To mark Stress Awareness Month, we discuss some of the main causes of stress and share some of our ideas on how to improve your mental wellbeing and support others.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. In some situations, such as when working on an important task, a stress response can be beneficial and help us to be motivated. But too much stress can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health, making us feel like we can’t cope.
How stress affects us
Stress can affect us in lots of different ways. It can affect our mood: making us feel irritable or anxious. Plus, it can affect our cognition too, making it harder to concentrate or make decisions. It can also impact our sleep, leaving us feeling exhausted.
Being able to recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed can help you avoid the situations that cause stress. You can also develop coping mechanisms to help when you do find yourself feeling stressed.
Here are some ideas on how to cope with stress:
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling: it’s important we ask for help when we’re struggling
- Plan and break tasks down into more manageable chunks: this will help you to not feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do
- Do something active: physical activity can help use up nervous energy and is good for our wellbeing
- Try using a positive mindset: this can be hard when you feel overwhelmed but thinking about what makes us happy in life can help us feel better
The NHS also has lots of resources online that can help you find ways to deal with stress, which can be applied to home life and at work.
About 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year, so most of us will know someone who has struggled with their mental health.
We all have different ways to deal with stress, but it’s great to share coping mechanisms that work for you as they could help others.
With this in mind, we can learn the signs that mean our friends and family are feeling stressed. That way, we can know when they might need our support.
Here are some ideas on how to support someone experiencing stress:
- Be a good listener: ask your friend or loved one about how they’re feeling
- Offer practical help: such as doing some chores for them if they can’t manage to do everything
- Be patient: it might be hard for them to ask for help, but by being there for them you can show that you care about them
We can all feel stressed at times, but it’s important that we look after ourselves and others who are struggling to cope.
At the Charlie Watkins Foundation your donations help us to support young people who are finding it hard to cope with stress and other mental health challenges. If you would like to make a donation we would be so grateful.