Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is Normal

Stress is Normal

Until they become constant


A normal reaction to a stressful situation is the fight or flight response. Our nervous system releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which acts on increasing your heart rate, getting the muscles in a state of readiness and alertness. It is a normal reaction which protects you from danger.The problem comes when you remain in this state for prolonged periods the body will begin to suffer ill effects due to NOT getting time to rest and repair.


If you have been exposed to a stressful event or a misfortune we can experience the feeling of worry or anxiousness.

When they become more constant they can interfere with everyday life which can be recognised as a anxiety disorder.

15% of New Zealanders are affected by an anxiety disorder.

Human Stress Response

This graph shows increased stress results in increased productivity – up to a point. After which things can go downhill fast.

Each person differs in where their ‘peak’ is, so you need to be sensitive to the early warning signs that you are approaching stress overload and heading out of optimal to ‘overload’ and into fatigue.

Signs to look out for

The signs can differ between person to person, some days it can be better or worse and people with anxiety disorders usually 

  • expect the worst
  • worry excessively about money, health, family or work, when there are no signs of trouble
  • be unable to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be by themselves
  • avoid situations that make them anxious
  • be irritable
  • have constant worries running through their head
  • have difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
  • feel edgy, restless or jumpy
  • suffer from stomach problems, nausea, diarrhea
  • suffer from poor sleep
  • need to know what’s going to happen in the future

What can I do to prevent it?

There are many ways to help with your stress. Dealing with stress may also help resolve or decrease your level of anxiety. Here are some places to start

  • Talk to someone who will listen and give sound advice if you want it
  • Think about what is causing stress in your life – what can be changed, reduced or stopped to take some pressure off
  • If things are beyond your control, can you reduce stress in other areas?
  • Do an action plan so that it can be broken down into do-able steps
  • Getting a regular massage helps to lower your cortisol levels, thereby reducing your stress. It also helps your immune system
  • Sitting all day is unhealthy. Taking a good walk helps both the body and your mental wellbeing.

or more on learning about Stress and Anxiety visit Mental Health Foundation or call the Health Line 0800 611 116