Stress is often described as feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense and worried, and occurs when we face a situation we feel we can’t cope with (Australian Psychological Society, 2017).
Signs to look out for
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and hostility
- Feel helpless
- Suffering from stomach aches
- Loss of concentration
- Chest pains
- Poor job/academic performance
- Withdrawal from others
A small amount of stress can be a good thing, challenging us and forcing us to grow and to exceed previous expectations. However, when the demands on us threaten to overwhelm, it can become more and more difficult to deal with any of them effectively.
It’s vital to recognise the kind of situations that can lead to stress, including excessive workloads, lack of sleep, ill health, financial difficulties, changes to working or loving patterns, moving home, pregnancy, or relationship breakdown, among others.
It’s important you try and develop a lifestyle that sees to all of your needs: physical, mental and emotionally. Make sure you get enough exercise, take time out for social activities and establish supportive relationships.
We’ve put together an additional selection of useful tips for overcoming stress:
- Take control by consciously relaxing, whether through physical exercise, breathing exercises or activities you enjoy.
- Be creative in your approach to tasks. For example, if you feel stressed at the prospect of writing assignments, ask the advice of your tutor or take a HELPS academic writing course.
- Talk with others about your anxieties and concerns.
- Never be afraid of asking for help - everyone experiences stress at some time.
- Accept your failures and move on. See value in your mistakes: no mistakes means no progress.
- Be encouraging and supportive of yourself. Always appreciate who you are and the unique qualities you have.
- Try to keep things in perspective. If a situation is getting on top of you, step back, adjust your goals and take action.
- Most of us are very good at giving advice. Try looking at your situation as if it were a friend’s.
- You can always contact our own Counselling Service.
Acknowledgement: This information was adapted with the permission of Victoria University of Wellington.
Headspace (opens an external site) created the following resources to help you with creating an action plan for a healthy headspace:
- Your toolkit for a healthy headspace (PDF, 508 KB)
- Question cards for a healthy headspace (PDF, 616 KB)
Australian Psychological Society (2017). Stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychology.org.au/for-the-public/Psychology-topics/Stress