Stress is the body's way of dealing with pressure. It is a human reaction to life’s demands.

When we experience a high level of pressure due to situations occurring around us (life, work or social), it can trigger an increase in energy and alertness. In many cases, this is a healthy human reaction as it helps us to cope and get through the event or situation in the best possible way. However, too much stress can affect our health, so it needs to be managed appropriately.

Everyone experiences stress of some kind in varying levels of intensity during their lives. The important issue is how people are affected by stress and how they react or respond to the situation.

Some stress arises from external pressures or events, such as the death of a relative or friend. Other stressors are internal and may be associated with how a person responds to life situations.

Too much stress over an extended period of time can be harmful to physical and mental wellbeing and impact on your ability to function and live productively.

There are practical strategies available that can help you to learn how to manage and even reduce the level of stress in your life. These strategies will help anyone maintain a healthy life balance and build resilience.

Here are some practical tips for managing stress and maintaining your health and staying resilient:

1. Talk to someone you trust (partner, friend, colleague or helpline)

Talking is a great way to let off steam or get some perspective, and helps release negative or upsetting feelings from remaining hidden inside. Talking can help you or someone you know feel much better. Having someone to listen to you reinforces that you are cared for and are valued. As humans, it’s important for us to connect with others, especially at times when we may feel isolated or alone. It won’t necessarily fix the problem but will help start the process of identifying the issue and working towards a solution.  

2. Have a health check with your General Practitioner

Knowing that your body is in sync is an important step in maintaining good health and general wellbeing.  Your health professional’s advice can help you understand what you need to do to maintain your health during times of increased stress.  Seek medical assistance if you are experiencing a lack of sleep, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, loss of energy, distress or any other negative physical symptoms over a period of two weeks, and your ability to function normally is impacted.

3. Take up regular physical exercise

Evidence suggests that physical exercise will help you feel good about yourself. Regular physical exercise produces a chemical response that triggers positive feelings. As well as helping your body to stay healthy, you will also help your emotional wellbeing. Physical activity may even help to vent your frustrations and / or heightened emotions and promote better sleeping habits.

4. Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Diet can play a big part in your emotional wellbeing. Certain foods and consuming too much or not enough can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing. Different foods can contribute to our mood states, so talk with a dietician for advice. Try to limit alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, as these can contribute to feelings of anxiousness and discourage sleep, and may adversely impact on your overall health.

5. Find time to do activities you enjoy such as:

  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Participating in sports, games or hobbies
  • Writing, listening to music, reading
  • Going out, travelling, sightseeing
  • Practicing relaxation techniques

Doing the things you enjoy can help remind you of the wonderful things in life, as well as helping you to recharge your body and mind. These are important for achieving balance at times when life may appear to be getting out of balance. Whether the activities are with other people or solitary, they will encourage self-discovery, create times when you can escape your problems, help you engage with others or simply be in the moment. Their importance in building your resilience and wellbeing cannot be underestimated and will help you be more productive in the areas of your life that you may find less enjoyable but need to do.

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By seeking help it’s possible to manage and alleviate your stress levels.