The hits keep coming. So how do we fight back against stress?

Do you ever feel like the world is against you?

Like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong? Like Murphy (and his law) has moved in and is squatting in your basement?

Sometimes, it can feel like the world is against you when one thing after another comes at you like rolling punches on a speed bag … and you’re the speed bag.

That’s certainly how I’ve been feeling lately. Battered, bruised, barely able to catch my breath, and still having to show up for everything, plastering a smile on my face and making the best of it.

Honestly, it’s exhausting.

Why do we do this? Why do force ourselves to pretend everything is OK, that we’re coping just fine, that we don’t need help? Is it shame? Embarrassment? The belief that acknowledging the challenges we are facing makes them real?

Maybe it’s a little of all of those things.

Well, I’m writing this column – once again sharing my own rawness and failures for the world to see – because I think it’s really important that we remind ourselves that everyone needs help sometimes.

And that’s OK.

Last week, my husband was rushed to hospital and spent the week in intensive care.

We nearly lost him and it was stressful beyond measure. In between trying to get to and from the hospital, managing my and our son’s respiratory infections, working, a uni assignment that was due, we had a house inspection we weren’t able to reschedule.

Then, this morning, I receive a phone call from my husband to tell me that we’ve received a “no cause” termination notice, so on top of everything else, we now have to try and find another place to live in a rental market that thinks it’s OK to charge $630/week for a townhouse without ducted air conditioning in Wodonga of all places.

I mean seriously. Get a grip.

At this point, what started out as a snowball rolling down the hill, has gathered so much stress and anxiety, panic and fear along the way as it rolls, it’s become something of an avalanche.

I’m finding myself desperately running in front of it as it careens down the hillside, trying not to be smothered by the immeasurable amount of stress-snow nipping at my heels as I find myself running more and more out of control, picking up pace I can’t handle.

Like I said, it’s exhausting.

I know I’m not the only person in this situation. Australian Community Survey (ACS) by NCLS Research asked Australians about their stress levels in December 2022 and discovered that 64 per cent of people rated their stress level as 5/10 or higher, with 40 percent of all Australians worryingly rating their stress level as 7/10 or higher.

I really don’t think we can lay claim to being the laid-back she’ll-be-right-mate nation of the world anymore, and we need to seriously look at how this is impacting people across Australia.

Stress is a natural part of our lives as it’s a normal human reaction that everyone experiences from time to time.

According to Dr Timothy Legg, It is a biological response to a perceived threat manifested through the physical and mental experience of the hormone release that produces the “fight-or-flight” response.

However, stress becomes a problem when you start to feel overwhelmed by it or it lasts for a long time.

So how can we manage it? How can I prevent the snowball turning into an avalanche and squishing me flat on the downhill spiral that appears to be becoming my life?

Well, that’s a very good question.

Looking at the cause of our stress is an important factor in being able to manage our stress levels as this holds the key to finding ways to prevent stress occurring in the first place. However, stress prevention isn’t always possible.

The American Institute of Stress said (in not so many words) that essentially it comes down to the Serenity Prayer: it’s about recognising there’s no point stressing about things you can’t do anything about, working out what you can do about the things you can change, and taking the time to work out what goes on what list.

Now, I just need to find the magic solution to fear and panic and I’ll be golden. I’m thinking something with four bedrooms and two bathrooms might have something to do with it.

By Zoë Wundenberg  for THE NORTHWEST STAR

Photo by cottonbro studio

Photo by Yan Krukau