Archive for the ‘Stress Management.’ Category

Civil servants, 30-40 always stressed

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

PUTRAJAYA: Civil servants between the age of 30 and 40 are the ones constantly seeking counseling to deal with stress, according to Public Service Department (PSD) senior deputy director (Psychology Management) Dr Abdul Jalil Hassan.

He said among the factors that contributed to the situation were financial issues as many of those in that age group were concentrating in building a family, having more children, buying a house and taking loans.

“Most of those who seek counseling are doing it voluntarily, but some were referred to by their heads of divisions or departments,” he told reporters after the opening of Public Service Psychology Conference 2016 by PSD deputy-director-general (Operation) Datuk Sabariah Hassan.

Dr Abdul Jalil, however, said the stress level among civil servants, in general, was still stable and under control as their economic situation was still good and they were still receiving their monthly salaries.

Nevertheless, he said stress was expected to become world’s number one illness by 2020, which will bring about negative impacts to the society, if not properly tackled.


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Gender Differences in Boys’ and Girls’ Emotions

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Finding a Safe Place When Stressed

Boys and girls often process emotions differently. When my daughter was young and in need of support she had a special technique.  She would come to me and say “Daddy, I need special time,” and I knew just what that meant.  We needed to face two chairs towards each other and she would talk about what was bothering her.  She might complain that her friend had said she talked too much and I would respond with a supportive “Ah, Julia.”  She might then tell me that another friend had told her that she didn’t want to play with her ever again and I would again offer support through a simple, “Ah, Julia.”  After about 5-7 cycles of “Ah, Julia,” she was ready to go!  Her cup was full and, she would say “Thanks, Dad” and off she would go outside to play.
What was Julia doing?  She was creating a “safe place” for herself.  One important aspect in healing is that when people are in trouble psychologically they will first look for a safe place.  Julia went a step farther.  Once she had the safe place she used it to tell her story.  Combining these two elements is the outline of the common path that most of us use in healing ourselves. Finding safety and then telling our personal story. Julia arranged for me to steward that safe place and then talked about what was bothering her.  Through this story-telling process done in a safe place she began to find healing.  One other common example of this process is attending a support group which acts as a safe place for people to tell their story and through the repeated telling balance is found.
My son, however, would not come to me and say, “Daddy, I need special time.” Absolutely not.  Why not? The reason is that sitting face to face is simply not safe for him.  Where do men and boys like my son feel safe?  More often, it is not when they are face to face, but rather when they are shoulder to shoulder taking action.  Think of the places where men feel close to other men.  It is most often when they are taking action and working on a common goal.  The more dangerous the goal, the closer the men feel to each other.  Wartime, police departments, fire departments, and sports teams at a championship are all examples of this.  Through working together, shoulder to shoulder, the men feel close to other men. Here lasting friendships are forged within that safety.
Would Luke ask for special time?  No.  He would come to me and say, “I wanna wrestle!”  Keep in mind that he was in first or second grade, and I am 6′2″ and far from tiny.  I would say, “Okay, but you better be ready for me!”  Then the wrestling would commence.  At first he would have me down, then I would have him down. Back and forth it would go.  At some point during the battle, Luke would stick his little head up and say, “Jimmy got beat up at school today,” and I would ask if it was bad and he would say “Oh yeah, there was blood coming from his nose.”  Then the interlude abruptly ceased, and he growled loudly and attacked me with all his might.  A minute or two later, Luke might stick his head up again and say, “I miss Granddaddy.”  He was referring to my father who had died just a few months before.  My heart cracked open, and I responded that I missed him too.  In a flash, he would growl and attack again and was on top of me with all his might.

Can’t sleep? It may be because you DIDN’T react to stress

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Study identifies behaviours that cause insomnia.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explored the pathway that leads to short-term insomnia disorder after stressful events.

According to the study, dangerous coping mechanisms that could lead to insomnia include disengaging without confronting the stressor, turning to drugs and alcohol, and using media as a means of distraction.

“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. “While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it’s what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia.”

Nearly 3,000 subjects with no history of insomnia were interviewed about their coping mechanisms and asked to communicate their perception of the stressful situations in their lives.

One year later, those with short-term insomnia disorder were identified as having the corresponding, aforementioned reactions to stress, although researchers were also able to identify potential solutions to help circumvent insomnia during hard times.

“Though we may not be able to control external events, we can reduce their burden by staying away from certain maladaptive behaviors,” says Pillai.

According to researchers, mindfulness-based therapies seem able to help suppress the “mental chatter” that inhibits the onset of sleep.

“This study is an important reminder that stressful events and other major life changes often cause insomnia,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. “If you are feeling overwhelmed by events in your life, talk to your doctor about strategies to reduce your stress level and improve your sleep.”

