Become's Stress-Busting Tips for Stress Awareness Month•
Posted on April 03 2019
Stress is a normal part of our busy lives. Most of us have felt a flash of panic that gets our heart pounding and muscles tensing if an unexpected event throws us off-kilter. It may be to do with work, family or a personal issue – and that’s without taking into account a curveball thrown our way such as the menopause. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed when we’re plagued by fluctuating hormones that are playing havoc with our bodies and minds. And, if we start to feel constantly stressed, it can begin to have a detrimental effect on our lives.
With April being Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to look at some of the ways in which we can find some balance and calm in our lives for those moments when things start to feel like they're getting on top of us.
Are you stressed?
Stress can manifest itself in many ways; you may feel overwhelmed, anxious and wound up. You may feel physical symptoms too, such as headaches, muscle pain or dizziness. It can be triggered by a big life event, good or bad, or a problematic situation that seems to be out of your control. As a result, you might feel constantly worried and this can make it hard for you to concentrate and make decisions. If you’re wondering exactly how stressed you are, you can try the mood self-assessment quiz on the NHS website, which also links to helpful information.
Finding a balance
Self-care is more important than ever in helping us to find a balance in our lives, to manage daily challenges and prevent them from becoming stressful. As well as keeping our bodies healthy, it’s also important to focus on our minds. Here are six ways in which we can introduce some calm into our daily routines to help keep us stress free:
Breathe deeply: If we’re feeling stressed, our breath immediately quickens and becomes shallow. Try to breathe more deeply, through your nose, enough to feel your tummy rise and fall. Concentrate on drawing the breath into the body. Deep breathing can help to make you feel calmer and more centred. If you find it hard to control your breath, breathing exercises might help.
Stay active: Taking regular exercise has been proven to reduce some of the effects of stress on the body and this needn’t mean spending hours in the gym. Find an activity you enjoy, such as taking a walk with a group of friends, swimming, joining a local dance or yoga class, or even doing some gardening.
Keep healthy: Maintaining a good diet is an important part of staying healthy. Guidelines suggest we should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and to try to avoid unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. Although it may be tempting, try not to turn to something unhealthy, such as cigarettes or alcohol, when you feel stressed.
Visit friends and family: Seeing those close to you is a good opportunity to both relax and also to share how you’re feeling, should you want to discuss your emotions with someone. The saying ‘a problem shared is a problem solved’ can often ring true. Spending time with others can often be fun, which will boost your mood.
Focus on your mind: As well as taking care of our bodies, it’s important to consider our mental wellbeing too. Try to find a relaxation technique that works for you, this could be meditation or mindfulness, both which have been proven to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. There are now many sites and apps that offer easy-to-follow steps so that you can do this at home.
Take some ‘me time’: We should all take time to ourselves a couple of times a week, away from situations that might be stressful, such as work. You may want to use the time to take on a new challenge or to address something that you need to take control of. Either way, make sure that you give yourself a moment to take stock.
We know that it’s not always possible to control a stressful situation or to find the time to rest, relax or sit quietly. The trick is finding something that works with your lifestyle. Stopping for even just five minutes has been proven to slow down your pulse, reset your mind and calm down your emotions. We hope that our pointers above will help you to find some inner calm and do share with us in the 'comments' section below your own tips and stories about how best to handle stress.
If you need further advice and support, do talk to your GP, who may be able to offer more advice and suggest therapies that will help you to control your stress.
We’ve also compiled a list of organisations who may also be able to help and offer more advice if you are feeling your stress levels getting in the way of everyday life...
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