Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Stress, anxiety and depression

 

lifeguardAt the end of the first session, I often offer some "First Aid"; this is a small collection of coping skills that I have found most useful as immediate relief from stress, worry and anxiety. Here is a selection of my "First Aid" tips - some or all might apply to you.

The 4 P's – Patience - Persistence - Positivity - Perpsective

You will need to have patience in the process, be patient with yourself and others. Persistence is essential, keep working on the techniques that are given to you and you will have success. Positivity is an attitude to cultivate in all things. It helps in everything you do and helps lower stress and build self-esteem. Perspective - can you see things from a better point of view?

Brain Training / Thought Control

Relief from worrying and/or intrusive thoughts.

Use your mind to stop these thoughts. Like all these techniques it takes the 4 P's – especially persistence. You may have to see me or someone like me. Ask yourself – "What is it that is being bothered by these worries?" The answer is simple – YOU – your essential self, consciousness, ego, whatever you want to call it – it's that part that should be telling the thoughts what to do – not the other way around. Practice Mindfulness - teach your mind to train your brain. This is a large part of my therapeutic approach.

Self-Awareness / Mindfulness

Cultivate an awareness of the self, where you are at, what you are thinking and feeling - the environment around you (how are you responding to it?) When we are mindful we can catch our emotions from the beginning. For example the 'wind up' when we begin to feel stressed or anxious – the 'wind-down' when we are starting to become depressed. In this way we can stop distressing thoughts and emotions quickly before they get out of hand. Learn how the brain works to produce stress and how to stop it.

Positive Thinking

With mindfulness and self-awareness comes knowledge of what we are saying to ourselves and how we are feeling about ourselves. Then we can catch ourselves with some of the following and turn them around:

  • Not "I can't" - "I can".
  • Not "I have to" or "I must" or "I should" - but - "I CHOOSE TO" or "I NEED TO".
  • "Melanie doesn't like me" to "So what if Melanie doesn't like me? It's not the end of the world – that's the way it is – now what can I do to make myself feel better".

Consciously re-focus your brain onto more positive things or thoughts. Make lists of pleasant thoughts, memories and distractions like music playlists and readings.

Breathing

Stress, anxiety and depression can be relieved with breathing techniques.

For example, regularly through the day take a mindful, conscious breath - a big deep one, really stretching the chest muscles. Count to three and then let the breath out slowly. This helps to regulate your autonomic nervous system to calm you down. Again, see me, or someone like me, for further training in:

  • Mindfulness breathing/meditation
  • Tummy breathing
  • Energizing breathing

And finally - for every "What if" – say "SO WHAT!".

If pain persists - call me or see your GP.

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