Everybody feels stressed at times, but too much of it can harm our physical and mental health. Please read these ideas to help manage stress.

Stress and how to manage it

Everybody feels stressed at times, but too much of it can harm our physical and mental health. Here are a few ideas to manage stress.

Stress, put simply, involves being placed under some kind of pressure (real or imagined) and believing that we do not have sufficient resources to cope. 

Usually, the stressor (the thing or situation that has triggered our stress) is something that is imposed on us, such as having to meet a deadline, getting into an argument with a friend, or relationship difficulties. Stress can be short-term (e.g. meeting a deadline on a school assignment) or long term (e.g. a stressful living situation or relationship at home).

Effects of stress

Stress can lead to mood changes, such as increased irritability. It can lead to anxiety and worrying. It can cause physical problems, such as back and neck pain, headaches, upset stomach, chest pains. It can also cause increased blood pressure, poor sleep, and a worsened immune response.

How to manage stress 

  • Identify what your stressors are. Once you can identify why you are feeling stressed, it is easier to either put it into perspective, or take action to manage better. We may also need to re-evaluate what coping resources we have available, as often when we are feeling stressed we underestimate the range of options we have available.

  • Problem-solving techniques can be a useful way of better understanding the problem, brainstorming possible solutions, and then choosing one to action. Some things may be outside of your control, such as stress during exams – you still have to get the exams done, and stress may naturally continue throughout exam time! But you may experience less stress by focusing on what you can control, such as scheduling both study and relaxation time.

  • Exercise! Exercise is an important part of wellbeing, and a great way to calm yourself and let go of some of the physical tension your stress may have caused.

  • Eating and sleeping well also promote wellbeing and build resilience to stress.

  • Take time out for family, friends and enjoyable activities. We can often get consumed with getting things done, but it’s important to have a balance in life. If you find it hard to make time for fun and connection, perhaps you need to take deliberate steps to have time out, such as setting aside a regular time in the week where you hang out with friends or enjoy a hobby or relax at home.

  • When our body is under stress, it can be helpful to do activities that help calm and relax us. Learn calming techniques such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, to aid your mind and body in becoming more relaxed. These techniques require practice but can be helpful with regular use. Finding what works best for you is an important part of the process.