Archive for February, 2014

SOLIDARITY HELPING HAND

Helping Hand celebrates national social worker’s day National social worker’s day in South Africa will be celebrated on 21 February. Once again, it puts the spotlight on the need for, as well as the acute shortage of, social workers in South Africa.

Solidarity Helping Hand is an organisation aiming to alleviate, prevent and help people to break free from poverty. In this process, the role of social services is considered to be invaluable.

Helping Hand holds the view that strong community networks are essential to pursue these goals. In any community where a registered welfare organisation renders services, the social worker is the main source of information to point out the real need in the community. Potential donors interested in making a contribution to assist in preventing, alleviating and breaking free from poverty will be able to address the real need by contacting the social worker in a community.

Since 2003, social work is considered to be a scarce skill in this country.  The new Children’s Act (No. 38 of 2005) came into effect in 2010. For this Act to perform optimally, 60 000 social workers are needed. At the moment, there are about 16 000 registered social workers in South Africa of which only about 12 000 actually work in the profession. These statistics emphasise the challenges faced by this profession.

Yet, despite enormous challenges, there are still social workers who consider social work to be a calling about which they are passionate and in which they find fulfilment. Marieta Kemp, director of the Suid-Afrikaanse Vrouefederasie (SAVF), is hopeful about the continued existence of this profession. According to her, social work is the proof that the impossible can sometimes be achieved. In this profession, success is measured in small building blocks.

If a social worker manages to improve the functioning of just one child or one family in his or her career, success has been achieved. Therefore, it is important to realise that a different measuring instrument is used for this profession. A social worker must be able to recognise and use small, positive building blocks in extremely chaotic circumstances.

A social worker who, despite facing huge challenges, still practices this profession is a person with exceptional qualities. This person would have the ability to convert relationships, usually born out of conflict, into positive alliances working together.

According to Marieta Kemp, the fulfilment associated with social work is immeasurable. In this profession, the social worker has the opportunity to apply all his/her talents and interests to maximum effect. In an office occupied by social workers, an atmosphere of compassion and camaraderie prevail that is found in few other professions.

Over the years, the occupation of a social worker has developed into an actual professional occupation. Social workers receive intensive training over a period of four years and are required to be registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions if they are employed as social workers. The profession is subject to ethical codes that the social worker has to comply with.

In a country like South Africa where the need is increasing, it has become essential to expand the social work profession. Helping Hand wants to encourage prospective students with a passion for people to obtain a qualification in this exceptional occupation. Isabel Faurie Social worker, Helping Hand Isabel@helpendehand.co.za 012 644 4390

MILGRAM AND THE CASE FOR SELF-RESPONSIBILTY

You may have heard of the Milgram experiments of the early 1960s – when experiments of this kind were still possible – exploring responses to orders from authority. Milgram’s experiments were influenced by Adolf Eichmann’s defence for ordering the killing of millions of Jews, during his trial in Israel, that he was following orders. Eichmann was executed in 1962.

The majority of participants in Milgram’s experiments, 65%, agreed to administer what were apparently dangerous electric shocks to ‘students’ who were getting their answers wrong. The ‘students’ were actors, and not actually receiving shocks.

Even if contemporary society (to the rue of some) is less deferential than half a century ago, and people more likely to challenge and disobey authority, the tendency to abdicate self-responsibility would seem as prevalent as ever. How does this relate to the therapeutic context? In making my point I shall risk overstating my case . . . It is much easier – and much more common – to visit the doctor and get some pills to alleviate symptoms rather than explore what’s underlying the symptoms, which can mean facing up to what’s going wrong in your life and taking action to change it.

And if the pills don’t work? The temptation is to take more pills, or different pills. But if the problem is that there is something wrong in your life, your body is only going to heal if you take action to change your life. Your body is messaging you, but you’re trying to shut it up rather than attending to its message. Your body can’t help but express what’s wrong. It’s probably been trying to tell you for a long time.

Why would people want to deny the messages of their body? Possibly because addressing what’s wrong in your life involves taking responsibility. Milgram’s participants evaded

responsibility by following the orders of the authority. The advantage: the claim that your actions weren’t your fault – a defence unlikely to stand up in court.

