Tips to build resilience and manage stress from psychologist Scott Henderson

Feel like you're running on empty? We chat to psychologist and ahi educator Scott Henderson about the impact that stress has on our bodies and mind, and the key resilience factors that can help combat it.

Written by
Georgie Tomich
Find more by category:
Find more by tag:

What are some signs that a person may be stressed, and what impact does stress have on our body and mind?

To be alive is to experience stress.  Not all stress is bad.  But ongoing stress can have negative impacts on your on mind, body and emotions.

Signs that you’re stressed are changes in your health, thinking, feeling and behaviour. Here are a few things to look out for:

Mental: memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, seeing only the negatives, anxious or racing thoughts, constant worrying

Physical: aches and pains, digestion disorders, high blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid or irregular heartbeat, frequent illness (like colds and flu), muscular tension

Emotional / Behavioural: moodiness, irritability or short temper, agitation, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and isolation, general unhappiness, isolating yourself from others, procrastination, increased absenteeism, a drop in work performance, problems with interpersonal relationships or disinterest.

What are some simple techniques people can use to manage their stress levels?

There are a few ways that you can manage your stress levels.

Remove or reduce the stressor through problem solving.  This could involve anything from asking for help, changing your job, downsizing your house, or seeking relationship counselling.  However, many of the stressors that we experience in life are out of our control.  Therefore, we have to use the following:

1. Change your reaction to the stressor by changing your thinking and feelings. We can use techniques such as mindfulness, thought stopping, decatastrophising, optimism, cognitive restructuring and managing our emotional blockers.

2. Use coping resources to manage your stress such as diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and using your support networks.

In your online workshop Building Resilience and Refilling Your Tank you talk about key resilience factors. Can you explain what these are, and why they are important to our wellbeing?

The three key resilience factors that we discuss in the training are the interrelated components that make up our ability to ‘refill the tank’.  They are areas that you can focus on to improve your ability to deal with life’s challenges, to increase your motivation and happiness, and enable you to bounce back quicker when bad things happen.

"Asking for help can be surprisingly hard, even when it's only for some minor difficulty. Yet it's a vital life skill."

You are only as capable as your body allows you to be, so we need to look after our physical health. Many people talk to me about the COVID kilos that they have put on. Your body was not designed to sit behind a desk for 40, 50, 60 hours a week. Your thinking and mental approach can determine how your view and react to situations.  Interestingly, we have a lot more control over our thinking than most people would lead us to believe.  And by caring for your emotional wellbeing, you can improve your positivity, happiness and enjoyment of life.

What are some of the advantages of building and developing a personal resilience plan?

There are many advantages of building a personal resilience plan. They can be:

  • Reducing depression, improving optimism and increasing your happiness
  • Becoming more proactive, motivated and getting things done (even in lockdown)
  • Reducing the effects and impacts of stressors (especially those that you can’t control)
  • Focusing on the things that are really important in your life and setting some goals
  • Building stronger relationships, helping others, supporting family and friends, and being nice to the people around you
  • Being healthier and increasing your wellbeing

What advice would you give to people who have trouble asking for help?

Asking for help can be surprisingly hard, even when it's only for some minor difficulty. Doing so is an admission that you aren't perfect.  It can lead to feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy. Yet, it's a vital life skill. Many of life's obstacles can't be tackled alone - we simply don't live long enough to learn how to do everything on our own. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is actually a sign of strength and maturity.  If you ask in the right way, you may be surprised about how giving, caring and supportive people can be.

Scott Henderson is a registered psychologist, educator and director of the BSI Learning Institute.  He has worked as a lecturer in psychology, behavioural science and research at the Universities of Sydney and Western Sydney, specialising in the disciplines of health and social psychology. His expertise include such areas as leadership, teams and group dynamics, communication and body language, persuasion techniques, stress, and workplace satisfaction.

Want to register for Building Resilience and Refilling Your Tank, or one of Scott's other online workshops? Visit our event page.

Start your journey:

Contact us today to start your journey towards a  brighter future for the housing sector.