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7 months ago · · 0 comments

Reducing Stress and Depression Comes First From Taking Control

Stress is all around us – but reducing stress is within your control

self confidence at work and reducing stressWe live in a very stressful world. Reducing stress is not always easy. Recently I was speaking to an environmentalist. He made an interesting observation. He said “how can psychology really work, when you are telling people to be happy in a world that is full of stress, fear and catastrophe and in an ever increasing state of global climate crisis”.

I had to really ponder on this question. To answer it, I had to look back in time. I thought back to Victor Frankl, who in his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning recounts how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning amongst the struggle and how that gave him the will to live. Throughout history there has always been struggle and this struggle persists today. However, alongside this struggle has been major positive change.

There has never been so much love, kindness and support for those who are struggling. As a I write this, the movement to listen to those who have been abused, to stand up for those who have been persecuted for being women and to stop mass shootings by pushing for stricter gun control in America are underway. These movements all have the same internal belief – that taking control can make a difference.

This is where my personal psychological physilophy ensues. I know that when you gain a sense of personal control you can make huge positive changes in your life. When you trust in your heart that you can change your personal circumstances, you can do anything. When it comes to counselling and psychotherapy, this is the primary goal. To help you to believe and to feel empowered that you can change your physiology, your mental state and your internal health – which in turn will improve your overall life circumstances. Being educated to trust that your voice matters and that you have the power to effect change, is essential.

Reducing stress through more positive news

The news about how terrible things in our world have become is not helping our cause to reduce stress. Particularly when you think that depression arises out of a combination of feeling helpless, hopeless and pessimistic. We need to be informed and educated correctly, not through fear and stress inducing media that leave us feeling as though we have no control and are unable to change our current circumstances. Real news helps to inform us and to empower us to stand up for what is right and ‘just’ and empowers us in ways that we can make a change. When we hear sensationalised news it leads to feeling disheartened, because you can start to wonder if there is anything you can really do to make a change. If you do the reverse and start looking into things you can personally do to make a change, you will feel that you can help, you will feel that there is hope that things you do will make a difference and you will feel more optimistic about the present and future as a result.

So, my environmentalist friend was not correct in stating there is no point in using psychology to help people feel happier when there is suffering all around. This is actually the time when people need the most support in reducing stress, the most meaning and the greatest sense of control in their lives. To feel empowered, is to feel happier. Once you know the true facts and you are empowered to know what you CAN do to effect change, then you can live in hope amongst the stress and strain of the world around you. You can start to believe that change IS possible and you can NEVER give up on yourself, your life, those you love and the world around you. When you are in the midst of personal tragedy, psychology is the greatest help. It provides you with support and guidance to see your way through the pain and loss. It provides you with structure and a personal control and it gives you hope and optimism in the present and future.

What we need more of are stories about what people ARE doing and what IS making a change in people’s lives. For instance, there are organisations like the Climate Action Network Australia  who are dedicated to support its members and allies to take action to protect people from climate change, to safeguard the environment and build a clearer environment for Australians. Here at Help For Mums we are starting a free weekly newsletter detailing the top 10 good news stories of the week. Our aim is to give our readers hope and control in their future. You can sign up to our newsletter at www.helpformums.com

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum

9 months ago · · 0 comments

The best stress management techniques to heal the past

Is the past holding you back from achieving your best or even from living in the present?

The amount of time you spend really living is directly related to the time you spend thinking about stress in your life.  Your current health is also directly influenced by how much you allow the stress in your life to impact you. This stress is often brought forward from your past into your current life and will continue to affect you until you directly deal with it.

A good example of this is the stress caused when trying to lose weight. There has never been more information about dieting, how to lose weight, the best foods to eat and so on. The weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry with diet pills, medical treatments, diet programs and so on. Yet, the number of adults, children and adolescents who are overweight around the world, continues to rise. This is not because individuals do not know what to do to lose weight. Most people can tell you, it’s just a matter of reducing sugar, processed foods and bad fats and increasing exercise. However, there is a mental block that prevents many people from following through and living a healthy and happy life.

The underlying beliefs, values and past experiences are what hold people back from achieving their weight loss goals. For instance, Roseanne Barr once noted in an interview that she discovered that she was blocking herself from losing weight as a result of childhood abuse. This abuse had caused her to want to cover aspects of her body with excess weight. It was only when she discovered this, that she realised why her dieting was not working – she was fighting against this underlying (unconscious) trauma and it would always win. This realisation helped move her past negative experiences holding her back and enabled her to finally lose the weight.

Another good example is procrastination. People often assume they are procrastinating because they are lazy or do not have sufficient motivation. However, the reason most people procrastinate is there something in the unconscious holding them back from acting. For instance, a student will avoid study due to an internal belief about being a failure; an employee will avoid a task at work due to an unconscious belief about making mistakes; a self-employed person will avoid working due to internal beliefs about it being too hard. All these avoidances are caused by underlying issues that are very difficult (or take a very long time) to address without tapping into the unconscious first.

stress management and the brainThe human brain is wired to protect you, so it’s going to fight against your rational (conscious) beliefs and strategies if it thinks they are not in your best interest. So it is here in the unconscious part of the brain that you need to begin in order to move past negative past experiences and to begin to reduce the current stress in your life directly caused by these negative experiences.

What’s the best treatment to overcome stress from the past?

In therapy a lot of the things that cause people current stress is past and present relationships, however it is very difficult to heal the influence of negative past events through simple ‘talk’ therapy. The reason for this is that on a very simple level the human brain is made up of the conscious (what you are aware of) and the unconscious (what you are not aware of) parts. The conscious parts are those that you hear on a regular basis – you inner voice. This is the part of your brain you train through traditional therapy. The problem here though is that the unconscious part of the brain is much bigger than the conscious part, so it plays a huge part in your motivations and behaviours day to day. This is why it can be very frustrating to make a conscious decision to do something, only to break your decision soon after (for instance, making a conscious decision to lose weight, only to binge on sweets the next day).

The best stress based treatment combines conscious (traditional therapy) and unconscious (e.g. Neurolinguistic Programing, Hypnosis, Emotion Freedom Technique, etc) in order to have lasting impacts. The unconscious strategy gets to the heart of why you are continuing to have current stress reactions and the conscious strategy provides the tools for stress management in every day life. The unconscious strategy, such as NLP works to re-wire negative events in the past, to eradicate negative internal beliefs and to heal past trauma. The conscious strategy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy in traditional counselling, works to train your brain to act in a manner that is more consistent with your values, desires and beliefs. Thus, the best way to prevent current and past stress from impacting negatively on your life, is through a combined conscious and unconscious therapy strategy. By doing both, you have a much more powerful and long lasting effect on your overall life.

Coping with stress

Stress has a profound impact on your life. If you’ve been struggling trying to overcome stress, it is most likely due to things in your unconscious holding you back. So, it’s worth looking into combined strategies that will work on both the conscious and unconscious aspects of your brain so that you can effectively move forward without being held back from your past experiences.

 

Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Founder of Help for Mums and Author of Perfect Mum and Refresh Your Life

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