Wexford Psychologist Shares Some Helpful Tips For Dealing With Stress

New Wexford Weekly columnist Aimee NicAmhlaoidh wants to help Wexford Weekly readers…

Aimee, who works as a psychologist, will delve into some of the issues facing our society in a weekly column published on our website. With Wexford, Ireland, and the world facing an array of problems, often our Mental Health is shoved to one side.

What Your Feelings Say About You

It’s easy in scary or sad moments to think that there is something wrong. That it needs to be fixed, solved, and avoided for a better future.

This can seem sensible and at times allow us to deal with an unavoidable situation. The
problem, however, is that those feelings aren’t going anywhere just because we don’t like

They’re a lot like alarm clocks. Pointing out things that are important to us. We might treat
these feelings as inappropriate and attempt to control them. This makes sense, but ignoring them, labelling emotions as “Bad” can lead to problems in the future. Emotions aren’t good or bad. Really, they’re just observations. Emotions don’t understand when the acceptable time is to feel angry; they just get mad.

Putting our feelings on hold can be a great way to avoid punishing others for how we feel.
Finding the time to experience feelings that make us uncomfortable allows us to better
handle it next time.

It’s when we ignore the “Bad” feelings, when we can’t talk or even think about them. That’s often when things get tough. Ignoring these feelings can fill our heads with all sorts of questions. It’s like music, each time we deal with a new problem someone turns up the volume. Soon, even our favourite song becomes too loud.

It can get so bad that we can’t hear those around us, no matter how hard they yell.
For some, learning to accept, welcome, and deal with these problems allows us to turn down the volume. For others it’s a little bit more complicated.

Sometimes, it’s not the situation that’s causing problems, but instead a matter of how our
brains work. We’re all gifted with a range of different perspectives and outlooks.

You can have your best day, your favourite food, best friends, but still feel upset.
For some people, negative emotions are a lot like wearing shorts in the snow. You feel too
cold, no matter how much fun it is.

Extra help, whether it be medical or therapy, can provide you with those additional layers
needed to enjoy the snow.

Helpful Tips

Count Back From Ten
Big breath in. Big breath out. Count the numbers. If you find yourself thinking about
something else, just start again.

Don’t get mad. Your body is worried, anxious. It has questions that seem very important, but
aren’t always expressed in the best way.

When counting back from ten, thinking only of the numbers. Your mind will try to
distract you and get your attention.

This is fine and this is normal.

These moments are a lot like crossing a busy road so you can go pee.

At this moment, your brain is thinking “Gotta pee! Gotta pee!” and it doesn’t care about anything else. Not the road, not the cars, and not the other people. When you’re dealing with stress, all you can think is, “Gotta pee! Gotta pee!”.

Counting back from ten allows you to calm down and to be more aware. Now you can see the road, the cars, and the people.

Now you are not just a single thought. You still need to pee, but now you’re not putting
yourself at risk, or acting in a way you might regret later on.

Being relaxed about a problem isn’t saying it doesn’t matter, it’s putting it into context. Your
problems are still important, that’s why you get that feeling in your stomach.

Counting back from ten is your way of saying: “Hey, I hear you. Now, give me a second to come up with a plan.”

It’s Ok To Feel This Way

There are times in our lives when people, sometimes ourselves, like to tell us that what we’re feeling is wrong.

This isn’t helpful, even if, much later, we agree that they were right.

The problem is it doesn’t stop how you feel in the moment. It may also leave you less
comfortable around that person in the future.

It might be true that, “People have it worse than you!” But it doesn’t mean you don’t have a
problem. It’s still there, and if you want to feel better then you must treat it with respect.
“It’s not that bad” is another way of saying, “What you feel is wrong.”

This isn’t true.

The truth is what you feel is perfectly normal. Even if it seems silly, or even crazy. Emotions
don’t care about your excuses. They don’t care if you’ve got a test tomorrow, or whether it’s
Christmas. They’re going to tell you exactly how they feel.

They’re honest like that. We like to say, “Everything is fine” especially when it’s not. We say it so many times that we start to believe it.

In response, emotions must find more and more interesting ways to express themselves.
This can lead to anger coming out at times we don’t want it to. Doesn’t matter if you were
angry at a bully, or because you lost your phone. Now you’re angry at your best friend, and
neither one of you understands why.

It’s like you’ve become a stranger to your own feelings.

It’s easy to look at a single moment and think, “It doesn’t really matter” but do this enough
times and you have a hundred problems which leave you feeling very sad.

How do you deal with this? Easy.

You accept that what you feel is normal. It might not always be welcome, or appropriate. It
might not be the right time or the right place. But remember, this is what you feel.

Understanding those feelings are how our bodies talk to us.

The better we are at understanding who we are, the calmer we can be in difficult situations.
This allows us to better say what we want, what we need without upsetting others.

This allows us to pick the right time and the right place to say how we really feel.
Understand that this is a skill, like riding a bike.

It takes time, and no matter how good you get, there’s always more to learn. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes, it’s how we know we’re learning.

This article was written by Dr Aimee NicAmhlaoidh, D. Clin. Psych.

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