Are you making smart choices to manage your stress?
If therapy is not part of your strategy, the answer is likely no.
You are not alone, and there is an easy solution.
Research shows many people are making less than optimal choices when it comes to managing stress.
In 2015 the Australian Psychological Society Stress and Well-being in Australia survey reported 72% of Australians felt stress was impacting their physical health and 64% believed it to be impacting their mental health.
Such high percentages of people feeling stress is affecting their physical and mental well-being is alarming is it not?
What is even more disturbing is the number of people turning to unproductive and harmful ways to manage their stress, like tv, video games, smoking, gambling, or taking drugs. High-risk health behaviours only further increase the strain on finances, physical, and mental health.
Ironically, these are often things people get stressed about in the first place.
Sadly, the average person who does seek professional help to manage stress tends to pursue pharmaceutical remedies rather than therapy. This is not so surprising – after all, we are a society forever chasing a ‘quick-fix’ and ‘the path of least resistance’.
Pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are among the leading prescription drugs around the world. Yet, these are fraught with side-effects and only somewhat effective.
These are vicious cycles! But it need not be this way.
Break free of this insidious cycle
YOU have the power! All you need to do is make the simple decision to ADD THERAPY to your tools of choice when it comes to managing stress (aka psychotherapy, counselling).
And let me say right now [please read this with the firmness and conviction intended]… there is absolutely no shame in experiencing stress, anxiety and depression.
So please don’t let this be what holds you back from seeking therapeutic support.
WE ALL struggle from time to time keeping a grip on the multitude of things going on in our lives. Work, family, health, relationships, finances, personal development, spirituality, the list goes on. We juggle so much these days, who doesn’t drop the ball on occasion.
Please DO NOT feel guilty for being human and experiencing struggle. None of us are infallible.
But PLEASE DO make self-care choices you are proud of – not ones you later regret that only compound your pain.
Wise investments in managing stress DO NOT look like this:
- underutilised or completely unused gym memberships
- vitamin supplements you take intermittently, when you remember
- Netflix (‘and chill’), Foxtel, video games, or other assorted ‘relaxation’ (diversion) strategies
- regular trips to the doctor for affected sleep, anxiety, or low mood
- various prescription medications for the above
- cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs
- gambling with the hope of one day winning big and all your problems being solved.
THIS IS what intelligent investment in stress management looks like:
- health activities you enjoy so you actually do them
- a quality mattress and pillow for proper restorative sleep
- making ‘time out’ to rest, recharge, and re-center
- quality time with your significant other, family and friends
- being aware of your “self-care” expenditure and sourcing smarter alternatives in place of ineffective or wasteful panacea
- saving money you waste on harmful toxins, unproductive pastimes, or unnecessary vitamins, AND INSTEAD…
- investing in therapy to manage change and challenges more effectively, improve communication and connections, and start fulfilling personal and professional goals.
Instead of coping and compensating, CHOOSE TO INVEST IN THRIVING AND CONTENTMENT.
Therapy is unquestionably one of the most effective tools you can choose for alleviating stress and improving your overall well-being.
Here’s 5 solid reasons you should seek therapy if you don’t want to be constantly stressed.
Effective – based on hundreds of empirical studies, therapy (counselling) has been proven effective approximately 75-80% of the time for many of the problems leading people to seek medical treatment. Consider this together with only 15 to 25% of people experiencing some improvement using prescription medication for depression; and lower depressive relapse rates arising from therapeutic treatment such as counselling compared to pharmaceutical treatment alone.
Time saving – you could wait for problems to ‘sort themselves out’, spend countless hours undertaking your own research, source and read an endless supply of reference and ‘how-to’ books, pay for professional courses, all under the seemingly clever guise of ‘DIY’ – and with no guarantee of success. Particularly given your personal bias – after all, you are by nature exceptionally close to yourself!
Alternatively, you could pay a professional therapist for their expertise, knowledge, and experience, knowing you will get unbiased, non-judgemental support from someone who is professionally trained and engaged in professional development to keep up with the latest in effective interventions. They’ll also hold you accountable so you keep moving forward rather than procrastinating or avoiding the challenges you need to overcome.
Safe – therapy does not cause harm to your physical and mental health. Whereas drugs have many adverse side effects, may only mask your symptoms, and may even fail to adequately treat your symptoms.
Furthermore, other unproductive and high risk health behaviours you might choose for stress management can contribute to long-term health problems like obesity, diabetes, respiratory and heart disease. Therapy can help you to cease and prevent future use of high risk behaviours as your ‘go to’ stress management response.
Doing something different – you know the age-old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. If you’re wasting your time with ineffective coping strategies, ask yourself – how important is it to you to:
- manage stress effectively,
- not live in fear of the next obstacle life is going to throw your way,
- break your cycle of unhealthy coping or compensating behaviour,
- take positive action towards your goals,
- achieve balance and contentment.
What could you do differently? You can get your butt into therapy, that’s what!
A good investment – therapy is undoubtedly a more sensible investment than unproductive, high-risk health behaviours which only squander your hard-earned money. This is especially true if your choices lead to serious health problems down the road.
In addition, in comparing therapy to use of prescription medication, one study demonstrated a 16-week trial of therapy was more effective in the long run than one year of antidepressants. Examined over time, therapy is more effective than medication for many issues affecting well-being, particularly when you consider the impact of stress and medication side-effects on your ability to participate effectively in life and work.
For most people, over the long-term, therapy:
- is an effective option for addressing issues affecting well-being
- can be more effective and less expensive than pharmaceutical solutions
- is the sensible choice for your health (and wallet) above unproductive, health-harming, stress management behaviours like watching tv, video games, gambling, alcohol or drugs.
The evidence is clear – across time, choosing therapy is the smarter choice for managing stress above pharmaceutical solutions or wasteful, high-risk behaviours.
So, what are you waiting for?
Take a deep breath, put your ‘big girl’ pants on, and reach out to a therapist today!
Your health and well-being will positively be better for it.
Are you looking into or have you had therapy to handle stress? Share with us in the comments.