Stress Management Sydney

As uncomfortable as it is, stress is a common part of life, particularly living in Sydney. At times, stress can be motivating and can help you perform well and solve problems. However, it can have a negative impact on you if it’s ongoing and hard to control. Our experienced psychologists at Healthy Mind Clinic can teach you ways to cope better with stress to improve how you feel. 

What is Stress?

Three parts make up your experience of stress. First, there is the stressor. Example stressors are relationship strain, difficult working environments, receiving bad news, daily hassles like Sydney traffic, and at the more extreme end, traumatic events. You can then experience stress in response to these stressors. Stress is made of responses in your body, emotions, behaviours and thoughts. If stress becomes hard to handle, you can then feel distress. Challenging levels of distress can cause significant anxiety, depression, and affect daily functioning. You can think of challenging distress as ‘excessive stress.’

 

Excessive stress is common. The 2017-2018 National Health Survey (conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) found approximately one in eight Australian adults (2.4 million people) reported high or very high levels of excessive stress, a 12% increase from three years earlier (ABS, 2019). So you’re not alone if you’ve found it difficult to manage stress and want help with stress management.

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Types of Stressors

Stressors vary by persistence and intensity. Importantly, stressors only feel stressful if they challenge how you see yourself, your job or career, social connections and standing or your physical or emotional well-being (Wheaton, 2013). Stressors can be categorised like this and fall on a spectrum of how persistent they are:

  • Single event or discrete stressors – These are stressors that might happen on a once-off basis. They may also occur on a more repetitive basis (called intermittent stressors). Examples might be an argument, getting a disappointing grade, missing a salary raise, moving homes, a looming work deadline or the death of someone close to you. A traumatic event, such as being in a serious car accident, is another type of single event. Traumatic events are typically more intense in their emotional (and potentially physical) impact than other types of single event stressors. Click here for more information about traumatic stress.
  • Chronic stressors – These are stressors that continue over time. Examples may be unemployment, ongoing relationship strain, being bullied at work, caring for someone who requires ongoing care, a significant economic downturn or managing challenges with work and isolation due to the impact of COVID19 (for example, the 2021 Sydney lockdown). Traumatic events can also be chronic. Click here for more information about traumatic stress.

 

You’ll see that there is a range of intensities within each type of stressor. Often, the more intense the stressor, the more stressful it is. Importantly, just because the stressor occurs doesn’t mean it will definitely cause you to feel unhelpful stress levels. The way you cope with stress has a significant influence on how much stress you experience. There are ways to cope with stressors to make them manageable. Read on to find out more about how our experienced psychologists can teach you ways to manage stress.

Signs and Symptoms of Excessive Stress

As noted above, the experience of stress is made up of responses in your body, emotions, behaviours and thoughts. When the stressor first occurs, your body’s fight-flight-freeze response switches on a system that helps you respond to danger. This can be experienced as increased breathing and heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, a strong urge to escape, focusing on the danger and butterflies among others (click here to see more responses). This response settles once the stressor has passed. However, if the stressor continues or is very intense, these responses can continue. Signs and symptoms of excessive stress include:

Bodily (physical) responses

  • Muscle tension and discomfort
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Sleep disruption
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Feeling nervous and on edge
  • Feeling dry in the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

 

Emotions

  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Despondency
  • Irritability
  • Gloominess
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling overwhelmed

 

Behaviours

  • Crying and teariness
  • Socially withdrawing from others
  • Doing less of the things that you’d usually do or enjoy
  • Avoiding the stressor or things associated with it
  • Being more snappy or argumentative
  • Spending much more time in bed than usual
  • Using alcohol or substance as a way to cope

 

Thoughts

  • Thinking constantly about the stressor and its impact much more than you want to
  • Negative thoughts like:
    • I can’t cope
    • There’s nothing I can do about this
    • No one can help me
    • I’m stuck
    • This is a disaster

Impacts of Excessive Stress

Excessive stress can have a range of impacts on both your emotional health and physical health. Emotional impacts can include increased anxiety, depression, and difficulties with anger. Physically, excessive stress can affect the immune system, blood pressure, digestive health and cardiovascular health.

Treatment for Excessive Stress

While excessive stress is challenging, there are effective ways you can learn to reduce this and better cope with stressors. Our Sydney-based psychologists have expertise in teaching people to better cope with excessive stress. Helpful approaches for handling excessive stress include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). CBT involves learning skills to better handle ways of thinking and responding to stress and stressors to reduce excessive stress. MBSR is based on learning ways to be present and reduce judgement of unpleasant experiences to help improve coping.

Attending self-care can also help increase your ability to cope with stress. Examples include making sure to have regular meals and keeping a healthy diet, trying to get regular exercise, keeping a regular routine around sleep, staying connected with friends and family, seeking help where possible, taking time to relax and avoiding drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.

Our Services

Our psychologists in Sydney are experienced in helping people to better deal with stress. We have extensive experience providing CBT and mindfulness-based approaches to help people lower stress and increase their coping skills. If you’re struggling with stress, our psychologists are here to help. We’ll work with you to understand your specific needs, develop a personalised treatment plan, and provide you with evidence-based, healthy, helpful ways to cope with stress. Please contact us to learn more and to arrange an appointment. We look forward to working with you.

Enquire about an initial appointment

Our practise offers appointments on Mondays to Thursdays. Reception is available Monday to Friday. We offer some appointments outside usual business hours in order to be as accessible as possible. We will respond to you as soon as possible.