Locals urged to manage stress in the name of good health

Lloyd Brooks at the RFDS has lots of ideas of how to cope with stress including using stress rocks which have been donated by Epiroc.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Outreach program in Cobar has been gifted with load of ‘stress rocks’ from Epiroc, a supplier to the local mining industry.

Lloyd Brooks, an alcohol and other drugs (AOD) counsellor with the RFDS said stress balls, or in this case stress rocks, are one method he uses to help people cope with stress.

“When you are stressed or anxious your muscles tighten up.

“The action from squeezing and releasing the stress ball acts as a physical release, helping you to relax, especially when combined with slow deep breathing,” Mr Brooks explained.

“It’s not a long term solution but it works in the moment.

“The motion acts as a reminder to relax muscles that are tight from stress helping to prevent headache, neck and shoulder pain that often accompanies stress and muscle tension.

“The sensory action also helps you to shift your focus from stressful thoughts to focusing on releasing physical tension.”

Mr Brooks has worked as a community educator in the AOD field for the past 20 years and can offer people a number of effective methods they can try to help them relieve stress in their lives.

He said reducing substance abuse of drugs such as alcohol, cannabis and tobacco can make a big difference to stress levels.

That’s not to say that having one or two drinks after a hard day at work is a problem.

“The issues come in when people say ‘I’ve got to have it’, or ‘It’s got to be part of my day’ and then it becomes a much bigger issue,” he said.

“People who take drugs recreationally on a weekend see that as a positive experience.

“Rarely do they remember their hangovers, or waking up on the street, or they’ve been bashed or can’t remember what they did the night before,” he said.

Mr Brooks recommends changes to diet, evaluating your work/life balance, using music and exercise to relax, developing good sleeping habits, deep breathing and switching off completely (eg going camping in the bush and doing nothing for a weekend) can all help to reduce stress.

“I’m happy to talk about any of these methods with anyone who wants help to deal with their stress levels.

“As a counsellor, I’m not here to “fix” people, everyone has the ability to help themselves with support and direction.

“My primary role is to support a client during their period of changing in a non-judgemental way,” Mr Brooks said.

The RFDS Outreach program in Cobar offers counselling for people with AOD addictions, AOD education, support for community AOD projects and develops and supports identified community needs around AOD.