What is stress?
Stress is often described as a feeling of being overwhelmed, tense and worried. All people experience stress from time to time. Stress can be helpful to motivate us to finish tasks and perform well, people often using the expression “I work well under pressure”. However if we become over-stressed and it interferes with our ability to get on with our daily activities, stress can be harmful.
What are the signs of stress?
Physical changes in our body when feeling stressed help us to meet daily challenges of work and personal commitments. However when the stress is ongoing and the physical changes don’t settle down, the following symptoms may occur:
- Sleep disturbance, insomnia
- Upset stomach, digestive problems
- Anger, irritability
- Lack of patience
- Difficulty relaxing
- Feeling panicky or anxious
- Feeling overwhelmed and out of control
- Feeling moody
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem, lack of confidence
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
Ways to reduce stress?
Learning to handle stress in adaptive ways is very important and it is easy to learn simple techniques for reducing stress and its impact on your health. It is useful to be able to identify early warning signs in your body that tell you when you are feeling stressed. These may include getting headaches, clenching your jaw and feeling irritable.
If you can identify triggers, you can aim to anticipate them and practice calming or self-soothing techniques or find ways of better responding to the triggers. Triggers might include late nights, deadlines, seeing particular people or over-tired children.
Simple ways to manage stress may include:
- Establishing routine in your day and week can be calming and reassuring.
- Spending time with people who care, especially those you find uplifting rather than people who place demands on you.
- Looking after your health and focusing on eating well and getting regular exercise and adequate sleep.
- Relaxation can help your body and nervous system settle and readjust during times of stress.
- Meditation, yoga or making time to engage in a relaxing activity such as gardening, reading a book or listening to music.
Stress and depression
It is important to note that stress is not depression. However, acute distress associated with challenging times may be a risk factor for depression if it persists.
If you are finding it hard to manage stress levels and it is interfering in being able to enjoy a healthy, balanced life, it is advisable to seek professional help. Our psychologists at Inner West Psychology can help you identify behaviours and situations that are contributing to high stress levels and are qualified to provide evidence-based interventions to help you reduce your stress.
To make an appointment please call our reception staff on (02) 9518 1061 or contact us via the form on this page, and one of our psychologists will call you back to find the first available appointment for you with the clinician of your choice.
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Inner West Psychology, 20 Jarrett Street, Leichhardt