Historically, the stigma surrounding mental health has prevented many of us from seeking help or even talking about it. Over the past few decades, people’s perceptions of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses have changed significantly – fortunately, for the better.
Today, most of us consider mental health to be as important as physical health. More people are now seeking help from therapists and counsellors than their counterparts did a generation ago. Current treatments for anxiety and/or stress are extremely effective.
According to this Calgary counselling clinic, these three approaches can help stress management and reduce anxiety to a great extent:
1. Breathing Retraining
Abnormal breathing can result in hyperventilation and stress symptoms such as palpitations and dizziness among susceptible individuals. We typically experience this when we are frightened or in a rage.
Counsellors use slow breathing techniques to deal with the effects of hyperventilation. In most cases, the techniques have been effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of anxiety and stress.
The steps that counsellors suggest for Breathing Retraining are:
- Stop and sit down or lean against something so that your body can rest.
- If you are driving, pull over and park your vehicle at a safe place first.
- Try to hold your breath for 10 seconds.
- Breathe out through your nose and say “Relax” to yourself.
- Breathe in and out slowly for six-seconds. Then do the same for a 3-second cycle again.
- Say “Relax” to yourself after each time you exhale.
- After a while, you should feel more relaxed and in control.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
PMR is an anxiety-reduction technique presented by American physician Edmund Jacobson. When we are anxious or stressed, our muscles tense up. In some extreme cases, this can become life-threatening. PMR involves relaxing all the major muscle groups.
Counsellors using PMR techniques teach clients to relax their muscles in two steps. They first apply tension to each muscle group, and then let go, i.e., release.
This is a pervasive and practical approach in treating anxiety and stress. Most people who practice progressive muscle relaxation say it helps considerably. After your counsellor has taught you how to do it properly, you can use it on your own whenever you feel the need.
3. Cognitive Restructuring
This is a talk therapy that can be very effective in treating patients suffering from anxiety and stress. It is a straightforward but powerful technique that retrains the mind by identifying and undoing negative thinking patterns such as rumination or worry. Some people get caught in an endless spiral of negative thoughts.
Having false assumptions about someone or certain things can trap individuals in a loop of negativity. In extreme cases, the person may not go outside at all because they worry that the world is watching them.
With cognitive restructuring, counsellors try to identify the negative thoughts that trigger anxiety and how often they occur. Once these are identified, the aim is to remove the negative thoughts and help clients modify them into realistic ones.
Mental health and wellness clinics say that the relationship between patients with anxiety and their counsellors plays a major role in determining treatment outcomes and the risk of relapses.
The counselling techniques mentioned above can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve an individual’s overall quality of life.
According to Calgary Counselling Services, treatment must be carried out in a non-judgemental way.
Interesting related article: “What is Health?“