Stress Awareness Month: How to Recognise and Deal with Stress
Millions of people in the UK are suffering from stress, and it is often overlooked as a 'normal' and acceptable part of everyday life. Stress Awareness Month was set up in 1992 to address these concerns and raise awareness about the causes of and cures for stress. Here's how to recognise stress in yourself or loved ones, and how you can take measures to avoid it.
What is stress and what does it do to your body?
Our bodies are designed to thrive under certain amounts of stress. An example would be our ability to handle increased heart rate or blood pressure when exercising. These are good types of stress because they’re temporary. However, we don’t function well with long-term stress, known as chronic stress, which can affect both physical and mental health. Chronic stress is caused by anything that causes ongoing tension or anxiety, such as work problems or financial woes.
How to recognise stress
Try to get into the habit of checking in with yourself throughout your day. If something is getting on top of you, take a moment to evaluate its importance, consider restructuring your priorities, or ask for help.
Know your triggers
When you start to feel stressed, take some time out to step back and think about what has caused you to feel this way. Did you have a late night? An impossible deadline? Too much caffeine? Interrupted meals? Whatever your triggers are, recognising them will help you to avoid them in future.
Don’t be afraid to talk
Stress can be a very isolating experience. But learning how to deal with stress doesn’t have to mean doing it alone. Talk about your feelings with someone supportive, such as a friend, family member, colleague or supervisor.
It’s hard to deal with stress effectively if you don’t know your own boundaries. Our mental, physical, emotional and time resources all have their limits. When we go beyond them, we are at risk of breaking down. Setting clear boundaries is crucial for maintaining a work-life balance – knowing how much time you can dedicate to work or play, who deserves your attention when you’re pulled in multiple directions at once and where it’s appropriate for others (or yourself) to step in.
As always, if you're feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, please seek expert support.