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Changing the causes of stress

3-minute read

What are stressors?

Events or situations that cause stress are known as stressors. These can be major life events such as births, deaths and marriages or just the routine demands of everyday life. Many stressors can be changed but others are beyond our control.

Simple ways to reduce stress

Working out what you can control and taking steps to change things can reduce stress.

  • Financial issues: Financial issues are currently the leading cause of stress for Australians, affecting around half the population. Setting up a budget or consulting a financial adviser may help.
  • Work issues: Work is also a major cause of stress in Australia. Control your work, resolve conflicts and learn to say no. Depending on your work, it may be possible to make changes to your work hours or job duties.
  • Health issues: Take steps to look after your health to ensure it doesn’t become a source of stress. Mental health and stress are closely associated. Keep healthy with good nutrition, regular exercise, and regular check-ups with a doctor. Avoid alcohol, smoking and recreational drug use.
  • Relationships: Take the time to nurture important relationships and resolve conflicts to reduce personal stress.
  • Major life changes: Too many major events coming at once can multiply the effects of stress. Postpone major changes, such as moving house, to a non-stressful time.

Problem-solving exercise

Once you have identified the problems that are leading to stress in your life, using this structured problem-solving exercise can help you to find solutions.

1. Write a sentence describing the problem
This could be any type of issue, such as a relationship or work issue. If there is more than one problem, write a list and then repeat the steps below for each one.

2. Brainstorm possible solutions.
Write as many solutions as you can possibly think of, even if they seem unrealistic or silly. The purpose is to get as many ideas down as possible. You will not use all of them.

3. Write a list of pros and cons for each solution.
Use a table with 2 columns for pros and cons.

4. Choose the best option or combination of options.

5. Write a plan of action
Include as much detail as possible about how you are going to take action.

6. Put the plan into action

7. Check your progress.
Did the plan work? Depending on your circumstances you may have to change the plan as you go.

Technique adapted from beyondblue.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know is finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s Symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: February 2017

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