Understanding and Coping with Stress in the New Year and Beyond

arthurArthur Rowshan (BA ’90, Psychology) is an uWaterloo alumnus who has become an accomplished counsellor and expert on hypnosis, smoking cessation, and stress management. “I became interested in stress because of my own experience with it,” says Rowshan. During his time at Waterloo, Rowshan was an engaged student who sought out professors to learn as much as he could. He was also a volunteer at the Crisis Centre Help Line in Kitchener-Waterloo and a member of the Canadian Mental Health Organization.

After completing his psychology degree, Rowshan moved to Spain to complete a post-graduate program on group therapy at the University of Deusto. He then moved to the Czech Republic and Sweden working as a lecturer and counsellor on stress management. Throughout this time he wrote two books; Stress: An Owner’s Manual and Telling Tales: How to Use Stories to Help Your Children Overcome Their Problems. Eventually settling down in Spain, Rowshan started a private practice in Bilbao and became a smoking cessation specialist by completing two more post-graduate degrees at the University of Cantabria.

With over 20 years of experience as a stress counsellor, Rowshan has helped many people deal with stress and anxiety through understanding their bio-feedback, which is to recognize your body’s reaction to stress and providing techniques on how to cope.

As we head into a new year, the stress of the holiday season is now behind us. However, stress is a part of everyday life and with a new year come new challenges. A possible cause of stress in the coming year is called techno-stress, “[where] technology plays a dominant role in our day-to-day lives and our work habits have changed. Most people want to be connected at all times with as many people as possible.” Staying connected and responding to people in real time is more and more common and Rowshan predicts this multi-tasking will become a major cause of stress in the coming year.

When dealing with stress we must first understand that stress is a normal part of our lives and it’s a life-saving mechanism when responding to crises. There are two types of stress to be aware of: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress helps with alertness and dealing with challenging situations. On the other hand, chronic stress is when you stay in an alert or anxious state for long periods of time and it begins to affect your health and well-being. “Perception is crucial. [We] cannot change a negative event or situation. The meaning we give to adverse events makes a difference in how we feel about it.” To better manage your stress, Rowshan has recognized three aspects to overall well-being and provides tips on how you can reduce stress in your day to day life.

Tips for Stress Management:
  1. Physical well-being:
    • Avoid smoking, over-eating, and alcohol
    • Get a good night’s sleep
    • Eat healthy
    • Be physically active
  1. Emotional well-being:
    • Laugh often
    • Have a support system with someone you can confide in
    • Spend quality time with loved ones
  1. Spiritual well-being:
    • Meditate
    • Forgive others who have done you wrong
    • Be positive
    • Find your ultimate purpose in life

Knowing how to cope in stressful situations is important and keeping these tips in mind will help you better manage your stress and live a happy and healthy life. 

For more information please visit his website.

By: Sirisopha Khankhet, Alumni Program Assistant