Understanding and Managing Stress – Tips From a Clinical Psychologist

Stress is a normal part of life, but it can become unhealthy when it happens frequently or lasts long. This can lead to problems like high blood pressure, heart disease or lowered immunity.

Learning more about what triggers your stress reaction can help you improve coping strategies. Here are some tips from a psychologist Ballarat to get you started: 

1. Recognize your triggers

Some stressors are unavoidable, but it is possible to learn to manage them. Identifying what triggers your stress and determining what you can and cannot change is essential. Recognizing physical warning signs, like tense muscles or headaches, is also important so you can act quickly to prevent them from becoming more serious.

Some examples of predictable stressors include commuting to work in heavy traffic, family gatherings or high expectations for success. Identifying your triggers can help you avoid unhealthy coping behaviors, such as sleeping too little or excessively using drugs or alcohol to cope.

Everyone deals with stress differently. Some people seem to be able to let life’s bumps and challenges roll off their back, while others can literally worry themselves sick. It is important to find positive outlets for emotional stress release and seek treatment at Modern Medicine for any underlying mental health disorders, like anxiety or depression. Chronic stress, which lasts for more than a few weeks and tends to come back, can be particularly dangerous to your health. It is often a result of high levels of pressure, but it can also be triggered by life changes, such as the death of a loved one or moving house.

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2. Take a breather

Stress is a normal part of life, but it can have lasting effects on your mental health if you don’t take time to relax. Taking a breather can help you recharge, which in turn will improve your performance at work and home.

It can be difficult to slow down and take a breather when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but there are some simple ways to do it. Try a breathing exercise or mindfulness meditation and try to make it a daily practice.

Breathing exercises can be done anywhere, and they are a perfect tool to have in your toolbox when you’re stressed. You can do something as simple as sitting down in a quiet place, closing your eyes and taking several deep breaths to help reduce your anxiety levels. The more you do it, the better it will become. You can also use an app like Headspace to help you get started. If stress and anxiety are persistent, it may be worth talking to a therapist or counselor. Managing your stress is crucial to staying healthy and happy.

3. Practice self-care

Practicing self-care helps maintain your emotional, physical and mental reserves so that you can better manage life’s challenges. This can include everything from getting enough sleep and exercising to eating well and prioritizing socialization.

The quickest ways to reduce stress are through your senses — seeing a favorite photo, smelling a certain scent or listening to music can all quickly calm you down. Writing can also be a good release for pent-up emotions. And exercise, particularly when done in nature, is a great way to reduce stress, as can relaxing activities such as meditation or yoga.

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Some sources of stress are unavoidable, such as the death of a loved one or a natural disaster. However, you can control how much of your time and energy you devote to these events by learning to say no and limiting the number of commitments you take on. Another strategy is to practice gratitude, which can help put difficult experiences into perspective. Talking to a friend or confiding in a counselor or spiritual advisor are also good forms of support.

4. Find a support system

A support system is a group of people you can turn to in hard times. These people will care for you, show compassion, and listen to you without judgment. They will also offer you advice and be a stable presence in your life. They may be friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or online communities.

A good support system can help you cope with day-to-day stresses, traumatic events, and chronic illness. It can even help you deal with the symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

When it comes to building your support network, make sure you choose wisely. Avoid toxic people and situations that can negatively affect your mental health. Try to spend time with people who prioritize in-person interactions, as these are more effective than phone calls or text messages. You can also join a support group to meet others who are going through similar circumstances as you. These groups can be led or facilitated by professionals like therapists and mental health counselors, or they may be peer-run. Either way, they can be a great source of comfort and encouragement.

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5. Exercise

Stress is a normal and healthy reaction to change, but long-term stress can have negative effects on your health. It’s important to recognize your symptoms of stress and find ways to manage them. Everyone experiences stress differently, but common signs of stress include: irritability, insomnia, stomach upset, headaches, or trouble concentrating. It’s also helpful to identify the source of your stress. Try to categorize the causes of your stress into things that you can do something about (like work), those that will improve over time, and those that are out of your control.

While there are many coping mechanisms for stress, the most recommended is exercise. In a recent ADAA online poll, 14 percent of respondents reported using exercise as one of their stress management strategies. However, getting into a regular routine can be challenging. To get started, you can start by adding in a simple activity like taking a walk or even just sitting outside for five minutes of centered relaxation. Then gradually build up to a more strenuous workout over time. To help you stay on track, try to set a realistic goal of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking or jogging.