First Aid for Stress

by Cherie Dalton, Brisbane City Psychologists

When you’re running short of time and under the pump, feeling stressed and worn out, what’s the typical human response? Skip meals, eat at your desk, cancel lunch, work back later, catch up on work at home, eat take-away, stop exercising and socialise less.

While these coping strategies can help in the short-term, if they form the basis of an ongoing pattern they may not be ideal. The things we typically eliminate when we’re stressed are often the very things that form our stress management buffer. Stress affects us on three fronts: cognitively, physiologically and behaviourally.

Supporting our body, that in turn will support us to cope with stress and everyday demands, is a great place to start stress first aid. Returning to an even keel will begin with getting the basics right. Even a small start in this direction will help move you closer to feeling better. Given the body’s physiological response to perceived stress, these tips will form a foundation on which to build more sophisticated stress, anxiety or depression management strategies.

  • Make time for those activities that offer relief and balance such as a catching up with a friend.

  • Return to exercise, no matter how small.

  • Leave work on time and make an arrangement or a booking for a massage to provide a reason to leave.

  • Return to healthy and routine eating. Do not skip breakfast or lunch and do not eat at the desk.

  • Keep caffeine, sugar and high fat foods in check to allow your body to cope with the impact of stress.

  • Keep an eye on alcohol intake.

  • Read or watch pleasant and calming things in the evening rather than work or news-related things.

  • Consider contact with nature even if it’s just sitting on the grass for lunch. This could include going for walks by the river, on the sand or in the rainforest to invigorate and balance the body and mind.

Put these strategies in place and start noticing the difference!

Cherie Dalton, Clinical Psychologist – Brisbane City Psychologists