April is National Stress Awareness month. Everybody is faced with stress from time to time, whether it’s due to work or personal reasons. But if you feel like it’s having a big impact on your life, it’s time to ask for help.
Read on to discover ways to help relieve stress and deal with the daily challenges it can bring..
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. A certain amount of pressure can be great for us to function well from day to day, as it helps people to reach their peak efficiency. Research shows that pressure can increase our drive to meet deadlines and achieve targets.
However, when pressure becomes too intense and prolonged, this can lead to more serious symptoms and problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain/loss, sleep disturbance, sweating, abdominal pain, chest pain and panic attacks.
Causes of stress
There are many different causes of stress, and the level of stress we experience can vary from person to person. Common causes of stress are bereavement, getting married, divorce, debt, ill-health, moving house, preparing for and sitting exams, changing jobs and issues at work.
Coping with stress
- Have ‘me’ time
It’s so important to take time away from a busy schedule to enjoy some time for yourself, whether it’s having a pamper night, movie marathon, spending time with loved ones or just taking yourself away from social media for a couple of hours to relax.
- Get outdoors
Being outdoors and getting regular exercise does wonders for our mental health and helps to eliminate feelings of stress. During high periods of stress, aim to get 20 minutes of exercise a day- whether that’s taking a brisk walk or enjoying a short work-out in the gym.
- Talk to others
Don’t hold back, confide in someone you can trust. Unloading your feelings can help you feel much better, and you might just receive some helpful advice.
- Avoid unhealthy habits
Don’t slide into the trap of developing any negative habits, such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or over-indulging on unhealthy foods. If unhealthy habits do persist, consider speaking to someone who can help such as a loved one or doctor.
- Find a good work/life balance
We all need time to switch off after a long work day. If you find yourself never catching a break from your work-life, this can have a huge affect your mental health. Work out a way to find the right balance, whether that’s speaking to your manager or discussing it with your doctor.
- Keep a diary
Keeping a diary is a good way to monitor your stress levels and tackle the reasons that could be triggering these feelings. Noting everything from events that happened in the day to the hours of sleep you had is a great way to get to the bottom of what is causing your stress.
- Talk to your GP
Approach your GP if your stress is becoming too much or you think it could be developing into something else, such as depression or anxiety. Taking the first step to admit you’re struggling can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and people are there to help.
A helpful self-help guide for dealing with feelings of stress: https://www.moodjuice.scot.nhs.uk/stress.asp