How to Understand and Manage Stress

Sometimes we get so busy and have so much stuff going on that we feel stressed and don’t seem to have the time to do anything. This can result in becoming overwhelmed and producing physical warning signs that tell us we need to change something.

Common signs include

  • A dry mouth
  • Increased heart and breathing rates
  • Tingling/numbness in our extremities or blurred vision/dizziness
  • An upset stomach/digestive system
  • Increased sweating
  • Heavy/dead legs
  • Headaches
  • Lump in the throat or constricted feeling in the chest

This natural response is designed to protect us and is a result of adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol being released into our body. It also often results in a fight, flight or freeze response…however this response doesn’t help tackle the stress and make choices that will assist us.

But if we realise what’s going on we, have a much better chance of doing something about it.

So what can you do if you feel stressed?

Manage the physical warning signs by being mindful of what’s going on and being able to observe your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. However, this can be really difficult as sometimes the stress levels are so high, that our thinking seems to switch off. If this is the case, try to do a grounding exercise to get the thinking turned back on.

An example of a grounding exercise is to mindfully notice the world by using your senses: What are five things you can: see, physically feel in contact with your body and hear?

The following link also provides more information about mindfulness and how to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Everyday Mindfulness

Use the AND technique…

  • Be Aware of what’s going on
  • Name what’s going on
  • Describe what’s going on

Once you are able to start thinking again you can then start problem solving, planning and make the conscious choice to do something that will help to reduce the stress rather than follow the fight, flight or freeze response.

This might mean re-evaluating what’s really important and changing your work/life balance, saying no, accepting and getting help, prioritising relaxation …and may even result in finding time!

However, this can be really difficult, so if you find that this approach doesn’t work or you have ongoing concerns that your stress might be related to anxiety or depression, it may be worthwhile to get some professional advice from a psychologist. If you or your child is experiencing ongoing stress, you can make an appointment to discuss your concerns and get help from one of our practitioners.

John Pertl
Psychologist

 

 

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