shutterstock_125061815Stress has a detrimental effect on all organs of the human body, particularly the brain and the heart. Stress leads to increased oxidative stress and an outpouring of corrosive adrenal hormones, it affects our immune system and our ability to recognise dangerous foreign cells it is intricately related to our ability to fight off cancers, infections and in turning our body’s immune system against our own cells (autoimmune disorders).

Studies have shown that the mind has the ability to both increase and reduce the effects of stress. There is compelling evidence that interventions centered on cognitive restructuring ,meditation and other relaxation techniques can not only alleviate many of the somatic symptoms of stress such as tension headaches, insomnia, functional bowel disorders, but to improve relationships, increase perception of happiness and prolong productive life in individuals who have stress related disorders such as hypertension, stroke and heart disease.

However, many approaches to handling stress and even medications designed to relieve the symptoms of stress, actually dig us in deeper, resulting in even more damage. In fact, any type of stress management designed to simply mask the usual and recognizable symptoms without doing anything to treat the underlying issues or alleviate the root causes of our stress, will ultimately do more harm than good.

Whether they take as their starting point Eastern Philosophies or Western Technologies, there are basic, fundamental principles of Stress Management, that are essential to long lasting, productive life changes.

What are the basic, fundamental principles of Stress Management?
  • shutterstock_81163264Recognizing when our reaction to certain stimuli is a warning sign to take corrective action.
  • Knowing what corrective action to take and why.
  • Learning How to Let Go (both of physical tension, and, from a Eastern philosophical perspective, of our fixations on past regrets and anxiety concerning future outcomes).

Cognitive Restructuring: Reframing Our perceptions

We need to understand WHY there is so much stress in our lives and how we react to it; in other words- how we set ourselves up to be stressed out!

Perceived stress is stress; we react to the world according to how we see it, and how we see the problem is often a major part of the problem. John Dewey once said that a problem properly stated is a problem half solved. You need to know how to cut through the layers to get to the fundamental issue. It’s like peeling an onion; you have to learn how to quickly get to the core.

All of us have a unique recipe that we unwittingly use over and over to bring more stress into our lives. We do it unconsciously, and until we discover what it is, and how we do it, we will go on having to deal with far more stress in our daily activities than is necessary.

Where does Stress come from?

Stress doesn’t come from your circumstances; it comes from your thoughts about your circumstances. Perceived stress is stress! The key to greater resilience is not exercise or relaxation, but in isolating and examining these stress-producing perceptions and recognizing the faulty thinking there and literally ridding the mind of these kinds of thought.

We find ourselves surrounded by challenges on a daily basis: traffic jams; project deadlines; quarterly reports; time-clocks; work/home balance; relationships; child care; elder care; family conflicts; divorce; disease; death; economic downturns; unemployment; exams; credit-cards; regulations; home maintenance; rent; bill payments; travel; job reviews; troublesome neighbours; car repairs; traffic tickets; being on time; procrastination; criticism; broken promises; unmet expectations; responsibility without authority. We sometimes feel excluded; discriminated against; treated unjustly; unfairly; unethically; lied to; lied about; uninvited; loss of control; lack of resources; unmet needs; unmet wants; uncertainty.

It’s not what’s going on in your life that stresses you out, it’s what you think about it! Stress is a function of beliefs not circumstances. If you feel ‘Pressure’ it’s because of what you think! How you think![/spoiler]

What will Stress do to you?

shutterstock_96505340Stress has been shown to have a detrimental effect on all the organs of the human body. It is a major contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, mental and emotional breakdown and many other illnesses. It is also a main contributor to loss of employment, marriage breakdown, addictions, and suicide.


If the Pressure becomes too great or too prolonged, behavior and attitudes can become quite out of character. Brain cells can become so over stimulated that strong sensory stimulation becomes actually disagreeable, even for things that were previously enjoyed! For example, becoming annoyed by little things that were previously tolerated: radio, slurping, noise etc. Arguing becomes too exhausting so you just give in, give up, give over. You no longer feel “yourself” and others notice the change in your personality as well. You focus on trivia while choosing to ignore the big picture or the real problem. Things that you used to breeze through in two hours may now take up to five hours, and be of much poorer quality!

