Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Why Professionals in High-Stress Careers Need Therapy

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, professionals in high-stress careers are constantly under pressure to perform at their best. If you’re a professional in a high-stress career, it’s likely that long hours, tight deadlines, and/or high expectations have pushed you to make sacrifices that have negatively impacted your mental health. 

But what happens when the stress becomes too much to handle? What happens when you are running on empty, find yourself waking up dreading the day, and are struggling to find motivation, not just for work, but to do the things you have always loved? This is where therapy comes in. In this article, we’ll explore why professionals in high-stress careers need therapy and how it can benefit their mental health.

perfectionism shame and depressive symptoms

Who Can Benefit from Therapy for Professionals in High-Stress Careers?

Anyone in a high-stress career can benefit from therapy. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Business executives
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Financial advisors
  • Teachers
  • Social workers
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters

The Importance of Mental Health for Professionals in High-Stress Careers

The Toll of High-Stress Careers on Mental Health

Professionals in high-stress careers are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. The constant pressure to perform and meet expectations can take a toll on their mental well-being, leading to a decline in productivity, motivation, and overall quality of life. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association found that “Nearly three in five employees (59%) have experienced negative impacts of work-related stress in the past month, including a lack of interest, motivation or energy (26%), difficulty focusing (21%), and a lack of effort at work (19%)” (The American Workforce, 2021, Oftentimes, the stress of their jobs bleed into other areas of their lives; they may find it difficult to be present with loved ones and interact without feeling irritable or overwhelmed. 

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health in High-Stress Careers

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues in high-stress careers, there is still a stigma surrounding seeking help for these issues. Many professionals fear that admitting to struggling with their mental health will make them appear weak or incapable of handling their job. This stigma can prevent individuals from seeking the help they need, leading to a decline in their mental health and overall well-being. 

Maybe you find yourself wondering if your struggle with mental health means that you are incapable of handling your job. While a decline in mental health is a good warning sign that things are not going well, it doesn’t directly mean you are incapable; many people find that exploring their experiences, expanding their coping skills, setting boundaries, and investing in life outside of work can help them find a way to improve their mental health while remaining at their job. Therapy is a great place to work on making these changes, but more on that below. 

How Therapy Can Help Professionals in High-Stress Careers

Coping with Stress and Anxiety

One of the main benefits of therapy for professionals in high-stress careers is learning how to cope with stress and anxiety. A therapist can help individuals identify the root causes of their stress and develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage it. Therapists can support their clients by teaching coping skills that are supported by research and by utilizing evidence-based practices like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Throughout the therapy experience, professionals can learn to better navigate their thoughts and manage their stress and anxiety in a more productive way.

Addressing Burnout and Preventing It in the Future

Burnout is common for individuals in high-stress careers. Burnout can involve a variety of symptoms including:

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Questioning or feeling that your work has no purpose or value
  • Increased feelings of self-doubt or competence
  • Increased apathy or cynicism about your work 
  • Difficulty focusing on your work
  • Increase use of food, alcohol, or drugs to feel better or to feel numb
  • Changes in sleep patterns (e.g. increased sleep, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty waking up/getting out of bed) 
  • Experiencing physical symptoms that can be associated with stress (e.g. headaches, nausea, issues with bowel movements) and are not connected to a clear cause 

If you know or suspect that you are struggling with these symptoms, a therapist can help you dive deeper into exploring and recognizing the signs of burnout in your life. Therapy for burnout may include focusing on setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and learning to prioritize tasks and responsibilities. By addressing burnout early on, professionals can avoid a continual decline in their mental health that can result in an inability to continue their current job. 

Additionally, if you don’t currently identify with the symptoms of burnout, but know that it is a common experience in your field, therapy can help you identify healthy practices for preventing burnout.

Improving Work-Life Balance

Many professionals in high-stress careers struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance. There can be many reasons for this, including, but not limited to: 

  • The importance of their role and responsibilities can overwhelm their physical, emotional, and relational needs.
  • The influential impact of their work on other people can weigh heavily on them, pressuring them to prioritize other people’s needs above their own.
  • Their fear of failure or pursuit of perfection can drive them to continue with high workloads and striving toward meeting extremely high expectations. 

In sessions, a therapist can help individuals identify any underlying issues, like the ones above, that contribute to poor work-life balance. As they explore these deeper topics, the therapist can also help individuals practice setting boundaries and prioritizing their personal life. Without work-life balance, there is a strong likelihood for burnout. 

Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms

In high-stress careers, it’s common for individuals to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overworking. These coping mechanisms can wreak havoc on your emotional health, relationships, and resiliency. For many, therapy becomes a place where they can slow down, consider the impact of these coping skills, learn about health coping skills, and establish coping skills that work for them. Some of the healthy coping skills that are explored may include practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, scheduling rest, thought challenging, engaging in hobbies and activities outside of work, or seeking support from friends and family. By developing healthy coping mechanisms, professionals can better manage their stress and maintain their mental health.

Types of Therapy for Professionals in High-Stress Careers

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

As mentioned earlier, CBT is a popular form of therapy for professionals in high-stress careers. It is a model that has a lot of structure to it, which makes it easy to understand and implement in one’s own life. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to stress and anxiety. Through CBT, individuals can learn to reframe their thoughts and develop healthier coping mechanisms to manage their stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness-based therapy is another effective form of therapy for professionals in high-stress careers. High stress jobs regularly draw people into a state of survival, activating their fight, flight, or freeze response. They also often keep people focused anxiously on what they need to do or should be doing next. Time spent in on-edge, anxious, future-focused states of operating result in a disconnection with what is happening in the current moment. Oftentimes, the demands of high stress jobs contribute to a lack of awareness of what is going on emotionally and physically for you in the present moment. Eventually, this isn’t something that stays purely at work; it can pour over into one’s personal life, making it difficult to rest and be present during free time. Mindfulness therapy focuses on increasing one’s ability to be in the present in the moment, be attuned to one’s emotions, and learn to accept and manage difficult emotions.

Through mindfulness techniques, individuals can learn to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.

In Conclusion

Professionals in high-stress careers are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. Therapy can be a valuable tool for managing stress, addressing burnout, and improving overall well-being. By seeking therapy, professionals can learn to cope with stress and anxiety, prevent burnout, improve work-life balance, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Whether it’s through talk therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or mindfulness-based therapy, professionals can benefit greatly from seeking help for their mental health.

When to Seek Help 

Destination Therapy helps professionals overcome many kinds of emotional challenges or concerns. We recommend that every therapy client get matched with a therapist who can meet their needs. Luckily, we can match you with one of our therapists who will be able to help with your concerns. 

To ensure our pick is a good match, we offer a free 15-minute consultation call. This is to make sure you feel that your therapist is right for you.  If you’re ready to explore therapy as an option for easing your concerns, we recommend that you reach out to us.

We’re happy to help you get back to balance and confidence.

And if you enjoyed this blog, be sure to comment and share it on social media like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Leave a comment