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Let's Focus on Stress

Rebecca Lawton

Executive Assistant

I never met a problem that cheese couldn't solve.

April was stress awareness month, so we took the time to try and make Web Apps as stress-free as possible for our Webbies, whether this be with our wonderful dogs, Bea & Bo, a pool tournament – congratulations to the Falcon group who won our first ever group competition – or even sending out information on how to notice the signs of stress and how to manage it.

We’ve all been there. We all get stressed, but it’s only beneficial when it’s short-lived. Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, and moderate stress can help us perform better. Prolonged or excessive stress can contribute to more serious illnesses.

Having stress is normal, it’s only when it’s in large quantities that it can begin to affect your health and well-being. Everybody reacts differently to stress, as it affects us physically and emotionally in varying intensities.

Stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure, which can in turn affect your day to day life. It’s important to tackle it as soon as possible, and while it does affect everybody differently, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look out for:

  • Feelings of constant worry and anxiety
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings/change in mood
  • Irritability/short temper
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax
  • Feelings of nausea and dizziness
  • Aches and pains, muscle tension

If you’re feeling stressed or you’re under pressure, try to relieve it by taking the following three steps:

  • Realise when it’s causing you a problem
    • Try to make the connection between feeling tired or ill and the pressures that you’re faced with.
    • Look out for physical warnings (tense muscles, over-tired, headaches, migraines).
  • Identify the causes
    • Try and sort these into different categories. Those with a practical solution, those that will get better over time (especially if you know that in a week, it won’t be affecting you), and those that that you can’t do anything about. Try If you can fix them or they will get better on their own, try to stop worrying about them and let them go.
  • Review your lifestyle
    • Are you taking on too much? Can anything be handed over to somebody else?
    • Can you do things at a more leisurely pace?
    • Prioritise achievements and reorganise your life, as this will help release pressure.

So now we have the signs and symptoms of stress and some steps to try to stop yourself from feeling stressed, but how can we try to reduce stress before we already have it?

  • Eat healthily
    • There is a growing amount of evidence showing how food affects our mood and suggesting that eating healthily can improve it. Protect your feelings of well-being by ensuring that you have the right nutrients and essential vitamins.
  • Be aware of smoking and drinking alcohol
    • Even though they seem to reduce tension initially, they often make the problems worse.
  • Exercise
    • This can be effective at relieving stress. Even just getting fresh air or doing some light physical exercise can really help.
  • Take a time out
    • Take some time to relax. Strike the balance between responsibility for others and for yourself. Taking a break is important for good mental health.
  • Be mindful
    • This is a mind-body approach to life that helps us to relate differently to experiences. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings in a way that increases your ability to manage difficult situations.
    • Mindful meditation can be practised anywhere, anytime.
    • This can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and related problems like insomnia, poor concentration and low moods.
  • Get some restful sleep
    • Insomnia is a common problem when stressed. Make some changes to your lifestyle, environment and physical health to help yourself get a better night’s sleep.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself
    • Keep things in perspective.
    • Having a bad day is a normal experience.
    • If you stumble or have failed, don’t beat yourself up.
    • Be kind and supportive to yourself and others.
    • Appreciate yourself.

It’s okay to seek professional help if you feel like you are struggling to manage it on your own. Reach out to somebody – it’s important to get help and talk about it, as soon as possible.

 

The information in this document can be found at: 

www.mentalhealth.org.uk

www.mind.org.uk