What is Major Depressive Disorder?19 Jul 2015
The Stress Response09 Aug 2015
In the next few months, I aim to work through a book called ’10 Steps to Mastering Stress’ by David Barlow et al. I’m reading through it to work on my stress level, as well as to learn skills to share with my patients.
I thought it might be useful if I wrote a brief summary for my patients to follow my journey through the book and learn some skills.
The key thing emphasized in the introduction, is that the only person who can change your stress level is yourself.
It requires motivation and time to implement the change in your life.
The aim of the 10 steps described by Barlow, is not to eradicate stress but to reduce stress to a manageable level.
First think about these two questions:
1) Why would you want to decrease your level of stress?
2) How would your life look if you managed to achieve that goal?
Is it something worth working on? I think so….
The first step discussed in the book is ‘Understand your stress.’
Understand your stress
David Barlow says that ‘ Simply put stress is a state of readiness’. It allows you to deal with challenging life events and prepares your body to do its best.
Stress is natural and needed. My favourite example is looking at stress levels when you are studying for an exam. If you didn’t feel stressed ‘ anxious, driven, restless’ about studying, chances are you wouldn’t study that well and that you wouldn’t perform to the best of your ability.
However, some people’s stress levels escalate to a point when it is harmful to them. Chronic stress results in serious health consequences, e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes and headaches to name a few. It can also have huge mental health consequences resultin in the development of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, sexual dysfunction and many others.
Your stress comes from two sources
– The world around us
– And your way of dealing with that world.
Take load shedding for an example. It is not pleasant, very inconvenient at times and can be extremely disruptive in our daily lives. Unfortunately, we cannot change the fact that it is going to happen, and then the only thing we can change is our way of dealing with it.
We can deal with it practically – i.e. getting all emergency lighting pre-prepared, checking all electronics are charged, and we can deal with it cognitively (with our mind). Change your mindset about the situation. For example say to yourself ‘That this is annoying, and will pass.’ rather that the favorite I hear nowadays ‘ This is a catastrophe, see this shows that the country is a disaster!’
Which way of dealing with the same situation (ie load shedding) would lead to a less stressful day?
Barlow differentiates between major stress events – i.e. losing a job or a death in the family and ‘daily hassles’. Daily hassles include – load shedding, traffic and working in a difficult environment.
Looking specifically at daily hassles and how they affect us – is where we can focus out energy and determination to change and decrease our stress levels.
1) The only person who can change your stress level is yourself.
2) The aim is not to eradicate stress, but to reduce it to a manageable level.
3) Stress is a normal phenomenon and prepares our mind and body for day-to-day events.
4) However – chronic daily stress is bad for your health.
5) Stress comes from two sources
- The world around us
- The way we deal with the world.
Let me know if this is useful information, by leaving a comment below. I look forward to sharing the rest of the book with you.