Coping with Stress

Lesson 1 - Stress vs Distress

Learned responses

The renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud said that, in spite of
our human development, in times of crisis we revert to certain
flaws or weaknesses in our character and use immature or
inappropriate behaviour. Someone who has stopped smoking
or drinking may return to these old habit patterns – generally
unthinkingly – when a difficulty arises. Of course, nail biting is
only one of many behavioural traits which surface when we are
stressed. By adopting such strategies, the mind is endeavouring
to protect the body from stress as far as it is able.

We use different types of behaviour in order to see us through
particular situations. The actual type of behaviour, as we have
noted, may be greatly reinforced by our family and general
environment.

Out of the rut

We may wonder how it is possible to avoid the distress of
stress when it impinges on every walk of life and is, very often,
self-manufactured. Putting on a brave face, we try to hide our
emotions. We are – as the old saying has it – ‘like ducks: calm
on the surface, but paddling furiously beneath the water!’
Fortunately, there are some guiding principles that we will
consider in a later lesson.