Mental Health Minute May Edition

Everybody gets stressed sometimes. The classic definition of stress is the response our bodies and minds have to the demands placed upon them and the interpretations we assign to those demands. Stress can be motivating to make us prioritise tasks to tackle the most important work first.

The perceived stress activates adrenaline to make us able to complete the task quickly. If for instance you had to plan a party last minute the thought of all the things to do can produce stress, but once the party begins, you start to relax a little as you look around and see the guests enjoying themselves and once the event is over you relax and can see the fun everyone had. Short-term pressure and mild anxiety end in a task completed and having a sense of satisfaction. This is the benefit of stress.

When we experience stress for extensive periods of time, without being able to alter, change or complete the task causing stress, we can feel empty, numb, devoid of motivation, hopeless and beyond caring. Burnout is different to stress in that it is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

Prolonged effects of chronic long-term stress can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic disease, immune impairment, cognitive impairment, elevated blood pressure, depression and anxiety and drug and alcohol misuse. So, it is important to address the source of burnout.

The biggest predictor of burnout is a lack of efficiency. As sense of daily progress can be the best way to combat this and hence keeping a diary of work you completed in a day or doing easy jobs to get started can help with the feeling of completion.

Finding ways to release the helpful hormones through self-care to combat the stress hormones can help to modulate the effects of stress.

Dopamine – “The Reward System” is released when we complete tasks, eat nutritious foods and celebrate the little wins.

Endorphins – “Pain Killers” – Laughter is the best medicine because it releases endorphins. Time alone in meditation, doing something we love like painting, craft, reading or exercise also gives us the “feel-good” hormone.

Serotonin – “The Mood Stabiliser” – can be gained from running, swimming and cycling and most importantly meaningful and strong social connections. Ask for a hug from a loved one!

These are the hormones that we are rewarded with for self-care, they can be hard to do when you are low, but usually make us feel better when completed.

Work – Life Balance is the best way to prevent burnout, but balance is hard in this modern society. However, an awareness of the place these hormones play in our lives can help you to take control of your life and your emotions.

If you or someone you know is experiencing stress, please see your GP for a Mental Health Care plan and/or address your work stress with your employer.

This advice may not suit your personal situation and therefore cannot substitute real Psychological advice please consult a professional if this has raised issues for you. You can contact our Professional Psychological Services for an appointment on 07 4091 3850

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