Dealing with distress

Relationship problems often cause significant distress. Distress can show itself in many ways. You might feel emotions such as anger or sadness, or physical symptoms such as weight change or migraines.

It is important that you look after yourself as much as possible and ask for help. If you or your friends or family have any concerns about your wellbeing, make sure that you go and see your GP. Your GP can help you with a range of different options, including developing a Mental Health Care Plan where appropriate.

Sometimes we are so caught up in dealing with difficult situations, we don’t recognise when we need help. Talking to someone can provide you with strategies to deal with your distress. You could phone the Family Relationship Advice Line or other helplines, or make an appointment to see a counsellor.

Focusing on activities that you enjoy - such as catching up with friends, walking the dog, gardening, or doing a hobby - may help you feel better and take your mind off the difficult situation.

Being mindful about how you react to certain people or situations can help when stressful events happen. For example, you may get anxious when you talk to your partner about a difficult subject. You can prepare yourself for difficult discussions by agreeing a suitable time to talk and being clear about what you are trying to achieve from the discussion.

Aiden has been feeling unwell for a while. He just can’t seem to relax and any little thing such as a bad driver on the road makes him angry. Aiden’s partner Kai notices that they are arguing a lot more. Kai tries talking to Aiden, but Aiden gets angry and says “you’ll just make things worse”.

One Monday, Aiden can’t get out of bed. He sleeps all day but by evening he still feels really tired. Out of the blue he starts to shake. He goes to his GP, who carries out tests but can’t find any physical reasons for his symptoms. 

While talking to his GP, Aiden says that he is worried about losing his job and has been working long hours. He says Kai is concerned about their financial situation, and so he doesn’t want to tell Kai about the problems at work.

His GP refers him to a counsellor at the local service. The counsellor talks to Aiden about his worries and helps him to recognise that many of his thoughts are due to anxiety. The counsellor gives Aiden various strategies for recognising and coping with the anxiety.

Related links




Family Relationship Advice Line

Beyond Blue

Black Dog

Australian Psychologists Association

Next steps

Call the Family Relationship Advice Line or other helplines, or make an appointment to see a counsellor

If you are feeling suicidal, contact Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis support service on 13 11 14 or seek help from your GP immediately.

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