Your Health

In association with Sligo Today

Stress Control - Learn the skills to get on top of stress

Added: 17/04/18 : 07:15:29

The HSE continues to roll out the highly regarded six week Stress Control programme in Sligo and Leitrim with the next programme starting on Wednesday the 25th April in Strand Celtic Club House, Strandhill at 6.30pm Stress affects people from all walks of life. Although no two people will have exactly the same problems, we all have a lot in common when we are feeling stressed. We can find it hard to relax, we can worry a great deal, we can lose confidence and a sense of control and get despondent.

Whilst it’s normal to have a certain degree of stress in our lives, for many of us the stress has become too much, whatever we do we can’t seem to get on top of it. When stress is running our lives there are inevitable and often serious consequences – our health may begin to deteriorate as our immune system becomes compromised by stress hormones continually flooding our body, physical tension becomes the new normal and we no longer know how to relax or even what being relaxed feels like.
Our relationships at home or at work may suffer as we become more snappy and irritable, our thinking becomes less clear, more confused and consequently we may make poor decisions in our day to day affairs. 
We may find ourselves with high levels of anxiety or depression that we can’t seem to shift. All of these consequences develop into vicious circles in our lives, we get stressed during the day, we find we can’t sleep because of worrying and then we are exhausted the next day and even more prone to getting stressed by the slightest things and so on…worse we may start using alcohol to help us sleep.

Sadly for many of us these consequences are becoming all too common.  Research in the UK found that almost 90% of all visits to GP’s were stress-related, so if you are suffering from stress you are clearly ‘not alone’, most people are struggling to cope with stress in their lives.  The research is telling us that 25% of the population is suffering from sub-clinical stress – that’s mild to moderate levels of anxiety or depression, and this is having consequences on their health, 9% of these people are more likely to die from cancer, 25% are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and for most there will be increases in smoking, alcohol consumption and weight gain.

As a country we spend literally millions of Euros every year on prescriptions for drugs to treat depression, anxiety and lack of sleep. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn to stop stress in it’s tracks, learn how to recognise the symptoms of stress in our lives, understand how it affects us and most importantly the simple things we can do right now to get our lives back together and away from stress.

Stress control is a free six session programme. Each session lasts for 90 minutes and is delivered once a week. ‘Stress Control’ was devised by Dr. Jim White, a clinical psychologist in Glasgow, to help the large number of people who complained of stress and who were keen to learn how to tackle their problems themselves. Through research, this evidence-based course has been improved over the years and Stress Control is now available in many different countries.

People who come to Stress Control come to learn simple strategies for alleviating stress, and the course is delivered in a ‘chalk and talk’ format so that people do not need to interact, this makes it less stressful for participants, there are no embarrassing exercises, just simple information explained in such a way that people learn over the course how to become their own therapists. Handouts are given for each session, and people practice the exercises between sessions.

‘I was off work due to stress, when this course started. Thanks to the tips I have been able to ‘face my fears’ and return to work.’  (previous participant).

“I feel stress is an on-going problem for most people but with the skills and knowledge I have picked up on this course, I feel confident I will be able to manage my stress” (previous participant)

‘The taught programme was a ‘gift’. Knowing I could attend and just spend my time just focusing on listening’. (previous participant.)

If you are interested in attending this course, please send your name, email address and telephone number to: Email: or Telephone: (071) 9135098

This course is free and sponsored by the HSE.

If stress is concerning you or someone you know then come along to the Stress Control programme or talk to your GP to get help and advice.

The harms caused by other people’s drinking

Added: 17/04/18 : 07:21:37

The HSE has launched the first dedicated Irish survey on Alcohol’s Harm to Others. “The Untold Story: Harms Experienced in the Irish Population due to Others’ Drinking” quantifies some of alcohol’s harm to others in modern Ireland.  It makes very clear that preventing and reducing harm to others from drinkers is an urgent public health goal - equally as important as preventing and reducing harm to the drinker due to their own drinking. 

Alcohol’s harm from other people’s drinking can affect a wide range of relationships in a person’s life – family and friends, children, work colleagues and strangers. The purpose of this report is to explore how the drinking of others can negatively impact peoples’ lives.  
Key Findings from the report:
-          One in six carers (16%) reported that children, for whom they had parental responsibility,
           experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking.

-          One in every two people (51%) reported experiencing harm due to strangers’ drinking in the past
           12 months.

-          Two in every five people (44%) reported experiencing negative consequences due to the drinking
           of people they know.

-          Three in every five people (61%) reported having a known heavy drinker in their life.
-          One in seven workers (14%) reported work-related problems due to co-workers’ drinking.
-          The total estimated cost of AH20 as assessed in this survey was €872.75 million.
-           The costs estimated in this study are the tangible costs of harm to others.  The survey results did
            not estimate the intangible cost (fear, pain, suffering, lost quality of life) of alcohol’s harm to others,
            but these are clearly substantial.

Harms that are prominent throughout the report include: feeling unsafe, being harassed or insulted verbally, physical harassment, stress, having less money for household expenses, sleep disturbances, being a passenger with a drunk driver, ruined belongings and having to leave home due for safety.  
Children are particularly vulnerable to harm from other people’s drinking, be it within the family, among family members or in the wider community in which they live. Overall, one in six carers (16%) reported that children, for whom they had parental responsibility, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking.
Prof Robin Room, Professor of Alcohol Policy Research at University of Melbourne, noted the importance of this report to give a full picture of the harms associated with alcohol:
“For many years, the focus in discussing harms from drinking was on harms suffered by the drinker. Indeed, these harms are widespread and often severe. However, what has been missing from the picture is the burden that occasional or regular heavy drinking imposes directly on others at the interpersonal level. Others around the drinker, whatever their relationship with the drinker, are likely to be affected, often adversely, by changes in thinking, demeanour and behaviour which result from drinking.”  
One of the authors of the report, Dr Ann Hope, notes the significant evidence presented:  “Given that 3 in 5 people reported a known heavy drinker in their life, suggests the risk of harm from others’ drinking is widespread in Irish society, with some of it hidden. The fear to personal safety due to strangers’ drinking especially in public spaces can undermine a sense of community well-being and can be felt by both drinkers and non-drinker alike.”
Another of the authors of the report, Prof Joe Barry, hopes the findings will inform national policy around alcohol in Ireland: “This report provides solid evidence that harms to others from drinking are at least as widespread and of comparable magnitude to the harms to drinkers themselves.”
The full report can be viewed here.