Stress Awareness Tipsheet

Stress is a normal part of life. It is a state of mental or physical tension, which is our body’s natural response to challenging or threatening situations. In appropriate doses, stress can be positive and helpful. It can give us a burst of energy, sharpen our focus, that can help us get things done and improve our performance. However, excessive stress can turn into distress, which can overwhelm us, decline or even tank our performance. When we experience stress too much, too often or for too long, it can also wear us out and take a toll on our physical and mental health, priming us for all kinds of health risks. It is therefore crucial to manage stress effectively. Here are some tips to increase your stress awareness and coping. 

Recognize the Signs

Start by becoming aware of the signs of stress. These signs can be physical, emotional, mental and behavioral and can vary from person to person. Here is a list of them, which is by no means exhaustive. Pay attention to your body and mind to identify when stress is present.

Sleeping problems Fatigue Headache Dizziness Aches and pains Heart palpitation Tight chest Hot flashes Upset stomach Bowel problems
Restlessness Mood swings Agitation Low mood Tearfulness Irritability Anxiousness Hopelessness Numbness
Forgetfulness Indecision Poor judgement Low motivation Racing thoughts Preoccupation Constant worrying Nightmares Poor concentration
Procrastination Neglecting duties Changes in appetite  Nervous behaviors Social withdrawal Increased drinking, smoking or use of substances

Identify Stressors

Take note of what triggers stress in your life. Stress can come from various sources such as health, family, relationships, work, finances, and environment. Stressors can be physical or emotional, from big life changes like losing a job to small everyday events like not getting enough sleep. It can come from external sources like accidents and internal sources like our own expectations. Stress can also result from positive changes like starting a new job or having a baby. By recognizing your stressors, you can develop strategies to manage or even avoid them when possible.

Coping with Stress 

  • Practice Self Care:
    Prioritize self care activities that can help reduce stress. Engage in regular exercise, which releases endorphins and promotes relaxation. Make time for healthy hobbies and activities that bring you joy and help you unwind. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated. By taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, you strengthen your body and mind to build resilience to stress. 
  • Seek Support:
    Did you know that having social support can help protect us from the negative impacts of stress? Quality social connections matter more than quantity, so focus on building and maintaining positive relationships with people who genuinely care about you. When you’re feeling stressed, don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist for support. They can offer a listening ear, guidance, and help you gain a fresh perspective on your situation. Sharing experiences with others can also ease stress and provide comfort. 
  • Address the Source:
    Where possible, make deliberate efforts to directly resolve or reduce a stressor from its source to eliminate or minimize stress. Ask yourself, “Where is my stress coming from?” If there are actions you can take to reduce the stressor, do so proactively and decisively instead of hoping it will disappear on its own.
  • Time Management:
    Poor time management can contribute to stress. Organize your tasks and responsibilities by creating a schedule or to-do list. Prioritize your tasks based on importance and urgency. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps to reduce overwhelm. Learning effective time management techniques can help you feel more in control and reduce stress levels.
  • Set Boundaries:
    Learn to say no and establish healthy boundaries. Overcommitting yourself can lead to increased stress and burnout. Prioritize your well-being by setting realistic limits on your time and energy. Remember that it’s okay to put yourself first and decline additional responsibilities when necessary.
  • Adaptive Thinking:
    Sometimes in life, we just can’t change the stressors we are faced with, but what is still within our control is how we interpret or respond to them. You can evaluate whether something is truly worth stressing over and choose to let go when appropriate. Accepting change, our limitations, and our inability to control everything can reduce unnecessary stress. We can also adjust our expectations and make the best of situations by reframing our thinking and asking helpful questions like “Is this an opportunity for me to grow?”, “What would I tell a friend who told me the same thing I’m telling myself now?”, “Am I looking at the whole picture?”. Keeping things in perspective can also keep us from blowing things out of proportion and allow us to adopt a more balanced and realistic way of viewing our situation.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques:
    Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, mindfulness can all help calm your mind and body. Engaging in activities such as meditation, yoga or tai chi can also promote relaxation and reduce stress. Find techniques and activities that work for you and make them a regular part of your routine.
  • Take Breaks:
    It’s crucial to make time for ourselves. Take small breaks throughout the day, especially during demanding periods, to relax and recharge. It can boost productivity, focus, and overall well-being. After periods of high stress, take time off to prevent stress from building up and give your body and mind a chance to recover.
About The Author

Central Minds

Central Minds is a unique Hong Kong-based private psychology practice that aims to provide the highest standard of care to every client. Our psychologists and counsellors are highly trained in a range of psychological therapies that address the whole spectrum of emotional difficulties from day-to-day worries to complex psychological conditions.Our therapists have years of training and are considered experts in their respective fields. Our approach unites holistic thinking with rigorous academic knowledge and years of experience.