More pertinently: even if you won’t, your body will take responsibility for how you live your life. It has no choice but to express it in every organ, muscle, cell. You can choose to give another authority over your body or gag your body’s messages, but abdicating responsibility for your body is the fast track to unfulfilment. Alternatively, you can choose to be responsible, and pay keen attention to the messages of your body – which may mean you have to admit you got something wrong, and need to change. This is the path for happiness and health. It takes courage.

Jonathan Livingstone is a therapist & coach in Plettenberg Bay. Call him on 079 0199 449. www.therapycoaching.co

Mind Stimulation for Your Dog

Do you come home from work and find your garbage strewn all over the house? Are there holes dug all over the yard? Do you find chew marks on your furniture? Has the stuffing been pulled out of your couch? Are all of these and other naughty things being done by your lovable pet pooch? The cause is simple. Your pet is bored!

Now a more challenging question; what do you do about it? All dogs need to do more than eat, sleep and love you. All dogs need exercise to start with. A walk isn’t just about having a pee or a poop. A walk is a fabulous way to build a strong bond between you and your dog, and an opportunity to demonstrate to your pet that YOU are the leader. As Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, would say, “YOU need to be the Pack Leader”. Remember that when you walk your dog, you should be the first one out of the house, the first one back into the house, and your dog should walk beside you or slightly behind you.

I know that we all love our dogs and often think of them as our children… our babies. Truth be told, in order to provide your pet with what he/she truly needs it is important that you think of your dog first as a dog, and then consider the characteristics of the breed. Then you need to remember that your pet is also an individual.

Some breeds need more physical exercise than others. Some need more exercise than others. Herding dogs, as an example, were bred to herd or move livestock. This “job” requires intelligence and an enormous amount of running and endurance. There are dozens of breeds belonging to the “herding” family of dogs including the various types of Sheep dogs and Shepherd dogs, Collies, and Giant Schnauzers to name a few. Other breeds like Jack Russell Terriers, Shelties, and sporting dogs, although not herding breeds, are high energy breeds; requiring more exercise than some lower energy breeds. Think in terms of a 5 mile RUN (not walk) each day as a guide. Also, you can ride a bike or roller blade while your pet keeps up beside you.

On the other side of the spectrum; Poodles, Terriers, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers, Bull Dogs, and Pugs, for example have a much lower demand for exercise. Understand that these dogs still need to be walked, at least once each day for at least one hour.

You’ll know if your dog is getting enough exercise based on its’ behaviour and weight. If your dog is gaining weight you’re either feeding him way too much, offering too many treats, or not giving him enough exercise. If your dogs’ weight is fine and he’s behaving, then the exercise that you’re giving him is likely sufficient. Remember, too, that older dogs will need less exercise than puppies. If there is any question or concern, get advice from your Vet.

One thing to note about walks is that you do NOT want the walk to be about your dogs’ bathroom duties. Dogs absolutely LOVE their walks. If the walk is over immediately after the dog does his “business”, he will try to hold it so the walk will last longer. In fact he may wait until you give up and go home, then do his business in the house. It will work better for you if you wait for the dog to “potty”, and then reward that behaviour with a one hour walk.

If you have some reason that you’re not able to provide your dog with the kind of walks he requires, there are a couple of things you can do. For high energy dogs you can put a back pack on them filled with water bottles. The extra weight will add more of a challenge on their walk and tire them out quicker. You can also consider purchasing a treadmill. There are treadmills designed specifically for dogs that can also accommodate the speed that your canine companion needs. When using this type of device please do NOT leave your pet unattended. Any number of accidents can occur if no one is watching. Besides, you can still use the “pack leader” attitude and strengthen your bond while your dog is on the treadmill.

Now that covers the dog walking part of this segment. Here’s another newsflash. Dogs also need to be mentally stimulated. Again, the amount of stimulation necessary is dependent on the breed and the individual dog. If there’s any question or concern, remember your Vet is an excellent resource and can guide you appropriately.

