Developing a coping mechanism for stress can be challenging. However, dealing with stress over a long period of time can actually have an impact on your immune system causing you long term health problems. During Stress Awareness Month, we want to make sure you are aware of ways to reduce stress levels by making simple adjustments.
The warning signs
Keep an eye out for warning signs of stress. These can include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling irritable and impatient
- Easily distracted, forgetful or losing attention to detail
- Becoming withdrawn
- Not being able to ‘switch off’
- Increased consumption of nicotine, alcohol or drugs
- Over or undereating
- Tense muscle
It is important that you try to figure out what is causing you to become stressed. If you are unsure, trying to write down what you are doing each time you start to feel your stress levels rise. You might notice a pattern, which can help you to work out strategies to avoid stress levels from getting worse.
Getting enough sleep
According to The Sleep Council 40% of people suffer with sleep issues. Getting good quality sleep is crucial when it comes to wellbeing and can help with reducing stress and anxiety. It is recommended for adults that we get between 7-9 hours’ sleep per night, any less for a period of time can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. A great app that can help you meditate and train the brain to fall asleep is Headspace.
Working our releases endorphins, which improves your mood, as well as talking your mind off any stress you might be experience. It is important that you find an activity that you enjoy so that it naturally becomes a part of your routine. A simple half an hour walk can help relieve tension.
Get your heart rate up and let yourself go by putting on your favourite song and dancing around the house. Might sound crazy but it is super fun when no one is watching.
Feeding your body
Eating a well balance diet can help to reduce the risk of diet related diseases, however there is evidence to show that food affects our moods and how healthy eating can actually improve this. Through stress and anxiety, most of us overeat, feeding our bodies with all the wrong ingredients that it needs. There are ways that you can protect your feelings of wellbeing by ensuring that your diet provide adequate amounts of brain nutrients such as vitamins and minerals as well as water.
It is also important that you are aware of smoking and drinking alcohol. Try not to, or reduce the amount you smoke and drink alcohol. Even though they may seem to reduce tension initially, this is misleading as often it makes the problem worse.
The mind-body approach to life can really help us tackle different experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wiser choices. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Research has suggested that it can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low moods.
Take a look at Be Mindful, it features a specially developed online course in mindfulness.
Be good to yourself
Ensure that you aren’t too hard on yourself and keep things into perspective. Remember that if you are having a bad day, you are only human, and these are normal experiences. Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself and act as if you are your own best friend. Be kind and supportive.