Manage Your Stress

Stress is a part of life. We can't avoid it but we can learn to manage it. Read on to find out how to identify stress and how to manage it.

Stress is a normal physiological response to changes or challenges. As humans, we are designed to react to these changes and challenges. This is the stress response.

Stress can be helpful. It can motivate us, heighten alertness, and help us avoid danger. Chronic stress however, can be damaging. Unmanaged, it can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

How Stress Presents:

Feelings of stress can present differently for different people so first you need to recognise what stress feels like for you.

Common signs of stress are:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed
  2. Becoming easily frustrated
  3. Difficulty relaxing
  4. Feeling lonely
  5. Avoiding others

Physical signs can include:

  1. Jaw clenching
  2. Chest tightness or chest pain (always seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms)
  3. Headaches
  4. Dizziness
  5. Muscle tension
  6. Nausea
  7. Loss of appetite or binge eating

Take note of how you feel and what is happening in your body when you're stressed will help you recognise stress earlier moving forward.

Recognise Your Triggers:

The way you respond to the challenges in your daily life will affect your stress levels. Recognising common triggers can help you manage stress as you will be better prepared with a plan for coping when they arise.

Triggers for stress can be internal or external or a mix of both. Here are some examples:

Internal Stressors:

  • Beliefs - your internal belief system can set you up for stress. Expectations and beliefs about how you should be behaving or what you should be achieving can all lead to increase stress
  • Fears
  • Uncertainty/ Not feeling in control

External Stressors:

  • Big life changes - marriage, death of a loved one, purchasing a new home, separation, or a new baby- to name a few.
  • Your environment - cluttered or noisy environments can raise stress levels in some people
  • Unplanned events - job loss, unexpected house guests, illness
  • Workplace stress
  • Social stress

Once you identify what triggers your stress you can plan how you will manage it.

To manage internal stressors, consider opting for a positive mindset by reframing your thoughts, challenging negative thought patterns, practicing relaxation techniques, or talking with a friend or therapist.

External stressors can be managed by practicing these 10 tips:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Actively relax your muscles - when you feel stress certain muscles will tense up. Do a quick body can and actively focus on relaxing these muscles whilst deep breathing.
  • Take a break - contrary to popular belief, you do not have to respond to everything immediately. Take a break to consider how best to respond. The aim here is to respond, not react.
  • Slow down - look at what is currently on your plate and eliminate what is not necessary or helpful. Delegate if possible.
  • Make space for 'me time' - schedule in some regular time for self-care whether that be finding a hobby, meditation, or some quiet alone time.
  • Eliminate or minimise triggers - set boundaries. Maybe you can't quit your job but you can turn off email notifications out of work hours. Have a friend or family member who drains you? Limit their access to you.
  • Reach out for help - talking to a loved one, trusted friend or professional can help you problem solve stressful situations. Even the simple act of saying how you feel can be therapeutic as well.

How do you manage your stress? Do you have any other strategies that you find helpful and we haven't mentioned? Let us know in the comments.


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