Stress Awareness

By Harriet Renkin

Life has become incredibly stressful, uncertain and challenging for us all because of COVID-19. Defined as a feeling of emotional strain and pressure, stress can occur acutely and chronically in individuals. We can experience stress in different areas of our life including, financial, health, family and workplace stress – all of which can interfere with our everyday lives.

Long-term stress can cause further mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. For this reason, it is important to understand what causes our stress and how we can create effective coping strategies to help us in the future

Understanding Stress – The Stress Container

The Stress Container can help us understand how we experience stress and how to address our stress levels. Every individual copes with stress differently, which is why it is important to establish the stressors in your life and what coping strategies you have in place to manage them. Individuals who are more resilient tend to have better coping strategies and therefore experience less stress.

Write down all of the current stressors in your daily life and identify your current coping strategies for each stressor.

Ask yourself, are your coping strategies helpful or unhelpful for your health?

Examples of coping strategies:

Helpful coping strategies: exercise, meditation, family and friend support.

Unhelpful coping strategies: smoking, overeating, drug or alcohol use.

Photo credit: MHFA England

Five ways to help manage stress:

There are a variety of helpful coping strategies we can use to help manage and reduce stress. One You have listed some examples below.

  • Meditate/breathing: These types of exercises are great for relaxing the mind and body, releasing any tension or stress you may be experiencing. ‘Box breathing’ is a very easy breathing exercise you can practice anywhere; Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and repeat.
  • Move more: regular exercise can boost your mood and reduce stress. Even going for a 30-minute walk has been shown to effectively reduce stress levels and counts towards your daily physical activity.
  • Create ‘ME’ time: schedule some time every day to do something you enjoy. Hobbies can distract our minds from stress and give us an opportunity to reflect on how we can deal with future stressors.
  • Seek support and connect with others: talking to someone about the stress you are feeling can make a huge difference. Just by offloading any concerns and knowing you have someone to talk to can be a useful coping strategy.
  • Make a plan of action: identifying regular/potential stressors and thinking of healthy coping strategies can help manage stressful situations in the future. Writing down stressors and creating a strategy next to it is a nice way of visualising your plan.

 

References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/exercise-for-depression/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/relaxation/relaxation-exercises/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/

https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/campaigns/mhaw2018/#selfcare

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