Stress and Anxiety Counselling

Waypoint has a number of experienced counsellors on our team in Victoria, BC who specialize in counselling for stress and anxiety.

Anxiety Counselling

Counselling for anxiety can be very effective. Anxiety is combination of unpleasant physical feelings and thoughts that are typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is normal – everyone experiences anxiety at times. For example, it is normal to feel anxious when on a rollercoaster or before a job interview.

Anxiety can become a problem when we react as if there is danger when there is no real danger. It’s like having an overly sensitive smoke alarm system in your body.  We do not want to get rid of the alarm (or eliminate anxiety) because it protects us from danger. We want to fix it (i.e., bring the anxiety down to a more manageable level) so it works properly for us!

Most people do not recognize their anxiety for what it is, and instead think there is something “wrong” with them. However, counselling can turn that around and give a person tools to better respond to the stress in our lives.

Is counselling for anxiety effective?

WayPoint Victoria counsellors can help you identify your problems, establish goals and help you deal with your challenges.  We see counselling and therapy as collaborative and solution-focussed.  We will work with your physician, if you provide us with permission, to make sure your treatment aligns with their approach.  Our counsellors can use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is a proven approach to help you change negative thinking and patterns.

How does anxiety work?

Anxiety affects your body, thoughts and behaviours. Therefore, there are three parts to anxiety:

  1. physical symptoms; how our body responds
  2. thoughts; what we say to ourselves
  3. behaviours; what we do or our actions

What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can cause many sensations in your body. These sensations are called the “alarm reaction”, which takes place when the body’s natural Alarm System (the “fight-flight-freeze” response) has been activated. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and stomach upset
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Tight or painful chest
  • Numbness and tingling sensations
  • Unreality or bright vision
  • Legs feel heavy

You can learn to identify the physical signs of anxiety by asking yourself: “What happens when I’m anxious? Where do I feel the anxiety in my body?” For example, when you feel anxious, you may get butterflies in your stomach, sweat a lot, breathe heavily, and feel dizzy or lightheaded.

How can I recognize anxious thoughts?

Anxiety also affects how we think and typically these thoughts involve a fear of something bad happening.

Effectively managing negative emotions involves identifying negative thinking and replacing it with realistic and balanced thinking. Because our thoughts have a big impact on the way we feel, changing our unhelpful thoughts to realistic or helpful ones is a key to feeling better. “Realistic thinking” means looking at yourself, others, and the world in a balanced and fair way, without being overly negative or positive.

What are anxious behaviours?

Anxiety feels very uncomfortable. We also think we are in danger. Because of these strong experiences, we tend to escape or avoid anxiety-provoking situations/activities/people.

It is essential to identify situations that you avoid. To aid in this, answers the following:

  • If you wake up tomorrow morning and all your anxiety had magically disappeared, what would you do?
  • How would you act?
  • How would someone close to you know you weren’t anxious?

Finish the following sentences:

  • My anxiety stops me from …
  • When I am not anxious, I will be able to …

Once you are able to understand and recognize anxiety, you will be better prepared to move on to the next stage – learning how to manage anxiety with anxiety counselling!

What are some basic facts about anxiety?

  • Anxiety is normal.
    Everyone experiences anxiety at times. It is normal to feel anxious in the appropriate situations, like before a job interview.
  • Anxiety is adaptive.
    It helps us deal with real danger (avoiding a speeding car) or to perform at our best (motivates us to prepare for a big presentation).
  • Anxiety is not dangerous.
    Anxiety may feel uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous or harmful to you.
  • Anxiety is short-lived.
    Anxiety is temporary and it will eventually decrease! Likely faster than you think.
  • Anxiety is mostly anonymous.
    Most people cannot tell when you are anxious because it does not show on your face.
  • Anxiety can become a problem.
    Anxiety is a problem when our body reacts as if there is danger when there is no real danger. It’s like having an overly sensitive smoke alarm system in your body!
  • Anxiety problems are common.
    One-in-ten adults suffer from anxiety problems.

Counselling for Stress

Stress can be difficult to understand and we are not always aware that it is affecting us. Some life events like the birth of a child or the end of a relationship can cause feelings of stress but everyone is different in how they respond. That is because it our thoughts and the meaning we attach to the situation that determines whether or not the reaction will be a problem to us.  Seeking out counselling for stressful situations can be a step in the right direction.

Sometimes stress or change can be a motivator for us, or we may develop a habit of responding to an event in a way that has a negative effect on our physical, mental and social well-being. If we tend to respond in a negative way, our health, happiness, and relationships happiness can suffer. Many people who experience excessive stress and anxiety have symptoms of poor health.  At Waypoint, our counsellors can help you learn how to better respond to every day stress in your life.

We may feel that situations are “stressful” because we don’t feel fully prepared to deal with them. Some situations in life are stress-provoking, but it is our thoughts about situations that determine whether they are a problem to us.

What are some common physical symptoms of stress?

  • Headaches
  • Symptoms that mimic old illnesses
  • Poor sleep
  • Nausea or stomach upset

In an attempt to cope, some people drink too much alcohol, abuse drugs, blame others and may become physically violent. The good news is that through counselling, you can better understand your reactions to stress provoking situations, develop new ways of thinking and handle stress more effectively.

What is stress?

Stress can be difficult to understand and we are not always aware that it is affecting us. We often think stress happens to us, through some external event, like a job interview or an argument with your partner. Although we can feel the stress in our bodies and in our behaviours, it is thoughts about the situations in which we find ourselves that are the most critical factor.

During any lived situation, we routinely, and involuntarily, evaluate the situation mentally. If our automatic assessment is that this is a difficult situation, and we do have the skills to manage it, then it does not create stress. However, if on the other hand we deem the situation challenging and consider that we do not have the adequate coping skills, then we consider the situation as “stressful” and stress is created. Because everyone sees situations differently and has different coping skills, no two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation.

We may feel that situations are “stressful” because we don’t feel fully prepared to deal with them.  At Waypoint our counsellors can help you develop healthier ways to manage stress.

By understanding ourselves and our reactions to stress-provoking situations, we can learn to handle stress more effectively with stress management counselling.

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