Do you suffer from stress? Take a moment and ask yourself these questions . . .

  • Do pressures, deadlines, and difficult people leave you feeling frazzled?
  • Do you suffer from low energy and fatigue during the day?
  • Do you worry about your job when you are not at work?
  • Are you exhausted, finding it harder and harder to keep up with the demands in your life? Feel like the load you are carrying is slowing you down? Is there just too much pressure at work? Or at home?
  • Do you ever find yourself looking for an escape? Even after a night’s sleep do you still wish you could just get away from it all?
  • Is it harder to get going, to get things done? Do you worry about being able to keep up with the day to day burdens?
  • Is it hard to keep up with expectations? Do you find yourself working longer hours just to get your chores finished?
  • Are you in a constant state of vigilance, just waiting for something to happen?
  • When you get home are you just too exhausted to do the things you used to enjoy?

If you answered yes to ANY ONE or more of these questions you have probably ignored the warning signs and are getting in deeper!

Today many people suffer from the anxiety and burnout of overstress. The results: mistakes, muddled thinking, even depression. Things start to fall through the cracks.

Nervous Breakdown/Stress Breakdown – where a person has been so affected by stress that some incapacity to function normally is experienced. When as a result of uncertainty, excessive worries, financial pressures, difficulties at work, emotional fears, physical or mental illness, deadlines, relationship difficulties, or other problems, the ‘load’ becomes extensive enough to interfere with normal everyday activities, stress breakdown can occur. When this happens, some incapacity to function normally is experienced. It may be mild where work can continue, or severe enough to require substantial leave and/or hospitalization.

Some of the symptoms of stress breakdown:

  • Not able to cope with the day to day activities
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pains, nausea, insomnia and constant tiredness
  • Poor judgment, indecisiveness, difficulty in concentrating
  • Aggressiveness, depression, panic attacks
  • Exhaustion, withdrawal
Time to take action – you need help! What we offer?
  • One -on-One counseling sessions These would be appropriate for persons suffering from : – Panic attacks, Agorophobia – Workplace stress, Performance anxiety – Dealing with changing roles, life cycle changes e.g. midlife crisis, retirement, career change – Symptoms pertaining to general stress e.g. tension headaches, insomnia, labile hypertension etc.
  • shutterstock_121138177Group Sessions for special interest groups, e.g. – Persons suffering from social anxiety disorder, agorophobia – For caregivers, health professionals – Private seminars tailored to a specific workplace group- these can be custom designed for groups of executives and geared towards improving productivity, dealing with employee relations/conflict resolution, time management/ coping with deadlines, enhancing problem solving skills, dealing with mid-career burnout etc.
  • Seminars open to the public Not geared to any individual’s specific problems, but providing general coping skills and approaches to managing the common stressors of everyday life – see below

What you will learn:

Relaxation techniques: such as abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization techniques, autogenic training; instant calming sequence; mindfulness- based meditation

Cognitive strategies such as identifying and eliminating recurrent negative patterns of thought; time management; identifying core issues in a problem setting; dealing with uncertainty and managing change; understanding resistance and self sabotage, recognizing and reforming bad habits such as procrastination and perfectionism; handling criticism; being more assertive; improving your self esteem

Understanding the impact that family systems and culture have on our perception of stress; understanding and developing personality traits that improve our ability to cope with pressure (Hardiness Factors) and the traits that predispose us to stress breakdown , burnout and adrenal fatigue; and developing a fuller understanding of our personality type and how it impacts communications and relationships.

You will leave the program with an understanding of the impact that stress is having on your global wellbeing; insight into how your personal beliefs and coping styles have contributed to, and magnified this stress; and armed with the coping techniques needed to navigate through problems with a calmer and more balanced perspective, and enhanced sense of self esteem and confidence.