Have you noticed yourself feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed lately? Maybe you’ve been struggling to get a restful sleep, or you’ve noticed some changes in your appetite.
If you’re feeling stressed and are finding it difficult to navigate back to a sense of peace, these strategies can make a profound difference in your life.
What is Stress?
Stress is an essential part of our lives. It’s the fight or flight response when a challenge arises. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and small amounts of stress could be quite helpful to meet a challenge or deadline as it could help to stimulate productivity, energy and creativity.
However prolonged periods of stress can be quite damaging to both our physical and mental wellbeing, especially when we feel like we have little or no control.
Symptoms to look out for
Everyone experiences and responds to stress differently. What one person finds stressful, might feel like a walk in the park for another person. There are several factors that influence the way in which we respond to stress like our cultural upbringing, personality, physical environment and the support network we have in place.
Here are some common signs of symptoms of harmful stress:
- Headaches, aches and pains
- Disturbed sleeping patterns or oversleeping
- Upset stomach/diarrhoea
- Muscle tension
- High blood pressure
- A weakened immune system
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
- Feeling anxious or worry
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of appetite (undereating) or increase in appetite (overeating)
- Feeling moody or irritable
For more symptoms of stress, see Toolkit below.
- Call 000 if your life is in danger
- For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Speak with your GP or other trusted and qualified health professional
- Beyondblue website contains many useful forums and resources
It’s helpful for us to understand the behaviours we engage in, the things we do, or that happen to or for us, when we’re feeling chronically stressed. This toolkit is designed to help you identify your stress symptoms, work out what helps you most, and includes a handy checklist to keep somewhere where you will see it everyday.
In Toolkit downloads below, you will find:
- Symptoms of Stress – a list of the most common symptoms of stress. Read through the list and note down the half dozen strongest symptoms that apply to you. You can fill in your 6 ways of manifesting stress on the third toolkit, My Stress Symptoms Worksheet.
- Stress – What helps? Once you’ve written down your stress symptoms, then consider, what are the things you have in your life, or that you do in your life; what are the activities and environments that give you a sense of peace, contentment or where you feel connected to yourself/life. Read through the list in the What Helps Toolkit and again, write down your 6 favourite ways of replenishing yourself in the Worksheet.
- My stress symptoms worksheet – for you to complete. Put your worksheet somewhere where you will see it each day, perhaps on your bathroom mirror. You’ll never find the time to add in these replenishing activities; you’ll need to make the time. It needs to be a priority.
We experience the Symptoms of Stress when we have unprocessed emotions from past or current events. They are also the symptoms of not being present. Our brain is running riot, or we’re distracted, erratic, flat, confused and we feel a victim of our circumstance.
There are 168 hours in every week. It doesn’t matter your role in life, we each get exactly 168 hours. And every one of them belongs to you. If you were playing chess, there are 64 squares on the board. You wouldn’t say, ‘I just need a few more squares and I could win!’ And yet, that’s often what we say about time. ‘If I had more time, I’d go for a run/eat healthily/go to bed earlier/meditate/soak in a bath/exercise’.
If you dedicate the first block of your 168 hours each week to replenishing yourself first, then you’ll bring your well-replenished self to the challenges, the chaos, the confusion or whatever is going on in your life. Much better to bring your well-replenished self to the challenges in your life than to bring your overwhelmed, slightly depressed, anxious, exhausted self!
Make your wellbeing your primary goal.
- Get into nature if you can
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat a fabulous healthy diet
- Find someone to connect with
- Learn something new
- Get some sunshine on your skin.
The greatest gift you can give yourself, your family and friends and your community, is the gift of your own good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We can encourage one another to regain control – not necessarily over our outer circumstances, but our inner experience – by consciously choosing to replenish ourselves first.
When we divvy up our time to replenish ourselves first, we rarely visit the symptoms of stress. Those symptoms serve as our ‘alarm bell’, signalling that we’re not replenishing ourselves, or we may need to find new and more appropriate supports, such as counselling.
‘First, put the mask on you, and when you’re breathing normally, put it on the children or the other passengers’.
You’re always welcome to join the Facebook Petrea King Meditation Group for a weekly chat and meditation practice at 7.30pm most Monday nights.
Some of these practices can help you to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing and can be found on our toolkit page:
- Keys to help you sleep better
- Meditation practices
You may also find some of Petrea King’s Podcasts useful to listen to.
- Wellbeing books Including Your Life Matters by Petrea King – a guidebook for life
- Meditations including Be Calm, Sleep, Learning to Meditate
How Quest for Life can help
If you’re feeling stressed and are finding it difficult to navigate back to a sense of peace, we can make a profound difference in your life. Quest for Life can help through our residential programs and 1-day workshops.
- Our Online Courses – Befriending Anxiety, Beyond Burnout and Healing Sleep – provide practical skills and strategies for overcoming symptoms associated with stress
- Our 5-day residential Healing Your Life program provides you with a wealth of practical skills and strategies for overcoming stress in a confidential and safe environment.
- Our 1-day workshop Living Mindfully with Mental Anguish shows you ways to regain control of your life and move towards peace of mind.
Quest for Life knows how to help: our internal research results show that participants feel better after attending a program and that this improvement increases over time. On our programs, you’ll be nourished, educated and supported to create an environment for profound healing.