Stress Awareness

We live in a very busy world that can at times cause an increase in stress. Without care and attention this can trigger such things as anxiety and depression. So what can you do to help keep stress under control?

1. Exercise

Regular exercise is key to preventing stress from building up because simply put, it burns off the physical arousal that underpins stress responses. Running, walking, swimming are all great examples and can lift your mood immediately. Engaging in physical exercise also diverts your attention from the very thing you are stressing about. Moving your body decreases muscle tension, reduces stress levels, helps relieve frustration and gives you a sense of achievement.   People who exercise regularly say it gives them an enormous sense of well-being and achievement.  By taking part in just 15 minutes of physical activity each day you will feel more positive and motivated. Read more…

2. Mindfulness

Even if you can only manage 5 minutes a day, be mindful. The aim is to simply pay attention to the right here, right now. The easiest way to do this is by concentrating on your breathing while relaxing all the muscles in your body. An excellent way to do this is to scan your body for tension, starting with the head and face, then the neck and shoulders. Move slowly down until you have worked through all your body finishing with your toes. As you breathe in slowly and calmly through your nose, scan for any tension or tight areas and as you breathe out let any tension go, decontracting your muscles. Read more…

3. Sleep

Studies have shown that lack of sleep can be one of the main contributors to stress and anxiety. When we are tired our brains are unable to function correctly, our attention span/concentration drops, reasoning becomes more difficult and our memory suffers. It is important to stick to a regular routine. This means going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, (weekends included). A wind-down ritual of whatever relaxes you is great, soothing music, warm (caffeine-free) drink, light reading and relaxation exercises are all great ideas. The bedroom should be kept at a comfortable temperature, it is important also to ‘air’ the room regularly. Open the window when you first get up, even if it is just for ten minutes. Turn Mattresses and pillows occasionally and wear comfortable nightwear. Keep a pen and paper next to your bed, if any worries or troubles enter your thoughts as you are preparing for sleep, note them down and tell yourself ‘there is a time and place for everything’ You will attend to these things in the morning with a fresh mind. Read more…

4. Talk

Talking about how you feel is not a sign of weakness. It is all part of taking charge of your well-being. Voicing your concerns will stop your worries from building up and spiralling out of control. Talking things through can help us put our problems into perspective and as we calm down we can often think of solutions.

5. Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet is important for general good health. Compare your body to a car, if you do not feed it the right fuel, it will eventually break down. If you skip certain meals throughout the day or go too long between eating, you will naturally become tired and have no energy, blood sugar levels will drop, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms increasing stress and anxiety. By eating too much convenience food/sugar such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets or sugary drinks, your blood sugar will rise quickly but then drops suddenly and this also leads to low mood, irritability, headaches and fatigue. Try and reduce nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. These are both stimulants and will increase stress levels rather than reduce them. Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities but acts as a stimulant when we drink smaller quantities. Using alcohol as a way to reduce stress is not ultimately helpful and can lead to further problems. Try drinking herbal teas, water or natural fruit juices and aim to keep your body hydrated as this enables your body to cope better with stress. Read more …

6. Journal

Keeping a diary is an effective management tool to help recognise situations that cause or trigger stress. Write down the date and place of each stressful situation and note what you were doing and how you felt both mentally and physically. Note how difficult you found the situation from 1 to 10 (ten being the worst). Maybe you will be able to spot triggers and see how you managed to cope in each situation. This will help you deal with stress and develop better coping mechanisms. You might also like to set some goals on how to manage your time helping keep anxiety and stress at bay. Read more…

7. Troubleshoot

Stress is often triggered by a problem that may seem impossible to solve. Learning how to find solutions to problems will give you back control and boost self-confidence, automatically lowering your stress levels.

  • Acknowledge the problem, then write it down on paper. 
  • Define the problem. What is the situation now? What would I like the situation to be?
  • Check your past. Has anything like this happened before? How did you cope? Is there anything you could use again?
  • Break the problem down into parts if possible. This will make it less daunting to find solutions. 
  • Search for solutions. This may seem a tricky thing to do but there are solutions out there for every problem. 
  • Remember that not solving a problem can lead to more anxiety than trying to solve it.
  • Taking just a small step forward is better than staying where you are. 

8. Manage your time

Sometimes on waking we can be daunted by the day ahead. All those tasks that lay waiting! If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Stay calm there is a great way to get on top of it all.
Sit yourself down and write a list in order of priority, number one being the most important. Now, be firm with yourself and concentrate on just number one, stick at it until it’s done. When completed, put a huge, red tick next to it. Reward yourself with a cuppa before tackling number two. It isn’t important if you finish the list or not, the main thing is that even by doing just one thing on the list you have achieved something, and that is a great feeling. look at that red tick.

9. Learn to say “No”!

Many of us find it difficult to say no, fearing what the other person’s response will be. Most of us are born people-pleasers, helping others is looked on as a good trait even if it is at the expense of ourselves. But if you are struggling to keep on top of everything and your mental health is at risk then now is the time to pluck up the courage and take back control. You can start gradually by replying with things such as “let me think about it as I am really busy this week” or “let me get back to you as I have so much on my plate at the moment”. Remember that by saying no to others, you are saying yes to yourself.

10. ‘ME’ time

Every day should include a bit of time dedicated to yourself. Your mind and body are connected and work hard together daily. Taking ‘Me’ time allows you to not only recharge your batteries but also hear any warning messages that your body and mind are sending out. Listen carefully and then take action according to what you need to look after your well-being. However busy life seems, it is essential to take time out because your body and mind are with you for life, look after them well. 

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