De-stress techniques to support mental health and well-being

Friday, July 3, 2020

Stress can be motivating at times, but when it gets out of hand it can affect you mentally, physically and prevent you from getting everything done. Learning ways to de-stress is essential, especially if you’re trying to manage studying, work and life commitments.

With the daily changes occurring across the nation due to COVID-19, it is normal that your levels of stress and worry may be increasing. During stressful times, it is important to be aware of your emotions and to dedicate some time to engaging in calming activities to help ease your mind. An understanding of various de-stressing techniques can assist with managing stress and help you to continue to achieve great outcomes in your studies, work and beyond.

De-stress for success

What is stress?

When the body detects what it perceives to be a threat or danger near you, it reacts with stress. This is a physical response that involves your central nervous system altering your hormones to stimulate the body into action. In a real-life emergency this ‘fight or flight’ response could give you the sharpened reflexes you need and could even save your life. For many people though, the symptoms of feeling stressed can become yet another to stress about.

Stress can be emotional, physical or both and vary in intensity. It can affect how you live on a day-to-day basis, from sleeping to socialising to eating and more. Stress could present in many ways, including:

  • Aches and pains
  • Digestive issues
  • Feelings of sadness or depression
  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • An inability to focus
  • Decreased energy
  • Disrupted sleep

The need to de-stress

As life in 2020 has seen many of us experience situations that could have resulted in increased stress, it’s important to learn how to get your body back into balance. The stressful situations will come and go, but with a few de-stressing techniques in your toolbelt, managing challenges can get easier.

Breathing for relaxation

Breathing is so automatic for most of us that you probably don’t really think about it much. However, when you’re feeling stressed conscious, deep breathing can be a powerful tool for relaxation and de-stressing. Mindfulness is an approach that can aid in reducing the feeling of stress, as well as prevent it from taking over — and it can be done anywhere! Deep breathing and mindfulness as de-stressing techniques can also be useful in the workplace, with mindfulness a useful skill to benefit the elderly.

Try this: Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. Also known as Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, this breathing technique can be done anywhere and can calm the mind while helping to release tension. Follow these steps to commence this practice:

  • Sit comfortably
  • Bring your left hand on your left knee.
  • Move your right hand up toward your face.
  • Complete an exhale then close your right nostril over with your right thumb or index finger.
  • Now, inhale through your left nostril. Once complete, close the left nostril and release the right nostril to exhale.
  • Leaving the left nostril closed, inhale through the right nostril.
  • Now, close the right nostril and open the left to exhale.
  • Continue to do these cycles for a few minutes and finish with exhaling on the left side.

The power of organisation

Do you often leave things to the last minute? Do you frequently find that you haven’t got enough time to get everything done? It could be time to look at your routines. Improving the way you manage your time can actually create more time for you to complete your required tasks. Get serious about planning ahead, creating a study area that is super productive and explore useful tips for studying online.

Try this: Write a weekly schedule. Having a set routine that is written out will help you visualise everything that needs to be done. Start by assessing how long it takes you (honestly!) to complete certain tasks. Schedule in your breaks and “me time” as well to ensure you maintain a sense of balance to hopefully prevent future overwhelm.

Get moving

Stress can make us get a range of physical symptoms, but getting physical can actually help to counteract the incoming stress. Exercise, whether it’s sweaty cardio or relaxing yoga, helps to regulate those stress hormones and release tension, getting your body feeling more normal. There are many wellbeing strategies you can try, plus taking a break with unstructured physical activities like gardening, walking with friends or cleaning the house can help too.

Try this: Create your own de-stress circuit. You can put it in your phone or stick it on the wall. For example:

  • Do ten squats
  • Do ten push ups
  • Do a ten second plank
  • One minute of star jumps
  • Repeat three times.

Take back control

No matter how carefully you prioritise, sometimes things just don’t go to plan, or extra tasks pop up. Managing your mental health and wellbeing is important and can contribute to your study outcomes. Try out some of the suggestions listed above to de-stress then make note of which techniques work best for you. If you’re looking more to try, consider these additional scientifically-backed approaches.

For help managing your studies, you can always reach out to the Royal College team, including your trainer who is there to support you. If stress is really taking over your life, don’t hesitate to contact a health professional. They will be able to support you as you get your stress under control as you reach for success.

Seek out support

Help is available if you need it. If your mental health is suffering, chat to your doctor about a mental health plan. There are also a number of organisations who can help to support you in managing your mental health and wellbeing:

    • Lifeline Australia –  Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
      Website: Telehone: 13 11 14
    • Beyond Blue – Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
      Website: Telephone: 1300 224 636
    • Headspace – Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
      Website: Telephone: 1800 650 890
    • 1800 Respect – Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
      Website: Telephone: 1800 737 732
    • Mindspot – Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
      Website: Telephone: 1800 614 434
    • Kids Helpline – Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
      Website: Telephone: 1800 55 1800
    • National Debt Helpline – Helps people tackle their debt problems.
      Website: Telephone: 1800 007 007

For information about additional organisations, resources, and online mental wellbeing apps, please visit our mental health resources page for contact details.

At Royal College, we are dedicated to providing support throughout your learning journey, from start to finish. If you are in need of any help or support, please reach out to us.


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