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Stress and relaxation

stress; relaxation; ;

Stress is a part of life. It is the body’s way of preparing you for a difficult situation, by releasing hormones into your blood stream that help you respond. If you are feeling stressed a lot of time, it could be a sign that you need some help coping or need to change your lifestyle.

The website Reachout has many great topics about stress and managing stress in the section

Contents of this topic

Signs of stress

You might:

  • have headaches
  • feel sick
  • have sore muscles
  • have diarrhoea or constipation
  • have indigestion
  • have poor sleep
  • not be able concentrate
  • feel your heart beating faster.

You could also feel:

  • nervous
  • anxious
  • sad
  • aggressive or angry
  • tired
  • tense.

What causes stress?

We're all different and we've all learnt to respond differently to situations that make us feel angry or worried or overloaded. This means that some people will become highly stressed about things that don't worry other people.

What stress can do if it goes on too long

If you are constantly stressed, and it is interfering with your enjoyment of life, then it may be out of balance. Signs that you may be over-stressed include:

  • physical exhaustion
  • loss of self-confidence
  • depression
  • hair loss
  • skin rashes.

Long term stress can affect your health.  It can affect us emotionally, causing anxiety, depression and anger, and can also lead to behavioural changes, such as increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, eating too much or too little and psychological disorders. Stress can also impact on how we think and view the world.

Tips for coping with stress:

  • Think about a positive statement you can tell yourself when you're feeling signs of stress (ie "I can take a break, relax, breathe more slowly and become calmer’ " )
  • Remind yourself of things that are going right in your life (ie: "I am good at ….")
  • Picture yourself coping in the situation you feel stressed about (eg see yourself doing that test, being relaxed about it and doing well).
  • Find time to do things that you enjoy. This lessens the feelings of stress and helps you deal with it.
  • Try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, stretching or gentle exercise. 
  • Meditation can help some people.
  • Make time for yourself, your relationships and social life.
  • Eat well.
  • Take breaks from work or study.
  • Work out what things are important and need to be done, and what can be left until later or not done at all.
  • Work out what things are actually under your control and you can do something about, and try not to worry about things outside your control.
  • Ask for help from friends or family when things are getting too much.

People may try alcohol smoking, and sometimes other drugs to reduce the feelings of stress. These do not make any difference to the causes of the stress and can make problems worse.

Getting help

Sometimes making changes in your life are the only way to really reduce stress. If it's hard to decide how to do that, talk to a friend or family member. It might mean that you need to cut back what you are doing. Many people try to do too many things, like taking on too much study or sport. Cutting back usually lessens the feelings of stress and does not make a difference to how your life goes in the long term.

If your stress is getting out of hand, you may have a stress or anxiety disorder and may need to seek professional help. Have a look at the links in our topic Anxiety.


South Australia

  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800.
  • Look for your local community health centre in the telephone book.
  • Your family doctor.
  • Your local library will have books, and many also have relaxation cds.


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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