Dr Helgo SchomerDr Helgo Schomer was the 2nd speaker at the Psychologies Workshop I attended on Saturday, 28 July in Cape Town at Groot Constantia. The first time I met Dr Schomer was after hearing him on 702/Cape Talk when he was a regular on the Tim Modise show before Tim resigned to run communications for the 2010 Fifa Worldcup. I really liked his energy and direct approach to dealing with problems. Sometimes I perceived him almost confrontational like Dr Phil but Helgo is physically the antithesis of Dr Phil because he is a real fitness freak and in fact specialises in health psychology. For more on Dr Schomer remember to check out his profile on the UCT website.

Anyway he spoke at length about stress management. I purchased the 1st of the DVD series of the Schomer lectures, which is in fact the same talk. We live full lives and there is a constant drain because of stress and work. Just 15 years ago we didn’t have this constant demand. He told us a story of when he lost 60 days worth of work when his PC crashed. His head of department at UCT didn’t want to listen to him when he said that it was acting up. So when the crash happened he lost the plot, called his HOD, to tell him to look out the window as he throwing his computer out his window. We have more information at our fingertips then ever before, yet we have less knowledge.

Just a 100 years ago it used to take 2 weeks from Cape Town to Simon’s Town and you had a lot of time to think and contemplate your life with very little interruptions. Have you ever been to Joburg airport during Easter? It’s like a real mad house. He found himself in this situation and in a witty move attached himself to Desmond Tutu’s entourage so he managed to avoid all the delays and queues. Dr Schomer explained how just helping people can drain us when we cajoling family or massaging egos. If we are in love and driving in the traffic we are in a state of bliss and nothing can bother us. And in this state for about 3 to 9 months we live in the best emotions.

Now Dr Schomer has 3 daughters aged 20, 18 and 8 years old, so he understands women. The entire audience at this workshop was women except for myself and one other male delegate. An interesting analogy he made to determine your fitness level and stress levels, is to mimic a 2 year old; if you are a women for 3.5 hours or a man for 4.5 hours. Noise is another thing that drains us. Just thinking about how big humanity is can drain us. By comparison Pofadder has 1 STOP sign, 1 police station and what emerges is that we need space to cope. About 150 years there was only 1 billion people on earth and now we are approaching 7 billion. Is it possible to translate the negative into positive? There are just so many distractions we are dealing with. And how many times have you hit rock bottom?

Dr Helgo SchomerDr Schomer had a presentation with several slides from a model on stress management he has developed with some other researchers. So the problem comes in when we have a stresfull event which hits right through the exterior into our core concept – you can also say our identity. Now even communities like Khayelitsha , a township outside Cape Town, functions and the audience would be wise to go and stay in a bed & breakfast, to understand how things operate. There are different levels of stress that can be experienced: the first being light stress; and when experience a fender bender it increases to moderate stress; or when you go to collect your child at school and they are missing you may experience very quick increase to high stress levels.

Next he told us a hilarious story about cycling up Constantia neck. At the top of this road it’s mostly yield signs and therefore you are not obligated to stop. He was overtaken by a vegetable truck, which was being held together, with mercy, tow guys in front and two in the back. Next thing you know they were both being passed by a new BMW 7-series with tinted windows. This car has ABS breaks and stopped at the yield sign. The vegetable truck couldn’t stop in time and bumped into the back of the BMW. After this happened all the guys from the truck jumped out and ran into the bushes. Out of the BMW emerged a man, who was clearly high strung because he was waving a gun around. After about 10 to 15 minutes Dr Schomer managed to calm him down, to the point where he lowered the gun. It turns out he was going through a divorce, his kids didn’t want anything to do with him because he was having an affair and also problems at work.

Adaptation: What puts a smile on your face? In a team of 10 he normally splits it up with 6 women and 4 men to get the emotional intelligence of the group right.

Frustration: When you are swearing it’s a sign of frustration. He showed us an awesome photograph of a model who learned to sweep with a broom, at a very young age, to calm down. Men like to do things like climb mountains to get back to balance.

Deprivation: He talked about being a Buddhist Catholic and that he has a spiritual teacher whom he consults from time to time. Once a month he meets with another senior psychologist whom he talks to for 3 hours every month.

Nutrition: A primary area of expertise for Dr Schomer is health psychology. Healthy nutrition can reduce the drains from stress. Women make a common mistake by skipping breakfast because what happens after a 8 hours of sleep your body is starved for nutrition and needs to replenish it’s energy sources. If you skip breakfast your body starts to eat into it’s own muscle for energy and food eaten afterwards turns into fat. A a big lunch can cause the brain to shut down after skipping breakfast. For men 1 beer a day is healthy and for women 1 glass of wine. Smoking and specifically nicotine de-energises the body.

Self-Perception: What he wants is for you to avoid going into therapy. You have tell yourself constantly “I like myself” to boost your self-image. Avoid physical, emotional or mental abuse – which is to big to cover. Praise yourself whenever you can.

Anxious Reactivity: You can experience a worst case scenario when you constantly antagonising yourself and people around you. So he concluded with some important questions you have to ask yourself:

  1. Is your life meaningful?
  2. ?Do your emotions rule you or do you rule them?
  3. Is your life energy constantly kaput? Constantly drained?

Overall Dr Helgo Schomer is an exceptional speaker with high energy. And when you realise he is very physically active, swimming, surfing, jogging, cycling it’s understandable. He told me when we first met he developed a reputation among models and I can only imagine the stories from his private practise. So you may be interested in purchasing the Schomer Lectures DVD series please call his office in Cape Town on 021 4385308 and tell him I sent you.