Stress management

Unfortunately we all know what it’s like to suffer from stress. What we don’t always know is how to deal with it, or how to recognise when there’s too much stress in our lives.

ReachOut Parents Youth Mental HealthStress is simply your body’s reaction to a perceived threat or problem. The nervous system is activated and specific hormones are released to enable you to respond to the problem with increased strength, stamina and focus.

Stress becoming a problem

Your stress response can be a good thing, making you work more efficiently under pressure. Getting stressed from time to time isn’t so bad, the issue is when it happens more frequently or it’s not easy to manage.

If it interferes with living your life, your relationship with your son or daughter, or your ability to enjoy things then it could be an issue.

Also if your reaction to a stressful situation is way out of proportion to the problem, then it might be time to look at how you could better manage yourself.

Consequences of over-stressing

Getting over-stressed can have short and long-term affects on both your physical and mental health.

Some psychological reactions

  • depression and sadness
  • anger, hostility and irritability
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem and confidence issues.

Some physical reactions

  • irritable bowels, sore stomach, indigestion and diarrhoea
  • increased blood pressure
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • lack of appetite or over-eating.

Causes of stress

Pretty much anything can cause stress. Day-to-day things like work, study, family and friendships can be an ongoing source of stress. But, temporary issues can also be very stressful.

The cause of stress is not really the main issue. Of course if there’s a problem it’s important to deal with it, particularly if it’s ongoing. But really the key is to figure out how to manage stress when it arises.

Managing stress

It may not be possible to eliminate stress completely, but there are ways to manage it.

Avoid stimulants

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine may seem to offer instant release from stress, but in the long run they only make it worse.


We all know that increased physical activity is good for us, but how often do we actually exercise? Even a fast walk a few times a week can help to reduce stress and improve our mental health.

Down time

Ensure you’re getting enough time to yourself to relax. Make an effort to spend quality time with your partner or friends, go jogging, take a bath, whatever it is, try to fit it in.


Most people have so much to do they’ve barely got time for a cup of tea. Planning, making lists (and using them) and setting realistic goals for things you’d like to get done will make things more manageable.


It sounds ridiculous, who doesn’t breathe? But there are techniques to breathing with control that help reduce stress. By breathing steadily and deeply you can slow down your heart-rate and release tension and anxiety.

Watch your thoughts

Your attitude and thought patterns can influence how you react to things. An optimistic approach to most situations can reduce the level of stress you feel.

We’re not all natural optimists, but a bit of practise can go a long way. Just noticing a negative thought and not allowing it to take over can change your thought process over time.


It’s always good to speak about what’s going on. If it’s day-to-day stuff then at least chat to friends or family about it, to ensure you’re not bottling it up. If it’s more serious topics, of course talk to someone you know, but maybe think about talking to someone outside of your daily life.

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