Sometimes we are unable to choose what happens to us, but it may be possible to choose how we manage our response. When you are stressed the following may occur:

  • Muscles tighten
  • Heart beats faster
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Breathing becomes shallow
  • Perspire more
  • Jaw tightens or clenches
  • Thoughts racing
  • Feeling angry, frustrated, attacked, threatened or fearful

Managing the stress response

While the above reactions are often involuntary, there are deliberate actions you can choose to manage your response. The following are some techniques which may help to control the stress response:

  • Taking time to pause before you react or say anything
  • Breathing deeply and slowly to help reverse or stop some of these reactions
  • Relaxing your muscles by thinking about where the tightness is and releasing it
  • Diverting your attention from the stress by focusing on something else (e.g. counting, reading, listening to music)
  • Reminding yourself that this will pass
  • Sitting quietly until the responses subside
  • Allowing yourself the opportunity to understand what your feelings mean for you, rather than trying to simply stop them

EAP – Employee Assistance Program Australia