Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress. The Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Many of us all around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.
Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.
The Samaritans have exercises and tips on their website for managing and relieving stress.
Hear are some signs of stress from Mind:
How you might behave:
- find it hard to make decisions
- constantly worrying
- avoiding situations that are troubling you
- snapping at people
- biting your nails
- picking at your skin
- unable to concentrate
- eating too much or too little
- smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
- restless, like you can’t sit still
- being tearful or crying.
What might happen physically:
- shallow breathing or hyperventilating
- you might have a panic attack
- muscle tension
- blurred eyesight or sore eyes
- problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
- sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
- tired all the time
- grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
- chest pains
- high blood pressure
- indigestion or heartburn
- constipation or diarrhoea
- feeling sick, dizzy or fainting.
Read about getting support with stress from the NHS
10 stress busters recommended by the NHS:
It will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.
The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.
Connect with people
The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
Have some ‘me time’
Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy.
Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps build confidence. This will help you deal with stress.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping.
Help other people
If you don’t have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues.
Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that’ll make a real difference.
Try to be positive
Try writing down 3 things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day.
Accept the things you can’t change
Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.