Australian General Semantics Society Inc.



November 2020 Seminar Summary

Sunday 22nd November 2020
11 am - 2:00pm on-line (by ZOOM)

 "Dealing with Stress - What if our life is NOT all sunshine and roses?"

General Semantics cannot guarantee a life free from difficulty and stress.
We will never be able to control all the people and circumstances around us.

But we can do much to manage our responses to an imperfect world,
and minimise the ravages of post traumatic stress disorder!

Facilitated by Robert James 

~ Agenda ~

1. Preliminaries
   * 11:00 am: 11:30 am: Self and families and home and pandemics etc.,
   * 11:30 am: GS Diary: Triumphs and Tragedies in our applications of GS.

2. Preparation (Homework)
   * What have been some of the major stress events in my life?
   * What has contributed to this, and what have been the consequences?
   * How much do I think that my actions might have contributed?
   * How could I have caused this to work-out differently - Would I have wanted to?
   * What about "good stress" - Would I prefer a life padded in cotton-wool?
   * What management strategies did I utilise to plan for / minimize / manage the stresses?
   * How can the general semantics formulations be used to manage stress?
   * What about my favourite formulations from last month?

   * The Stress Test: Gauge my perceived stress level!

3. About Stress
   * The nature of stress
   * Causes of stress
   * Symptoms of stress
   * Consequences of long-term stress
   * Managing stress

4. Some GS Approaches to Managing Stress
David’s AGS seminar February 2015
   * Milton Dawes on Managing Stress
   * Marty Levinson on Organisational Stress
   * Mary Morain on “GS and Creative Thinking”
   * Ted Falconer in “Creative Intelligence”

5. Concluding
   * Review of the Content and Conduct of this Seminar
   * Thinking ahead for next year and beyond
   * Plans for Christmas etc.
   * 2:00 pm: Off to enjoy Sunday afternoon sunshine :-)


1. Preliminaries

   * We checked on how we are going, Sin the light of "our strange times" this year.
GS Diary: Triumphs and Tragedies in our applications of GS.

   * We had a look at proceedings of the recent (on-line) 2020 AKML Symposium,
     including particularly, the addresses by Jaison and Milton!

2. Preparation (Homework)
   * We had accounts of birth and death, suicide, marriage and divorce, life-threatening illness, etc.
   * An example of a stressful event was an account of children lost in the bush !

3. About Stress ...
3a The Nature of Stress
Stress affects us all. You may notice symptoms of stress when disciplining your kids, during busy times at work, when managing your finances, or when coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. And while a little stress is OK -- some stress is actually beneficial -- too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically.
The first step to controlling stress is to know the symptoms of stress. But recognizing stress symptoms may be harder than you think. Most of us are so used to being stressed, we often don't know we are stressed until we are at the breaking point.
Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations -- whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act. It is how you protect yourself.
Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. And, not all stress is bad. In small doses, stress can help you accomplish tasks and prevent you from getting hurt. For example, stress is what gets you to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of you. That's a good thing.
Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress. But we are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.
3b. Causes of stress

