stress management
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Stress management

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s physiological ‘fight or flight’ response to a potentially dangerous situation. The
sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat off or flee
to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening.

Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Research suggests that
chronic stress contributes to the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Formation of artery-clogging deposits
  • Brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.

 

Signs & symptoms of stress:

Physical:

  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating/hot flushes
  • Shaking
  • No interest in sex
  • Exhaustion/tiredness
  • Tight chest
  • Chest pains
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Skin conditions (i.e. rashes)
  • Stomach pain or ulcers
  • Tension/tight muscles
  • Frequent colds
  • Pain (i.e back pain)
  • Menstrual cycle changes

Thinking:

  • “I can’t cope”
  • I’m overwhelmed”
  • “Nothing’s going to change”
  • “Why me?”
  • “What’s wrong with me?”
  • “I should be able to sort this out”
  • “Here we go again”
  • “I don’t have time”
  • “It’s never going to end”
  • “I’m not going to be able to sleep”
  • “I can’t do this, it’s too much”
  • “Nothing will help”
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Lack of concentration
  • Constant worry

Feeling:

  • Stress
  • Frustration
  • Hopeless
  • Self-pity
  • Depressed
  • Hurt
  • Angry
  • Desperate
  • Lonely
  • Resentful
  • Vulnerable
  • Numb
  • Moody
  • Irritable
  • Unmotivated

Behaviour:

  • Staying in bed
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nail-biting
  • Snapping
  • Scratching
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Crying
  • Losing temper easily
  • Impatience
  • Smoking more
  • Restlessness
  • Yelling at loved ones
  • Clenching jaw
  • Not taking care of oneself

The best strategies for managing stress:

  • Increase self-care
    – improve diet
    – increase exercise
  • Increase work-life balance
    – plan and take breaks (daily, weekly and yearly)
    – identify your work hours and stick to them
    – review your personal and work priorities
  • Increase your productivity and focus at work by developing and sticking to a simple task
    management system. We recommend one list with all tasks listed. Have the capacity to put a high priority on certain tasks. Microsoft To Do
    is great for this. 
  • Manage electronic use
    – if you’re not in work time, do not check emails / use work devices
  • Be firm with your thoughts when not in work time – if it’s personal time, disconnect
    from any planning, processing, analysing regarding work tasks or incidents
  • Decrease or cease random scrolling through social media / news sites
  • Use relaxation and/or mindfulness exercises
  • Access counselling to increase stress management strategies

Yours in health,

Tess Andrews
Principal Psychologist
New Pathways Psychological Services

You may find this recent blog by Sal on ‘calming your nervous system’ interesting: https://portmelbournephysio.com.au/calming-your-sympathetic-nervous-system-2/

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