April 2004
  Pure Agony
SUE FIRTH 

Hello again everyone!

Welcome to April’s edition of Pure Agony. This month I’ve been speaking a lot on my specialist subject of Stress. I have a very good client called Mölnlycke Healthcare. They are the people who produce surgical instruments and gowns for Hospitals all over the world. They have a head office site in Dunstable and once a year they run a series of workshops or forums for Nursing Staff and Theatre Managers to attend. This forum is a great opportunity for people to come and listen to speakers present on relevant subjects to them not just to listen about Mölnlycke and their products. So, this week we were in Glasgow.

I entitled the session ‘Less Stress – More Success’. A bit clichéd I know but it’s the title of my c.d. (which incidentally is available on my website (www.insight-psychology.co.uk), so it seemed appropriate.


We began by talking about what Stress actually is. It’s a common misconception at the moment that Stress is a negative because the media often represent it as such but infact the more we understand it, the more we can make it into a positive. This is how. Our bodies naturally react to threat by triggering the introduction of adrenaline into our body. Adrenaline is really a fabulous substance, a very powerful stimulant and one that we’re never going to be able to avoid unless we aren’t alive. So it’s impossible to be stress free unless you live a very sedate lifestyle and don’t think much! There are 5 parts of the body adrenalline impacts on as soon as it hits – the heart, lungs, brain and muscles all receive a positive message to act faster and prepare us for ACTION! The stomach on the other hand, receives the message to stop digesting food and rest as the blood is needed elsewhere to enable us to move should we need it. This leads to 3 problems in modern day life.

1. We are too sedentary relatively speaking to dissipate adrenaline appropriately and therefore can remain tense for prolonged periods of time. We were meant to take action during a stressful time – that’s why the term is called FIGHT or FLIGHT.

2. Positive and negative events trigger this reaction so for as long as we’re alive, we will experience it and being unable to effectively dissipate it frequently enough, we’re likely to experience some symptoms too!

3. Our thoughts alone are sufficient to trigger adrenaline in to the body. We all know this really because we can be sat in the bath at the end of a working day and suddenly think of something which we’ve forgotten to achieve before we should have gone home. Far from being relaxed, we’re now revved for action with no chance of physically utilising it. This is where the secret of stress management comes in – control your thoughts and you control your stress. Simple I know but remarkably it’s true. We are the cause of our stress!

Here is a diagram of what I teach when I present on the subject: -



What this diagram is saying, is when information comes in, we react to it. Firstly, we think, then feel, then respond. No matter how blindingly obvious that is, the speed with which it happens means that much of our stress comes from not intervening at the thought stage. We exacerbate the problems by telling ourselves we ‘can’t do something thereby resembling the stressed out creature on the right and reducing our chances of recovering quickly from events. If we were able to intervene and calm ourselves faster by controlling our thoughts, we’d reduce our stress and recover quicker. This is because there is a big difference between a source of stress and the cause. Sources are external to us, they are people, events or situations but the causes are our own thought processes. More about these next month.

To understand stress better then we have to accept, understand, modify or enhance our personalities that contribute to the way we think and approach events we meet. This is why what stresses one person will not stress another. It’s also why I produced an audio tape on self-esteem because so many people needed to enhance their self opinion if they were to improve the way they thought and coped with life. This tape is available on my website too.

If you’d like to know more about stress and how we cope with it, please e-mail me sue@insight-psychology.co.uk or visit the site www.insight-psychology.co.uk and it will tell you more.

For the moment, just let me tell you about something I’m going to be running at our offices in Ripley, just off junction 10 of the M25. It’s called the Power & Influence Programme for Success. Here’s a bit about it but please mail me if you’d like more information. The Power and Influence programme concentrates on the key skills people need to become more successful in their lives. We talk about the following areas: -

· What power means to people, how to develop the skills needed to influence and become comfortable with being assertive
· Key messages from our upbringing that may be hindering our progress in life Role models in and out of work
· Tips for greater confidence.
· Identifying and tackling our negative inner voice. Changing the outcome of situations by recognising how to change the way we talk to ourselves
· Understanding the comfort zone and how it can prevent us from taking the risks we need to achieve greater success
· Identifying positive experiences in our lives and using these to build on our strengths in order to achieve greater power and learn to influence others
· Key psychological techniques that help influence people and GET TO A YES IN BUSINESS!

Hope to hear from some of you.

Best wishes,

Sue

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