Stress levels running high? You aren’t the only one. 74% of UK adults have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point in the past year. If you’re feeling under pressure, it can have a big impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. Read on for our tips on how you can stress less.
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. Low-level stress can be motivating and give you the drive to complete day-to-day tasks. But too much pressure can negatively impact your mental and physical wellbeing. And being overly anxious for a long period of time can lead to burn out.
Exercise is a great way to release tension, as it reduces the levels of the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and releases the feel good hormone endorphins. The good news is almost any form of exercise can decrease your anxiety levels. Aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming can burn off nervous energy. Team sports have the added benefits of socialising and competitiveness. Flexibility exercises such as yoga and pilates are great for improving strength and balance. With a focus on breathing, they can help you relax too.
Mindfulness and meditation are a positive way to relax your body and mind. The practice of mindfulness is becoming more aware of the present moment and taking pleasure from the world around us. This could be as simple as going for a lunchtime walk and paying attention to the sights, smells and sounds around you. Setting aside time for mediation can be beneficial for your mental health. There are different forms of meditation, so it’s important to find one that meets your needs. You can practice meditation by yourself, or you might find guided meditations more beneficial. If you prefer the structure of a guided meditation there are plenty of apps such as Calm and Headspace that aim to not only help you destress but prepare you for how to respond to stressful situations. Attending meditation workshops and classes have the added bonus of taking you out of your usual surroundings and have a social element.
Avoid unhealthy habits
It can be easy to turn to alcohol at the end of a stressful day, but as alcohol is a depressant it can make your stressed feelings worse in the long term. Instead of reaching for your favourite tipple, substitute your go-to drink with a low alcohol or alcohol-free alternative. Smokers have often reported that smoking helps them relax. However, smoking does not alleviate stress but actually increases it. There are numerous resources to help you quit smoking such as the free NHS Quit Smoking App where you can track your progress, see how much money your saving as well as providing support.
Organisational techniques can help you manage stressful situations. If you have an upcoming event that is causing your stress, ensure you plan for it. Write a to-do list of all the things you need to prepare. Plan your journey and write a list of what you need to take. If the tasks seem overwhelming break your list down into daily chores to help them seem more manageable.
If you’re struggling talk to someone such as a family member, friend, colleague, or a medical professional. There are helplines and online resources available and you can also refer yourself to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems in a more positive way.