Mental stimulation can take numerous forms. Rough housing with your pet can help to stimulate them mentally; as does training. Once they’re completely “behaviour” trained, you can work on fun tricks. Playing catch or fetch is also helpful. These activities can be fun for both of you, enhance the bond between you, and keep your pets mind active. You can also consider agility training for all the same reasons. NOTE that before you begin any serious, intense regimen you should consult your pets’ Veterinarian. Some agility drills can be harmful for your dog under certain conditions; like dogs suffering from arthritis, hip or joint problems, or young pups. Agility drills involving a lot of jumping can be too stressful for young developing joints. Intense weaves are another obstacle you’ll want to be careful of when training your puppy.

Swimming is a great activity for your dog. Most dogs enjoy it; it’s good exercise and builds strength. You can have a lot of fun with your dog while swimming. It can also be easier on the joints of an older dog. Again, please check with your best resource, your Vet to make sure this is a good activity for your specific dog. There may be a health issue that would be aggravated by a particular activity. I know, like any good parent, you want what’s best for your pet.

Remember to hug your dog today.•

Foods that people think are healthy (but aren’t)?

Any healthy alternatives for them?

We all know that in addition to physical activity, a critical component of leading a healthy lifestyle boils down to the food choices we make. But with all the food options out there, and a great deal of conflicting nutrition information circulating around, how do you know what you should consume and what you should avoid?

LOW – FAT PEANUT BUTTER

Often times, seeing “low-fat” on food labels falsely leads us to believe the item must be a healthier alternative. But when it comes to low-fat peanut butter, RDs agreed – stay away from it. Ruth  Frechman , RD, PT, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and author of “The Food is My Friend Diet,” stated that while peanut butter supplies healthy fat to your diet, “choosing low-fat peanut butter reduces the amount of healthy fat [you receive].” Emily Miller, MPH, RD, Associate Program Officer at The Institute of Medicine, went on to explain that when fat is removed, the food manufacturer has to add something else to compensate for the texture and flavor the fat provided. What does that mean for you?  “In the case of reduced-fat peanut butter, about one-fourth of the healthy (unsaturated) fats are removed, and sugar – and sometimes salt – is added; meanwhile the calorie content remains nearly the same, but the nutrient profile is less healthy,” she said. Healthy Swap: RD Recommends Love peanut butter? Miller suggested opting for natural peanut butter, which specifies only one ingredient on the label — peanuts. While natural peanut butter often separates, which can make it difficult to stir, she recommended storing the jar upside down for a day or so since it makes the job of stirring much easier. Having trouble adjusting to the taste? “Once you get through a jar of natural peanut butter, your taste buds will adapt and you’ll probably find [conventional] peanut butter too sweet and salty,” said Miller. Are you allergic to peanuts or simply want to test out something new? Consider giving sunflower seed butter or almond butter a try!

MULTIGRAIN BREAD

While research has found that consuming more whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also serving as a great source of vitamin E, iron and fiber, most people incorrectly assume that multigrain and seven-grain breads must do the same. Unfortunately, many of these products are often not 100% whole grain, and in some cases, they contain no whole grain whatsoever, Miller pointed out. So what are these breads made from? The Nutrition Twins® Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, authors of “The Secret to Skinny,” told us that more often than not, seven-grain and multigrain breads are made from refined, white flour with a sprinkling of other grains. “Because these breads are just as processed and refined as white bread, they are usually devoid of fiber and spike blood sugar quickly, only to create the same crash that a sugar high does when it wears off,” said The Nutrition Twins. Miller mentioned that this crash can then leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating these foods. Healthy Swap: RD Recommends Reading nutrition labels is key. As The Nutrition Twins® recommended, opt for wholesome whole grain breads that state that they are made from 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat flour. To avoid picking up an imposter, Miller cautioned shoppers to avoid any products that list the words “enriched” or “refined” anywhere on the package or in the ingredient list. Researched by KATIA C. ROWLANDS – PILATES INSTRUCTOR & PERSONAL TRAINER – 0825134256

