April marks the return of Stress Awareness Month – a wellbeing campaign to raise awareness of stress and to promote the importance of living a stress-free lifestyle. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how to prevent stress in 10 simple steps.
Studies reveal that 85% of UK adults experience feeling stressed and overwhelmed on a regular basis. In this blog post, we want to share exactly what it means to feel stress, signs of stress and most importantly how to prevent feeling stressed before you do.
What is stress?
To start, it is essential to understand what stress is: our body’s response to a harmful life event or a threatening situation, regardless of whether the threat is genuine or not. Stress affects people in a variety of different ways and severities. What may be considered as a stressful situation for one person may be of little concern to another.
It is important to note that not all stress is bad and often it is needed to help us successfully accomplish tasks. For example, if you are due to present to a large group of people the “butterflies” you feel in your stomach just before are short-lived, help you stay alert and it is your body’s way of helping you get through a tough situation. That being said, our bodies are able to handle small amounts of stress infrequently. However, we are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without negative consequences on our health.
Signs of Stress
Signs of stress can be split into four common symptoms: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. Specific to how you may feel is to become easily agitated, moody, experience a rapid heartbeat or being in a constant state of worry with perhaps an increased reliance on alcohol, smoking or caffeine.
Stress Prevention over Stress-Management
The best way to manage stress is through prevention rather than cure. Research shows that those who are better informed about the practical ways in which they can lower their stress levels are far better equipped to tackle difficult situations with stronger emotional resilience and determination.
We therefore want to share our ten-step guide on how to successfully prevent stress:
1. Get a good sleep routine
Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body which will help regulate your mood and sharpen your judgment and decision-making. To ensure a good sleep routine try and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or on holiday. Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy and get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
2. Prioritise your health
Make a conscious effort to prioritise your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Specifically, you should always find time to exercise once a day, drink less alcohol in the week and eat a balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to fight physical and mental illnesses. Where possible, try and integrate a hobby into your daily routine, making sure you are doing something for yourself that you thoroughly enjoy.
3. Meditate or practice deep breathing
Breathing is your body’s built-in stress reliever. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed your lungs begin to tighten as a negative reaction. By consciously altering your breathing patterns on a regular basis or in times of need, you send a signal to your brain to adjust your parasympathetic branch of your nervous system. When you breathe deeply, what then follows is a slower heart rate, digestion and feelings of calm and tranquility.
4. Drink enough water
The link between water and stress reduction is well researched. All of our organs, including our brains
require a specific amount of water to function properly. If you are dehydrated and your body is running well, it can lead to stress. So, by providing your body with the fluids it needs, you are putting less stress on it and it is going to positively respond.
Researchers reveal that we should drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
5. Manage your time and tasks effectively
Learning to manage your time efficiently will not only help reduce your stress levels but also elevate yourproductivity levels. Some tips on how to help you successfully do so is to plan the next day the night before. Be specific with the time you eat breakfast, work, exercise, call friends and family, clean and watch television.
You should also prioritise your tasks into importance to allow you to get the urgent tasks out of the way early on, when your productivity levels are higher. You should also remember to say no. There will be occasions where you will be occupied with work and people ask you to take on more tasks. If you think this is going to cause you a large burden and leave you feeling stressed, you can say no. Simply, highlight your workload to them and then suggest an alternative time that you will be able to help.
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6. Adopt a positive mindset
Studies reveal that the benefits of optimism and a positive frame of mind are huge. Optimists enjoy better health, stronger relationships, higher productivity levels and experience less stress. When you understand how your outlook can change your circumstances your perception of negative events will change, you will learn how to positively cope and be inspired to keep going on your journey despite knockbacks.
Ways to change your mindset include starting your day with positive affirmations, turn failures into lessons, focus on the present and what you can change in that moment and constantly learn from friends, family and co-workers.
7. Reduce your technology usage
On average, people spend three-hours fifteen minutes on their mobile phone every day, excluding the use of our laptops, television and tablets. High levels of engagement with multimedia technology is physically changing our brain structure and function. A study revealed that smartphone users unlock their mobile phones on average 85 times a day which means we are unable to focus our attention and consolidate things properly into our memory.
Spending time online, including time spent on social media opens up the opportunity for social comparison
and leaves us evaluating how we think and feel about ourselves in metrics of social success e.g. number of friends, likes, shares, followers, ability to travel and have expensive possessions – leaving us feeling inferior.
Although social media posts are essentially false advertisements as not everyone’s life looks like that 24/7, it is important to try and make a conscious effort to reduce the time that you spend online. You could go for a walk during your lunch break without your phone, have a digital free zone in a particular room at home or ban time spent on digital devices between specific hours in the day.
8. Strengthen your social support
Healthy and supportive relationships can reduce stress and improve your overall health and sense of wellbeing. Having a strong social support network can be critical to helping you get through though times. If you do not feel like you have a strong network around you, you could consider volunteering, joining a fitness group or taking up a new hobby. Lastly, you should be proactive with your relationships. Reach out to lend a hand or just say hello to friends or family you haven’t spoken to in a while. If you are there for others, they are more likely to be there for you.
9. Take control of your environment
On a subconscious level, clutter is linked with negative emotions such as confusion, tension, irritability and worry. Whereas a clean space is linked with positive emotions such as happiness, calm and a sense of achievement. A Personality and Social Psychology report revealed that people living in a cluttered home showed higher levels of the stress hormone, named cortisol. So, set aside just half an hour a day to empty the dishwasher, wipe down all counters, put away anything out of place and run the vacuum round. You will start to feel a sense of control.
10. Take part in the 30-Day Challenge
This year, the 30-Day Challenge is being held to help raise recognition for Stress Awareness Month. You are encouraged to pick one action for your physical, mental and emotional well-being to carry out every single day. It takes 30-days to turn actions into habits which is why this is a month-long exercise.
1. Physical – Green therapy: If you have a garden, spend an hour in it either gardening, exercising or
enjoying the sun rays. If not, visit your local park to get some exercise.
2. Mental – Set yourself a daily positive affirmation: Do you care for others? When was the last time
you made someone smile? Are you proud of yourself?
3. Emotional – Write down three positive experiences that have happened to you today.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed during this difficult time, please know our doors are always
open. You can reach us on all forms of social media or our telephone number is +44908 552820.
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