Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? Switching off in our modern world can often be difficult, and although stress is not always a bad thing, it needs to be manageable.
In support of stress awareness month, we’ve read and pulled out some key points from the Stress Management Society’s Guide to Stress. We'd like to share the following tips for recognising stress, as well as some coping mechanisms that can help you keep stress to a manageable level.
We’re all individual, therefore the things that cause us stress tend to be unique and how we react to them tends to vary too. Some of the most common events that cause us stress are personal finance, moving house, getting married, losing a loved one and work-related stresses.
Stress impacts everyone differently and we all have different levels of tolerance, so the signals of stress are not always the same. However, there are some common signs that can be a quick way of identifying if you are feeling overwhelmed:
- Being unusually clumsy
- Being less tolerant of others and having a noticeable change in your moods
- Trying to avoid particular people or environments
- Not finding things as humorous as you normally do (for a prolonged time)
- Losing your temper and patience with others more easily
- Speaking more negatively and viewing things more pessimistically
- Feeling permanently exhausted and noticing changes in your sleeping patterns
- Suffering from headaches and feeling nauseous regularly
Top tips for coping with stress
Sleep is crucial to our wellbeing. It restores us and ensures we are functioning as we should be. However, when we’re stressed it’s not always an easy thing to do. Try clearing your mind by writing things down, slowing your breathing down, or sticking to a regular routine, like taking a relaxing bath before bed.
Work it out
You’ll often hear that exercise is good for mental health. Stress is generally caused by hormones like adrenaline, and exercising can help to keep levels reduced. This can be anything from a brisk walk to clear your head to something more intense like a gym session or run.
One of the most common stressors is having too much to do and not enough time to do it. Making lists, prioritising things that are most important and not taking on additional tasks can help. Don’t forget it’s OK to say no and you could just see it as agreeing to a different yes, by suggesting another time.
Take a breath
Taking a moment to take some deep breaths can often help to refocus your attention and relieve stress. It really is as simple as in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Let off some steam
Taking up a hobby can help reduce stress. It gives you something else to concentrate on and can enable you to let off some steam and relax. You could try a sport or joining a class - on top of the stress relief it’ll provide a good chance to socialise, too.
Avoid quick fixes
Sugars, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol can often feel like they help reduce stress. However, they are all stimulants that actually prevent you from feeling calm. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘to take the edge off the day’, meaning that we sometimes associate these things with stress relief. However, they normally go hand in hand with another activity - alcohol is often social, sugars or smoking are often used as a break - and so perhaps try swapping them for other things.
Sharing is caring
Often the hardest part as we don’t like to burden others. 'Getting something off your chest' is another one of those sayings that is based on the truth, and it can genuinely help you feel better. Try sharing your thoughts with a friend, and if you’re not comfortable with that, your GP. Don’t forget, there are lots of fantastic support groups and charities if you’d like peer support or to speak to someone anonymously.
These are just a few popular coping mechanisms for stress managementt hat we’ve summarised from the Stress Management Society’s Guide to Stress, and should not replace professional advice. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then we’d always advise speaking to your GP.
Physical activity has been proven to help manage the symptoms of stress. Check out the wide variety of opportunities to get moving available at Mytime Active today.