Tips to help avoid harmful stress

Stress can be harmful and have a big impact on our mental health. The following tips from our friends at the Black Dog Institute can help you work through the various stresses you may encounter in your day.

  1. Work out priorities: Keep a list of tasks to be done, make sure they are possible.  Prioritise the tasks in order of importance and tick each off when it is done.  Include the most important people in your life as priorities and attend to these relationships.
  1. By adopting some simple strategies, we can help reduce the stress we experience.
    Identify your ‘stress situations: Make a list of events that leave you emotionally drained, and include one or two ways to reduce the stress for each.  When they occur, use them as an opportunity to practice the stress-reduction techniques (like Mindful Breathing) and keep notes on what works for next time
  1. Don’t react to imagined insults: Being oversensitive to imagined insults, inuendo or sarcasm is a waste of time and energy. Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Talk over the situation with someone you trust – they may have another spin on what was said.
  1. Practice saying “no”: We can often perform tasks merely to feel accepted by other people.  Practice saying “no” to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at a time (rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress).  Consider whether you should learn to rely less on approval of others.  Again, talk this over with someone you trust.
  1. Move on - don’t dwell: Feelings of guilt, remorse and regret can’t change the past and they make the present difficult by sapping your energy.  Make a conscious effort to do something to change the mood (eg. mindfulness technique or something active you enjoy) when you feel yourself drifting into regrets about past actions.  Learn from it and have strategies in place for next time.  And learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes.
  1. Learn to defuse anger and frustration: Express and discuss your feelings to the person responsible for your agitation.  If it is impossible to talk it out, plan for some physical activity at the end of the working day to relieve tensions.  Let go of grudges – they don’t affect the potential victim because he does not necessarily know about them.  However, the grudge-bearer pays a price in energy and anxiety just thinking about revenge.
  1. Set aside time for daily recreation and exercise: Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling are good to relieve stress.  Meditation, yoga, pilates and dance are also excellent.  The trick is to find what suits you best.  Hobbies that focus attention are also good stress relievers.  Take up a new activity unrelated to your current occupation, one that gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.  Establish new friends in your newly found interest.  
  1. Take your time: Frenzied activities lead to errors, regrets and stress.  Request time to orientate yourself to the situation.  At work, if rushed, ask people to wait until you finish working or thinking something out.  Plan ahead to arrive at appointments early, composed and having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups.  Practice approaching situations ‘mindfully’.
  1. Go easy on the road: Develop an “I will not be ruffled” attitude. Drive defensively and give way to bullies.  Near misses cause stress and strain, so does the fear of being caught for speeding.  If possible, avoid peak hour traffic.  If caught in it, relax by concentrating on deep (stomach) breathing or ‘mindful driving’ (using the mindfulness technique on the website below).
  1. Help young people cope with stress: Children need the experience of being confronted with problems to try out, and improve their ability to cope.  By being overprotective or intervening too soon, parents may prevent young people from developing valuable tolerance levels for problems, or acquiring problem-solving skills.
  1. Think positively – you get what you expect: Smile whenever possible – it’s an inexpensive way to improve your looks and how you feel!  Try to find something positive to say about a situation, particularly if you are going to find fault.  Try visualising a situation you have handled well and hold those memories in your mind when going into stressful situations.
  1. Cut down on drinking, smoking, sedatives and stimulants: They only offer temporary relief and don’t solve the problem.  They can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health.  Consider the effects you are looking for (sedation or stimulation) and how else you can achieve them.

Visit for a range of tools and resources dedicated to improving mental health.

Connect Health & Community’s counselling team is here to help.

Our experienced counsellors are professionals with social work, counselling and psychology backgrounds. They provide counselling services to people of all ages, from pre-school through to older adults.

We understand that we all experience challenges in our lives at some point. These could include concerns relating to relationships, families, education, workplace, loss and/or health, when seeking support from a counsellor could be beneficial.

For more information, call us on 03) 9575 5333 or click here to request a booking or a call back for more information.

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