How to begin managing your stress in today’s busy world
Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress, and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time but it is not treated the same way as physical health problems. It is a major factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression, and is also linked to physical issue like heart disease, immune dysfunction and eating disorders. Individually we all need to understand what is causing us our own personal stress, and take proactive steps to reduce is. Understanding what it is and being aware of what is causing stress is a major step in keeping it under control!
What is stress?
Quite simply, stress is our body’s response to a change in our environment. It may be hard to believe, but it is in fact designed to be beneficial! For example, when we are stressed about a new job or an exam, it is the stress we feel that pushes us to revise or to try and perform well on our first day. However, the pressures of the 21st century mean many of us feel stress in all aspects of our lives, and can leave us finding it hard to cope. The key to managing stress in your life is recognising that, no matter how stressed you are, stress is simply your body alerting you to a change in your environment that requires attention.
How can I recognise what is causing stress?
One thing that can begin to help with managing stress is: write it down! Take some pen and paper and pour your stress on to the page; try and put everything that is causing you anxiety into words. The act of getting it out of your head and onto the paper can in and of itself be liberating.
Hopefully after writing it down you can recognise several aspects of your life that are causing you stress. Then, think about proactive steps you can take to reduce the impact that these aspects have on your wellbeing. Think about the effect that they have on your physical and mental health and prioritise them!
How can I reduce stress?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, things you can do in your day to day life to reduce stress include:
- Review your lifestyle. Do you put too much on yourself?
- Build supportive relationships. Have a close network of friends or family who you can talk to when things get tough.
- Eat healthily. A healthy diet has an overall positive effect on your mind and body.
- Be aware of your smoking and drinking
- Exercise – even a simple 15-20 minute walk will release endorphins!
- Take time for yourself. You deserve a little bit of ‘you time,’ so set aside time to do what makes YOU feel good!
- Be mindful. Practicing mindfulness can be done anywhere. Just focus on what’s around you and be present.
- Get some restful sleep.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Life doesn’t always go the way we want, but that’s not your fault! Keep things in perspective and look for the positive in every situation.
So start to take time for YOU, keep things in perspective, live healthily and be present!
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