Viva!: Stress-Busters Put Me Back on Track for Glory; It Worked for Golfer Ian Woosnam, Now He's Convinced a Technique Called HeartMath Can Help Us All Beat Anxiety

Article excerpt

Byline: By IAN PARRI

STRESS has increasingly become a factor accepted as a major cause of ill-health, with ever increasing numbers seeking help to tackle the problems that come in its wake.

Even Welsh golfing legend and Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, seemingly the epitome of coolness out on the course, admits his swing can fall prey to stress and anxiety just like the rest of us. He's the latest celebrity adherent of an American stress-busting programme developed over the last 15 years called HeartMath, which looks at the physiology of and relationship between stress and emotions.

Experts at the Californian-based Institute of HeartMath say we can significantly reduce our stress by understanding how our emotions work, and warn that the subtler day-to-day causes of stress are breeding an attitude of resignation towards it.

Dr Rollin McCraty, director of research at the institute, says: "On-going, low grade stress can do more harm to the body, mind and emotions than one large stressful event can."

More than 600,000 working days are lost to stress in Wales each year, and experts say this is hardly surprising given the ever-increasing workloads we're burdened with. We have the longest average working week in the European Union, with 28% of us working up to two unpaid hours each day.

Life coach Ian Sharp, from Aberystwyth, includes stress management in his portfolio of therapies. He says it's an ever-increasing problem, but that its solution lies in finding the root cause rather than treating its effects.

"The long hours worked by people is causing a lot of stress and illness," he says. "Our approach is a three-stage process.

Firstly we find out what their true cause of stress is.

"Then we use a series of different therapies - life coaching, neuro-linguistic programming and something called emotional freedom technique (EFT), which is sometimes called tapping and related to acupressure. Having cleared their stress we then work on their sense of purpose and find what they want out of life."

Although a recent poll conducted for the Samaritans shows we Welsh are rather more chilled out than our English neighbours, with only 8% of us saying we suffer stress on a daily basis, more than a third of us - 36% - admitted to lying awake at night through stress and anxiety. …