Friday, December 28, 2018


Mental Health Awareness Week. 

Each year the Mental Health Foundation organises a ‘week’ to raise awareness of a particular aspect of mental health. This year’s theme is stress and your mental health. Stress can be positive. If it is short term for example, the boost we get from a release of adrenalin can help us to cross the line in that marathon or finish a particular piece of work. Stress tends to become more problematic when it is long term, persistent and unrelenting.

This is when stress can lead to conditions such as depression or on a more physical level can cause high blood pressure or stomach ulcers.


What can you do about stress?

So what can you do about this form of chronic stress. Here are some ideas that the Mental Health Foundation recommend. 

There are some really good pointers in the list below. It’s taken from their report “Stress Are We Coping”. You can read more about stress on the Mental Health Foundation website and find a link to the report. It’s well worth a read.
Before you move on to the list we would like to add another point! It is really important to ask for help if you need it. Don’t be afraid to speak with a counselor if you are unable to speak with colleagues, family or friends. Sometimes this opportunity to explore the causes of your stress in a confidential setting can really help to give clarity around an issue or situation. It may be just what’s needed.

Top 10 Actions to Manage Stress


1.  Realise when stress is causing you a problem and identify the causes.
You need to make the connection between feeling tired or ill with the pressures you are faced with. Do not ignore physical warnings such as tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines. Sort the possible reasons for your stress into those with a practical solution, those that will get better anyway given time, and those you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.

2. Review your lifestyle.
Are you taking on too much? Are there things you are doing which could be handed over to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritise things you are trying to achieve and reorganise your life so that you are not trying to do everything at once.

3.  Build supportive relationships and social networks.
Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice to support you to reduce your stress. Joining a club or enrolling on a course are good ways to expand your social networks and to encourage you to do something different. Equally activities like volunteering can change your perspective and helping others can have a beneficial impact on your mood.

4.  Eat Healthily.
A healthy diet will reduce the risks of diet-related diseases. Also, there is a growing amount of evidence showing
how food affects our mood. Feelings of wellbeing can be protected by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals, as well as water.

5.  Be aware of your smoking, drinking and caffeine intake
Even though they may seem to reduce tension, this is misleading as they make problems worse. Alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety.


6.  Exercise.
Physical exercise can be an excellent initial approach to managing the effects of stress. Even going out to get some fresh air and taking some light physical exercise, like walking to the shops, can help when you feel stressed. You do not need to do much, walking 15-20 minutes, three times a week is a good way to feel better.


7.  Take time out.
Take time to relax. Saying ‘I just can’t take time off’ is no use if you are forced to take time off later through ill health. Striking a balance between responsibility to others and to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels.

8.  Be mindful.
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time. Research has suggested that it can be helpful for managing and reducing the effect of stress, anxiety and other related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low moods, in some people.


9. Get some restful sleep.
Sleeping problems are common when you’re suffering from stress. Try to ensure you get enough rest. Writing down your list for the next day can be useful in helping you to prioritise but also to park these plans before bed.

10.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Try to keep things in perspective. Look for things in your life that are positive and write down things that make you feel grateful.

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