Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

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

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Stress Management | myVMC

Dr Joe Kosterich talks about the things we can do to manage stress, including dealing with the source of stress, relaxation techniques, staying healthy and seeking help.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Stress Management Course

All people experience stress from time to time. However, excessive or chronic stress can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

Read more on This Way Up website

Carers Victoria - Managing stress

Stress management looks at what is causing stress in your life and how stress is affecting you

Read more on Carers Victoria website

Carers NSW - Managing stress

The term 'stress management' means identifying what is causing stress in your life, then considering how stress is affecting you and what you can do about it

Read more on Carers NSW website

Stress | ReachOut Australia

There's a difference between good stress and bad stress. Stress management is about finding that proper balance.

Read more on website

Stress and pregnancy | Raising Children Network

Stress and pregnancy often go together because pregnancy can bring big changes. Stress management is important for your health and your babys. Get tips.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Autism spectrum disorder & family stress | Raising Children Network

Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can cause family stress. If this sounds like your family, read this article for stress management ideas.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Stress and pain management - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Stress is a part of life, but constant stress can affect your health & can make your pain worse. Find out how to manage stress effectively.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Avoiding stress over the festive season | myVMC

The festive season is a time when many people are busy enjoying time with friends and family, however it can also be a stressful time for many people. Remember the year the in-laws arrived on the doorstep unannounced?

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Stress and farming coping tips | National Centre for Farmer Health

Living and working in rural Australia can be very rewarding. However, farming can also be stressful. There are the everyday issues of family life, balancing budgets, planning for the future and keeping up with developments in your area of farming. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo