Client case study: developing strategies to deal with stress
In this article, Maurice Tomkinson shares a list of coping strategies a recent client of his developed in therapy for dealing with stress.
Maurice explained: 'I’ve been working with a client who had been experiencing, anxiety, panic attacks and sleeping problems. After some discussion with Jill (not her real name) it became clear that a large part of the cause was work-related stress. We worked together for several weeks, identifying a number of areas where she could make changes to reduce her stress levels.
When the time came for her last session Jill told me how much better she was feeling, and I asked her what had made the difference. After a moment’s thought she gave me a detailed list of actions, strategies and changes which she has been making. She has given me permission to share this list, while emphasising that she doesn’t feel she has all the answers, just a better understanding of stress, its causes and effects'.
This is her list of strategies:
- Working shorter hours (she worked many more than her contracted hours) helps her to feel less tired.
- Becoming more realistic about what she is expected to achieve at work, reducing pressure that she puts on herself
- Doing more out-of-work activities helps to avoid the temptation to spend time on work-related activities at home
- Dealing with the obstacles that have been preventing her from fully enjoying her free time
- Building more connections with people in her local community has established a support network Reviewing old coping strategies that used to work, but have now become part of the problem
- Developing new strategies to replace the outdated ones Practicing relaxation and letting go of things that make her feel uptight
- Getting better at handling difficult relationship issues
- Engaging in more dialogue with the other person and allowing more time for them to be resolved, rather than expecting a solution in a single meeting
- Using a journal to organise and offload thoughts – particularly useful when waking up in the middle of the night with her mind full of thoughts
- Noticing when she becomes anxious for no obvious reason, pausing and trying to discover what past events might have caused her to react in this way
- Becoming aware when her sleep starts to get disturbed, because this is a sign that stress levels are building up again