MAART-LELIES

Danie praat inheems

DSC00871

Amaryllis belladonna – March lily, Naked lady. In die laatsomer is hierdie besondere bolplant met sy opvallende pienk blomme oral in die Wes-Kaap in tuine en in die veld te sien.  In die Phyl Martin Park in Nature’s Valley is daar nou pragtige voorbeelde. Amaryllis verwys na ‘n pragtige vroulike Griekse skaapwagter en belladonna beteken “mooi vrou”.  Maar dit is nie net ‘n gewone mooi vrou nie – sy is kaal!  Die volksnaam “Naked lady” verwys na die kaal stam sonder blare maar met blomme bo-aan . . .  Die blare verskyn eers nà die blomme.  Die lang groenerige persrooi stam is ongeveer 50cm lank.  Daar kan tot 12 blomme op ‘n stam voorkom.  Die lig- tot donkerpienk blomme is gewoonlik 10cm lank.  In die somer verdroog die blare en die bol word dormant. Maartlelies kweek maklik van saad.  Die sagte sappige wit tot pienk saad moet geplant word as dit nog vars is.  Ongelukkig neem saailinge 3 – 6 jaar om te blom.  In tuine sal dit gewoonlik dan elke jaar daarna blom maar in fynbosveld na ‘n brand verskyn periodiek massas blomme.  ‘n Vinniger voortplantingsmetode is om die groot bolle te verdeel gedurende die dormante tyd.  Die droogtebestande bolle moet vlak geplant word. In hul natuurlike habitat groei Maartlelies meestal in ‘n rotsagtige omgewing.  Die beste plek om dit te plant sal dus in ‘n rotstuin wees.  Maartlelies word soms saam met Agapanthus geplant waar die immergroen blare van die Agapanthus mooi “rompies” sal vorm vir die naakte stamme van die Amaryllis. Die familie amaryllidaceae is deel van ongeveer 60 genera wat meestal in suidelike Afrika voorkom met kleiner verspreidings in die Andes in Suid-Amerika.  Ander bekende genera in Suid-Afrika is Clivia, Crinum (Bos- / Kaapse kus- /,  vlei-lelies),  Cyrtanthus (Vuur / George-lelie), Nerine / Nerina, en Scadoxus (Verf- of poeierkwas).  Lede van hierdie groot familie kom oral in die Suid-Kaap voor. Meeste van bostaande inligting is verkry uit die gesaghebbende webblad van plantzafrica.  Wenk: tik op Google die naam van enige plant waaroor jy inligting soek plus die woord “plantzafrica”, bv watsonia plantzafrica. Geniet die laatsomer!

Kontak Danie by: Selfoon 082 320 1833 of 044 531 6790 E-pos oupadaan@lantic.net Hy woon in Nature’s Valley in die “Oupa Daan”-huis in St George’s Laan 245.

Jurisdiction of the CCMA to adjudicate benefit disputes expanded

The confusion that has existed for years between employers and employees over the scope of what the term “benefits” in section 186(2)(a) of the Labour Relations Act entails has finally been resolved by the Labour Appeal Court in Apollo Tyres SA (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (2013) 34 ILJ 1120 (LAC).

This case also dispelled the fallacy that in order to have an unfair labour practice claim against an employer there has to be an employment relationship in existence at the time that the employee declared and referred an unfair labour practice dispute to the CCMA.

Until very recently, the position in South African labour law was that the Labour Relations Act only allowed an employee to refer an unfair labour practice dispute relating to employment benefits to the CCMA if such benefits were provided for in the employee’s contract of employment, the employer’s conditions of employment, collective agreement or any applicable legislation. If the benefits in dispute could not be traced back to any one of these categories, such a dispute would be classified as a dispute of mutual interest which could only be pursued by way of industrial action, and the CCMA would not have the necessary jurisdiction to arbitrate such a dispute except to conciliate it. A dispute of mutual interest is a dispute where an employee wishes to assert a right which he does not have in terms of any legislation, policy or employment contract, for example, an increment or bonus when there is no provision for such in the contract of employment. The reason for this distinction is based on the view that a wider definition of the term “benefits” could undermine the employees’ right to strike which is constitutionally entrenched.

