It’s easy to write off stress as ‘just a part of life’ but the reality is it can have a profound effect on both your mental and physical wellbeing.
The symptoms are fairly wide-ranging – feeling overwhelmed, easily irritated or just having trouble sleeping, could all indicate you’re suffering with stress, reports the Daily Star.
Other physical symptoms can include headaches, chest tightness and stomach pain and – although small amounts of anxiety are perfectly normal – severe stress over a period of time can lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
So, as part of National Stress Awareness Day, Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at mental health charity Mind, has provided some top tips for helping all of us deal with our stress.
Take regular breaks
When you’re feeling under pressure, take a break. For the greatest impact use the time to get outside as outdoor activity is shown to boost mood and improve positive mental health.
A walk round the block, a stroll in the park or ten minutes in the garden for some fresh air will work wonders!
Learn to relax
Activities like yoga and meditation teach key techniques to improve breathing and relaxation and are proven to reduce stress levels.
Simple routines such as deep breathing can really help – and you can even do them at your desk.
Making a to-do list is a simple but effective way to help put things in perspective and give order to the way you work.
Try and mix up boring jobs with the more interesting ones to make sure the less appealing tasks don’t hang over you – you’ll feel much better!
Prioritise and be realistic
List the things that are on your mind and put each problem in one of three columns – those you can solve, those you need help with and those you can’t.
Be realistic about what you can achieve, learn to say ‘no’ and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Take a step back
If you are experiencing prolonged stress, take a step back to work out why. Try to identify which aspects of your life are causing the most pressure – and see if you can change them.
Do you have your priorities in the right order or do you need to reassess how you split time between work, friends and family?
Improve your lifestyle
Eat healthily, sleep well and exercise. A diet high in sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol can cause lethargy and also lower your mood.
Studies have shown that outdoor exercise is as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate anxiety and depression, so go on get out there, ride your bike, kick a football.
Let it all out
Keeping issues bottled up, can only worsen your anxiety. Talking to others can bring new perspectives to a problem and help you realise possible solutions.
Stress can make us feel very isolated, but by opening up to friends, family or someone you trust, you’ll find you’re not alone and it’s likely others have had similar experiences.
Mind are a mental health charity who provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
For more information go to mind.org.uk or contact their confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, on 0300 123 3393.