Managing stress

What is stress?

  • Stress is often described as a feeling of being overloaded, wound-up tight, tense and worried.
  • In response to stressful events, our bodies activate the central nervous system, releasing hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, and increasing our heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, metabolism and muscle tension. Prolonged exposure to these physical and emotional symptoms can cause problems.
  •  Stress is a part of everyday life. It can sometimes help to motivate individuals to get a task finished, or perform well. But stress can also be harmful if we become over-stressed, and it interferes with our ability to get on with normal life if it goes on for too long.

Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2013

For the third year, the Australian Psychological Society – representing more than 21,000 members around Australia – commissioned a survey to examine the stress and wellbeing of Australian adults (aged 18 and over) across the nation to examine their experience of stress, including the causes of stress, their methods of managing stress and the methods they rated as most effective. This year the survey included a special focus on working Australians.

How stressed are Australians?

In 2013, Australians reported significantly lower levels of wellbeing and significantly higher levels of stress and distress than in 2012 and 2011, with younger adults reporting significantly higher levels of stress and distress compared with older Australians.

Overall, a substantial number of Australians (26%) reported experiencing moderate to severe levels of distress in 2013, significantly more than in previous years.

  • Almost three-quarters of those surveyed (73%) reported that stress was having at least some impact, with almost one in five (17%) reporting that stress was having a strong to very strong impact on their physical health.
  • In 2013, significantly more (65% 2013 vs. 60% 2012), reported that current stress was affecting their mental health, with one in five people reporting it had a strong to very strong impact on their mental health.
  • One in four (24%) reported mental health issues as a source of stress.
  • Significantly more reported visiting social networking sites, eating or sleeping more to manage stress than in previous years.
  • Finances, family and health issues continued to rank as the top causes of stress.
  • Working Australians reported significantly lower overall workplace wellbeing in 2013 compared with findings in previous years.

  What are the signs of stress?

  • sleeping difficulties including insomnia
  • headaches and other aches and pains
  • high blood pressure
  • upset stomach / heartburn/ diarrhoea
  • poor memory and difficulty concentrating
  • always feeling tired
  • lots of minor illnesses and colds
  • feeling irritable and cross, often losing your temper easily
  • feeling anxious and overwhelmed and sometimes out of control
  • feeling depressed
  • low self esteem and lack of confidence
  • Feeling moody and tearful


What can I do to reduce my stress levels?
  • relax- include several relaxing activities in your week
  • have a massage
  • meditate
  • go for a walk
  • listen to soothing music
  • laugh
  • use relaxing and uplifting essential oils on a daily basis
  • do activities that make you feel happy and joyful

There is a proven link between our mind and our immune system. The better we feel, the better our immune system function will be.

What kind of massage will help with high levels of stress?
A slow, gentle to medium pressure massage will cause physiological changes in your body by
  • slowing down your heart rate and breathing
  • lowering your blood pressure
  • decreasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol
  • boosting the production of the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine
  • blocking your nervous system pain receptors
  • reducing muscle tension
  • leaving you feeling calm and relaxed

“The pace of life has sped up to the extent that we often feel that we simply can’t afford the time to relax because we have to run so hard to keep up……”

 Try this instant relaxation exercise
  • stop what you are doing
  • close your eyes, slow down your breathing
  • lick your lips and breath in slowly
  • let your breath out with a whoosh
  • open your eyes and smile