3b.1 Feelings of stress
Perceptions of stress are normally triggered by things happening in my life which involve, eg:
   * being under lots of pressure,
   * facing big changes,
   * worrying about something,
   * not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation,
   * having responsibilities that you're finding overwhelming,
   * not having enough work, activities or change in my life,
   * times of uncertainty.
There might be one big thing causing you stress, but stress can also be caused by a build-up of small pressures. This might make it harder for me to identify what's making you feel stressed, or to explain it to other people.
"Lots of things stress me at the moment, mainly worries about my memory, as I'm a pensioner with nothing to do all day. Trying to fill my day is hard as I have arthritis so can’t walk too far."
3b.2 Why do certain things make me feel stressed?
The amount of stress I feel in different situations may depend on many factors such as:
   * how experienced I am at dealing with that particular type of pressure
   * my emotional resilience to stressful situations
   * the amount of other pressures on me at the time
   * the amount of support I am receiving.
   * "I get stressed when things get out of perspective – too much work, thinking too far ahead."
   * my perception of the situation – this might be connected to your past experiences,
     my self-esteem, and how I thought processes work
     (for example, if I tend to interpret things positively or negatively)
   * We're all different, so a situation that doesn't bother me at all might cause someone else
     a lot of stress. For example, if I enjoy public speaking, I might find that giving a speech in
     front of people feels comfortable and fun.
3b.3 What kind of situations can cause stress?
Stress can be caused by a variety of common life events, many of which are difficult to avoid, eg:
illness or injury
   * pregnancy and becoming a parent
   * bereavement
   * long-term health problems
   * organising a complicated event, like a group holiday
   * everyday tasks such as travel or household chores.
Friends and family
   * getting married or civil partnered
   * going through a break-up or getting divorced
   * difficult relationships with parents, siblings, friends or children
   * being a carer for a friend or relative who needs lots of support.
Employment and study
   * losing your job
   * long-term unemployment
   * retiring
   * exams and deadlines
   * difficult issues at work
   * starting a new job.
   * "My breakdown [...] was due to having a stressful job as a project manager
     and dealing with a marriage break up and subsequent divorce."
   * housing problems such as poor living conditions, lack of security or homelessness
   * moving house
   * problems with neighbours.
   * Money
   * worries about money or benefits
   * poverty
   * debt.
3b.4 Can happy events cause stress?

Some of the situations listed above are often thought of as happy events –
     for example, you might feel expected to be happy or excited about getting married
     or having a baby.
   * But because they can bring big changes or make unusual demands on you,
     they can still be very stressful. This can be particularly difficult to deal with,
     because you might feel there's additional pressure on you to be positive.
   * "I've never been more stressed in my life than the 6 months leading up to my wedding...
     everyone kept asking me if I was happy and expecting me to be excited all the time,
     but I just couldn't feel it. I ended up getting really ill."

3c. Symptoms of Stress
   * Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviours,
     thinking ability, and physical health.
   * No part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress differently,
     symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those
     caused by medical conditions.
   * So it is important to discuss them with your doctor.
     You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.
3c.1 Emotional symptoms of stress include:
   * Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
   * Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
   * Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
   * Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
   * Avoiding others
3c.2 Physical symptoms of stress include:
   * Low energy
   * Headaches
   * Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
   * Aches, pains, and tense muscles
   * Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
   * Insomnia
   * Frequent colds and infections
   * Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
   * Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
   * Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
3c.3 Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
   * Constant worrying
   * Racing thoughts
   * Forgetfulness and disorganization
   * Inability to focus
   * Poor judgment
   * Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
3c.4 Behavioural symptoms of stress include:
   * Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much
   * Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
   * Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
   * Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
3d Consequences of Long-Term Stress?
   A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about.
   Ongoing, chronic stress, can cause or exacerbate serious health problems, including:
   * Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
   * Obesity and other eating disorders
   * Menstrual problems
   * Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
   * Gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
   * Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure,
     abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
3e Responses to Manage Stress
3e.1 Some tips
   * Keep a positive attitude.
   * Accept that there are events that I cannot control.
   * Learn and practise relaxation; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi for stress management.
   * Exercise regularly. My body can fight stress better when it is fit.
   * Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
   * Learn to manage your time effectively.
   * Set limits and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in my life.
   * Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
   * Get enough rest and sleep.
   * Don't rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviours.
   * Seek out social support. Spend time with those you enjoy.
   * Be assertive instead of aggressive.
     Assert feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained
     in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways
     of dealing with stresses.
3e.2 Help Is Available!
   * Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it.
     The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences
     that come with it is to know your stress symptoms.
   * If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor.
     Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems.
   * Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other conditions.
     If stress is to blame, your doctor can recommend a therapist or counsellor
     to help you better handle your stress.
4. Some GS Approaches to Managing Stress

David’s AGS seminar February 2015

   * Milton Dawes on Managing Stress

   * Marty Levinson on Organisational Stress

   * Mary Morain on “GS and Creative Thinking”

   * Ted Falconer in “Creative Intelligence”

5. Concluding

   * We reviewed of the Content and Conduct of this Seminar

   * We thought ahead for next year and beyond

   * We planned for Christmas etc.

Next Meeting:

*** Watch this space for our 2021 programme ***

This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".  Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome.  If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please Contact us.

Updated by Robert James
30th November 2020