April is Stress Awareness Month
April marks National Stress Awareness Month and it is estimated that in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope* Of course, a little stress is what keeps us motivated, but when day-to-day pressure boils over into something more, it can have a huge impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. When we’re stressed or scared our body produces adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These make our hearts beat faster and cause our blood pressure to rise, so we can escape from “danger”. Over time, this uncontrolled stress can cause pressure on our body, which can lead to illness. As we ease out of lockdown, it is important to make sure that we are moving at a pace that is comfortable to us and focus on our self-care, which includes our mental health. There are many things we can do to decrease our stress levels and find ways to cope: Find the source of your stress in order to make positive changes. Are there any practical solutions that would help? How much control do you have over these issues? Focusing on all those things in our control can help to reframe our minds to make positive steps.
Relaxation Techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and deep breathing exercises. Research has shown that regularly practicing these techniques can help lower heart rate, blood pressure and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low mood.
Regular exercise and movement raises our body's production of feel-good endorphins, helps regulate sleep, lowers the symptoms associated with mild depression and boosts energy.
Sleep - finding a good sleep routine is crucial. Low mood and poor concentration are associated with lack of quality sleep. Ditch the screens at night and introduce a relaxing routine that works for you.
Reducing unhealthy habits such as drinking too much alcohol and smoking will have a positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing.
Eating a balanced diet has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood. Regularly eating fresh fruit, vegetables and drinking plenty of water will not only help to prevent illness, but also reduce your stress levels.
Reflexology works by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system to combat the fight or flight response. Having regular reflexology treatments is a natural way to improve sleep quality, reduce symptoms of insomnia, reduce blood pressure and aid relaxation.
Managing our workload Re-assess how much you are taking on. Could you delegate or outsource more?
Taking control – Goal setting and breaking down our goals into bite-size chunks will help to manage stress, stay calm and feel more focused.
Sharing our burdens - Talking things through with a trusted person can often take a lot of the pressure off our shoulders. Call or meet a friend and have a good chat. Remembering that laughter also raises those endorphins!
Gratitude Journal – Regularly focusing on what is going right in our life and what we are grateful for can help to keep us happy and on the right track.
Reaching out when things get a bit too much or you feel that you need professional help. Organisations such as Mind and the Samaritans are always at hand. Remember that we all have bad days. Be kind to yourself.
Love & Light
*Mental Health Foundation