Sometimes too little stimulation can result in the stress of boredom or “RUST OUT”. However, mostly we experience stress because of too high expectations and work “overload” which goes on too long, causing “BURN OUT” or “PRESSURE STRESS”. Also, a new situation which people think they cannot cope with successfully can produce a sense of being out of control. Counselling can help us to become more aware and able to identify what might help and support us through this.
SOME STRESS IS IMPOSED ON US FROM OUTSIDE BUT OFTEN STRESS COMES FROM INSIDE OF US.
Some common symptoms of stress include an increase in tension, headaches, feeling irritable or bad tempered, rapid heartbeat, feeling sick, shakiness, dizziness, indigestion, fear related sexual difficulties, butterflies in your stomach, dry mouth, back pain, cold sweats, clammy hands, crying for no apparent reason and difficulty in sleeping. Stress can also cause us to want to spend too much time “numbing out” from life or “over stimulating” ourselves on: drink, drugs, cigarettes, television, people, work, food, coffee and any other addictive behaviours.
TALKING KINDLY TO OURSELVES AND
BELIEVING IN OUR MANY ABILITIES AND STRENGTHS
HELPS US WORK AND LIVE MORE EFFECTIVELY.
THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW:
SIT QUIETLY AND COMFORTABLY WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED AND IMAGINE YOURSELF LYING OR SITTING IN A FAVOURITE, REAL OR IMAGINERY PLACE OUT IN NATURE. AS YOU RELAX IN THIS PLACE, ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL HELD BY THE EARTH BELOW YOU AND CONNECT WITH THE SOUNDS, SCENTS, COLOURS AND TEXTURES IN THIS PLACE. NOTICE YOUR BREATHING IN AND YOUR BREATHING OUT ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE PRESENT TO THIS EXPERIENCE FOR 5 OR 10 MINUTES.
MAKE YOUR WORKING SPACE MORE ATTRACTIVE SO THAT YOU ARE ENERGISED:
DISPLAY A POSTER OR A POSTCARD YOU LOVE; A PLANT; CLEAR ENOUGH SPACE TO WORK EFFECTIVELY, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH COLOURS YOU LOVE; HAVE MUSIC YOU LIKE ACCESSIBLE; KEEP AN OBJECT NEARBY THAT MAKES YOU SMILE; TAKE TIME OUT FROM THIS SPACE TO HAVE BREAKS AND A CHANGE OF SCENE.
TAKE 15 MINUTES DURING YOUR DAY TO DANCE TO YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC OR SING TO YOURSELF IN THE SHOWER (YES, THERE IS TIME);
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME FRESH AIR WHEREVER YOU ARE. SLEEP WITH ACCESS TO FRESH AIR. STEP OUTSIDE AND NOTICE HOW THE SKY LOOKS, WHAT THE WEATHER IS DOING, CONNECT WITH THE NATURAL WORLD IN SOME WAY.
TRY SOMETHING NEW THAT IS CREATIVE. IT COULD BE PAINTING, SCULPTING, SEWING, DRAWING, DRAMA, PLAYING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, PHOTOGRAPHY, GARDENING, POTTERY, WRITING, COOKING, COLOURFUL DOODLING. ASK A FRIEND ALONG TO JOIN YOU. TAKE A CLASS WITH OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE ENCOURAGING. EXPRESSING OURSELVES CREATIVELY IS ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY…IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD HEALTH AND WELL BEING. SO MANY PEOPLE DON’T BELIEVE IN THEIR CREATIVE ABILITIES. THIS IS VERY SAD. SOMETIMES IT IS FUN JUST TO HAVE A GO. WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT, THE POINT IS TO EXPERIENCE A DIFFERENT WAY OF EXPRESSING YOURSELF. ENJOY!
MASSAGE – ANY KIND OF MASSAGE IS WONDERFULLY RELAXING AND YOU COULD DO A FOOT OR HAND MASSAGE SWOP WITH A FRIEND, PARTNER OR FAMILY MEMBER. SOME CHILDREN LOVE TO HAVE THEIR FEET MASSAGED WHEN THEY AREN’T WELL. GIVING AND RECEIVING A MASSAGE CAN BE EQUALLY RELAXING
SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO ENERGISE OR RELAX YOU – LAUGHTER IS A GREAT ‘STRESS EATER’. NOTICE WHO AND WHAT GIVES YOU ENERGY AND WHO OR WHAT DRAINS YOU OF ENERGY.
I’d love to hear from you about other positive and helpful ideas that help us to release stress.
“Thereason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” Robert Frost
As soon as worrying thoughts start to go around and around we can find ourselves blocked from moving forward positively and constructively. Here are FIVE STEPS FORWARD to break in to that pattern:
Do ONE small job: e.g. clear out a drawer/handbag/file using 10 minutes to achieve one thing;
Spend one hour during today or this evening doing something just for you that breaks your routine. Something you really enjoy and that energises you: e.g. have a long soak in the bath; listen to a favourite CD you haven’t played for a while; read a book or magazine just for fun; sit and doodle; watch or listen to something that makes you laugh…;
Think of a positive statement about yourself and repeat it several dozen times during this afternoon and this evening in terms of: I am…; She/He is…; You are… (these last two while looking in the mirror) and make sure this positive statement is the last thing you say to yourself before you go to sleep tonight;
Call someone on the phone who you really care about and who you don’t get to talk to very much – someone who energises you;
Plan something good for yourself, something out of the ordinary, a special occasion, a visit somewhere, something exciting to look forward to.
As I began this blog, my husband just read the word resilience by mistake as re-silence and that seemed to link perfectly with what I wanted to write about.
When working with people experiencing severe distress on a daily basis, it is vital that we realise the accumulative effect of such work and look after ourselves. When we are grounded and balanced in our own lives, as best we can be, we are more able to be truly present to our clients. Clinical supervision and continuous professional development enables us to be alive to our own journey but we can easily become depleted emotionally, physically, mentally, creatively and spiritually. Everyone has different needs and different ways of recharging, what’s important is that we don’t force ourselves to work on ‘empty’.
There’s a place I walk…yesterday, I looked through a long tunnel of a mixed oak and pine forest directly into the sun and there was what I call a ‘sunstar’, tendrils of light appearing to thrust themselves towards me out of the tunnel, like a firework. It made me smile. I went and sat down on a low stone wall, the smell of pine mingled with the persistent scent of ripe grapes being harvested on the slopes far below. I sat kicking my heels onto the wall feeling like a small child, at peace and yet excited by the landscape in front of me that widened out to include the navy blue and the white froth of the Mediterranean. A pair of light brown hawks hung on to the waves of air above and took it in turns to dive down into the tall grasses searching for their supper. I watched two butterflies play with each other and then settle, looking like exquisite petals.
The breeze cooled the warm sun and the temperature was perfect. This place has an abundance of energy as old as the Stone Age. Despite our ‘high tech’ life, our inner needs haven’t changed much. I know that I need to re-connect with that, ‘re-silence’, which of course is not actually silent at all. It is full of sound: the wind blowing through the trees; a river rushing down to the sea; house martins, swifts and swallows twittering as they circle in groups to catch their prey. There are occasional sounds of buzzards mewing high up and the late summer remnants of frog song. Inside me, the energy from this place replenishes and fills me, building a resilience which I will take home at the end of my stay here.
What does this for you?
Photos by Robin Laverock
A blog for counsellors, counsellors in training and anyone interested in counselling related topics by Maggie Yaxley Smith