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Since 1992, Stress Awareness Month has been held every April in order to raise our awareness about both the causes of stress but also how we can destress. Over recent decades the levels of stress experienced have slowly risen to a point where according to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stress at some point over the last year they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Stress is primarily a physical response and is the way in which our body responds to an attack by switching into fight, flight or freeze mode. Without the ability to do this, humankind would not have survived however occasionally our body mistakes the level of attack and goes into a state of stress in inappropriate situations and if our body is kept in a state of stress for long periods, it can be detrimental for our health with potential increase in blood and sugar levels, and a decrease in libido.

How stress can affect us:

 High levels of stress can present itself in different ways for different people, it may change our cognitive abilities, our emotional or physical state or our behaviour. For example,

  • ‘Brain fog’
  • Starting many tasks but achieving little
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent colds
  • Indigestion
  • Increased intake of alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine to relax
  • Sleeping too little or too much

Things you can try to help with stress:

  • Talk to a friend, family member or health professional. You could also contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Be active
  • Use some time-management tips such as to-do lists, prioritising important tasks or practice the ‘4 Ds’ (Delete, Do, Delegate, Defer)
  • Practice calming breathing exercises
  • Plan ahead
  • Practice mindfulness

If stress is something you struggle with, we recommend you focus on small targets that you can easily achieve – do not try to do everything at once. For example, start with a goal of 15 minutes of activity a day and then work up from there.

Sources

https://www.stress.org.uk – visit the Stress Management Society for stress tests, stress guides, resources for employers, and the 10-step stress solution.

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/stress/ – Visit the NHS website for their ’10 stress busters’, calming breathing exercises or time-management techniques

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/what-is-stress/