Stress is an inevitable part of life, and we will all experience it at some point. Although some forms of stress can work as healthy motivation, excessive and constant stress can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.
In 2018, 74% of adults in the UK felt ‘unable to cope’ from high levels of stress. During this Stress Awareness Month, as part of our mental health awareness aim, we want to promote stress management as a method of improving your mental health.
If you’re experiencing stress, it can be difficult to understand how to manage it. We’ll be discussing stress management techniques and why stress management is important for a happier, healthier life.
How is stress defined?
Stress can be described as a psychophysiological response to both internal and external pressures, which negatively impacts the mental health of an individual. Stress can be an innate reaction to external factors, from relationship issues, financial complications, job-related pressures or an unstable home environment.
During stress, the body can undergo hormonal changes and have an increase in blood pressure, which can have physiological impacts. Stress can impact our health in many ways. While some forms of stress can act as a healthy form of motivation, excessive stress can be damaging to our mental and physical wellbeing.
The emotional impact of stress
Stress can impact our emotional wellbeing in many ways. Here are some side effects of stress:
- Difficulty focusing
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Lack interest in activities once enjoyed
What are the benefits of stress management?
Improved physical health
Stress can cause physiological changes to the body. We may suffer from fatigue or break out in a rash because our bodies are telling us we need to take a break. Controlling stress levels can lead to an improved hormonal balance and better physical health.
Better mental health
Stress rarely comes alone. In fact, it typically brings a whole bunch of other mental health issues with it! Handling stress levels can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and bring back your motivation.
Stress can decrease the quality of our sleep significantly. Not only can we find it difficult to switch off when we feel stressed, but the sleep we do get can often be broken sleep. When you’re stressed, it can feel like no amount of sleep is ever enough. Stress management can decrease our stress levels and can improve the quality of sleep we get which is better for our overall mental and physical health.
Stress can make us feel overwhelmed and can distract us from focusing on our daily duties. When you decrease stress levels, you will have a clearer mind and will possess more motivation to do things throughout the day.
When we’re experiencing high levels of stress, we typically lack motivation to foster and maintain positive relationships with friends, family and partners. We can also become more withdrawn and less social.
Decreasing stress levels can make us approach relationships with a positive outlook and can increase our social motivation.
Better coping skills
Stress management can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to manage stressful situations in the future and manage their emotions throughout their lives.
What are some stress management techniques
Mindfulness is a meditation practice that involves the individual being present in the moment and paying attention to their thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgement. This includes techniques such as body scanning, mindful deep breathing and mindful eating.
Mindfulness can be incorporated into almost all daily activities, from mindful driving commutes to breathing.
Exercising is essential for our overall wellbeing; however, the mental benefits of exercise are often overlooked. When we are physically active, we release endorphins into the body which can make you feel good and improve your mental health.
Participating in hobbies
When experiencing high levels of stress, we can often become demotivated to participate in any of our hobbies. However, taking time to experience the things we enjoy can lift our spirits, improve our emotional health and relieve stress.
Here are some ideas for stress relieving hobbies:
- Yoga or meditation
- Colouring or drawing
- Knitting or crochet
- Cooking or baking
- Walking or hiking
- Listening to music
- Playing a musical instrument
When we manage our time efficiently, we feel more confident in our day going to plan. We can tackle tasks in due time and find time for ourselves. We recommend creating a schedule and sticking to it so you stay organised and find time for rest and hobbies that you enjoy.
Spending time with friends and family members can help us feel more connected and supported. If you’re struggling with stress, it is important to speak to a trusted person in your life who could give you some personalised advice.
Take regular breaks
Overworking our minds and bodies can lead to increased stress levels. Taking regular breaks can give our minds a rest and decrease stress. Whether that break is a holiday, a walk in the park or time for a quick doodle, it will be sure to decrease stress levels.
Shawmind is an early intervention charity. We’re on a mission to improve mental health awareness. Our ‘Understanding Stress’ course can give you the skills and knowledge you need to manage stress.
As a charity, we rely on your donations to provide schools with mental health education. Please consider donating here.