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Managing Stress Q&A

Stress is the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina and heightened alertness. However, it can become a problem when you are over-stressed and may affect how you cope with day to day life.

How does stress affect the body?

The human body responds to events that provoke stress by releasing more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. These changes prepare you to react quickly and effectively and improve your ability to perform well under pressure.

What causes you to over-stress?

Stress impacts everybody in a different way. What causes one person to become over-stressed may not have the same effect on someone else. Many things cause people to become over-stressed, including exams, problems at school or work, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, relationships, new responsibilities, moving to a new place, a traumatic event (such as the death of a loved one), physical illness or disability, peer pressure, being bullied and having unrealistic expectations  placed on you by yourself, friends, family or culture.

What can happen if you’re over stressed?

If you become over-stressed it may have unwanted consequences for your health — both physical and psychological. Psychological effects might include feeling hostile, angry, irritable, anxious, avoiding other people, crying, moodiness, feeling frustrated with things that normally don’t bother you, low self-esteem or lack of confidence, anxiety attacks, depression or sadness. Physical effects may include upset stomach, diarrhoea, indigestion, headache, backache, inability to sleep, eating too much or too little, and having a raised heart-rate.

Hints on avoiding harmful stress

  1. Work out priorities
  2. Identify your stress situations
  3. Learn to ‘reframe’ statements: Don’t react to imagined insults
  4. Think before you commit yourself to other people’s expectations
  5. Move on: Don’t dwell on past mistakes
  6. Learn to defuse anger and frustrations rather than bottle them up
  7. Set aside time each day for recreation and exercise
  8. Take your time: don’t let people rush you
  9. Take your time on the road: Don’t be an aggressive car driver
  10. Help children and young people to cope with stress
  11. Think positively – you get what you expect
  12. Cut down on drinking, smoking, sedatives and stimulants

For more detail pleases read This useful leaflet from the black dog institute.

What should you do when stress is impacting your day-to-day life?

It is much easier to cope with stress when you have help.  Try to identify what is causing you stress and share this with a family member or friend.  They may give you ideas on how to reduce the stressful situation or help you with tasks that are causing you stress.

It is also a great idea to do nice things for yourself; once a day try to make time for the following:

  • Exercise – be it a short walk or a swim at the beach
  • A healthy meal – have at least one healthy meal a day, like a salad sandwich for lunch
  • Social interaction – once a day call someone to have a chat or meet for coffee
  • Do one thing nice for you – Have a bath, paint your nails or read a book

However, if you are unable to share what is causing you stress, or the stress you are feeling is too overwhelming, please make an appointment to see your GP.  Together you and your GP (whose interest is helping you stay well) can make a plan to help you cope with your current stressors.

If you would like help dealing with your stress please call us on 9908 2233 or go online to make an appointment at  If you are feeling overwhelmed outside of our operating hours and would like some guidance please call Lifeline 13 11 14.