Stress and vulnerability

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A certain amount of stress gets us out of bed in the morning, keeps us moving through the day and provides momentum to achieve. But stress can become a negative in our lives if we experience too much or the wrong type of stress.


Everyone has stress

There are two types of stress we commonly have in our lives.

Ambient stress

Everyday stress such as paying our bills, getting the kids to school on time every morning, caring for family members, dealing with deadlines at work. These are the stresses that we tend to let build up, ones we often put in the ‘just get on with it’ basket of our lives, convinced that we can’t do much to change these.

Life events

Major, unexpected and uncontrollable events such as the sudden illness or death of a loved one, a car accident or a relationship breakup.

When stresses start to add up ...

Either lots of little stresses or a major event

It's important at this point to keep an eye out for signs that things aren’t going well – having trouble sleeping, change of mood, eating more or less than usual, losing enjoyment from the things you normally enjoy, getting cross and grumpy with loved ones, feeling less positive about yourself.

This is the time to step in and take control. Look at the everyday stresses you have. Are there too many? Could you share some of the load? Are you or others setting unrealistic expectations that you can’t meet? Can you put in some ‘buffers’ such as taking some time out, or putting effort into a bit of exercise or relaxation? It's vital that you take the time now to increase ýour resilience before things get harder.

Too much stress...

We lose our ability to cope

If the stress is significant it may impact on our ability to cope. Many people experience a negative response when they ‘cross the line’ of vulnerability. For some people, it might be a physical response such as migraines, hives, excessive tiredness or even a heart attack. For others, they might experience mental or emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

It's important to recognise these signs as soon as they appear and take the time to get yourself well. Let family and friends know that you’re not okay, and ask them to help. If you need to, seek the support of your GP to help you get things back on track.

Reduce your stress

Stop and pause

What are some of the everyday stresses in your life? For example: long working hours, parenting issues, car problems or ongoing health problems.

Sometimes it's useful to pause for a moment and reassess your life. Take the time to look at the amount of everyday stresses you have and think about ways to lessen them or remove them if you can. This can make all the difference and provide you with some space – it will help to increase your resilience and make facing life’s future challenges a little easier.