Wednesday 1st November 2023 is Stress Awareness Day, supported by Rethink Mental Illness.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure.

When we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called adrenaline (often called the “fight or flight” hormone), which usually gives us a boost or motivates us to act quickly.

But too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.

Experiencing long-term stress or severe stress can lead to feeling physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called “burnout”.

NHS Better Health: Every Mind Matters – Dealing with stress

What do you do if you are feeling stressed?

Do you think your coping mechanisms are healthy or unhealthy?

Stress can be brought on due to various different reasons, whether it be family issues, pressures at work, concerns about money or ill health. If you find more than one of these stressors are present, this can make coping even harder.

If you are worried about someone, here are some signs that they may be struggling with stress:

Behaviour – Crying, change in eating habits, sleep problems, drinking or smoking more than normal.

Mentally – Always imagining the worst, being irritable, worrying about the future, lack of concentration

Physically – Stomach problems, feeling tired or dizzy, headaches, muscle tension or pain.

What can I do if I am feeling stressed?

  • Get practical advice on the situation or event that is driving your stress. There are resources available via the Mind website.
  • Make a plan – write a list of the things that are triggering your stress, are there practical ways you can alleviate your feelings?
  • Prioritise your tasks and try to be proactive and get the important things done – face them head on.
  • Delegate and share tasks if you can, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Set goals for complicated tasks, be realistic in what you are able to achieve.
  • Talk to someone – a friend, colleague, family member or someone you trust who can help with your situation.
  • Making small changes to your lifestyle can really help. Maybe try a new healthy meal, reduce your caffeine intake, one cup at a time. Go for a walk, just 10 minutes of walking in fresh air can help clear your mind. Exercise is proven to help relieve stress. Make sure you put sleep first, you’d be surprised how an early night and a good sleep routine can help.  
  • Put yourself first at least once a day whether that be reading a book, eating something you really like, watching a film or a boxset.
  • If you are struggling to cope with stress, please do speak to your GP, they can help. Keep a record of your concerns in the form of a diary as you may find there are triggers to your stress.

We may not be able to avoid it, but you can manage it.

By taking some of the steps above, you can help your mind, body and levels of stress.