and your thinking–not on your circumstances
- Rising to the occasion: How to shine through during a crisis
- Video: Dr. Pat’s tips for coping with the stress of the Coronavirus pandemic
- Finding the silver lining: Coping with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic by noticing positives
- Managing Stress During the Pandemic – Cochrane Now 91.5 Radio Interview
- Counselling during the coronavirus pandemic: Alternatives to in-person sessions
- Managing anxiety when there is a reason to be anxious: Coping with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic
- The value of taking a break during the holiday season…and at other times
- How to deal with stress during the holiday season
- How to manage your emotions while driving: A double-barreled approach