Stress management

Accessibility links

Stress management

Breadcrumbs

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to any kind of demand or pressure. It is experienced by most people at some stage in their life and although it is normally perceived as having a negative influence, it can be positive if you are in physical danger. Too much stress can impact your daily functioning, including relationships, health, and mental well-being.

What are the signs/symptoms?

Some common signs are:
  • Lack of motivation
  • Sleeplessness or over sleeping
  • Moodiness – anger, irritability, depression
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stomach upsets
  • High blood pressure
  • Concentration or memory difficulties
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • Using alcohol or other substances to cope
  • Increased eating, drinking or nervous
    habits

What can cause stress?

Stress is experienced when the demands of a situation e.g., study or work pressures, financial problems, relationship difficulties etc) outweigh your perceived capacity to meet those demands. Risk factors which interact and contribute to experiencing stress include:

  • Biological factors, e.g., genes, poor health, or some medications
  • Social factors, e.g., lack of social support
  • Psychological factors, e.g., low self-esteem, negative beliefs and thinking style, unhelpful coping strategies
  • Person-environment fit, e.g., a creative person working in a job that is very structured and systematic may be more prone to experiencing stress 

Things that can help:

Quick fixes
  • Breathe deeply
  • Relax your muscles by stretching or standing/sitting up straight
  • Step back from what you’re doing and/or what’s stressing you
  • Laugh
Examine the stressful situation
  • If the stress is due to factors in the environment that can be changed, be assertive and change them Lifestyle changes • Exercise regularly • Have low or no intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • Engage in enjoyable activities
  • Have adequate sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Include relaxation and meditation exercises in your daily routine
Talking
  • Helps release negative feelings
Cognitive strategies
  • Recognise and challenge unhelpful thoughts (e.g., “I can’t cope”, “I can’t handle this”)
  • Find evidence for when you have coped in the past
  • Identify alternate more helpful (but realistic) thoughts to what’s going for you
  • Using milder wording can help neutralise your experience (e.g., “I don’t like traffic. It makes me annoyed,” is a lot milder than “I hate traffic! It makes me so angry!”)

How do I know when I need professional help?

When stress is affecting your studies, work, home life or relationships, psychological assistance should be considered. Free counselling services are offered through Student Life and Learning to all USC students. Student Life and Learning is situated on the Ground Floor of Building E and can be contacted on 5430 1226. Alternatively, your GP can provide you with a referral to a private psychologist in the community and for more information on this process, visit Australian Government, Department of Health, Better access to mental health care: fact sheet for patients

The following links have relaxation audio clips to help you de-stress:

Apps:

Adapted from:

  • Australian Psychological Society. (2013). Stress. Retrieved from http://eqip.psychology.org.au
  • Bernstein, L. (2015). 10 apps to relax your body and mind. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/stressapps_n_4018753.html
  • Lifeline. (2010). Stress. Retrieved from https://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Facts---Information/Stress
  • Mountain State Centers for Independent Living. (n.d.). Understanding and dealing with stress. Retrieved from http://www.mtstcil.org/skills/stress-intro.html

More information

Student Wellbeing

General enquiries

Tel: +61 7 5430 1226
Fax: +61 7 5459 4832
Email: Studentwellbeing@usc.edu.au

Opening hours

Monday–Friday: 8.30am–5pm, ground floor, Building E

Back to top

Searching {{model.SearchType}} for "{{model.Query}}" returned more than {{model.MaxResults}} results.
The top {{model.MaxResults}} of {{model.TotalItems}} are shown below, ordered by relevance ({{model.TotalSeconds}} seconds)

Searching {{model.SearchType}} for "{{model.Query}}" returned {{model.TotalItems}} results, ordered by relevance ({{model.TotalSeconds}} seconds)

Searching {{model.SearchType}} for "{{model.Query}}" returned no results.

No search results found for

{{model.ErrorMessage}}