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Hobbies do help de-stress professionals

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

CREATIVE DIVERSIONS: They provide meaning, fun and can break up a boring schedule without feeling like work.

I MARVEL at career women who have time for hobbies, especially when they are climbing the corporate ladder and are always on the go.

Many people don’t realise that hobbies provide balance. Many would sigh, saying they are always too busy to have time for hobbies as they have to juggle their careers and families, what more to indulge in hobbies.

That is where most career women are wrong. They don’t realise the power of hobbies. Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom to life that can help minimise the impact of chronic stress.

People who are stressed out can benefit from hobbies because they provide an outlet for stress and something to look forward to after a hard day (or week) at a stressful job. The research out of San Francisco State University looked at how creative activities like knitting, beading, cooking, painting and baking affect work performance.

In a study by a team of psychologists, the subjects gave their after-hours pursuits and their evaluation of job performance examined.

They found, in general, that the more you engage in creative activities, the better you’ll do. The result showed that people with creative hobbies performed between 15 and 30 per cent better at work.

There are several explanations to this. Taking time to indulge in your favourite creative pursuit might help you recharge before heading back to work or could also be a means to learn more about your strengths, weaknesses and knowledge that will benefit you professionally. Those who engage in a hobby also reported greater feelings of control and mastery.

I know of two professionals who are successful career women with creative hobbies. One of them is Aliza Yasmin Yahaya, 31, who is an offshore structures project engineer with Shell Malaysia. Aliza bakes cakes, macaroons, pavlova, etc, as a hobby.

By word of mouth she started to take orders. She even got orders from famous artistes such as Aaron Aziz and Adi Putra. She bakes and her hubby, Ahmad Sidik (also an engineer), helps her with the icing and frosting.

Another professional that I know is Shuhaizee A. Shukor, 30, an executive with Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) who enjoys beading as a hobby.

She said that her beading hobby enhances her creativity and performance. She makes all kinds of beaded bracelets and necklaces.

This hobby later became an online business known as beadlista. You can order her beaded bracelets and necklaces or Suhaizee is going to be featured on TV9 soon.

Research shows that those who are in stressful jobs that normally contribute to burnout feel less of a need to “recover” from their day at bedtime if they have more creative and social leisure activities that aren’t work-related hobbies.

Mental health centres needed

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The country needs more community mental health care centres and trained therapists in schools and institutions of higher learning to help students and young adults menage stress.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the increase in stress levels in schools, higher learning institutions, colleges and at workplaces is a major factor in the rise in mental disorder cases.

“School children have been detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. These children should be given appropriate intervention in the form of counseling and mental health coping skills.

Teachers, students face stress

Friday, September 6th, 2013

TIME BOMBS: Keep your eyes open for the mentally sick in our midst.

A NEW test will be introduced for applicants to teachers’ training colleges, the Education Ministry announced on Monday.

The assessment will gauge whether they have the mental resilience to be teachers in today’s fast-paced, everything-now world.

Will they continue to have both oars in the water when under extreme pressure and emotional distress?

Students these days are, after all, capable of driving anyone, even the most serene embodiments of control, over the edge.

Being ignored and heckled, or worse, attacked, assaulted and having your car set on fire do that to people.

Educators have spoken of fellow teachers who clamber over the school fence to get into school and talk to themselves. One carried a basket to school every day and filled it up with stray kittens found along the way.

But it’s not just teachers that ought to be assessed. Students should be, too.

Last Saturday, a Form Five student hanged himself with his school tie at his home in Kampar.

Several days earlier, a student, believed to be suffering from stress after having to re-sit six exam papers, fell to her death from the 10th floor of a flat in Tanjung Bungah in Penang.

There have been many other suicides and suicide attempts involving students over the years.

by Chok Suat Ling

A game to help kids with anger problems

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

IN an age where many are hooked on computer games, Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is experimenting with using the medium to reach out to children with anger problems.

It hopes that primary school children can learn to control their anger and impulses after playing Regna Tales, a role-playing computer game that it launched recently.

Dr Daniel Fung, chairman of the IMH medical board, said, “Anger is the most common negative emotion that children experience. It is found in all sorts of conditions from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression and when it gets really bad, it results in violence.”

He hopes to reach out to large groups of children through the game, to give them some help in dealing with their emotions. It is hoped that this would reduce the number of children who need psychiatric help.

The IMH’s Child Guidance Clinic, for patients between six and 19, has been seeing between 2,500 and 3,000 new patients a year, in the last five years.

The most common conditions are ADHD, stress-related problems and autism spectrum disorders.

