The case for taking a break: Tips for a stress-free life

Yoga by the lake on campus

This week, we talk to one of Macquarie’s experts about stress and remind you of the services available across our University to support you.

 Most of us will experience stress at some time. For some it means a tightening of the chest, a faster heartbeat and racing thoughts. For others it can lead to anxiety and depression.

 “Long-term or chronic stress can have a negative impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing,” says Professor Jennie Hudson, Director, Centre for Emotional Health.

Stress can be unpleasant and many of us have experienced one or more of the symptoms.

Chronic stress has been associated with a number of physical diseases and can lead to heart problems and mental health issues.

Taking regular breaks and going on holidays are some of the ways to reduce the negative impact that stress has on your life. Holidays provide the opportunity to develop stronger relationships with friends and family. They also offer an opportunity to learn and grow as a person and a family unit.

“Experiencing new things can lead to new learning which can increase mastery and resourcefulness,” says Professor Hudson.

This then leads to increased skills and abilities that can have a positive impact on your work life. Research also shows that taking regular breaks leads to increased workplace productivity, making it better for both you and the organisation.

We know taking regular breaks and going on holidays can help. But what’s available here on campus?

  • The staff wellbeing portal, which has information on physical and mental health and the services available at Macquarie.
  • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides counselling for a range of areas including relationships, work/life balance, vocational goals, managing change, anxiety, depression, physical wellbeing, interpersonal conflict and more. Counselling can be delivered face-to-face in the EAP office on Epping Road, or via LiveChat, email, phone and video conferencing.
  • managerAssist® for managers and team leaders, which provides a senior consultant to discuss strategies, options and approaches to help employees to thrive and perform.
  • Training and Development courses for staff, including Mental Health Awareness and Building your Emotional Resilience. Register via HR Online after notifying your manager.
  • The Sport and Aquatic Centre, a.k.a. the gym, which has great deals for staff.
  • uMassage in the Campus Hub, which offers Reflexology, Cupping, Acupuncture and Massage.
  • The Centre for Emotional Health Clinic, which offers support and treatment for a range of issues, including anxiety and stress, shyness and social anxiety, depression or low mood, parenting difficulties, post traumatic stress disorder, trauma, loss and grief.

The Centre for Emotional Health (CEH) conducts specialist clinical research aimed at furthering the understanding of child and adult emotional disorders, as well as continually improving methods of treatment. It is a Macquarie University Centre for research excellence. The Centre is under the directorship of Professor Jennie Hudson, an internationally recognised, leading researcher in the field of youth anxiety.

How do you relax? What stress-busting tips do you recommend? Share in the comments below.

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  1. I find that putting on my walking shoes and doing a 1 hr power-walk with friends puts me back in a great frame of mind. The endorphins last for days!

  2. My tips:
    * Join the NTEU and get involved in the campaigns on job security, workload and work intensification – these are major causes of stress in the workplace and together we can do something about it.
    * Don’t store up your leave for too long – it’s there to take: take it! Not only does it give you a break and a rest, it restores perspective and gives you time to maintain other interests and hobbies, and relationships with the people you love.
    * Come down to Canberra at Easter and join in the fun at the National Folk Festival! Music, songs, dancing, poetry, great company, good food, market stalls, kids’ festival – it’s got the lot. The best stress reliever of all!

    I’m off – the car won’t pack itself… NFF here we come!!

  3. Doing relaxation exercise or using a tool, like a meditation headband (search it!), can work for me as does doing some exercise like bike riding or walking. Also, I find colouring-in with my daughter is surprisingly calming!!

  4. Evidence-based research confirms “chronic stress has been associated with a number of physical diseases and can lead to heart problems and mental health issues” but asserting “taking regular breaks and going on holidays” reduces the negative impact of stress is only true for short-term amelioration and not sustainable prevention or management of stress. Decades of stress research confirms life and work control factors balanced against demand / task load factors are more significant especially when correlated with support and personal recognition. Holidays may provide opportunities to “develop stronger relationships with friends and family” but the impact can be fleeting when not accompanied by work and life structural changes. Otherwise we run the risk of getting people to feel better in the short term without addressing longer term causal factors.

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