The issue for determination in the Apollo case at the CCMA was whether an employee’s entitlement to claim benefits under an early retirement scheme fell within the ambit of the unfair labour practice provisions. Due to a decline in trade Apollo Tyres was forced to start with an early retirement scheme for monthly paid staff between the ages of 46 and 59 years. After being told that she did not qualify for the scheme, Ms Hoosen resigned and referred a dispute to the CCMA, claiming that the company’s refusal to pay her the amount specified in the voluntary retrenchment scheme amounted to an unfair labour practice relating to the provision of benefits. Apollo Tyres argued that the CCMA lacked jurisdiction to arbitrate the matter as the voluntary retrenchment scheme was not a “benefit” as contemplated by the Labour Relations Act. The commissioner however ruled that the company had committed an unfair labour practice by not admitting Ms. Hoosen to the scheme, and ordered Apollo Tyres to pay her the specified severance package.

The Labour Appeal Court considered the matter and held that the retirement benefit in Apollo Tyres had been offered to all monthly paid employees between the ages of 46 and 59. The employee was 49 and was paid a monthly wage. Apollo Tyres also had a discretion as to whether or not to grant the benefit. The issue was whether that discretion had been exercised unfairly, for example, whether the employer had acted arbitrarily, capriciously or for no justifiable reason. The Labour Appeal Court concluded that Appollo Tyres had shifted the goal posts and had provided no credible reason for not granting the employee an early retirement package. The court accordingly held that Apollo Tyres had perpetrated an unfair labour practice by excluding the employee from the early retirement scheme and dismissed the appeal with costs.

In arriving at its decision the Labour Appeal Court enunciated the following important legal principles:

A proper approach is to interpret the term “benefit” to include a benefit to which an employee is entitled (from contract or from legislation, including rights judicially created) as well as an advantage or privilege which the employee has been offered or granted in terms of a practice subject to the employer’s discretion. Those judgments in which a contrary approach was adopted are accordingly wrong.     Employees who wish to use unfair labour practice jurisdiction to claim a right to be promoted, receive training or be granted employment benefits, do not have to prove a right to be promoted or trained if the fairness of the employer’s conduct is challenged.     The concern that a wide definition of “benefit” will undermine the right to strike is no longer justified.     Disputes over the provision of benefits fall into two categories. Where the dispute is not based on an allegation that the grant or removal of a benefit is unfair, strike action is the remedy. Where the dispute concerns the fairness or otherwise of the employer’s conduct, it can be adjudicated through arbitration.

The Labour Appeal Court went further and held that there are at least two instances of conduct by an employer relating to the provision of benefits that may be subjected to scrutiny by the CCMA under its unfair labour practice jurisdiction:

The first instance is where an employer fails to comply with a contractual obligation that it has towards an employee. In this instance, an employee would still only be able to refer a dispute to the CCMA for adjudication if such a dispute is based on a right or benefit contained in the contract of employment, or alternatively in law.     The second situation is where the employer exercises a discretion that it enjoys under the contractual terms of a scheme conferring a benefit. In this instance, even where the employer enjoys a discretion in terms of a policy or practice relating to the provision of benefits, such conduct can be scrutinized by the CCMA.

As a result, the term “benefit” in the Labour Relations Act has now been expanded to include not only existing advantages or privileges to which an employee is entitled to as a right, but also those advantages and privileges granted in terms of a policy or practice over which the employer has a discretion. Employers should thus exercise extra care when exercising their discretion and implementing policies relating to benefits.

This judgment may also be seen to have potentially opened the floodgates for referrals by unsatisfied employees to the CCMA regarding privileges and advantages awarded by an employer at its discretion. Importantly thougth, the unfair labour practice jurisdiction cannot be used by employees to assert an entitlement to new contractual terms such as new benefits, new forms of remuneration or new policies not previously provided for by the employer.

