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Sherry Marshall, Process Oriented Therapist and Relationships Counsellor was interviewed by the Australian Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on how to beat stress on 14/3/2014. Part of her interview is included in this article here.
While stress can either hinder or help us, we often fail to recognise it.
“Stress is a normal physical reaction that disturbs our balance in some way, which triggers our natural “flight or fight” response mode. And it can help us stay focused, energetic and alert,” says individual and relationships Process Oriented therapist Sherry Marshall. At the same time, stress is actually trying to tell us something important, so don’t ignore it. We may have been working too many hours or dealing with difficult relationship issues at home. Notice what isn’t working well for you in your life and find a way to change it, step by step. Stress is a message that can help us explore possible needed changes that are more unknown to us. We often say “oh, I am stressed” but we don’t take notice of it until the symptoms really increase and it begins to overwhelm us.
It’s important we know how to cope with stress, but first we need to recognise when we’re stressed in the early stages before we are too ‘stressed out.’ There are physical, emotional and mental impacts on all of us due to stress. We can begin to feel impatient for example, in traffic or frustrated and irritated. Sometimes stress can ‘paralyse’ us or give us anxiety or panic attacks or we feel depressed. The mental symptoms include having a racing mind, poor concentration, only seeing the negative, worrying and inability to concentrate. The emotional symptoms are moodiness, short temper, agitation and not being able to relax. We can feel lonely and isolated, unhappy and overwhelmed. Physical symptoms can be frequent colds , poor sleep and ongoing tiredness . If we ignore or deny that we are stressed it tends to get worse until we address it!
There are lots of easy ways to beat stress. Get out in nature Sit and look at the ocean or the sky. This helps you let go and access something bigger than yourself. It ‘blows the cobwebs out of your mind and helps you relax and step back from your normal daily life. We all know that it makes us feel better very quickly. Go surfing or swimming or just sit under a tree and read a book or have a good chat with a friend. Exercise Find the exercise you love to do and you will do it! Walk three times a week for 10 to 30 minutes a day. Put on music at home and dance or do yoga. Meditate Meditation teaches us to be more present while increasing our mindfulness and awareness, which makes us happier. As Sherry Marshall says, when we meditate “we begin to simplify more and stop rushing around so much, which enables us to let go of unnecessary ‘extras’ in our lives”. Laugh Laugh, have fun, enjoy your life. Laughter is the best medicine. “It strengthens your immune system, reduces cortisol in your body that causes stress, makes you more alert and also reduces pain by releasing endorphins” Sherry Marshall says. It also improves sleep and relaxes muscles and yes, even burns calories! If you are not feeling happy for a while, don’t just put up with it. It’s important to make time to deal with how you are feeling and get some professional support. Gratitude Research has shown that when we feel grateful, our stress levels go down and we feel happier. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. Comparing ourselves to other’s is the quickest way to feel miserable! Emotional resilience and optimism can be increased by cultivating a sense of gratitude and help us maintain a more positive mood and sense of wellbeing which then leads to better relationships. It takes only up to six weeks to form a new habit pattern, so why not start now? Relax Take time out to do things that you enjoy. Rest, relax and have a massage. Take your annual leave and go on holiday. In Australia, statistics show we have high rates of not taking holiday time from work.
“When we think we don’t have time to relax and slow down, that is the very time we need to.”