Katie Bell explores the words and the wisdom of Dr Kate Middleton on the thorny issue of STRESS and how best to manage it… STRESS!! It appears to be everywhere and ever-present. Austerity isn’t helping. We have feck-all jobs, fewer prospects and a whole lot less money. The little stress-busters that we used to treat ourselves to, like impromptu holidays, new cars and the latest in Hi-Fi wizardry are all things of the past. What we do have a lot of is…stress. Dr Kate Middleton has a background in medicine and psychology. She says her main interests now lie in understanding emotional and mental health problems and in helping people overcome obstacles that might prevent them from reaching their true potential. Oh…and she writes books as well. She has an interesting take on stress. She says that it is important to be aware of the early warning signs. “Often the first thing people notice is that something of the love they had for the job has gone; some of their compassion has diminished,” says Dr Middleton. “You may find that you are starting to think of the people you work with or care for as problems rather than real people. Or that you simply don’t respond to things that previously would have got you excited.” Rough Time Talk Therapy and Drug Therapy have traditionally been uneasy bed-fellows. Dr Middleton, without coming down on either side, says there is a place for both. And she uses an excellent analogy to illustrate her point. “Think of it this way. Imagine life as rowing a boat across the ocean. Life is the ocean and sometimes it is smooth and sometimes it is rough. On the rough days, waves sometimes come over the boat and you have to bail the water out. “Some people, for whatever reason, also have holes in their boat. Maybe those holes are things that happened to them as children. Maybe they are something that life has thrown that has damaged the boat. “For whatever reason, their boat is damaged, so it lets water in and they have to bail out even more.” She says that if you are under a lot of stress, then you will have to do a lot of bailing over a long period of time, especially if there are holes in the boat. “Bailing in that way can get exhausting and, in a really rough time, you might find that you cannot keep up. In that situation, you might actually be at a very real risk of sinking under the weight of all that is going on.” Reduce the Risk She says what medication does not do is calm the water, or mend any holes. Instead, it is a bit like having someone else alongside you for a while, bailing you out. “This takes the pressure off and can reduce the risk that you will go under, bringing things to a much more manageable level. She says that if it is just a storm that will blow over, medication can help you to cope while things are hard and once they calm down you can gradually reduce the medication and stop. “Medication can be used alongside a therapy such as counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it can make it much easier for you to have the emotional energy to look at what is going on beneath the surface in your brain.”
- For more information see ‘Stress – How to De-Stress Without Doing Less’ by Dr Kate Middleton. Published by Lion.