MONEYWEB: Well, you heard the story a little earlier about Louis Stassen, chief investment officer of Coronation, who suffered a mild heart attack last week. He’s back at work already. Dr Judy Jaye, who’s project development manager at the Voice & Stress Clinic, is in the studio. We’ll find out from her a little later whether it’s a smart thing for Louis to be back at work so quickly. He’s 42 years old, Judy, he’s fit, he’s a Capetonian – so one would suggest stress levels not quite as bad as they might be in other parts of the world – and yet he had a heart attack.
JUDY JAYE: Alec, if you’re posing the question, “does stress exist?” Stress certainly does exist.
MONEYWEB: Of course it exists, but why would a guy who’s 42 and fit be vulnerable?
JUDY JAYE: OK. Many people do not know that they can actually employ stress-management techniques. In today’s world there is so much stress that people allow, in many cases, stress just to overwhelm them. No matter what position they hold, or who they are.
MONEYWEB: So it’s ignorance, in a way?
JUDY JAYE: I’d like to call it a lack of education through the school system, having come through the school system myself. So many of the clients turn around at the end of the stress-management workshops that I offer and say “gosh, if only we’d learned this when we were at school”.
MONEYWEB: So what should Louis have been doing that he wasn’t doing, that got him into trouble?
JUDY JAYE: If we look at, very briefly, the major factors of stress management, the first one is, of course, time to relax. One always needs time to relax. There is a wheel of time.
MONEYWEB: What percentage, roughly, in your day?
JUDY JAYE: In the wheel of time, there are five segments, and one of the segments is relaxation. And I’m talking about relaxation as “chill” time, Alec. I’m not even referring to it as gym time. I’m talking to it as “me” time, “chill” time, “brain switch off” time.
MONEYWEB: Reading? Meditating?
JUDY JAYE: Anything that switches me off, and allows me to recharge myself, to face whatever I need to face.
JUDY JAYE: Sleep is rest. I’m talking about plain relaxation, chilling.
MONEYWEB: Let’s take those five. What are the four other segments?
JUDY JAYE: First is time for work. Second is time for personal interests, where we consider our own personal growth. For example, taking up a hobby, any type of hobby that interests you. The third is time for religious or spiritual activities. We need time to reflect and to be with the Creator, the Lord, whatever one wants to call the Higher Power. The fourth is time for relationships, and that is another reason that people become so stressed. If we don’t give time to relationships, we don’t receive the energy, the positive energy.
MONEYWEB: Now you’re talking this evening to many A-type personalities, people for whom work is more than just work, it’s a bit of an obsession. How much of your time can you healthily devote to your working life?
JUDY JAYE: Alec, I think that that depends on most people’s lifestyles. But let me just say that everybody must be aware of the fact that they need a balance in their lives. They need a balance between work …
MONEYWEB: David works about, how many, 14 hours a day, Dave? What should he be doing?
JUDY JAYE: I would hate to set down a particular time because it depends on everybody’s capacity. But I think the realisation of the need for balance – the secret of life is balance.
MONEYWEB: You’re not putting your neck on the line on this one?
JUDY JAYE: I’m not.
MONEYWEB: What about Louis Stassen, though? He’s in financial services, he’s fairly young – is that a high-risk area? Financial services, asset management?
JUDY JAYE: Very high risk, as is medicine, any of these high profile [areas]. People need to know that, no matter what your profession is, you need to take time out. We are not machines. So the first thing is the knowledge that you need to take time out to relax. The second is a very important part of stress management which people miss. It’s the knowledge of mind technology techniques – knowing that you, through your own mind, can control your stress levels.
MONEYWEB: What about eating and smoking?
JUDY JAYE: I’m coming to that. But people ignore the mind. If people only paid attention to the fact that stress lies not in the situation, but in your perception or interpretation of it. And by certain techniques, by choosing a proactive, rather than reactive response to stress, you can actually lessen the stress in your life and make the situation more …
MONEYWEB: Right, now come to what I asked you about, which was smoking and drinking and eating?
JUDY JAYE: The third factor is diet, no doubt. They always say you are what you eat. If you’re going to put in junk food the whole time, you’re not going to feed your body, you are going to become a victim of stress.
MONEYWEB: Let’s just look at Louis now. He obviously exercised, he obviously eats well, because he is fit and he’s trim and healthy, and yet he still managed [to succumb]. So what you’re saying, if you get the other side right, and you still eat badly, I guess you’ve got problems too.
JUDY JAYE: Correct. There is the mind-technology techniques, number one; time for chill time, number two, relaxation time; time for exercise, a very important part of it; and of course then, just time to get your energy back through relationships.
MONEYWEB: Looking at those high-risk professions. You did say medicine, asset management / financial services – what are other areas where you need to be more aware that you could be subject to stress issues?
JUDY JAYE: Alec, they always talk about any service industry. People in any type of service industry, where you’re dealing with people and you’re giving out all the time, is at risk – very much.
MONEYWEB: Hotel guys must have a rough time, waiters and maitre Ds.
JUDY JAYE: Any kind of service industry. You’ve got to nurture yourself, you’ve got to put in what you give out. And that is what people forget – that you’re giving out a tremendous amount, you need to take back and give yourself praise, recognition and just positive input.
MONEYWEB: In the interview that Louis had with our Cape correspondent, Jackie Cameron, he said that he felt tightness in his chest and he booked himself into hospital. Now I’m not sure if most people would, after feeling tightness in their chests, take that decision. Is there any warning signal that will come through?
JUDY JAYE: I think that you highlight a very important point. This gentleman was aware of, and gave attention to, himself. He obviously took care of himself. So many people ignore the warning symptoms, so many people ignore symptoms such as palpitations, diarrhoea, all the kind of typical stress management symptoms. You’re not feeling well, you ignore it. You carry on not feeling well, you ignore it. What you’re saying is very, very pertinent. We don’t want to create a nation of hypochondriacs, but we do want to create a nation of people that are aware of their own bodies.
MONEYWEB: Now he had a mild heart attack last week, but he’s back at the office already.
JUDY JAYE: I wouldn’t like to comment, because that is a medical issue.
MONEYWEB: It doesn’t sound too smart, though.
JUDY JAYE: As I explained, it’s the doctor’s decision. I’m a stress-management expert with a PhD in stress management.
MONEYWEB: Dr Judy Jaye in the studio this evening, David, helping you, helping us, hopefully helping lots of people stick around.
DAVID SHAPIRO: Hope my wife’s listening!