Stress Awareness Month
Although Stress Awareness Month is well established and has been held every April since 1992, now more than ever stress levels are higher than ever in the United Kingdom, given the current climate regarding Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adult in the United Kingdom have experienced stress level so high they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. With the main proportion being women and people aged between 18-24 years old.
As a result of increased stress, 32% of adults in the United Kingdom have said to experience suicidal feelings and 16% have resorted to forms of self-harm to try and alleviate these feelings of stress.
This is not a healthy coping strategy for stress; or any other mental health issue. So we have compiled some healthy tips and coping strategies to help you relieve your feelings of stress.
How to cope with stress?
There are a number of coping strategies for stress but here are a selection of techniques to try. It is important to remember that these ideas may not remove all of your stress, but over time you will begin to see the benefits of the following activities and techniques.
Fitness has been scientifically proven to reduce negative emotions. There are a number of ways exercise can alleviate stress, both physically and psychologically.
Physical exercise boosts your body’s capability to use oxygen, in turn improving blood flow, which can have a significantly positive effect on your overall mood.
The repetitive action of exercise can also be a positive distraction as you are more focused on your body, rather than your mind. This singular focus can cultivate energy which in turn can improve optimism. Increased physical activity can also improve your heart health, which again can help with your overall stress levels.
Build A Strong Support Network
Although this can be difficult given the current stay at home orders, connecting with people can be really beneficial for stress levels. Spending time with people we love can be a great distraction and there is a great truth in the phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Sharing how you are feeling with people you trust can lower stress levels immediately, even if they don’t have a solution to the issues you are experiencing.
It is important to not rely on social media to build these relationships though, as it is really easy to become overly reliant on texting. But video-chat apps can be really good to connect with people as it is a normal conversation and can be done during the current lockdown orders.
Start A New Hobby
It can be very easy whilst we are stuck at home to just binge-watch television or turn to bad habits like substance or behavioural addictions.
Learning a new skill or hobby can reduce stress by increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. Hobbies can also create a sense of purpose and help to connect with others that share the same passion.
But it is important to remember not to take a new hobby or skill too seriously and expect to be perfect at it straight away. You also shouldn’t feel the need to take an organised class or exam. Enjoy learning something new and as soon as you stop enjoying it, find something else.
Mindfulness and self-care can be very beneficial to reducing stress, as scientists have learnt that mindfulness practices influence the stress pathways in our brains, helping to regulate the parts of the brain that deal with attention and emotions.
Mindfulness, similarly to physical activity, draws your attention away from your negative thoughts and on to one main focus, again leading to a reduction in stress levels.
Professional Help For Stress
If you have tried the above methods for reducing stress and you are still struggling with high-stress levels, reach out for professional support. We have a number of clinics listed on this site that can assist with mental health issues, including chronic stress. Especially if you are turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol, it is important you participate in either inpatient rehabilitation or outpatient support if drug or alcohol use is becoming uncontrollable.
Remember you are not alone and there are dedicated facilities and highly trained staff that can assist you in any way you need.