The pandemic has increased the stress levels of the world’s population socially and financially. Furthermore, it’s kept us apart from friends and loved ones from whom we would usually get much-needed in-person advice and support, leaving us feeling lonely. Licensed therapists are not always an option due to cost and availability. This is why people are turning to an increasingly popular alternative called peer counseling.
What Is Peer Counseling?
Peer counselors are normal people with exceptional qualities – for example, high levels of empathy. All of them have an intrinsic aptitude to understand, connect and empathise with your particular stressors.
You may be wondering, how that is possible? Peer counselors are everyday people who have most likely experienced, suffered, or survived similar situations and have had to make tough decisions on the path to recovery – that’s why you’ll find it easy to establish a meaningful connection with them.
What Is Stress Really?
In short, stress is your body’s reaction to emotional, physical, psychological and behavioural responses to particular internal and external influences known as stressors. Stressors typically include pressure at work, home, relationships, family issues, and financial troubles. A lot of these issues have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused job losses, salary cuts and the deaths of family members.
Are You Experiencing Any Of These Stress Symptoms?
In certain circumstances, a bit of stress can provide the motivation needed to be more proactive, but it can affect your mental and physical health when it becomes too much. The symptoms of stress include the following.
Struggling to fall or stay asleep
Having an upset stomach
Having a dry mouth
Experiencing heart palpitations
Getting unusual aches and pains
Suffering from headaches
Experiencing a loss or increase in appetite
Stress can cause more severe symptoms if left unchecked. The worst thing you could possibly do is internalise these feelings – you need to speak to someone who can empathise with your situation(s).
How To Combat Stress?
1. Speak To Someone
Peer counselors are taught the critical skills of active listening as well as practical problem-solving. They can offer valuable advice and methods that you can use in real-life social situations. Furthermore, you have the peace of mind that conversations with your peer counselor are kept confidential.
One of the best stress destroyers is exercise – think of it as free medicine. A run, cycle, jog, or trip to the gym will work wonders. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins (also known as the happy hormone) and dopamine. The combination helps ‘flush’ stress from your body.
We understand that it may be the last thing you feel like doing, but a bit of exercise every day helps ease stress and helps you sleep better at night.
3. Eat Healthily
You’ve likely heard of the term ‘stress eating’. Stress triggers a hormone called cortisol that makes your body crave foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates.
It’s time to make a concerted effort to eat healthy, increase fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat, beans and lentils, and less processed, fried and fatty foods.
Why Peer Counseling May Be Best For You
Peer counseling is not necessarily a replacement for therapy, but it offers a safe space where you can speak to a peer counselor of your choice about ways to avoid stress without any fear of prejudice.
This is an affordable, accessible alternative to peer counseling services, available online so that you can speak about any stress-related issues from your home (or wherever you feel comfortable.) Peer counselors have the resources, tools, and a human interaction facility to ensure we can help you de-stress and lives a healthier life.