This April is the annual Stress Awareness Month.
Stress is how, together, your body and your brain, react to situations. It’s these demands that trigger stress - work, unexpected and traumatic events, school, even day to day expectations of juggling work and home life.
It’s an awareness month in which the, often taboo, subject of stress is raised, highlighted and publicised - check out the trending #StressAwarenessMonth
Shockingly, stress is referred to as the ‘silent killer’. Why? It’s damaging effects aren’t obvious straight away. Stress can very often develop into other health problems – for example, high blood pressure, even strokes and heart disease.
Recent research shows that in the UK 12 million adults will seek professional help from mental health issues each year. This includes stress.
Did You Know? In the UK, 13.3 million working days are lost due to stress, depression and anxiety.
It’s essential that the depilating effects of stress, on both the mind and body, are promoted, not just around the work place, but also in one’s home life too. What’s even more important is for suffers, and friends and family of suffers alike, to realise is that this is a serious issue, yet it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Often, the first signs (that should not be ignored) of stress are headaches or migraines, an upset tummy, lose of appetite, sleeping problems, tense and aching muscles. In a case of ever decreasing circles, these symptoms can often then make us feel even more stressed.
Stress often can’t be prevented, but it can be managed. There are many professionals that can offer practical help and solutions; your GP, therapists, counsellors for example, or experienced charities, such Mind. There are also things you can do, in the first instance, to help relieve the symptoms and effects of stress, for example...
- Firstly, try and identify the situation that is causing your stress, the triggers that set your stress levels off.
- Ask yourself, can you reduce this situation – take on less, talk to the person that might be involved?
- Can you organise your time – perhaps a reshuffle in when you do things might work better for you? Do you really need to clean, for example, before going out to a full day at work? Does it matter that there’s breakfast washing up in the sink all day? Probably not. Stop being so tough on yourself.
- Set yourself more realistic and achievable targets – make a list of everything that needs doing. You might find you’re far more efficient at work, and at home, by breaking down bigger jobs into manageable tasks, thus reducing your stress levels.
- Try not to worry about what could happen in the future, concentrate on the now. Equally, stop worrying about what’s happened in the past – it’s in the past!
- Many sufferers find comfort in meditation each day, others find relieve in relaxation podcasts as they both help muscle tension and control breathing.
- Whilst drinking and smoking can sometimes offer immediate relieve, they can actually make the problem much worse. Try avoiding alcohol and tobacco during bad periods.
- Many people find that exercise helps combat the effects of stress, even a short walk to the shops can help.
- Time out - don’t beat yourself up about things not getting done, or that you don’t deserve it. Everyone deserves some ‘me time’. Run yourself a relaxing bath or sit down with a good book for half an hour for instance.
Most importantly, you are not alone. You haven’t failed. You haven’t let anyone down. Stress affects everyone from time to time. Seek help – to reiterate, your GP, the charity Mind – 0300 123 3393 – download podcasts, taking some time out. Remember, it’s good to talk.