Stress is that sensation whereby you feel overloaded, tense, worried or on edge. We might notice stress when we cannot cope with a certain task, situation or experience.
We can feel acute levels of stress - reacting to a situation or experience in the short term (and then recover, or bounce back), or chronic levels of stress – prolonged episodes of stress caused by things such as relationship issues, health concerns, ongoing financial problems, social isolation and/or violence (Australian Psychological Society).
Stress can manifest in different ways; it can affect the way we think, feel, behave and interact. Too much stress can have a detrimental impact on our mental, emotional, psychological and physical health. Excessive stress can cause physical conditions such as digestive issues, headaches and sleep disturbances. It can also lead to high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Untreated stress, which extends over a period of time, can also lead to the development of heart disease and obesity (Psychological Stress, Healthline).
It’s important to note that not all stress is harmful. Stress can sometimes act as a source of motivation or adrenaline – encouraging us to reach our potential or to perform our best. This type of stress is called eustress and can be associated with feelings of excitement.
Here are some signs of stress as per our emotional, behavioural and physical wellbeing (stress.org.uk):
- Depressed, low mood
- Disengagement: uninterested in life, or in things which provide pleasure
- Irritable, impatient
- Anxious, nervousness, worry
- Racing thoughts, unable to switch off
- A sense of dread, ‘doom and gloom’
- Difficulty making decisions
- Avoiding situations which trouble you
- Poor habits (picking at your skin, biting your nails, over-eating)
- Smoking, increase in alcohol intake
- Interpersonal conflict
- Difficulty breathing
- Panic attacks
- Muscular tension
- Difficulty falling asleep, maintain quality rest, fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Heartburn, indigestion
- Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting
Are you stressed?
Complete the below self-assessed Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) to see whether you’re experiencing stress. The PSS is a stress assessment instrument. It can help us to understand our feelings and perceived stress as a result of different situations.
Click here to complete the self-assessment and to interpret your results! There are only 10 questions so it won’t take you too long.
5 tips and tricks to help manage stress
Try some stress relief colouring!
1. Mindfulness colouring can help us to feel more connected to the present moment, to ground us to the activity, to encourage us to be creative, in a non-judgemental way. We can feel more relaxed and calm. We might notice a shift in our mood, feeling free from our overwhelming or stressful thoughts or memories.
Here is a link to some beautiful images you can download to try mindful colouring for yourself:
2) Prioritise your sleep
Getting good quality sleep (and enough sleep, 7-9 hours/night) is crucial when it comes to managing our stress. We can’t drive a car on an empty tank! The same rule applies when it comes to our mental and emotional wellbeing – we need enough sleep in order to be able to cope with daily stresses, maintain positive relationships, work effectively, contribute, make a difference, maintain our physical wellness goals, and many more things. Try a guided meditation or some journaling before bed if you are struggling to achieve good quality sleep.
3) Self-care practises
Self-care is not selfish! Self-care is essential in helping us experience pleasure, calm, relaxation, enjoyment, adventure or creativity. Self-care means taking a moment for YOU and investing time in YOU. Engaging in regular self-care can help us to better manage our stress because we are taking time out from: *the busyness of life *the stress of work *the difficulty managing a household or parent responsibilities * difficult relationships. I encourage you to set yourself some new self-care goals to better manage your stress. Here are some ideas:
Active movement for 15-20 minutes
Enjoy a warm shower
Take a walk in nature
Make a healthy snack
Go for a massage
Watch your favourite film or TV series
Complete a guided meditation
Do something creative
Enjoy a cup of herbal tea
Complete a breathing practise
4) 30-day Calendar Challenge:
Set yourself a goal for each day which focuses on your 1) physical wellbeing i.e going for a walk, 2) mental wellbeing i.e completing a breathing practice and 3) emotional wellbeing i.e journaling your thoughts.
* it takes 30 days to create new habits. Stay engaged, stay focused and embrace change!
5) Stop and BREATHE! Breathing is so beneficial when it comes to managing our stress and reducing feelings of overwhelm or anxiety. Breathing enables us to refocus, re-engage and return to the present moment, which can reduce our stress. There are numerous breathing practises you can engage in and it’s important to find the right style for you. Here is one you can try today:
Stress is incredibly common; one in eight Australian currently experience high or very high psychological distress. (BeyondBlue.org.au) In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. (Mentalhealth.org.uk).
It is normal to feel stressed at times; life can be difficult and unpredictable and it is only natural to feel overwhelmed. Now is the time to hit PAUSE and to focus on your health and wellbeing. Set yourself some stress goals and start to feel more in control of your emotions, thoughts and feelings.
However, if you notice you’ve been suffering from unmanageable or chronic stress, I recommend you book an appointment with your local Doctor or Medical Practitioner for further support.
Yours in wellness,