Believe it or not, a certain amount of stress is actually good for us!
In moderate amounts, stress can provide the motivation we need to achieve important things (eg studying for an exam). It can also boost our performance which can be useful in times of anxiety and danger, helping us to respond quickly to the situation at hand.
However, when stress and anxiety get out of hand, they can have a negative impact on both mental and physical health and wellbeing.
What Creates Stress?
Stress and anxiety can develop in almost any area of life, including:
- From problems at work;
- Difficulties with family or friends;
- Life changes (even positive ones) – marriage, divorce, retirement, moving house, sudden illness;
- Trying to do too much!
Signs of Too Much Stress
Although some folk can recognise when their stress levels are rising, others remain clueless – until the symptoms start interfering with their day to day life.
Here are some of the most common signs that your stress and anxiety levels are higher than they should be:
- Excessive worrying;
- Trouble with 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;
7 Tips for Managing Your Stress Levels
- 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 you 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 overall stress levels.
Where to Get Help
You might feel that you are able to work at reducing your stress levels on your own; others feel better seeing a professional like a psychologist, for support and guidance with learning strategies to manage stress when it is getting out of hand.
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.