The IMH worked with game developer IP Spaces to come up with it, at a cost of about S$220,000 (RM560,489).

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More urban folk expressing suicidal thoughts

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

PETALING JAYA: The number of people in Klang Valley expressing suicidal thoughts to Befrienders Kuala Lumpur last year is almost double that of 2008.

In 2008, 1,393 persons expressed that they had suicidal feelings, but the number shot up to 2,668 last year, said Befrienders KL chairman L. Mary Raj.

Relationship issues topped the list of problems expressed, followed by psychiatric and financial problems, she said, adding that most callers who said they had suicidal thoughts were below 30, followed closely by those in the 31 to 50 year age group.

When it comes to race, the Chinese led the pack, making up 60% of callers, followed by Indians and Malays.

Mary said the reason more people were having suicidal thoughts could be due to an increasing number of people living under stressful conditions, as well as greater media publi­city on suicide cases.

Other than phone calls, such expressions were also made through e-mail and face-to-face meetings.

“It is good that they express suicidal feelings because it lowers their risk of committing suicide at the moment they are contemplating it,” Mary said.

According to the National Suicide Registry, 117 suicide cases were recorded in 2007, while 425 cases were seen in 2010. Indians recorded the highest suicide rate at 3.67 for every 100,000 Indians, followed by the Chinese at 2.44 per 100,000.


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Too blessed to be stressed

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Sometimes, spending quiet moments alone in the garden can offer lessons that remind us to put things in perspective.

WE all go through moments when everything is totally meaningless. There are days when nothing seems to go right, and we are overwhelmed by circumstances that we cannot control.

On Friday morning, I woke up early, put the laundry to wash, and prepared my regular breakfast of two half-boiled eggs. I made myself a cup of coffee and remembered that the coffee had been sent to me specially by a friend in Kuantan.

She is a cancer survivor and the road for her is not easy. She has to travel by bus once every few weeks to continue her treatment in another state but she never complains. She shares about how she takes morning walks on the beach front and the amazing views of sunrise bring her much cheer.

I took my cup of coffee and sat on the swing in the garden. This swing was given to us by my brother-in-law years ago when he moved house. It has wonderful memories because I courted my wife on this swing when she stayed with her brother in Petaling Jaya.

As I surveyed the patch of green, with a few pots of plants that have been part of the scenery for many years, I recall how my mother, even in her 80s, would potter about to keep the garden neat and tidy.

I have seen gardens that are “picture-perfect” but the owners are often too busy to appreciate them.

In one of the cracks on the concrete wall, a small plant with one flower in full bloom reminds me that even in the toughest of situations, it is possible to be a beacon of hope.

The sun was slowly rising. It had rained earlier and the air was fresh. The dark clouds were shifting away, and I was treated to a kaleidoscope of colour in the morning sky. As I have written before, the most brilliant sunrises and sunsets are not only those by the beach or in the hills.

They are often in our own backyard, if we wake up early enough, and are able to look beyond the trials of life, and lift up our eyes. Many years back, a friend sent me a card that said, “If the outlook is grim, try looking up.”

by Soo Ewe  Jin.

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Slow down, relax, breathe deeply

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Managing stress is easier said than done, but in the fast – paced life we live, it is important to master this skill, writes Meera Murugesan.

MANAGE stress and you’ll be healthier and happier. Haven’t we heard this once too often? And isn’t it easier said than done given the “pressure cooker” lives we lead today?

Demanding bosses, back-stabbing co-workers, problematic children and unruly neighbours — the list of “stress triggers” is endless in today’s urban environment. But can we still find ways to manage stress and achieve balance in our lives in the midst of all this chaos?

Humans are social creatures. We thrive in our inter-personal relationships, whether at home or at work but these same relationships can either be a source of support or stress, says Dr Daniel Zainal Abdul Rahman, consultant psychiatrist at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

Managing stress he explains, doesn’t mean eliminating it from our lives because that would be impossible. Furthermore, we need stress to some extent because it motivates us to perform. But, if we are in perpetual stress mode 24 hours a day we are heading for danger.


Dr Daniel says everyone is “running on fifth gear” these days, so the body’s stress response, which is actually intended to help us face an external threat to our safety or survival, is being constantly triggered.

The heart beats fast, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, blood pressure, pulse rate and sugar levels rise. Adrenalin floods the body and muscles tighten. All these come into place to help us either fight or run away in the face of danger and these stress parameters go back to normal once the threat is over. However, in today’s environment, this stress response is being triggered all the time, even over small things and the end result is damage to the body and mind.

“It’s like starting a car, and keeping the left foot flooring the brake and the right foot flooring the gas. What do you think happens to the engine? How long can it last? It will break down,” he says.