What is stress awareness month?
Stress awareness month is a national movement to help highlight the problem of stress that most of us have faced or will face at some point in our lives. According to the Mental health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress can be a precursor to or be a symptom of Mental Health Conditions such as Anxiety and Depression. Furthermore, the UK Statistics Authority reports that in the 3 years up to 2019, 45 million working days were lost to stress alone.
I’ve seen first-hand how damaging stress can be as my partner has had an 8-year battle with stress that was so profound it resulted in 2 breakdowns. Suffice to say that I’m a huge advocate of doing what I can to help myself and others recognise and cope with stress.
Over the next month, to mark stress awareness month, I’ll share some ideas and tips to help combat stress, based on my own experience and what recognised authorities on the subject say.
Tip one – Recognise the signs of stress.
Before we can address and issue, we must recognise that there is an issue in the first place.
Stress can vary depending upon the individual. People have different tolerances for levels of stress. The usual cause of stress is that we believe that we haven’t got the ability to deal with the issues we encounter in life.
According to the NHS signs of stress may include:
- Feel overwhelmed
- Have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
- Be irritable
- Feel constantly anxious, worried or scared
- Feel a lack of self-confidence
- Have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time
- Avoid things or people you have problems with
- Be eating more or less than usual
- Drink or smoke more than usual
According to the NHS some possible causes of stress may include:
- Our individual genes, upbringing and experiences
- Difficulties in our personal lives and relationships
- Big or unexpected life changes like caring for someone, moving house or having a baby
- Money difficulties like debt or struggling to afford daily essentials
- Health issues, either for you or someone close to you
- Pregnancy or children
- Problems with housing, like the conditions , maintenance or tenancy
- A difficult or trouble work environment
- Feeling lonely and unsupported
Tip two – Talk about stress
Talking is a proven way to help us manage stress. How many times have you felt comfort when talking to someone about a problem?
The issue with stress can be that people don’t feel like they want to share their problems with others. This may be because they feel embarrassed, don’t want to burden others, or don’t have people to talk to. In my case, I didn’t want to add to my partner’s burden partner when I felt stress. However, he would often tell me that listening and helping with my problems helped him.
Anyway, the point I’m making here is that talking helps with stress. You may choose to talk to your family, friends, casual acquaintances, or work colleagues. In some instances, you may feel you need professional help. If this is the case, there are amazing helplines available such as the Samaritans. Or you may speak to your GP, who can signpost you to Talking Therapies such as Counselling or CBT.
Whatever approach is best for you, the critical thing is to TALK.
Tip three – Exercise
The benefits of exercise to help manage stress is well documented and researched. But how does exercise help?
Harvard Medical School states that exercise reduces stress hormones in the body (adrenalin and cortisol). Furthermore, exercise stimulates the productions of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Therefore, we feel positive and optimistic after we complete an exercise session.
For some, the benefits of exercise on stress may be well known. For others, it may not. Those who are feeling stressed and new to exercise don’t feel like you must get up and run a marathon. Simply moving more is a great way to start. Going for a walk or playing a sport you enjoy all count. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Also, remember that you can break down the amounts into manageable chunks over the week.
You can use lots of great YouTube videos for home workout or apps that can be accessed from smart mobiles or smartwatches to help guide you.
Here at Permanent Perfection Aesthetics, we have an onsite PT Studio and fully qualified staff to identify what exercise programmes would be best for you. Furthermore, we are qualified to design and instruct exercise programmes for conditions such and anxiety and depression.
Tip four – Connect & Socialise
Another proven method of busting stress is connecting and socialising with other people. As we mentioned in the talking tip, you can socialise with many different people in your life. For this tip, we look at this in more detail
The power of social connection to help with stress is profound. But how can I connect with others?
Joining a club. If you have a passion for a particular hobby or sport, then why not join a club? What better way to spend time doing things you enjoy with like-minded people? You will get the benefit of enjoyment whilst socialising.
Volunteering. Helping others is a really great way to help deal with stress. You benefit from helping others, but also, this can take your mind off the issue that is causing you stress. Why not volunteer with an organisation you are passionate about or within an area you derive enjoyment from.
The benefits of volunteering are so marked that a study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that 200 hours of volunteering a year correlated with lower blood pressure (source Harvard Health Blog
Whatever you decide to do, connecting and socialising is a force for good.