A leading expert on stress is urging people to become their own therapists and learn how to deal with the pressures they face on a daily basis, or risk serious health concerns.
Dr Mark Harrold, a Clinical Psychologist for the past twenty years, said everybody is at risk of stress at some point in their lives, and people need to realise they’re not alone.
He said: “People don’t realise how widespread stress actually is. They feel like they’re on their own but then they come to one of our sessions and they look around and see how many feel the same.”
Dr Harrold and fellow psychologist Dr Alison Rooney are the driving forces behind ‘Stress Control: a practical course for a common problem’.
The duo set up the free six-session course in Malahide in 2011 following the suicides of three local men within a few months of each other.
They initially thought maybe 30 or 40 people would show up to the first session and were overwhelmed when more than 250 attended.
Dr Harrold said: “We definitely identified a need. We ran the course twice more in 2012 and again more than 200 people showed up. We thought we would run another one in 2013 but when another 450 people came we thought we would expand to other areas.”
People who have completed the course said they felt happier, calmer and more in control of their lives.
Dr Harrold explained the course is so popular because it’s a viable alternative to therapy or ringing a helpline.
Unlike these methods, the course doesn’t ask people to complete mock exercises or to talk personally in any way. People are only asked to come and listen and take in the information on how to deal with stress.
Dr Harrold said: “Since the recession started, households have been very distressed. They talk about the return of growth, the recession being over, but I haven’t seen that. I haven’t met anybody with more money in their pockets, and now they’re adding even more charges.”
He said that while he is not a charity, he enjoys doing the free sessions.
“We just responded to a need because the numbers were just phenomenal. If we can help people we need to keep going.”
The course is running Cork for the first time next month and Dr Harrold is currently looking for a sponsor for the event.
The Dublin course begins on Nov 3 and the Cork course begins on November 5. Registration is preferred but not essential.
For more information, or to register for the free course, go to stresscontrolireland.com.
Facts about stress
- Everyone encounters stress at some point in life
- Particularly stressful events include moving house, the death of a loved one, preparing for a wedding or starting a new job
- Anxiety and depression are the most common signs of stress
- Exercise is one of the best ways to lower stress levels
- Panic attacks and palpitations can be signs of stress
- Stress is completely manageable
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