It is clear that employers faced with having to exercise a discretion as to whether to grant certain benefits or not must exercise such discretion in a fair, transparent and justifiable manner to avoid falling foul of the unfair labour practice provisions of the Labour Relations Act.•

Mosdel Parma & Cox ppam@mpc.law.za 044 533 1101

DA has brought Bitou back from the brink

By late last year the municipality, which was bankrupted by the ANC, was no longer insolvent

BITOU TURNAROUND AN EXAMPLE OF “BETTER TOGETHER” DA GOVERNMENT

On Friday 31st January 2014, the DA Western Cape Provincial Parliament caucus visited the Bitou Municipality as part of the DA’s project Masisebenze (Let us work).

Fellow Cabinet members Ivan Meyer, Theuns Botha, Albert Fritz, Bonginkosi Madikizela and Dan Plato were accompanied by members of the Provincial Parliament.

The visit was conducted to review the investment & progress made by Provincial / local Government since the DA coalition took over in May 2011 and to launch our 2014 election campaign.

The opportunity was also used to consult with community leaders from the economic and social development clusters and to discuss sustainable, job based economic growth prospects.

The DA inherited a bankrupt municipality with a legacy of corruption and cadre deployment. By implementing strictfinancial management, the DA has brought the municipality back from a downward spiral and achieved an unqualified audit for 2013. By late last year the Municipality was no longer insolvent. The Municipality has even been able to give bursaries to 43 disadvantaged students who could not afford to study or were in need of financial assistance to complete their studies.

Water – The Municipality has maintained a successful Blue Drop status, indicating that it has a clean, reliable water supply and sound management. In addition the Municipality has again won the Wilson Award by the Water Institute of SA for the quality of our sewerage effluent in 2013. Plans have been implemented to increase theelectricity supply to cater for the needs of the second fastest growing town in South Africa. Four successful housing projects have been implemented in KwaNokuthula, Kurland, Kranshoek & Bossiesgif/Qolweni. Plans have been implemented for recycling and a new solid waste transfer station in Kwanokuthula.

Apart from the turn-around of the administration, the Western Cape government has assisted the residents in improving their quality of life and access to services. This is no small task due to the fact that the Bitou Municipality serves as transit point into the Western Cape. People are continuously moving in and out of the municipality making budgeting and planning for service delivery a challenge.

The DA-led government has made every effort to ensure the availability of excellent services. Health – a new dayhospital was built in KwaNokuthula that delivers quality health services to our residents including a TB clinic and a dentistry. The clinic in New Horizons is also currently being upgraded. In Education – Formosa Primary has been rebuilt and two further schools will be delivered in the next two years in Kranshoek & Kwanokuthula. Social services have been enhanced and roads upgraded. The Province will continue to invest more than R400m in Bitou over the medium term expenditure framework – over the next three financial years.

The DA visit to the area concluded with a very successful constituency meeting on Friday evening which was very well attended. The provincial leadership took the opportunity to inform the community of the successes at local and provincial level and to encourage people to ensure they, their family and friends are registered during the final registration weekend on the 8 / 9 February 2014.

Bitou Municipality is one of the best examples of how the DA has turned around a corrupt ANC regime and is creating opportunity and another success story in local government.

This municipality is proof that where the DA governs, it governs with the aim to create opportunity as one nation with one future.•

www.thegremlin.co.za

U3A

Monday  24th February 2014
–  Downton Abbey  :  Series 4  ( Part 4 of 8 )
April 1922 :  The Jazz Age of the 1920’s
Lady Rose accompanies Mary and Tom to
London where they visit  a Jazz Club.
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator:  Brenda Hardy  044-533-5489

Monday  24th February 2014
–  U3A  Film Club  :  Summer  in  February
In 1913, in the days leading up to World War I, a
group of artists moved to Cornwall and became part
of the Newlyn Artists’ Colony.  Based on a true story.
18H15 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator:  Brian Hardy  044-533-5489

Tuesday  25th February 2014
–  Italian Conversation
09H45  at 12 Challenge Drive
Co-ordinator:  Brenda Hardy  044-533-5489

Wednesday  26th February 2014
– The Impressionists : Painting & Revolution ( Part 2 of 4 )
Waldemar Januszczak continues his investigation of the
Impressionists by taking us outdoors to their famous locations.
10H00  at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator:  Angela Embleton  044-533-1437

