Stress management | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Stress management

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 oversleeping
  • 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
What can cause stress?

Stress is experienced when the demands of a situation eg 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; and
  • 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
  • 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!")
Managing Stress - Brainsmart - BBC

Stress is all too natural. But here are some tips for keeping it under control.

Managing Stress - Brainsmart - BBC

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 Wellbeing to all USC students.

Alternatively, your GP can provide you with a referral to a private psychologist in the community and for more information on this process, visit the Better Access Initiative.

Audio clips and apps
The following links have relaxation audio clips to help you de-stress
More information

Contact Student Wellbeing

General enquiries
Tel: +61 7 5430 1226

Opening hours
Monday–Friday: 8.30am–4:30pm