She’s Got It All, Doesn’t She?
Maria might seem familiar to you. Maybe she’s a friend, relative, co-worker…. Maybe she’s even you. I know her well, because she’s like many women I see in my Annapolis counseling practice who are affected by stress.
Maria sees herself as a woman who can handle a lot. She’s very busy most of the time, and when she’s got free time she finds things to fill her schedule. She juggles a career, children, laundry, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, and helping out friends in need. In fact, Maria loves to help others, but she finds asking for help much more difficult.
In the past, her friends often wondered how she managed to keep everything under control, but lately they worry that she’s struggling. Maria hasn’t said anything, but she’s missed a few plans with friends, she’s forgotten about parent meetings at the middle school, and she seems very distracted, as if her mind were a million miles away.
Life Changes Can Add Stress
Until recently, Maria had always seen herself as independent and motivated. More important, she always felt in control. Then she was promoted at work. In her new position, she has to manage employees and learn new responsibilities. She was so excited and proud to be promoted, but the added work has created stress. Maria believes that she should be able handle her new job without a mistake. She’s sure the employees are judging her and will no longer respect her if she doesn’t get it right.
10 Signs That You Might Be Under Stress
1. Worrying all the time.
2. Feeling as if our mind is always in the “on” position.
3. Being short-tempered towards family and friends.
4. Wanting to avoid people and places for fear that others are judging you.
5. Anxiety attacks that seem to come from nowhere.
6. Experiencing frequent headaches or stomachaches.
7. Feeling tightness in the chest, or shortness of breath.
8. Difficulty focusing on daily tasks.
9. Trouble sleeping most nights because your mind won’t turn off.
10. Feeling overwhelmed at work and at home.
Perfection: A Realistic Goal?
Maria thought she had to be a perfect parent, a perfect employee, a perfect wife, a perfect friend — but suddenly all of the pieces of her life that she’d kept organized and balanced suddenly felt overwhelming. She was irritable with her family, she avoided friends because she was sure they were judging her, she was constantly worrying, and she was stressed out. Maria thought that asking for help made her weak. When her husband and best friend suggested she see a counselor to help her manage her stress, Maria felt like a failure, but she knew she needed the outside support.
With counseling perhaps Maria can learn to let go of the need to control everything and everyone, to reach out for help and support and to accept herself for who she is — a human with built-in imperfections.
Counseling Can Help You Manage Stress By:
· Giving you a safe, non-judgmental place to talk about what’s on your mind.
· Providing space to tell your story from your perspective.
· Allowing you to gain an understanding of your body’s stress response, and how it impacts your mental and physical health.
· Teaching you stress-reduction strategies and techniques.
· Helping you learn to accept yourself as you are, so that you can embrace your imperfections.
Sometimes our carefully controlled lives can feel out of control, like Maria’s did after her promotion. Counseling can help you bring balance to your life and reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed.
If you would like help managing your stress please call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. You can also check out my blog for more posts on stress, mindfulness and how counseling might help you.
Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC, is an Annapolis therapist, counseling people to help them manage their anxiety and stress.