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5 Top Tips to Manage Stress

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Stress is an evitable part of life. It affects us all. A little bit of stress can be good for us, good/positive stress is called "eustress" it can keep us alert, be a driver, a motivator and can help us achieve. It can be useful if you have an important exam or work presentation coming up, it will help you focus better and give you the extra boost to perform optimally. However too much stress is not so useful, it can have a negative affect on our health and our performance and the term for this is "distress". It can make us feel tired, low in mood, it can make you feel physically ill, giving you headaches, problems with digestion, it can lower your immune system, cause high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety just to name a few. We need to manage stress to stop it from becoming disabling. This isn't something you can just do once and your fixed. These are things you should practice on a regular basis to maintain your equilibrium.

Often people may try to handle stress in unhealthy ways, we are all guilty of these 'quick fixes.' Drinking too much alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, gambling, overeating, undereating, or hitting that self-destruct button and behaving in ways that put yourself/your relationships/your job at risk often making your situation even worse. Sometimes you might find yourself hiding so as not to deal with it, ever found yourself down that tik tok hole? I was a demon for most of these things at various points in my life and often although they made me feel better at the time afterward, I was left feeling even worse. This is why we need to develop our toolbox of techniques to manage.

Tip #1 - Fresh air

There have been studies that show that simply being outside can reduce stress. Fresh air raises oxygen in your brain which increases serotonin levels naturally which will make you feel happier and more relaxed. Being out in fresh air gives your immune system a boost as it fights off harmful pathogens. Being outside exposes us to Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for healthy brain function and for boosting the immune system. Fresh air will also help you sleep. Our sleep will often decrease when we are stressed so this is another win for fresh air.

Tip #2 - Exercise

Physical exercise is well-researched and accepted among experts that it has many benefits for your physical and mental health. Even a gentle walk can have a positive effect on your wellbeing. Exercise will not solve your problems as such instead it will change how you feel and provide you with some resilience to manage. Exercise affects the neurotransmitters in our brains such as serotonin and dopamine the ones which help us feel happy. Often when we are under stress, we may feel we haven't got time to exercise, or we haven't got the energy. But you haven't got time not to. If you give yourself that time, even if it's only 20 minutes you will be better equipped and more productive to manage. Group exercise is even better as it provides a support network and some accountability.

Tip #3 - Prioritise You

This is the one I find most difficult to do. I'm terribly guilty of burning the candle at all ends. I seem to think I'm superwoman and can take on everything then get stressed when I can't manage. It's ok to say no and to prioritise yourself, this used to feel selfish to me but in reality, it's the most unselfish thing you can do. A friend once said to me "You can't pour from an empty cup" and it's so true, when we are feeling depleted, we have nothing left to give, all tasks seem to become a 'should do' and you find yourself 'going through the motions' 'ticking it off the list' rather than being fully present, engaging and enjoying helping that colleague/family member/child. It's important you try to tune in to yourself so you can identify when you need to give yourself some time and attention and take time out to do the things that make you happy. Once we learn to identify that and allow ourselves this time then the people around us can experience a much happier and present version of ourselves.

Tip #4 - Connect to others

Being with others can be an excellent stress reliever, we can use the opportunity to express how we feel with someone or discuss a situation or dilemma we are experiencing. Giving a voice to these worries and concerns release some of the intensity surrounding them and often the person you are sharing the information with is able to offer a different perspective or some advice you hadn't necessarily thought of. It also gives you a chance to process what is happening and reflect on things as you tell your story. "A problem shared is a problem halved' is an old saying but research has shown that this is true. Although many of us won't share our worries maybe because we think we should be able to cope on our own, that we don't want to burden others or that what is bothering us is just too personal or painful to share. Even if you choose not to share your problem, just being with others and talking about other things can be rejuvenating.

Tip #5 - Be Mindful

Mindfulness can be done anywhere doing anything. It's all about being in the present moment. Take time to stop and marvel at how those water droplets are collecting on the spider web and look at the beauty of the autumnal colours of the tree leaves against the crisp blue sky. Notice how the plant's smell, notice the sound of the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet as you walk over them. Being present in the moment gives you a break from your everyday thoughts and worries. It gives you time for that much needed recharge.

Family Wellness by Rae Well-being walks are an excellent way to manage stress and incorporate all of these tips. These walks are currently running walks on a Monday afternoon at 1pm at Trosley Country Park.

Please seek medical help if you are finding your stress levels overwhelming. Support is available via your G.P or if you are unable to wait seek urgent support by contacting 111 or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 999, or go to your nearest A&E.

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