Stress is part of life. Becoming overwhelmed by stress could lead to mental health issues or make existing issues worse. In this article we have put together some advice for managing stress, for better wellbeing and peace of mind.
How can I help myself?
Through self-care, you could reduce symptoms of stress. Here are some options you may like to try:
1. Keep a stress diary
If you are unsure of what is causing you stress, it may assist to keep a ‘stress diary’ for a few weeks. It might help you to identify aspects of your day to day life that you may wish to change.
It could also assist in identifying any “triggers” of stress, times in your life when you may feel more anxious. Identifying triggers can help you gain control and reduce stress.
2. Get practical advice
You can choose to take steps to reduce stress in your life by seeking support or practical advice. Please see the ‘Useful contacts: Practical Support’ link at the bottom of this page.
3. Manage your money
Money can cause many different issues such as poverty, debt and relationship problems. Setting out a budget could help you to see and decide your priorities and what you can afford. Managing your money allows you more control and ultimately, could alleviate stress.
If you are feeling concerned about money or debt, please seek advice immediately. Organisations like StepChange, Citizens Advice and National Debtline and others are there to help. You can find details of organisations on the ‘Useful contacts: Practical Support’ link at the bottom of this page.
Find out more about:
4. Plan your time
Planning your time helps you to be in control of your life. Why not try these tips:
- write lists of what you need to do
- prioritise the most important tasks
- share tasks with others if you can
- don’t put things off, but remember to take breaks if you need to
- set yourself steps and goals for complicated tasks.
Celebrate and reward yourself after each achievement.
5. Talk to someone
Telling someone how you feel may help with stress as you ‘offload’ your concerns. You may feel comfortable talking to someone you know, or you might prefer to talk to someone you don’t, such as a helpline or counsellor. You can find details of organisations that provide emotional support on the ‘Useful contacts: Emotional Support’ link at the bottom of this page.
6. Make lifestyle changes
Limit your caffeine intake
Coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate contain caffeine. Reducing your caffeine intake could help you sleep better, especially if you reduce it in the evening. Try herbal tea, a warm milky drink or warm cordial instead.
Exercise can both relieve stress and help you to stay healthy. There are lots of ways to exercise, and people enjoy different things. You could try cycling, walking, running, yoga, gentle stretching, team activities or going to the gym. Doing regular housework or gardening is also a way to exercise.
Stress may interfere with good sleep. Not getting enough sleep can bring about poor concentration, low mood and higher levels of anxiety.
If you struggle with sleep, you can try to:
- practice a good sleep hygiene
- talk to your doctor
- refer yourself for talking therapy
Sleep hygiene means things like:
- having a regular bedtime routine
- only using your bed for sleep
- exercising regularly but avoiding lots of exercise too close to bedtime
- cutting down on caffeine, especially in the evening
- making the place you sleep a comfortable temperature
- making sure the place you sleep is dark
- not using your phone or computer immediately before bedtime
- making sure that the place you sleep is tidy
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a healthy balanced diet is good for your mental and physical health. Find more information on exercising, sleeping and eating a balanced diet from the NHS website.
Do something nice for yourself every day
It is important to do some things because you want to, not because you have to. This could include reading a book, watching a film or eating something you enjoy. Small actions of self-care show your body gratitude and help create a greater sense of calm and wellbeing.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation to help you to be aware of the present moment and pay attention to it. This can help manage symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Take a look at Katy’s ‘An introduction to Mindfulness’ article here for more information and some gentle Mindfulness exercises.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation can reduce stress. Try meditation, aromatherapy or yoga. The Stuart Low Trust provides many gentle classes and workshops to help you feel more relaxed and at ease, whilst taking care of your wellbeing. Take a look here to see our latest programme of free events and activities.
7. Speak with your Doctor
Do speak with your GP if you are struggling to cope with stress. If you are feeling anxious or worried, it may help you to write down a list of the main points and questions that you want to discuss before you go. If you have kept a stress diary you could take this with you too.
There are lots of great resources for how to manage your mental health. There are also websites which explain how you can use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to reduce stress.