Stress Management Series Part 1: What is stress?

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Are you feeling out of control in your life and career?

If you’re feeling out of control and unlike yourself, the reason could be due to stress.


“We live in a time of unprecedented threats and thwarts upon our own existential wellbeing......never before have we seen such frequency and volume of shared anxiety, stress and feelings of uncertainty as we do today.” The RMIT Activator Enterprise Insights Resilience and Wellbeing in Organisations Report, October 2017

Stress could explain the feeling of overwhelm, inability to think straight and that sense of helplessness to do something about it.

The RMIT Resilience and Wellbeing Report, found that:

“Practitioners of therapeutic services are reporting that more and more people are presenting with debilitating feelings of despondency....many of us now struggle with a perceived inability to have any control of the events unravelling around us...”

But there are always things you can do to get back in control of the situation. Recognising your signs of stress and identifying your own stressors are the first steps you can take in order to do something about it.

Stress – What is it?

According to the Australian Psychological Society, stress is “feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense and worried, and occurs when we face a situation we feel we can’t cope with.”

We all know stress and have experienced it at different times, in different doses and durations. But we often don’t realise just how much of a grip it has on us and the extent of the impact it’s having on how we function.

Understanding when it’s your stress response talking and not your usual self can help you put some perspective on the situation.

Types of Stress

Acute stress is triggered by certain situations, such as tight deadlines, a loss of job and starting a new job. The stress is acute but short-lived.

Chronic stress is ongoing. It persists for long periods. Without the chance to recover, it doesn’t go away. It builds up cumulatively when a number of different stressors occur at the same time.

Chronic stress is more widespread than we might realise. Living with chronic stress is increasingly becoming the new norm.

The sad truth is that most of us are somewhere between functioning and flailing when it comes to our wellbeing. And it's because we’ve been caught up in a very dysfunctional approach to success and living.

We might not even realise how bad it is until we’ve stepped out of the stress cycle and experienced better.

In Part 2, I will talk about how to recognise the symptoms and what to look for.