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Managing stressful situations
Stress is something that we have all experienced at some point. Stress is also a normal physiological reaction to danger, as it helps us stay alert and survive in dangerous situations. When encountered with a stressful situation our body reacts by responding with a fight or flight mode. When this biological process occurs, our body produces chemicals and hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase our heart rate, which provides more blood flow to the limbs, so we can run faster and heal faster. Even though this process can be a positive one and essential to our survival, if it happens constantly then stress becomes chronic, and this can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
Since most of us will experience some kind of stress in our lifetime, having some strategies in place may help you minimise the negative effects of chronic stress.
Recognise when you are stressed
Being in tune with your body when signs and symptoms of stress set in will help you take action immediately before it becomes too overwhelming. Signs and symptoms of stress can be mental or physical in nature. They can include heart palpitations, headaches, anxiety and muscle tension.1
Exercise is a great way to decrease stress levels since it can release feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins.2 Any form of exercise can be stress reducing, such as a gentle walk, stretch or a run.
Limit sugars and processed foods
The foods we consume may have an effect on our stress levels and the ability to cope with situations. Sugars can be detrimental when we are trying to keep our emotions balanced and it is often what we reach for when our emotions are running high. However sugars can interfere with the stress hormone, cortisol, affecting your body’s response to stress.3
Manage your time effectively
It is essential to prioritise what is important to you and your family. When we focus on things that are not important to us, then we become more vulnerable to stressful situations. Allocating time to each task and setting realistic goals can help you feel less overwhelmed with your busy life.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment. There are many ways to be mindful but a great way to start is to practice meditation. Meditation has been found to have numerous benefits to our mental and physical health. Practicing meditation has also been shown to improve concentration, manage emotions, reduce stress, support pain management, and much more.4
Reach out to loved ones
It is normal to feel stressed or anxious in certain situations. However, it is important to reach out to friends, family or the ADF community if these feelings get too overwhelming. The Defence Family Helpline (1800 624 608) is available 24 hours a day and is staffed by qualified professionals that can provide you with support and information.
Blog post written by Complete Corporate Wellness. Visit their website: www.completecorporatewellness.com.au
This blog post provides general information only. It is not intended to provide health or medical advice and is not a substitute for seeking professional advice about your health or medical needs.
- Cleveland Clinic, “Stress”, Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/stress
- Mayo Clinic Staff, “Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress”, Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/
- Sara Lindberg & Erin Kelly, “Your Anxiety Loves Sugar. Eat these 3 Things Instead”, Healthline, healthline.com/health/mental-health/how-sugar-harms-mental-health-worsen-anxiety
- Headspace, “The Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation”, Headspace, headspace.com/science/meditation-benefits
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