Stress is a perfectly normal, human reaction.
It happens to everyone in times of danger, and can help to prepare us to respond quickly to threats. In moderate amounts, stress can actually help to improve your performance, as well as motivate you to achieve important things.
However, in some people stress can be ongoing and severe, impairing their daily functioning and contributing to numerous health risks.
Stress can come from a range of different places, such as:
- Work problems;
- Family/relationships with others;
- Life changes (eg marriage, divorce, loss of job, sudden illness);
- Taking on too many different jobs/roles.
How do I know if I am stressed?
Some people are able to recognise when their own stress levels are getting out of hand, but many others remain unaware until the symptoms start interfering with daily life. Some common symptoms of stress are:
- Excessive worrying;
- Poor concentration;
- Muscle aches and pains;
- Tension headaches;
- Moodiness and irritability;
- Snapping at others;
- High blood pressure;
- Chest pain;
- Frequent cold and flu;
- Upset stomach;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Changes in appetite;
How can I manage stress?
Many of my clients are keen to find out how they can stress less and enjoy life more, so I thought I would share some tips here for you:
- Understand your stress. Recognise your major sources of stress, and the ways in which they affect you.
- Problem solving. Define your problem and identify ways to manage it one step at a time. For example, if the main cause of your stress is having too many demands placed on you from others, build assertiveness skills so you feel comfortable saying ‘no’ or work on your time-management skills.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Just twenty minutes of exercise a day can greatly reduce stress levels. It can help clear your mind, boost your mood and give you higher energy levels. Maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough sleep each night can also help.
- Work/life balance. Taking time out from work to do activities you enjoy and develop hobbies, can help lower stress levels.
- Develop a social network. Spending time with friends and family is an important part of looking after ourselves and our wellbeing. Spend time around positive people, and accept help from others if needed.
- Challenging negative thinking and engaging in positive self-talk. Negative thinking patterns can actually exacerbate stress levels and hinder your ability to problem solve and take positive actions. Thinking positively and reframing your negative thoughts can improve your outlook and decrease stress levels.
- Relaxation techniques. Controlled breathing, visualisation and progressive muscle relaxation can help to relax your body, calm your mind and reduce your overall stress levels.
Need Help to Stress Less and Enjoy Life More?
Some people can take steps to reduce stress levels themselves, but others may prefer to see a professional. A psychologist can support and guide you with strategies to reduce your overall stress levels and promote wellbeing.
Author: Tegan Gonczar, BA (Hons), Grad Dip Ed (Secondary).
Tegan Gonczar is a Brisbane psychologist with experience in providing psychological counselling to children, adolescents and adults; she has a passion for working with people of all ages, to help them overcome obstacles, learn effective ways of coping and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Bookings and Fees: To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Tegan Gonczar, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Powell, T. (2009). The Mental Health Handbook : A Cognitive Behavioural Approach (3rd ed.). Speechmark Publishing Ltd., U.K.
- Saulsman, L., Nathan, P., Lim, L., Correia, H., Anderson, R., & Campbell, B. (2015). What? Me Worry!?! Mastering Your Worries. Perth, Western Australia: Centre for Clinical Interventions.