Saturday 16 December 2017

Stress and celebrity


Katherine Lynch
Katherine Lynch
Seana Kerslake
Roz Purcell

Nobody is immune from stress, but we all cope with it in different ways. Six well-known faces tell Andrea Smith how it affects them, what they do to relieve it, and how it can be harnessed positively.

Norah Casey 

Broadcaster and businesswoman

"I thrive on a little bit of stress because it gets me up and going and gives me that push to make sure I'm well- prepared. I'm always nervous before I speak, even though I do it every day, and if my stress levels get too high it's usually because I haven't put in enough time to prepare. I like to have done a huge amount of preparation and rehearsed things in my mind, so that I know I can deliver on stage or to camera.

"Rumination is something I find hard to control because, like most women, I tend to dwell on things that may not have gone right or something someone might have said. If something is playing over in my mind, I count to 10. By that I mean I concentrate on each number for at least a minute at a time until I'm exhausted from it, and that works. I do 30 minutes fast walking every morning and that tends to clear my head. That's where my biggest thoughts come to me. I'm also a great believer in dietary things for controlling stress. I'm slightly addicted to blueberries, which have great properties, and I take spirulina and almonds religiously and they keep my energy levels up."

Roz Purcell

Model and foodie

"I totally get stressed when I have deadlines looming or big projects I'm working on. Stress can really impact people's health and I've become mindful of that. I've seen people close to me develop insomnia and even hair loss from stress, and as soon as it starts to affect your health something needs to change.

"Going to the gym and working out helps me to completely switch off and re-evaluate situations that usually seem way bigger in my head than they actually are. I also love walking and getting fresh air.

"Cooking and baking is my number one passion, so when stress strikes I go into the kitchen. I put music on and start trialling new recipes, or make some of my favourites like my peanut butter and raspberry bread. I've also played around with some apps such as Headspace, which help too."

Miriam O'Callaghan


"After my precious sister Anne died aged 33 from cancer, I realised that most things in life aren't worth getting stressed about. The only stress I really experience is when any of my children are ill or have an accident. I rarely, if ever, get stressed about work and just adore what I do.

"Laughter is a great weapon to counteract stress. If we are up against it and some of my colleagues are a bit stressed, I always try to crack a joke. It makes everyone realise that our work of course matters, and we need to get it right and do it to the very best of our abilities, but it's not a matter of life and death.

"It's often said that a little stress is not bad for us, and I'm sure that's true. For me though, I wake up every morning happy and grateful that I and Steve and the children are all healthy, something I never, ever take for granted."

Paschal Donohoe

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

"I am most likely to feel stressed when the balance between my personal and political life isn't right. Ensuring that I see my family and spend time with them is the key thing for me. If that is out of kilter, I definitely feel it. Making sure I take enough exercise every day is essential. Getting fresh air and physical exercise really helps clear the mind. I also read for 20-30 minutes every night.

"I would distinguish between stress and pressure however, with pressure being an unavoidable consequence of a demanding job, which sometimes helps you to deliver more. Stress, on the other hand, is dangerous and damaging and it is very important to ensure that you properly manage it. With regards to work, having a team in place that I trust helps to dramatically reduce stress levels. I consider myself very fortunate in that I have the most fantastic team around me, including more broadly in my department."

Katherine Lynch


"Stress affects me if I let it, but I try not to let it these days. When anyone's workload is too heavy, there is too much nervous energy going on, and in the past, I would have suffered from hyper-exhaustion and a feeling of frustration when stressed. "How I use it positively is that I manifest stress sometimes into pushing myself forward and winding myself up before going out on stage. My way of dealing with stress now is that I work to live, not live to work. I've just finished two reality shows, so I'm taking a week away to go on holiday and read books. I also find dinner, red wine and proper communication with old friends is a great recipe for stress relief."

Seana Kerslake


"I'm usually stressed if I have a lot to do and not enough time to do it, which happens often. The positive side to stress is that it makes you hit deadlines. It can make you realise what you actually want in a situation, and sometimes you can perform better under pressure. "I find that working out is great for relieving stress and taking your mind off things. Writing also helps me ease stress. Just getting my worries out and putting them on paper helps, even if it's just writing a to-do list. I also try to stay in the moment, which you often try to do as an actor. I do what I can to change the situation and try to keep the problem in context."

Dermot Bannon


"I get stressed because I care so much about my job that I find it really difficult to compartmentalise my life into work and play. I could lie awake at night worrying over a window or roof, and while I'd love to be able to leave my work behind at the end of the working day, I can never park it. I'm constantly thinking about it, so I could be making breakfast for the kids on a Saturday morning and I'd run over to sketch something in the middle of it.

"I'm least stressed when I'm in the middle of tackling things, rather than worrying about all I have to do. I'm a born worrier, and I worry about the kids' futures and things like Brexit and Donald Trump, which don't even really affect me. I'm more of a glass half-empty type of guy - even when the TV show is doing really well I'm picking holes in things.

"Going to the gym helps me, and the one thing I absolutely love is swimming in the sea. The colder the better as I feel amazing afterwards. I even swim religiously on Christmas Day."

Al Porter


"I'm a highly-strung person and get very wound up at times. I've always been like that. When I do panto in the Olympia, I'm so worried about missing a scene, I have a chart on the wall listing the scenes before and after mine and what my cues are.

"Stress makes me anxious and I feel like I've lost control. If I feel under pressure, I eat a lot of pizza and start smoking, even though I don't really smoke. Or I might end up going 'Oh f**k it' and going out and binge drinking. I've learned that stress is part of the life I'm living, which is fast-paced with a lot of meetings and gigs. I take each day on its own rather than looking at the month ahead because if you try to take everything in at once, it can be overwhelming.

"Fresh air helps me unwind, especially because I'm cooped up for a lot of things like radio and writing, so I get cabin fever. Even walking the dog or going to the shop for milk gives me a fresh perspective. I try to play tennis, and giving myself a few hours off to watch TV or to go the cinema helps."

Sunday Independent

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