Swim like a fish through stress

Nurse at the UC Health Centre, Wendy Risdon offers some advice to help you through stressful times.

My favourite advertisement on TV has the catch phrase, “remember, be like a fish”. The Sealord storyline is about a little girl taking swimming lessons and feeling disillusioned because she comes last. Her father encourages her saying, swim like a fish, and with those words playing like a mantra in her mind she does better at the next lesson. Little does she know, her Dad can not swim and he decides to take his first swimming lesson. He appears from the changing room wearing his togs and an embarrassed expression. The little girl looks surprised, when she realises her Dad doesn’t know how to swim and offers him the magic words of encouragement; remember, be like a fish Dad.

It is a heartwarming story with some clear stress management techniques.

Being competent at anything takes time, it doesn’t happen instantly and it doesn’t mean being perfect. Stop striving for perfection it is exhausting and leads to feeling never quite good enough.

Be cognizant of your self-talk. Most beliefs about our self and our abilities come from what our parents and teachers said to us in our formative years. Up to the age of 7 we believed everything adults told us. Now question some of those unhelpful, negative assumptions that have formed you into the person you believe you are today. Ask yourself, is that actually true or is it what I have come to believe to be true?

Comparing yourself to those around you is anxiety producing. My Mother used to say to me, you wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought about you if you knew how seldom they thought about you. Oh so true. Get on and do stuff, be yourself, be unique, there is nobody else just like you and it’s OK. Some days you will feel good and some days you won’t, that’s life.

Be active, breathe well, build healthy relationships with people, learn to say “No” and develop a positive mantra, like “be brave” or “this too will pass”.

And the thing about fish, they do swim upstream when they have a clear purpose, the rest of the time they go with the flow.

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