Social Connections Reduce Stress


Photo credit: vahiju from Morguefile,com

Stress is an inevitable occurrence in our lives. Sometimes we can manage easily. We may remain focused with our daily tasks, take a couple extra work breaks, exercise, joke around or eat a few more snacks to help us through the day.

However stress can also be, at times, too overwhelming to push aside with our usual coping strategies. We may have so many stressors we may not see a way out or can’t find enough outlets so our stress levels can subside. We may feel like the walls of stress we are surrounded by are narrowing in on us.

Then we get a phone call from a friend who would love to spend some time together. We may, at first, want to respond; “No, now is not a good time.”, however, what better time than to escape this reality for an hour or two? So we agree to meet up with our friend, and after five minutes of small talk, we take in a breath of relief.

When we push aside relationships because we are “too stressed out,” we may feel more stress and even a little anxious. Thoughts of being unsupported can fuel feelings of loneliness and isolation leading to even less motivation to seek friendships.  Limited social support has been associated with depression and cognitive decline (Harvard Women’s Health Watch).

Social relationships:

  • Provide support, encouragement, empathy, and humour
  • Encourage our physical health. “Social connections help relieve harm to the heart’s arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system (Harvard Health Publications).
  • Help us feel a sense of belonging, that we can relate and share similar life stressors (work, school, family, spouses, and/or children).
  • Build opportunities to engage in the same activities of interests (sport, music, artistic, etc.)
  • Provide stress-relief, financial aid at times and helpful advice

Professional counselling can assist you to better manage stress and develop improved interpersonal skills.  We can also help strengthen existing social skills and strengths helping you overcome challenges with friends and build up satisfying social connections. Contact us today.


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Obsessive Thoughts Can Float Away

For more than ten years, all I’ve known or been accustomed to is my routine of counting everything in sight. It has impacted my life greatly. I’m usually late for appointments or dates with friends because my routine had become so extensive. My relationships with my parents became difficult to cope with as I tested their patience daily with my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Needless to say, counting became a priority in my life and it was so hurtful.

When my parents suggested I attend counselling, I was very hesitant. All of my reservations about a therapist made me more paranoid and wanting to count even more often. “He’ll think I’m crazy!” “I can’t share my thoughts with a stranger!” “He’ll turn my parents against me!” These thoughts created a lot of anxiety; however, to please my parents, I thought I’d attend at least one session.

To my pleasant surprise, none of my fears about therapy and my counsellor came to be.  I now had someone who would listen to me, help me uncover and recognize the thoughts contributing to the repeated counting behaviour and then help me change my life for the better. My burden became lighter, with my effort, gradually floating away like a balloon.

I am finally on track to having the life I want and I am rebuilding relationships in my life. By learning to creatively shift my thoughts, I am able to replace my counting with activities that allow me to grow and develop into the person I want to be. I’m also now better able to embrace experiences with my families and friends.

If there’s anything that I can share with others who suffer with obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours, it is this: YOU can control your life with help. Cognitive-behaviour therapy helps shift thoughts, feelings and then also the behavior!

Get Help!  For further information and resources to overcome OCD, call us today!

 

 

Loss of a loved one, whether a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, friend or another close to you can be quite painful and heart-wrenching.  Initial shock and disbelief are often quickly replaced by feelings of sorrow, grief, confusion and even anger. These emotional responses are quite normal…uncomfortable, yet normal.

Can you imagine getting close to another person, sharing special times, stories, events and situations, some very intimate and challenging and others exciting, joyful and exhilarating… then suddenly they are gone and you felt normal, unaffected? That would be strange wouldn’t it?  

Significant loss is supposed to impact us, change us and even throw us off our normal routines. The greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the impact. In ancient times, those who lost a loved one may display their grief by tearing their clothes, covering themselves in ashes and mourning for months and even years.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote two of the best books to help people grieving the loss of a loved one; On Death & Dying” and “On Grief & Grieving. These fine works help those grieving with the journey, finding new meaning, restoring faith and adjusting to a life without their special loved one.

Sometimes the struggle after loss can seem simply too much to handle, too hard to face on your own and maybe even too difficult for surviving family and friends to help you with.  This is not a flaw or weakness. It may simply be the loss is so great extra assistance and supports may be required.

If you should find the loss of a loved one is just too much, fueling overwhelming emotions (e.g. excessive crying and anger) and increasingly troubling behaviours, please reach out and to get the supports available. You may even Contact us today