By Elmarie van Heerden – LifeWorks Personal Development Trainer
All stress isn’t bad! Eustress can help to initiate change; help us focus and even save our lives!
Distress (bad stress) happens when stress builds up.
Here are some tips to manage stress -:
1. Recognize stressors and address it.
2. Take a deep breath and count to 10! Enough oxygen in our brains help us relax and signals to the primitive part of the brain that all is well – there is not a tiger chasing us; we are safe.
3. Stand up and stretch. Relaxation is the opposite of stress.
4. SMILE to relax facial muscles. It is attractive too!
5. Do a physical workout. Swim, gym, walk, dance – even doing household chores helps alleviate stress.
6. Do yoga and meditate. By doing that, we ‘press pause’ and ground ourselves. It brings perspective.
7. Assess your lifestyle – is it healthy i.t.o. sleep, diet and the social circle you are in?
8. Learn to say NO.
9. Ask for help. Even Atlas couldn’t bear the weight of the world on his shoulders.
10. Go for counselling when you feel overwhelmed and “stuck”. You are not mad or bad when you merely have a wobble!
While worrying and feeling nervous is something that all of us experience, too much of it, is bad for you. Normal anxiety can become a problem if it is-: excessive, feels uncontrollable, is experienced as intrusive in your life, is persistent and causes you significant distress, or impairs your day-to-day living. This is when normal anxiety becomes generalized anxiety.
Anxiety (nervous energy) and depression (lack of energy) are often part of the same coin.
In the cycle of anxiety, a trigger (external or a thought or belief) causes feelings of panic, worry etc. It is validated by our conviction or beliefs about the trigger (rational or irrational) and that leads to behaviour (over control) which re-affirms and gives value to the trigger.
Cognitive or rational behaviour therapy as part of counselling, is helpful.
Dr Maultsby explains emotions (anxiety, depression, panic etc) using his ABC model:
A (situation) cannot cause C (emotion). It is B (what we think about A) that causes emotion.
We need to challenge our thinking to determine whether it is rational or irrational. Irrational thinking causes unnecessary emotional pain – worry, anxiety, panic, sadness etc. Rational thinking causes us to deal with challenging situations in a healthy way.
“Having the blues” is known to most of us and it is not a lasting emotion. However, when feeling hopeless, stress and experiencing changes in sleep-, eating patterns and behaviour for more that 2 weeks, it is time to go for counselling.
There is first aid for depression:
1. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for each day.
2. Journaling: write down 3 positive, warm and loving thoughts, beliefs or statements about yourself.
3. Exercise for at least 15 minutes every day. Exercise builds the belief that your behaviour matters.
4. Attention training is to sit still and straight for at least 10 minutes at the same time every day and practice your breath coming and going.
5. Practice conscious acts of kindness toward someone. The door to happiness is through altruism (selflessness) – this door opens outwards.
Practice these 5 habits for at least 21 days to imprint new conditioning and feel the difference – you have changed your negative thinking to positive thinking!