Life Stress & Transitions

What is stress?

There are many moments in our lives that we deal with stress. This can come from work, relationships, and changes or transitions in our lives. Stress is a common experience that all of us have. Learning to cope with stress can greatly improve our well-being and ability to handle future stressors, which are an inevitable part of life. Depending on the stressful experience, many people find it helpful to talk to someone and learn new coping skills to better handle their stress.

Though everyone experiences stress, some people are at greater risk for having a difficult time handling stressful experiences that arrive. Early childhood trauma, poor sleeping and eating habits, lack of exercise, using drugs or alcohol, and difficulties in current relationships can contribute to toxic stress.

Common symptoms of stress include:

  • Aches and pain, chest pain, heart palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension and jaw clenching
  • Upset stomach
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression and/or sadness
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Increased or decreased appetite

If you are experiencing these symptoms, know that many coping skills are available for dealing with life stress and transitions.

The best treatment for life stress and transitions is counselling, though medication may be warranted if stress turns into anxiety or depression.

Counselling at Westwood includes the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for stress. In ACT for life stress and transitions we focus on:

  • Contacting the present moment, through mindfulness and relaxation activities.
  • Creating distance between ourselves and our thoughts.
  • Accepting what we can and cannot control.
  • Connecting with our values, as we often ignore them when we feel stressed.
  • Engaging in pleasurable activities including self-care, engaging in social activities, gratitude, and setting boundaries.
  • Noticing what we are doing, thinking, and feeling at any given moment.