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November 17, 2016
T IS important to remember that
stress is not a bad thing. Call it what
you will, but pressure, strain or
tension is experienced by everyone.
Stress is natural. It’s just the
body’s way of coping with demanding
Stress is often influenced by external
factors including work, relationships
and finances, but internal factors such as
health, nutrition and sleep can also affect
how we deal with issues.
Demanding situations are normal
for ADF personnel and many of us even
thrive when we are exposed to stress.
However, long-term exposure to stress
can negatively impact the way we think
with poor concentration, forgetfulness,
apathy and hopelessness.
Behavioural changes under stress may
include increased drinking or smoking,
gambling, sleep disturbances, unhealthy
eating or mood changes.
Chronic stress can affect us emotion-
ally and if left unresolved can lead to
issues such as anxiety and depression.
Capt Jacqueline Levick, a psycholo-
gist at Duntroon Health Centre, said eve-
ryone exhibited stress differently.
“It’s important to recognise your indi-
vidual signs of stress so you know when
to implement adaptive coping strategies,”
she said. “Common symptoms include
becoming more irritable, having more
extreme reactions to small events, or
having difficulty sleeping.
“While there may seem like no way
to resolve situational stressors, like a
there are strategies you
can adopt to reduce
the level of impact this
has on your physical
and mental wellbeing.”
The body deals
with acute stress by
to tell the body it is in
danger, and therefore
activates the fight-or-
This response does not have any long-
term effects and often can help in dealing
with immediate stressors.
In many instances, stress can help
a person deal with demands placed on
them by making them more alert, ener-
gised and attuned to external cues.
However, long-term exposure to stress
and the exposure of the body to high
levels of hormones, such as cortisol and
adrenaline, can lead to increased vulner-
ability to illnesses, such as depression,
obesity and heart disease.
Capt Levick said stress was expe-
rienced when there was an imbalance
between demands being made and the
resources available to cope with those
“The level and extent of stress a
person may feel depends a great deal on
their attitude to a particular situation,”
“An event that may be extremely
stressful for one person can be a mere
hiccup in another person’s life.
“This, in part, can be from our previ-
ous experience with stress and knowing
what coping methods
work for us.”
Stress can be man-
aged by using techniques
such as monitoring and
challenging the way you
think about events, slow
breathing, and solving
your problems in a
Cutting down on
alcohol use and doing
things you enjoy can
help in coping with stress.
Stress may also contribute to physical
illness such as cardiovascular disease.
When stress turns into a serious ill-
ness, it is important to get professional
help as soon as possible.
Whatever the cause, physical diseases
need appropriate medical management
before any attempt is made at stress
Discuss with your doctor how stress
management may be used to support
treatment of your physical symptoms.
Stress is often influenced by external factors including work, relationships and finances, but internal
factors such as health, nutrition and sleep can also affect how we deal with issues.
Photo by LS Jayson Tufrey
Dealing with stress
Experiencing stress is a normal part of life, but too much could be a problem, Cpl Mark Doran reports.
If you are experiencing stress, you
can visit or contact:
Psychologist or counsellor
VVCS: 1800 011 046
This way up – an online coping
with stress course developed
by the Clinical Research Unit
of Anxiety and Depression at
St Vincent’s Hospital and the
University of New South Wales
Faculty of Medicine:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
1300 651 251
HELP AT HAND
The level of stress
a person may feel
depends on their
Capt Jacqueline Levick,
Duntroon Health Centre
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