Avoid uncertainty

Uncertainty is the cause of much distress. Worrying about what might happen if … may be unnecessary. Find out the facts about things before you get anxious and panic. When you have collected as much information as you can, it might then be obvious that your initial fears and worries were ill-founded and you will have avoided unnecessary distress. On the other hand, if your worries were warranted you will be prepared and can plan all the possible alternatives and seek help if necessary. This will make you feel less uncertain. Coping with demands and pressures is easier if you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Increasing demands

There are a number of situations where an individual may feel that there are too few demands in their life: too little stimulation and not enough challenges. They feel they have the capacity to handle more. They feel under-used, bored and frustrated. Selfesteem suffers, motivation declines and eventually performance becomes poor in all they do.

One situation where this may arise is retirement. This can involve a sudden change from active and busy full-time work to a less demanding life with few deadlines to keep. As a retired person, you can experience an overnight change from being an important part of an organization and making a valuable contribution to society, to a position where your usefulness within society seems diminished. It is not possible to reduce your perceived coping ability to match your lower perceived demands, so you should take on new demands. Maybe take up a hobby, join an evening class and learn something that you always wanted to do but never had the time for whilst working. Plan and do the things you did not have the time for, such as taking a long trip abroad. Keep up and renew friendships, become involved in community projects, local clubs and voluntary organizations. Plan your day as if it were a working day; build in time for domestic duties, shopping, walking, hobbies, and so on. But beware – do not increase demands to the point where your stress balance tips into the distress zone.

Another situation where too few demands lead to distress is where an employee feels their abilities and skills are not adequately used. The remedy is to ask the employer for more work. On the other hand, it may be that someone in this position is in the wrong job. Finding the right job to suit your aptitude and abilities is not an easy task. Where there is a significant mismatch, distress inevitably results. Correcting this situation may mean requesting the organization to reappraise the job role with a view to moving you to a different job or it may mean leaving the job and seeking one which is more suitable.

We can find ourselves in a position of having too few demands if we lose our job, face a change in family situations when children leave home or our partner dies. When we get back on our feet it may be necessary to increase demands in a similar way to the retirement situation described above learning to relax noradrenaline, adrenaline and cortisol levels are lowered and your body activity opposite to that experienced during the activation of the stress response. Heart rate and breathing decrease and the body feels warm due to dilation of the blood vessels. Sweating decreases, saliva secretion increases, muscle tension decreases, and the mind feels settled. However, your body is always ready to respond to danger within a split second even from a deep state of relaxation.

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