Stress and anxiety

Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. At times, stress can become overwhelming and our usual coping strategies don’t seem to work. Stress is the perception that our demand is greater than our resources. It’s likely when there is too much change, expectation, responsibility and information.

Strategies to help stress

  • Breathe: take deep, slow breaths to help you focus.
  • Write a to-do list. Break tasks down into step by step guides. Tick tasks off as you complete them and you will get a sense of satisfaction and motivation.
  • Allocate realistic timeframes for tasks and activities, and prioritise them according to importance. Focus, and work through one thing at a time.
  • Allocate time for relaxation, such as spending time with family and friends, going for a long walk, or any other activity that you enjoy and helps you unwind.
  • Ensure you prioritise and get sufficient sleep and regular exercise even when there are other competing demands for your time.

Anxiety 

Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressful situation or a perceived threat to safety. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, and mild anxiety can help motivate us to achieve our goals. Severe anxiety, however, can negatively impact health by limiting our productivity.

Strategies to help control anxiety

  • Take deep, slow breaths and try to fix your attention on an object for 30 seconds or longer. Choose a specific object in your immediate environment – for example, a bottle of water or a pencil case.
  • Play music that you find pleasurable. You can even have a playlist handy of songs that make you feel good for when high anxiety strikes.
  • Identify the triggers of your anxiety by keeping a diary of what is happening, what you are thinking and what you are feeling when you are anxious. Once you have identified triggers, you can be mindful of your thinking and replace unhelpful thoughts with thoughts that help you cope.
  • Try to stay in the present. Acknowledge your worries, but realise that if you cannot do anything about them, worrying will only make you feel worse.
  • Reduce your caffeine, alcohol, and energy drink intake as that can increase feelings of anxiety.
  • Engage in some physical exercise to release the nervous tension that can build up when you feel anxious.