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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

8 months ago · · 0 comments

How to cope with stress and anxiety in this busy world

How to slow down to beat stress and illness

stress and anxiety
When you push yourself too hard physically and emotionally you can find that you take a lot longer to recover from colds and flu. Modern life does not tend to present you with many opportunities to take time out to fully recover from mild illness. Thus, once your obvious symptoms dissipate, you tend to either feel too guilty to continue to rest and recuperate, or you have too much on your plate to do so.
There are a finite number of hours in the day and your list of ‘to-do’s’ can often feel overwhelming, leaving you little time to allow yourself permission to rest. This is particularly true for high level professionals and parents, who are relied upon significantly by others – day in and day out. In addition to external pressures, it’s very common to feel guilty about resting, when there is still so much more to be undertaken and achieved.

 

So, how do you fully recover from illness in order to function at your optimum – most of the time?

In order to recuperate fully and feel your best, there are the ‘usual’ things to do, such a sleep well/enough and eat well. However, in reality recent research shows that in order to achieve your ever growing list of tasks, most people find it easiest to skimp on sleep. Shaving a few hours here and there can add a significant number hours to your year, so it’s no wonder it’s so tempting to give it up and thus to squander the recommended 8 hours of good quality sleep a night.

Taking it slower to beat stress and illness

Instead of trying to change your sleeping habits, a quick and easy way to improve your health (before, during and after illness) is through slowing down. Most people tend to make the misguided assumption that in order to succeed in life, one must move with speed. The problem with this theory is the body’s reaction to being placed under pressure on a regular basis – STRESS. Regular, ongoing stress has been shown to cause a short-term reduction in IQ and can have a significant impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem, particularly if the anxiety turns into depression. This is why, it can be very difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions with you’re stressed. Chronic stress leads to increases in the chance of making mistakes and having to end up working even harder to amend these mistakes. Rushing around tying to achieve a million things in a day/week/month/year usually ends up resulting in a lot of wasted time and energy.

Taking a breath

In contrast, if you were to start your day with a few deep breaths, 5 minute relaxation exercises and made a conscious effort to slow down, you would be able to think more clearly and rationally and thus be much more productive during the day.

For instance, most people arrive at work and feel anxious as soon as they begin to look at emails, to-do lists and speak to other stressed co-workers. They tend to spend the day frantically trying to spot multiple fires, feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unproductive. If instead of this strategy, they walked into the office, took out a notepad and began to scan through emails, to-do lists and verbal requests from staff first thing in the morning and then developed a daily priority list, they would be able to tick off the most important jobs they had achieved that day. This would in turn provide both a feeling of achievement and a sense of control.

Undertaking such a morning task would take between 15-30 minutes per day, but would give back many more hours of productive work in return. The act of slowing down and gaining control is vital for health and wellbeing, particularly in this busy world we live in.

Your mind significantly impacts your physical health and emotional state, so if you’re feeling run down or overwhelmed, try to simply slow down. Try it for 1 week and see how much it improves your life.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Refresh Your Life & 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

5 ways to reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem

 

 

10 months ago · · 0 comments

How To Relieve Stress In 3 Easy To Follow Steps

Learn How To Relieve Stress In 3 Easy Steps

boost self confidenceIt’s easy to say “just relax” but not so easy to do when you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of tasks ahead of you each day. One of the major causes of stress in our lives stems from a desire to meet internal and external expectations that may or may not be reasonable. These expectations are formed through your personal experiences and results in the creation of particular rules you have decided to live by.

Stress Management Begins with the identification of your rules that result in potentially stressful outcomes

A common stress inducing scenario is – running late. Do you ever feel stressed when you’re running late? 

This type of stress is caused by an expectation, such as ‘if I happen to run late, there will be a negative consequence’. So you quickly develop a rule that states ‘I must always run on time’ in order to ensure you meet this expectation. Thus, any time you break this rule, your stress levels significantly rise.

Another common stressful scenario is panicking about not having enough time. Do you feel highly stressed when you are working to a deadline?

This stress is caused by an expectation, such as ‘if I don’t achieve my demands on time I will get into trouble’. So you quickly develop a rule that states ‘I must get everything done on time’. in order to meet this expectation. Therefore, any time you break this rule, your stress levels rise.

Stress Management – The problem with these rules

The main problem with the rules we create for ourselves, is that life is not predictable. You can try your best to keep everything running smoothly, but sometimes external circumstances will get in your way.

In the first examples above, you may leave your home right on time, but a train is delayed, an accident on the roads causes a traffic jam, or a road may be closed due to road works. AS a result your perfect timing is thrown into disarray and you begin to feel stressed about a circumstance that is no longer within your control.

In the second example, another priority may come into your life which causes you to de-prioritise your current tasks. If these competing tasks are not managed well, your stress will begin to rise and is likely to impact on your performance too.

If your rules are rigid, you will find yourself stressed on a daily basis, because life is not always predictable. So the answer is not to try to control everything as much as possible so you can adhere to your rules. Rather, the answer is to use your rules as a guiding principle to live by, but to be flexible when things don’t go according to plan. When you live life in this manner, your stress levels reduce dramatically.

What can you do today to reduce your stress: The 3 steps to relieve stress today?

Step 1: Review your stress triggers

Take a look at your level of stress this week. Can you pinpoint a time when you were really stressed?

Step 2: Assess the rules & expectations that reinforced your level of stress

In that moment, have a think about the rules and expectations that were guiding your behaviour. Where you worrying about what someone else might think? Have you placed way too high demands and expectations on yourself?

Step 3: Evaluate where you can make a change to your rules and expectations

Take a look at what you could change that would be more realistic and adaptable to suit your lifestyle and your needs.

Use this example to help you follow these three stress relieving steps

Let’s say you’re a new mum. You bring your baby home and your baby cries a lot more than you expected. She takes a long time to settle and has difficulty breastfeeding. You feel your stress levels rising every time she cries, won’t latch on, or struggles to settle. You notice your expectation is that motherhood should be easier and your baby should settle because you’re doing everything the experts say to do. Your rules include ‘if I do what the books say, my baby should settle’. So on top of everything, you’re feeling like a failure. 

Instead of letting your rules get the better of you, you decide to do some research into child temperament. You download the Help For Mums free ebook on ‘How To Become An Empowered Mum’ and you realise, children are different and your baby’s temperament is slow-warm-up, so she needs a more gradual approach with a lot more reassurance and comfort. You realise your rule was inaccurate because your expert parenting book should be used as a guide and tweaked according to your child’s temperament. Your expectations now change too. You don’t expect your baby to settle the first time. You know it will take some adjusting as you both settle into motherhood. 

The outcome: YOU FEEL MORE IN CONTROL AND ARE NO LONGER STRESSED

By following these 3 easy steps you will quickly learn how to relieve stress from your daily life, dramatically reduce your stress levels and feel much stronger, happier and relaxed too.