April is Stress Awareness Month. This is a time when we can all come together to raise awareness of health problems stress can cause and how to overcome damaging levels of stress in our lives.
What is Stress?
Stress can be a reaction to a short-lived situation, such as being stuck in traffic. Or it can last a long time if you're dealing with relationship problems, a spouse's death or other serious situations. Stress becomes dangerous when it interferes with your ability to live a normal life over an extended period. You may feel tired, unable to concentrate or irritable. Stress can also damage your physical health.
Experts agree that stress, when untreated, can lead to several adverse health conditions. If you suffer from long term stress following physical conditions can develop:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems and upset stomach
- Sleep disturbances
- Migraines and headaches
Stress plays a major role in our emotional wellbeing, making us feel the following:
- Mental sluggishness and confusion
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed and overworked
- Sense of helplessness
- Decreased contact with family, friends and co-workers
- Sense of loneliness
What can you do?
The BPS (British Psychologist Society) offers the following tips on how to manage stress:
What's causing stress? Monitor how you feel throughout the day think about how you feel and what has caused you to feel that way. Once you know what's bothering you, develop a plan for addressing it. It might include setting more reasonable expectations for yourself or asking for help with household responsibilities, job assignments or other tasks or eliminating any tasks that are not essential.
Build strong relationships. Relationships can be a source of stress – but healthy, strong relationships can also serve as stress buffers. Reach out to family members or close friends and let them know you're having a tough time.
Walk away when you're angry. Before you react, take time to regroup- count to 10 and reconsider the situation. Walking or other physical activities can help you work off steam. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, your body's natural mood-booster.
Rest your mind. Get the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep, cut back on caffeine, remove distractions such as television or computers from your bedroom and go to bed at the same time each night. Research shows that activities like yoga and relaxation techniques not only help reduce stress, but may also boost immune function.
Get help. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, contact your GP or pharmacist. They can help you identify situations or behaviours that contribute to stress and help you develop an action plan for changing them.
Where to get help:
Minding Your Head- Lifeline: 0808 808 8000
CAMHS- (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)- Parent’s helpline: 0808 802 5544