According to a recent survey, 79% of adults feel stressed at least once a month.
This year between November 7th and 11th, people around the world acknowledge International Stress Awareness Week: an annual event that highlights stress management techniques and aims to reduce the stigma around stress and mental health.
For many people, stress is temporary – we often deal with small amounts of stress each day, whether through financial worries, personal health, or other issues. However, if these stresses are left unsupported, they can persist and eventually become debilitating – impacting every aspect of the individual’s life.
Stress and health
In some cases, stress can be beneficial – it can help motivate you to reach your goals and make you more resilient. But, if this stress is constant and you don't receive adequate support, it can seriously affect your health and wellbeing.
The feelings of stress can often lead to mental exhaustion. This exhaustion can increase the risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Ongoing stress can also affect your physical health – physical symptoms include headaches, stomach issues and chest pain. It can also lead to high blood pressure and, in severe cases, cardiovascular disease.
10 tips to reduce stress
The symptoms of stress vary from person to person. As a result, there is no singular approach to managing stress. Each person must find coping mechanisms that help them alleviate these negative feelings. To help with this, we have provided a list of 10 tips to help you cope with stress:
- Meditate: research shows that meditation is an effective treatment for many psychological conditions and is especially effective for reducing stress. If the pressures of your personal or professional life are taking their toll, you should act sooner rather than later. Meditation is a great way to take time out of your busy schedule and check in with yourself – helping you calm your mind and giving your body time to recover.
- Regular exercise: being active allows you to keep your mind focused on a task separate from your stressors. Exercise also releases cortisol - the hormone that enables our bodies to manage stressful emotions.
- Take note of your feelings: stressful times can feel frustrating and confusing. One thing that can help reduce stress is writing your feelings down. You don’t have to be a writer. It could be a bullet point list or even a page of pictures. But the physical act of putting pen to paper can help you identify what is causing the stress, so you can start to find techniques to prevent this.
- Stay connected: friends and family play a vital role in protecting your mental health by fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. So, whenever you need to, call up your friends or message your family. They’ll appreciate it as much as you do.
- Self-care: self-care is the practice of tending to your body’s needs – especially during periods of stress. Self-care protects against mental and physical health problems. It also prevents those problems from worsening. There are various ways you can practice self-care. It can include engaging in hobbies, reading a book, listening to music, or grabbing coffee with friends. These small moments of enjoyment can help you avoid negative feelings and offer a break from any worries you face.
- Talk to someone: stress is nothing to be ashamed of; many people are struggling with stress and trying to find the best ways to cope. Talking to a friend you trust can be a great way to relieve stress and break a cycle of negative emotions.
- Spend time in nature: the great outdoors can boost mental healthin many positive ways. It raises vitamin D levels, reduces anxiety and provides social interactions. Even a quick ten minutes can offer a mood boost.
- Find a creative solution: research shows that creative arts interventions reduce stress. These activities include art, music, dance, and drama. So, try squeezing in a spot of creativity where you can. It could be doodling for ten minutes, writing a short story or listening to your favourite song. These small moments of creativity will help reduce your stress levels.
- Eat healthily: a balanced diet is packed with vitamins and nutrients essential for the body to function. Eating a variety of nutritious foods can help the health of your organs, cells and hormones. Additionally, cooking can be therapeutic – the constant focus can help divert attention away from stressors.
- Seek support: dealing with stress can be overwhelming. If you feel like the above methods are not working for you (and you feel ready to do so), you should consider talking to a mental health professional. Therapists can help you recognise where these feelings of stress come from - and help you implement strategies to get past them.