This month is Stress Awareness Month, which is all about raising awareness of the impact that stress can have. Let’s find out all about stress – what it is, what it can look and feel like, and how to get the right support.
What exactly is stress?
Stress is a very normal reaction in everyday life, and most of us will experience it at some point. Stress can be caused by a lot of different things, such as money problems or issues at work, and it can even be caused by more positive events such as buying a house or getting married. Sometimes, you might not be able to figure out the reason – but you just feel like you’re struggling.
Stress can make you feel all kinds of things, some can be physical and some can be mental.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and I’m constantly worrying, my stomach hurts and I’m experiencing headaches. Could this be stress?
Stress can be the cause of many different symptoms, you may feel like:
- You’re tired a lot of the time
- You’re constantly worrying or struggling to relax
- You have frequent headaches or stomach problems
- Your muscles feel tense
- Your heart races
- You sweat or shake
- You find it difficult to fall asleep, or you find you sleep too much
- Your appetite has changed, you eat too much or too little
- You’ve lost interest in the activities that usually bring you joy
Sometimes, it might feel difficult to ask for help. But it’s important to know that there is support you can access if you’re finding it hard to cope with the way you’re feeling. We’ll also point out some self-help tips and lifestyle changes that may improve your overall mental health!
Let’s take a look what some of these are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you deal with stress by giving you the tools to respond to situations in a different way, which can improve how you manage negative thoughts. Sometimes you might not have direct control over what is making you feel this way, but by looking at your problems and changing your response to them – it can get better.
Community mental health support
In Newcastle, our community mental health support team can help you to access resources in the community, and you will be supported by our Community Mental Health Support Workers – many of whom have lived experience of mental ill-health. They know what it’s like, because they’ve been there too.
By being a part of community groups and communities, you will be able to gain confidence and be supported in the way that’s right for you.
While exercise isn’t a cure-all, it can certainly improve your mental health. There are lots of different ways you can get active, helping you to reach the recommended 20 minutes of exercise a day for the average adult. Take a look at our blog post on how exercise can improve your mental health to find out more.
This may sound like an obvious one, but talking really does help. We can all underestimate how much talking about your problems to someone you trust can help. Whether it’s with a loved one, a friend, or even a colleague, having that support can be valuable.
Another obvious-sounding one, but sometimes when we’re stressed our breathing can be too shallow – which can add to your feelings of stress! Practising breathing techniques can be really useful if you’re feeling stressed, and can help you to calm down in the moment. You can find some great breathing-exercise guidance via the NHS website.
Making changes to your lifestyle can also help reduce your feelings of stress. Making sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep and eating well can help with your mental and physical well-being.
Work smarter, not harder
Sometimes, stress can be caused by a busy schedule – setting small targets each day, and breaking down your tasks and problems into smaller parts can make them more manageable. If you’re having a day where your to-do list feels a mile long, prioritise the tasks that will make a difference.
If high levels of stress continue over long periods of time, it can start to take a toll. It’s important to recognise the symptoms stress can cause, and if they’re having a negative impact on your mental and physical health. We hope this article has helped you to be aware of how stress can look and feel, and provided you with some great resources for getting support.
For more information on stress and accessing NHS Talking Therapies, click here.
For more resources and advice, visit NHS.