Ahhh stress, how do I handle you?

If you have a headache you’ll normally take action. Perhaps take a painkiller, drink some water - maybe do some gentle stretches if it’s tension related. But what action do you take if you feel a bit stressed? Do you notice it creeping up on you? Do you know the signs and symptoms? Getting on top of stress when it arises can make a big difference to your mental health and your on-going resilience in life.

This month is Stress Awareness Month and I wanted to share with you the signs and symptoms of stress so you know what to look out for, as well as some top tips for reducing its effects.

Signs and symptoms of stressRachael Forsberg - Dawn Coaching & Therapy

How you may feel emotionally:
  • overwhelmed
  • irritable and "wound up"
  • anxious or fearful
  • lacking in self-esteem

How you may feel mentally:
  • racing thoughts
  • constant worrying
  • difficulty concentrating 
  • difficulty making decisions

How you may feel physically:
  • headaches
  • muscle tension or pain
  • dizziness
  • sleep problems
  • feeling tired all the time
  • eating too much or too little

How you may behave:
  • drinking or smoking more
  • snapping at people
  • avoiding things or people you are having problems with
(Source: NHS, 2019)

Top tips for reducing the effects of stress

1. Check in with yourself
Get in the habit of checking in with yourself every day (set an alarm to remind you). Ask yourself the simple question - how under pressure do I feel? Does my mind feel healthy today?

2. Take Action
If you notice that you are feeling stressed, take action. Ask the following questions:

What normally makes me feel better when I’m stressed?
Many simple activities can bring fun, laughter and relaxation into your life. For instance, watching a funny film, spending time with friends and family, singing to your favourite songs, a hug, exercise and movement, sunlight, getting outside, mindfulness, learning new skills, taking a breather - the list goes on. The main thing is that it’s something you enjoy and helps you feel better. Try to incorporate things you enjoy into your day, every day. Even a 10 minute walk outside in the daylight and fresh air can make a massive difference!

Am I looking after myself in a good way?
In times of stress it’s really important to look after yourself by eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercising. I know that sometimes that’s easier said than done. Set small goals and build on it. Try to avoid self-medicating by using excessive caffeine, alcohol etc. to get you through.

Can I reduce some of the demands I have in my life?
Do you really need to do everything on your to do list, can you move deadlines? Make a list and prioritise what you need to get done.

What resources do I have available to me?
Can you delegate? Who can help and support you?

Try catching stress as it arises and acting as soon as possible to reduce its effects. Stress can be managed and there is help and advice available if you need it.

Resources and support:
  • Your GP
  • Your friends and family
  • NHS Resources such as Mood Zone
  • Charities such as Mind
  • Apps such as Calm and Headspace
  • Local Support Groups
  • Private Counselling or Therapy  

This article was written by Rachael Forsberg, a Wellness and Sleep Coach who loves to help her clients keep their minds fit and healthy - and sleep well too. Find out more about Rachael at: www.dawncoachingtherapy.co.uk

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