Managing stress – what helps. Part 1 - Quest for Life
Managing stress – what helps. Part 1

Managing stress – what helps. Part 1

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.

Fortunately, there are a number of tools and techniques available to help manage stress. Stress itself is not the problem, it’s how we handle it that becomes the challenge.

It’s when stress is overwhelming, and we feel out of our depth, that knowing skills to reduce stress become essential for our peace of mind. So, whether you feel seriously ‘stressed-out’ or find yourself occasionally feeling too pressured for your liking, you can only benefit by trying some of these proven techniques for reducing stress levels and managing the remaining stress in a more effective way.

Here are our tips to help you manage your stress by harnessing the good stress and reducing the harmful stress.

1. Use positive ‘self-talk’

We can change the focus of our consciousness by choice.

“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
Consciously changing your thoughts from negative to positive can make all the difference.

Identify the areas in which you are using negative self-talk – ‘when we think or feel we’re not good enough’ and turn these into something positive. Using affirmations and reading or saying them out loud each day are extremely powerful when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Do you have any favourite quotes or affirmations that help you quiet the negative chatter in your mind?

Just remember – you are always good enough.

2. Identify and defuse your stressors

Do you know what is making you feel stressed? Write down what you think your stressors might be and how they make you feel.

For example, “When I think about going to work each day, I often feel sick in the stomach and lose my appetite.”

Acknowledge how you feel when you’re stressed and then take the time out to write down things that make you feel calmer and more relaxed. You can’t change a reaction when you’re in the middle of one. Once you’re feeling more grounded, think of ways you can more constructively redirect the response.

For instance, ask yourself, “How would I like to respond?” What are your options? Choose alternate responses and remind yourself of them day after day. Eventually, you will change your thought patterns to react differently.

3. Rest

Rest is essential when feeling stressed. Find something that helps you unwind and feel relaxed. It might be curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and reading a book. Also make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of a restful sleep each night. For good quality sleep, avoid having caffeine after midday, power down your devices an hour before going bed, and establish a routine where you wake and sleep at the same time each day.

4. Practice gratitude

Interrupt any negative thoughts with gratitude. Set a reminder to write down five things that have happened each day that you are grateful for. It could be as simple as having a good night’s sleep, eating a nourishing and delicious home cooked meal or spending time with the ones you love. Notice how the positive feeling feels in your body.

5. Surround yourself with people who lift you up

When feeling a sense of stress and overwhelm, it’s important to surround yourself with those who make you feel good. Being around people who have a negative attitude can only contribute more to the stress and overwhelm you’re feeling, often making you feel worse.

6. Laugh it off by consciously incorporating more humour in your life

Learn to not take yourself quite so seriously. Your body secretes endorphins when you laugh. These natural hormones give you a natural high. Try saying “I’m so angry” when you’re smiling. It doesn’t quite work does it?

Where possible, escalate a smile into a chuckle, a chuckle into a laugh and a laugh into a belly- shaking one. Humour can smooth over many a difficult moment or make a tedious task more enjoyable.

7. Embark on self-discovery

Become aware of your attitudes, beliefs and responses. Take responsibility for your own perceptions of yourself and change them if necessary. Do you love, respect and appreciate yourself? If not, what has to change for that to happen? Be open to change and learn to take a risk in making yourself more emotionally vulnerable with people you trust.

8. Digitally disconnect for one week

In our digital world, we can often feel stressed just because we feel we need to be constantly available 24/7 via phone, email, text or social media. Try disconnecting where you can for a week and focus on reconnecting with nature or catching up with a friend in person instead. At the end of the week, evaluate how this experiment made you feel.

9. Recognise that you have control of your responses

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to the things that happen to us. We may not be able to avoid becoming emotionally upset, but we can control the intensity and duration of that upset. For example, instead of reacting depressed or hostile, we can learn to react as if only sad or irritated.

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 Healing Your Life. Our 5-day residential program provides you with a wealth of practical skills and strategies for managing stress in a confidential and safe environment.

  • Special Offer for May programs - $200 off
  • Book for 6-10 May or 20-24 May and receive $200 off. Mention 'Quest Blog' when booking.

Call the Programs Team on 1300 941 488 or email