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North London Stress Management Centre.
Tel: 020 8444 4871
Pressure, when harnessed correctly, keeps us motivated, energised and inspired, Unchecked, which is so often the case, this pressure can rapidly turn to stress, which is a serious condition leading us into physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Originating from the Latin word Stringere, meaning to compress or to draw tight, the common symptoms of stress include tiredness and irritability, indecisiveness and poor judgment, loss of sense of humour, poor timekeeping, lack of sleep, an increase in headaches, nausea, aches and pains, inexplicable mood swings, unexplained fatigue, high blood pressure, unusual weight gain or weight loss, chronic indigestion and chest pains.
There is no set psychological profile attached to the stressed-out individual though it is safe to say that people who tend to work towards unrealistic goals, who often over-achieve, who force themselves on a constant basis to be competitive, are poor time managers, who are often cynical, angry and over-emotional without a great deal of provocation will always be in the high-risk category. Then there are those who look on their failings and take them deeply to heart, without acknowledging the simple fact that we all, from time to time, fail. Failing is a natural part of the life-process. Anyone who has achieved anything in life has failed at something, more often than not they have failed numerous times before achieving greatness and even when they do reach their goals, they are rarely satisfied and continue to fail on occasions because they understand and embrace the simple fact that failure is a life experience and one of our greatest teachers.
Or you may be experiencing stress because you are refusing to accept important feelings such as sadness, hurt or anger. There may be domestic violence in your life, you could be suffering with inescapable physical pain or discomfort, or perhaps you are agonising emotionally due to a traumatic incident or damaging series of events either recently experienced or locked in the distant past. Possibly you are facing dietary issues or, if a woman, the agony of Premenstrual Syndrome.
There are many ways of dealing with stress, and numerous avenues to explore. Most techniques work to a degree though they tend to fall into the stop-gap category – they offer temporary relief and can be effective yet they tend not to address the underlying problems associated with stress and focus predominately on its symptoms and not its causes. Yet there is little doubt that a relatively straight-forward list of Dos and Don’ts does help in the short term and may well halt for some people the advancement of the condition before it takes a hold:
DO: Learn to recognize the symptoms, identify the causes, take action to sort out the problem, get support and learn relaxation techniques (see below)
DON'T: Ignore stress, keep your problems to yourself, take stress out on loved-ones, colleagues or friends, manage your time inefficiently or get overworked.
Coping mechanisms relating to stress include adopting a healthy lifestyle, knowing our limitations, taking time to discover what is worrying us and devising ways to change our behaviours so as to reduce the worry, circumventing any unnecessary conflicts, accepting the things that we cannot change, and avoiding alcohol, nicotine and other drugs which will only add to your problems and not solve them, even though they may temporarily numb the pain you are currently experiencing.
Time Management is important when combating stress. Good time-managers are less likely to suffer from the symptoms of stress than those who adopt a chaotic approach to each day. Time is most effectively managed when we understand how we are currently spending our time and by adopting an ABC priority list. It is also good to identify your five most prominent stressors and to work with a trained professional, if this is viable for you, on each one of these individually, and on a hierarchical basis, by first focusing on the least important stressor before building up to the all-important PRINCIPAL STRESSOR. Meditation and relaxation have been proven to be effective mechanisms in the fight against stress.
Here is a simple exercise to try:
Next time you are in a stressful situation, try to remove yourself for just a few minutes and find a place where you will not be disturbed:
Choose a focus word, an uplifting phrase or a sentence that makes you feel good about yourself.
Close your eyes.
Relax your muscles.
Breath slowly and naturally while repeating your focus word/phrase silently as you exhale.
Think of a scene or a place you have visited in the past where you have felt particularly at peace. This may be a tranquil scene from nature, a beautiful beach or river etc.
Focus on this scene and imagine yourself being there.
Assume a passive state by dismissing any random thoughts that come to mind.
Continue for around five minutes.
Don’t stand immediately.
Open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.
You will feel a lot less tense, and much more in control, when you walk back into the situation you have temporarily removed yourself from.
The NLSMC approach:
Utilising specific techniques including psycho-cybernetics, CBT, mindfulness, Emotional Freedom Techniques, gestalt psychology and (where appropriate) hypnosis to draw out the thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences that have led to such a debilitating condition, we know we can work with you to release unwanted stress from your life. Recognizing the impact that stress is having on you is the first important step towards successfully dealing with and then overcoming it. We would wish you every luck in your endeavours but frankly, you will not need it. For you have the power within you to take complete control, banishing unwanted stress whenever it tries to take a hold and we look forward to helping you do so.
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