This April is Stress Awareness Month
For the next 30 days charities, healthcare professionals, wellbeing coaches and more will be raising awareness of the causes and cures for the increasing epidemic of stress and anxiety in modern life.
A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
A third more women than men experienced overwhelming feelings of stress. Over 80% of 18-24 year olds suffered mental health issues at some point over the last 12 months.
Male suicide is still the leading cause of death for men under 50.
So, yes, it would be fair to say that stress and anxiety levels are approaching epidemic proportions.
What is Stress?
Stress is difficult to define, but is generally your body’s response to difficult, challenging or even threatening situations.
In fact, there are times when we need stress to keep us safe or motivated – like when we’re giving a lecture or going for a job interview. Short periods of feeling stressed can keep our minds alert and even help us to accomplish difficult tasks.
BUT when stress is experienced long-term it becomes a problem, and that’s when it begins to impact negatively on your day to day life and becomes harmful to your health.
Feeling Stressed can Harm your Health
Stress can be a risk factor in developing high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart problems. It can also impact on other physical conditions like migraines, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep and digestive problems. So it’s crucial to recognise the symptoms of stress as early as you can and to seek help and take steps to manage the anxiety and symptoms you’re feeling.
Simple Steps to Easing Stress
– not an easy thing to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but seeking out guided relaxation techniques with concentration on controlling your breath, and easing tense muscles can help to get you started. There are many recommendations for meditation and relaxation Apps and classes online.
– Finding time and motivation to exercise can seem like an indulgence you can’t afford, especially if you feel overwhelmed by your workload. However, many people find that regular exercising works to alleviate the crowded thoughts in their head and improve sleep quality. Even just going for a brisk, 30 minute walk a few days a week can help to clear your mind.
Take Care of You
– invest in yourself, whether that be scheduling 20 minutes a day to read your favourite book, paint, reconnect with a friend or family member. Do whatever feels like you have treated yourself to some ‘me time’.
– Food and nutrition play a really important part in your mental wellbeing so make sure to cut out or down on your caffeine and alcohol intake. Eating foods like bananas, oily fish, dark chocolate and nuts have been shown to compliment stress management techniques.
– When stress starts to negatively impact your life beyond self help, it’s time to visit your GP. They can refer you to appropriate counselling like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or prescribe medication.
This April we at Mediworld will be stepping up and encouraging people to talk about stress, anxiety and mental health. By supporting each other and bringing these silent issues out into the open we hope that we’ll all be playing our part in helping to curb the stress epidemic sweeping the modern world.