Paula Kruger

Clinical Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Stress Management

Stress Management Strategies and Techniques

What is Stress 

Stress can provoke fear, anxiety, and worry, but each represents a different emotional reaction. By appreciating the differences and the relationships between emotions, we can put our problems into perspective.

It is a popular belief that stress is bad, to we must be avoiding stress at all costs. However, stress is a normal part of being alive. So the less we fear it, the more we can lead a happy and healthy existence.

There is no doubt that many of us could do with more peace of mind. However, stress is normal – it is part and parcel of being human. It motivates us, provokes change, and encourages learning. 

There are many studies showing that unhealthy stress is bad for the mind and body. High-stress levels are found to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetics, cancer, and high blood pressure. 

In cases of those with high stress, it is certainly worthwhile to spend time and change aspects of our lives to experience stress relief.

Identify your stressors

Any experience, problem, or situation that makes us feel threatened or overwhelmed is a “stressor”. As a first step in making your life more manageable, see if you can get a good overview of your own stressors!

A Stressor is an event that disrupts our homeostasis and leads to a stress response. Homeostasis is the state where the body’s internal environment is a balance, and factors such as body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone levels are relatively stable. These can all be affected by both physical and emotional threats, and unless they return to their usual level, the body will start to suffer ill effects.

Some of the stressors that may be impacting your life – these may leave you feeling overwhelmed, and at this time, you may need to seek the services of a counsellor/therapist. When one or more stressors are challenging you, and you feel you require my support – you may identify with the following list:

Relationship Stressors

  • Are you having marital problems?
  • Are you recently separated or divorced?
  • Have you recently been widowed?
  • Have you recently lost a close relative or friend?
  • Are you single?
  • Are you having problems with your sex life?
  • Are you planning a wedding?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Have you recently had a baby – if so, did you also have a difficult birth?
  • Are you dealing with an empty nest – children leaving home?
  • Has your partner recently changed their job or returned?
  • Are you caring for someone who is disabled or in poor health?
  • Do you see more or less of your family than usual?
  • Are you having trouble with your in-laws?
  • Has your social life changed recently, becoming more demanding or emptier?

Personal Stressors

  • Are you in poor health or injured?
  • Have you, in the past, been in combat or done other dangerous or frightening work?
  • Have you experienced a traumatic event, such as an accident or mugging?
  • Are you trying to break a habit, such as smoking or reducing/cutting out sugar?
  • Have you recently achieved anything major that you now have to measure up to?
  • Are you just started or finishing an educational qualification?
  • Are you moving house?
  • Have you just started or finishing an educational qualification?
  • Are you in trouble with the law?
  • Do you face discrimination based on your race, your sexuality, or any other reason?
  • Is someone bullying or abusing you?
  • Do you have problems with substance abuse, such as alcohol, medications, or caffeine?
  • Are you lonely?

Job and Money Stressors

  • Are you unemployed? 
  • Have you recently been promoted or demoted?
  • Are you having problems with your boss?
  • Do you have more work than you feel you can manage?
  • Does your work involve long hours, presentations, physical dangers, or a hostile environment?
  • Are you changing your career?
  • Do you have a long commute?
  • Have you taken on a mortgage or other loan?
  • Are you struggling to pay bills?
  • Have your financial circumstances recently undergone any drastic changes?
  • Are you approaching retirement, or have you recently retired?


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory – a questionnaire the medical community considers an authoritative measure of stress, lists the top five stressors in life as: 

  1. The death of a spouse
  2. Divorce
  3. Separating from a spouse 
  4. Imprisonment 
  5. The death of a close relative

You may need to evaluate and then ask yourself:

Am I finding it hard to relax in my free time?

Are my stress levels affecting my general mood?

Is my concentration Suffering?

Am I developing some unhealthy habits?

Do I feel like my emotions are hard to manage?

IF THE ANSWER IS “YES’ to some of the above, stress is definitely affecting your wellbeing. In this instance, you may find it very beneficial to seek professional help from me to identify areas where you may benefit from learning some stress-reducing techniques.

Experiencing acute stress now and then is unlikely to harm you unless it is very extreme. However, if chronic stress becomes a major problem in your life, using stress management techniques may make you a lot happier and mitigate health problems. Whatever your situation, it is important to develop good self-care and keep your stress levels down to a tolerable level.

In my practice over 23 years – I have found much is achieved by evaluating how your stressful situation manifested. If stress is a reoccurring theme in your life, and that is impacting detrimentally in your life. I will guide you through a well-formulated method to identify the origins of your stress, how to prevent some stress occurring, and how to manage stress more productively. 

I have found people experience happier and healthier lives, by a committed effort to working together to manage their stress.

Here are some stress-reducing tips to contemplate and implement

  • Keep up a positive attitude, starting from as soon as you wake.
  • Accept that there are events that you have no control over.
  • Be assertive – but not aggressive. Assert yourself! Your opinions and beliefs matter. Try to avoid being angry, defensive, passive-aggressive.
  • Utilise relaxation techniques such as meditation, pilates, tai chi or yoga.
  • Make sure when feeling stressed, to practice deep breathing.
  • Exercise with a regular routine. Your body can fight off the effects of stress better when fit.
  • Eat healthy, so your body and brain have the nutrients required and is resistant to crashing.
  • Learn to manage time effectively.
  • Set limits – learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress. Avoid overpromising.
  • Make time for yourself. Invest in hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
  • Get enough sleep. 80% of our healing is done while asleep.
  • Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviours to reduce stress. These upset our dopamine system.
  • Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you enjoy.

Finally: Do Seek Treatment with a Mental Health Expert such as myself who is trained in stress management. You can then learn the techniques of how you, in particular, may deal with the stress in your life.