Stress is a normal and expected part of everyday life – in fact,58% of Canadian workers are stressed on a daily basis. It normal stems from a specific event, such as receiving multiple deadlines at work or being stuck in traffic on your way to drop the kids off at school, and your reaction to it.
This latter point is particularly important. It’s not the event itself that causes stress, but rather how you think, feel, or behave once it’s taken place. This can include worrying, feeling a tightness in your chest, or blowing up in anger when faced with an uncomfortable situation.
Negative thoughts and behaviors can create more stress, affect your health, and make your existing emotional state worse. Your bad mood can also be pervasive, affecting those around you and causing you to treat loved ones and colleagues in a less-than-friendly way.
At its core, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on the fact that the way we think about events or react to them is what causes stress. For example, let’s say two cars are caught in traffic. While one driver might take the opportunity to catch up on their favorite podcast, the other driver might only be able to fixate on the time that they’re losing.
CBT teaches clients how to put a positive spin on stressful situations. This includes changing their way of thinking, practicing mindfulness, and using problem solving skills when faced with a challenge.
Some stressors cannot be controlled, such as a job you are unable to quit. A psychotherapist will work with clients to learn coping behaviors and techniques that will make stress easier to manage. This can include:
As one of Canada’s top 10 best psychotherapists, Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years gaining clinical and research experience across hospital, community and public sector settings, including as a social worker. With advanced training in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), trauma counselling and chronic pain management, she helps clients manage their stress levels in healthy and constructive ways.
Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.