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Einstein said “life is like riding a bicycle. You can only keep your balance if you keep moving!”

Stress equals Pressure divided by (perceived) Coping Ability. If the pressure doesn’t change we need to increase our Coping Ability. Think challenge and increasing your capacity to meet it!

The Stressor is 30% of the issue Your Response to the situation is 70% - you have control over this!

Stress makes you stronger when you can control it! Challenge or Threat? Note what resonates!

Where is your stress? Obstacles, demands, conflicts and frustrations – internal or external. I’m looking at the stress situation from a COGNITIVE perspective – a fancy word for thinking and meaning.

Melanie Greenberg describes five areas of Stress

· Adjusting to a New Normal – a transition which takes a few months – starting a new job, moving house

· Major life upheavals – costing you time and money – divorce, losing your job

· Chronic – ongoing, painful, common – risks in the workplace, isolation

· Daily dramas – low-level stressors, wearing you down, sometimes arising from Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE, (tragedies, exclusions, denials) that affect meaning and resources available to you

· Trauma following a physical threat to your life, an accident, Post Traumatic Stress, Covid.

What physical danger are you in right now?

The COVID-19 pandemic is an abnormal event known as situational threat – a threat to our physical self or to someone close to us – a situation we find incomprehensible, overwhelming and hard to manage. We need to realise that our reaction here is a normal reaction to the abnormal event and not a personal weakness!

There are four elements of our response to stress and how we react from each element can be problematic for us. We need to tune in to each element when we assess our stress.

· Mental – thinking

· Emotional – mood

· Physical – affect

· Behaviour – what you do

Thinking Basically our fight or flight brain takes charge when we're in a stressful situation, our logical brain is disconnected. We make judgements, predictions and form opinions without looking at the facts. Because we can only keep 4 thoughts in our head at any one time, they need to be realistic!

Three recommendations to bring our logical brain back on board:

1. write a list of what we were thinking – this forces us to look at things more realistically – to integrate facts with thoughts and emotions – to keep ourselves grounded

2. shut off the energy that we give to negative thinking – take a few deep breaths and do something with your hands to calm your body and brain – blow bubbles!

3. make a short list to answer the following questions

a. what can I control? What I think, say and do!

b. what is out of my control?

c. what can I do?

Some problems, which are out of our control, come from the system we are living in and must be addressed by the State to provide more equality for women. For example 76% of healthcare workers are women. Childcare and home-schooling problems have recently added to this burden, with 10% of women having to give up working outside the home. We can lobby our politicians for a more equitable system to address and change this.

Emotions Strong emotions interfere with our ability to function normally and it becomes difficult to perform professional and personal tasks. The basic emotions are being mad, glad, sad, afraid, disgusted.

The task here is to calm the emotional brain.

Three strategies for this, when you become aware of the emotion:

1. label and detach the feeling from the event – make a note of it again

2. compare what you feel to what you know – use the facts again – to move towards understanding

3. focus on what needs to be done today – to bring your logical brain back on board.

Physical symptoms – change in appetite, headaches, tension etc. all normal in times of stress.

Behaviour preoccupation with the Covid virus, angry outbursts, inability to rest, changes in exercise and eating patterns, compulsive cleaning, risky behavior.

Three suggestions here:

1. take your 10,000 steps daily – exercise reduces the level of stress chemicals in the body

2. practice controlled breathing for four minutes – Google some breathing exercises

3. find distracting fun activities – what you did as a child – skipping, singing, playing in the dirt, blowing bubbles!

Factors to take into account – your own resources, your perceptions, your tolerance and supports you have.

Before we can change what we're doing we must pay attention to what we're doing.

Looking at the facts will help you assess your well-being, move forward towards understanding and away from upsetting elements of the stressful situation.

Look for your SOURs – strengths, opportunities, unused resources.

Notice your avoidances, anxieties and beliefs.

Indecision and inaction cause stress – get an action plan to manage wishful thinking or frustration.

Making a decision reduces anxiety – any decision is better than indecision!

Make self-care a priority – schedule activities and set times in your diary. Think of the four wheels of your car – food, water, sleep and exercise. Water helps concentration, alertness and energy.

Let go of perfectionism – use the Eisenhower matrix to identify important from urgent tasks – Do,

Decide & schedule, Delegate, Delete.

Where are you giving away time, energy and money –in situations that are not helping you?

Stop comparing yourself to others – comparing makes you critical of yourself!

Look at your reputation, not at your own opinion of yourself.

Look at how have you survived previous challenges!

You may need professional help if you have difficulty solving the problem on your own.

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