Stress is a fact of life, but need not be a way of life.
|CN PHOTO: Lee Lin Kai
Stress is ubiquitous, and living in a fast paced nation such as Singapore, one certainly gets his/her fair share of pressure and anxiety. Hence, it was not surprising that Coping With Stress And Depression, an elective offered during the Church Growth International and Asia Conference 2010, saw capacity crowds for all sessions.
Dr. Ang Yong Guan, a well-known psychiatrist in Singapore with admirable academic and occupational achievements, was the speaker for all sessions. Ang holds an MBBS from the University of Singapore and also did his post-graduate training in psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. He was the President of the Singapore Psychiatric Association for two consecutive terms, and is currently the founding Chairman of the Action Group for Mental Illness. In addition, Ang is also influential in the community, holding chairman positions in various community groups.
Ang’s expertise lies in dealing with stress-related disorders, early psychosis and anxiety disorders. In his informative and light-hearted session, he shed light on the science and effects of stress and depression. Like any good stress-relieving doctor, his session was peppered with humor and comical anecdotes, which had the delegates in laughter.
Recent statistical studies have revealed interesting facts—Singaporeans’ level of optimism ranked at a mere 58.1 percent, trailing behind happier neighboring countries such as Thailand (66.1 percent), and the most optimistic of the lot, the Philippines, with a cheerful 84 percent.
“It could be the ‘kiasu’ spirit that is causing Singaporeans to be so stressed!” Ang humorously referred to the competitive trademark found in most Singaporeans, a culture of not wanting to lose out, which comes with living in a fast paced, hectic environment. In a technologically savvy nation like Singapore, it is hard to get through a day without being “invaded” constantly by e-mails, phone calls, and the onslaught of information. In the long run, chronic stress can build up, leading to a string of mental and health problems.
Ang shared a quick way to detect if a person has chronic stress—simply by looking at his/her forehead. If there are vertical frown lines present, this person is likely to be very stressed. If not properly handled, the stress could lead to clinical depression. Ang further reiterated, “Stress is a fact of life, but not a way a life.”
Ang added that it is vital to always stay calm and be in control, even in stressful situations. He spoke of how to deal with stress and depression using the simple acronym of C.O.N.T.R.O.L., which represent seven coping skills.
The seven coping skills are:
Open up to God and friends
Neutralize negative thoughts
Live according to one’s values
Being organized also helps to take some stress off one’s workload. Another underrated factor is sufficient sleep, which is essential to keeping the mind sharp and alert in dealing with daily problems. A minimum of six to seven hours of quality rest is highly recommended.
Ang explained, “Without sleep, there will be no new brain cells. Without new brain cells, you will not be able to think! Having the ability to think positively in seemingly bad situations is also a great stress reliever,” added Ang.
In closing, Ang shared his favorite Bible verse in Luke 2:52, which says that Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, in favor with God and with man. “That should be our goal, to increase mentally, physically, spiritually and socially,” declared Ang.