Stress Less

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By Aneira M W Prakash:

The human mind and human behaviour are tricky and complex operations to understand, especially if you’re not a doctor or in the medical profession (as I am not).

But I realised I may have a distinct advantage in this field, not because I study it but because I experience it. I want to share some simple steps that can go a long way to helping soothe your psyche and assist development of a happy, healthy and prosperous life.

Mental health issues, stress, anxiety and depression are the most common yet the hardest to fight and overcome. However with the use of this guide, your mindset will improve and you will find yourself ready and able to take a few steps out of your comfort zone. Stress is a normal and healthy part of every adult’s life; it’s only when it is excessive that there is a problem.

Stress and anxiety can come hand-in-hand because they are somewhat interrelated, and when we say “stress” we don’t mean a once-off feeling such as stressing before a job interview. We mean the stress that you feel about the little things, everyday, every minute, sometimes even randomly and we don’t always know what triggers it.

There are many reasons why people stress; pressure at home from friends and family, financial issues, lack of confidence and self esteem, and maybe something you developed as a child.

As someone who is diagnosed with generalised stress and anxiety, let me tell you a little bit about what I stress about. I stress about parking too far away, going to the shopping centre or out in public, I stress about problems my friends have and situations beyond my control. We sometimes stress about other people’s perceptions of us, especially living as we do in a society heavily reliant on the internet and social media, it’s always best to keep in mind that not everyone will always like you or take the time to get to know you. A lot of people will pre-judge you by your actions and style but it’s their loss, the key is to understand and acknowledge that the only opinions that matter to you, are the ones you allow.

Now I mentioned earlier that there is a relationship between stress and anxiety. Well, allow me to elaborate. The stress or tension you feel in a situation, the stress that regularly leaves you with a feeling of anxiety, butterflies in stomach, heart palpitations in your ear or head, sweaty palms, red face etc, is associated with guess what ? YOUR MINDSET. Of course, telling people with this condition to change their thinking and just suck it up normally makes it worse. This is because they feel a little bit more inadequate now because they can’t overcome it that easily! There are some muscle exercises you can do; if you’re like me and can’t help but tense your body. If you experience heart palpitations, that means you’re fired up on adrenaline, which isn’t bad or harmful, it means your body is trying to help you by responding to your anxiety and stress. Your body thinks you need extra energy for this situation. This is called ‘Fight or Flight mode’ .

When you experience fight or flight, your body is amped, ready to stay and fight or to run away. The best way to combat it is to try to calm down or use up your adrenaline. If you can at the time, go for a run, listen to your favourite song, soothe yourself with what relaxes you. The first step is AWARENESS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. Once you accept this as a condition you have, you become aware of it, like a habit. The key to the muscle exercises is to identify your stress triggers and how your body responds. For example, my trigger seemed to be university (which sounds normal) except for the fact that I didn’t fear or stress about assignments or exams. I stressed about the people in my class and contributing my answers by talking aloud.  It got so bad, that thinking about attending university seminars had me in panic attack fits to the point where I didn’t physically go into class, which affected my attendance and I think you see where this is going.

Anyway once I realised that was my trigger and how my body locked up and tensed, I started to work slowly on my breathing, inhaling and exhaling with a clear mind. I then noticed my jaw used to tense, so I would tense my jaw even more and then release and continue until I could feel the relief literally pour out. The same with my shoulders (one at a time) and every other part of me that was tense. And the final step (the big one) in this relaxation; think of how far you have come, all your good times, your triumphs, your biggest achievements and all the positive things people have said about you.  It even helps if you write them out; there is always something or someone that has pushed us and lifted us to where we are today. Hold onto that realisation. This exercise is to empower you, to give you the confidence you so rightfully deserve, to push you to places you never thought possible and to help you wake up every morning or (night) with maybe not a huge smile, but a sense of accomplishment….. a sense of purpose.

P.s if you didn’t know this already, our university offers free counselling to students, look up the building, make an appointment and take the first step to freedom.

USEFUL CONTACTS:

For immediate crisis intervention when life may be in danger, call 000 or go to your local hospital emergency department.

Western Sydney University Counselling Service office hours are Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.
Email: 
 counselling@westernsydney.edu.au
Phone
(02) 9852 5199

Office locations

Bankstown – Building 11

Campbelltown – Building 16

Hawkesbury – Building K4 (Monday – Thursday)

Parramatta – Building EJd

Penrith (Kingswood) – Building P, room 1.04

 

IMAGE: Mariana Zanatta

Aneira M W Prakash

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