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Stress management and self care
Following on from our previous posts for Mental Health Week, today we would like to share some techniques around stress management and the importance of self-care.
Below are some questions that you should try and complete at a time when you are not feeling particularly stressed. Give a copy of it to someone you trust (spouse, friend etc.) and discuss it with them. During stressful events, they may notice your reactions to stress even before you are aware of them. They may also be aware of other responses that you have to stress. Most importantly, discuss what you need from them when you are feeling overwhelmed.
What reactions do you have when under stress? Include physical symptoms (upset stomach, headaches), cognitive symptoms (can’t remember, can’t focus or concentrate) and behavioural/emotional symptoms (jumpy, irritable, crying etc.)
When you are stressed, what do you do that helps?
What are some negative behaviours that you might display under stress? E.g. increased alcohol, increased irritability and isolating yourself from others.
When you experience high levels of stress:
- What is the most helpful thing you can do for yourself?
- What do you need from others? (what can they do to help, how would you like them to communicate with you during this time)
Taking care of you is an important factor in reducing the effects of stress or other mental health issues. This includes keeping regular patterns of:
- Sleep – people who sleep well at night experience better mental health and emotional resilience. Sleep problems are more common in people experiencing mental health issues, so part of being aware of the state of your mental health is to take note of how well you sleep.
- Diet – a balanced diet includes eating food from a variety of food groups, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as minimising the intakes of sugar, salt and saturated fats. It is also critical to drink plenty of water and limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Relaxation – everyone benefits from some relaxation in their day. For those experiencing signs of anxiety such as racing thoughts, there are some various relaxation strategies that can help such as meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness
- Exercise – regular exercise is a key factor in maintaining your wellbeing and dealing with symptoms of a mental health issue. Regular aerobic exercise also helps you sleep better.