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Stress

Everyone will experience some form of stress within their lifetime. People respond differently to stressful situations and not everyone will experience the same level of stress in the same situation.

What are the signs of stress?

When faced with a challenging situation or stressful event our bodies release stress hormones. These create physical changes in the body, which help us cope with the immediate situation. However, if the stress is ongoing and the physical changes do not subside, we may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Knowing yourself and how you respond to different situations can help you learn what works for you in terms of managing stress.

There are some signs to look out for which indicate our stress levels are negatively affecting our mental health and wellbeing:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying
  • Changes in sleep patterns, fatigue and exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite
  • Physical reactions such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach,
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in mood, irritability, anger
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Here are some practical strategies for managing stress when feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to cope:

  • Identify the cause of your stress and review your current coping strategies
  • Talk to a someone you trust (e.g. friend, family member, religious or community leader, or GP)
  • Remind yourself of your skills and strengths, achievements and effort made during this difficult time
  • Make a positive plan on how to address the situation
  • Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and avoid alcohol and other drugs
  • Exercise – helps release built up tension in your body and releases ‘happy’ hormones which increase feelings of wellbeing
  • Find time for activities you enjoy
  • Access local supports services (GP, counselling services).

By seeking support, it is possible to manage stress levels and feel more equipped to cope.

  • Attend your GP for a physical health check-up and to be referred to local supports
  • Mensline Australia - 1300 789 978
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800

Resources

  

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, chat with us online at lifeline.org.au or text us on 0477 13 11 14. Lifeline services are available 24/7.

Graeme's Story

Graeme Holdsworth was a hugely successful project manager, responsible for building some of Australia’s most iconic buildings from Melbourne’s Crown to Sydney’s 1 Martin Place.  He was renowned for his building and management skills. However, with all the stress, he realised his behaviours were starting to change. He started to yell at staff, blame others and withdraw from social occasions and ended up unemployed and divorced.

Eventually, he felt it would be better for everyone if he was no longer around. Today, Graeme speaks of his experience and recovery.  As 80,000 Australians a year attempt or plan suicide and eight a day tragically take their own lives, he shares the many strategies he has put in place to keep himself alive and happy.