Wednesday  26th February 2014
–  U3A Plett  Social Bridge Club
General lessons for improving players, help
and supervised Bridge in a friendly atmosphere
13H45  at the Angling Club
Co-ordinator:  Michael Webb  082-226-7280

Friday  28th February 2014
–  French Conversation
10H00 at  7 Glennifer Street
Co-ordinator:  Merle Decot  044-533-5879

Friday  28th February 2014
–  Mah Jong
Learn and play this ancient and fascinating game.
14H00  at Formosa Garden Village Small Dining Room
Co-ordinator:  Amelia White  044-533-0113

WHEN YOUR MIND GOES BLANK

Stress is experienced when the demands made of the body are greater than the body’s available resources to deal with them comfortably. These demands can be anything and include toxic substances in food, work pressures, relationship problems. When you experience stress there will be physiological symptoms, such as skin problems, digestive disorders, disturbed sleep. There may also be emotional consequences, such as irritability, frustration, depression.

One prevalent form of stress is what I call the frustrated fight-or-flight response. In response to perceived danger the body prepares to fight or flee. Blood drains from the thinking centres of the brain as blood is pumped to the major muscles; non-essential body functions cease; and cerebrospinal fluid recedes from the frontal lobes to the back of the brain, making rational thought almost impossible.

The flight-or-flight response is appropriate only if you are in physical danger. Emotional ‘dangers’, such as delivering a presentation or attending an interview, are far more common, and fighting or running would be very inappropriate.

If you were to fight or flee you wouldn’t be in a state of stress: you would be doing what your body is primed for. But if the body is on high alert, ready for action, and the conscious mind impels it to stay put and be cool, the fight-or-flight response is frustrated. A conflict is created between the demands of the body, which is prepared for action, and the dictates of the conscious mind, which prohibits such action.

The faculty you need most urgently when faced with emotional peril is not muscle power to fight or run but the ability to think. But in the state of frustrated fight or flight, the blood has vacated the thinking areas of the brain, and clear thinking is impossible – the mind has gone blank.

When the body is on high alert the digestive organs don’t function; the heart and lungs work extra hard; muscles are tense and flexed; thinking areas of the brain shut down. Imagine trying to function when your body is in this state for any length of time and the toll it takes. But it’s common.

Here’s one way to determine whether you are suffering from stress. Look in the mirror with head straight. If you see the white beneath your pupil in one eye, you are suffering stress. If you see the white beneath the pupils of both eyes, you are suffering significant stress. Find out what is stressing you and take steps to reduce your stress levels. Why not take a look now?

Adapted from The Therapist Within You: a Handbook of Kinesiology Self-therapy with the Pendulum, by Jonathan Livingstone www.therapycoaching.co

– Jonathan Livingstone

Is My Cat Sick ?

Thinking that your much loved cat might be ill is a worrying time, they can’t tell you what’s wrong and unless you’re a trained vet you’re not going to know if their illness is serious or just something simple like a common cold.

Symptoms to suggest that your cat maybe ill

If you’re cat has a complete change in behaviour such as spending even more time sleeping, being aggressive, not wanting to interact and hiding out in quiet dark areas of the house then there’s a possibility that your cat might be ill.

It’s important to think about the changes in behaviour as certain behaviours or symptoms indicate more serious cat illnesses such as feline diabetes.  Symptoms such as increased urination, weight loss, vomiting and increased thirst would indication diabetes.  But unless you’re looking closely at your cats behaviour you may miss the increased thirst and urination.

Keep an eye on your cats litter tray especially when your cat is using it, do they seem to be in pain when they urinate as they may have a urinary track infection that need to be dealt with immediately.

If your cat is healthy this will shown in their fur so if there coat isn’t as shiny as normal or they seem to be loosing a lot fur as opposed to just malting, get them checked out at the vet as it may be a sign of something more serious.

When stroking your cat pay attention to their joints as lumps on these areas could indicate serious illnesses such as cancer.

The better you know your cat the easier it will be to spot changes in behaviour and appearance and if they are ill, it will allow you to take them to the vets early and hopefully in time to deal with any serious health issues.•

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