Posted on: 22 May 2020
We all experience stress as part of daily life. It’s our body’s natural response when we feel under threat – from life and death situations to an overdue library book.
But too much stress can be harmful. As the NHS website puts it, it can ‘affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable and affect our self-esteem.’
These tips are designed to help you lower your everyday stress to a more manageable level. However if you constantly feel overwhelmed you should consider seeking further support. You may find useful our recent article on ‘Asking for help with mental wellbeing’.
‘A problem shared is a problem halved.’ It’s a cliché, but it happens to be true. Often just talking about what’s been on your mind can feel like a weight has lifted from your shoulders.
Bring up the subject with someone you trust and ask for their advice. Friends, family or colleagues can bring a fresh perspective and encourage you to see the problem in a different light. Even sharing a similar experience can make you feel you’re not alone.
If you can’t think of anyone suitable to talk to, check with your employer to see if they offer an Employee Assistance Programme. This is a confidential 24/7 phone line where you can speak with a trained advisor about anything that’s worrying you and get actionable advice. There’s also an option to see a professional counsellor if needed.
Make a plan
Nothing adds to a stressful situation like feeling there’s nothing you can do to change it. Taking stock of the situation, however scary it may feel, is the first step to establishing control.
There is always a way forward. Sit down, write out a plan – however rough – of steps you might take to improve the situation. Small steps are fine if that feels like a more achievable way of tackling whatever is causing you stress.
For example, if you feel overloaded at work, start with something as small as asking your line manager for a chat. You can then bring up that you’re finding things tough at the moment and work together towards a solution.
Look after yourself
Eating healthily, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are all crucial for our mental wellbeing, but often these routines go out the window when we’re feeling stressed. We may struggle to sleep or find time for exercise, and crave sugary or fatty foods as a short-term way of boosting our mood.
Again, taking small steps is a good way to start regaining control. For instance, if a vigorous exercise routine feels unrealistic right now, even a ten-minute walk in the fresh air can clear your head and burn off some nervous energy.
When we’re under stress, it can feel difficult to break out of our routines, even if they are actually part of the problem. Making small positive changes will start to reduce your stress levels and help you prioritise your mental wellbeing.