Stress Management

Learning how to manage stress is a crucial life skill.

There are two levels of managing stress: strategies to prevent the build up of stress & strategies to reduce pressure when in a stressful situation.

Preventing stress:

~ Exercise. Exercise is the single most effective strategy for preventing stress because it converts stress chemicals into fuel. It reduces muscle tension, clears the head, and reminds us of skills that we have.

~ Eat well. Eating nutritious foods throughout the day provides our body with the fuel it needs to regulate emotions and think clearly.

~ Breathe slowly. Breathing slower and using all of our lungs sends messages to our brain to turn off stress chemicals. To get a slow, healthy breathing style going, it can be helpful to count to 3 while breathing in, hold for 3, and then breathe out for 3 (or 5).

~ Focus only on today. You can’t change the past and the future is unknowable, so live in the present. Strive for a sense of achievement or pleasure in what you’re doing right now.

~ Make time for fun. Make time to do the things that you enjoy, eg walk in the bush, go fishing, catch up with friends, listen to music, pat the dog.

~ Keep to your normal routine. Routine can help us feel things are more manageable.

~ Let your feelings out. Write or draw what you’re feeling or talk about it with someone you trust.

Reducing or Managing Stress:

~ Differentiate between issues you can influence & those you can’t. There are many things we can get upset about but do very little to change (eg. the bus running late, other people’s behaviour). If we focus on these we feel stressed & waste our energy without changing the problem. In contrast, if we focus on things we can change, we can improve things.

~ Work out what’s your responsibility, & what’s not. We need to respect other people’s right to do things differently from us. Sometimes managing stress means turning a blind eye to different standards of tidiness or contrasting ways of doing things.

~ Problem solve; don’t panic! Identify the problem, list potential solutions, and then choose the best one. Don’t agonise over whether it will work out; you can only do your best with the limited knowledge you have.

~ Remain optimistic. Seek the good in situations and look for ‘life wins’ (things that go right). Recognise the number of times that you’ve been under stress but it has worked out well.

~ Watch your posture. Muscle tension can cause pain and increase stress. Pull your shoulders down, rotate your neck, stretch your arms and legs, and stand up tall.

~ Reduce caffeine and cigarette consumption. Cut back on tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate as caffeine has a similar effect on the body to stress, as does the nicotine in cigarettes.

~ Take control of worrying. Write worries down and critically evaluate how likely they are and how bad it would really be if they did happen.

~ One day at a time. Focus on today, not tomorrow or yesterday. Keep bringing your thoughts back to what you’re doing now.

Dr Kate Alessia

Clinical Psychologist & Social Worker

Tel: 0400 444 040

1A Station Place
Hindmarsh SA 5007

PO Box 106, North Adelaide 5006


Copyright 2004 - 2018 Kate Alessia