April is Stress Awareness Month, an opportunity to highlight the signs and symptoms of stress, what we can do to tackle stress in our lives, and where to get information and support.
Stress is the feeling of being unable to cope as a result of too much mental or emotional pressure. It can affect our physical health as well as our mental health and wellbeing. Common signs of stress can include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating. You may feel anxious, irritable, experience racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head.
One of the enduring and most effective models to help deal with stress and wellbeing recommended for people of all ages and lifestyles is to ‘Take the 5 Steps to Wellbeing’ – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
‘Take 5’ encourages people to take simple actions and make deliberate choices to help look after themselves to build resilience around their mental and emotional wellbeing. There are many examples of how to adapt the 5 Steps to our everyday lives. The following are examples how to Take 5 to help tackle stress:
Connect – meet with friends and family, and take the time during Stress Awareness Month to talk about how you are feeling and listen to others. Aim be more aware of friends and family and how they are feeling – are they showing signs they are stressed?
Give – people tend to cope with stress differently, so sharing personal experiences of coping might also help you and someone else deal with stress better.
Be active – exercising helps to minimise the impact of stress on the body and mind. It helps to improve sleep, balance hormones, increase endorphins and fosters relaxation. Even if it’s a gentle walk in the park, a cycle, gardening or even housework, it can count as physical activity.
Keep learning – explore the self-help toolkits and learn new skills to help you cope better with stress – check out the links below.
Take notice – stop, pause and take a moment to be still and look around you, focus on your breathing. Also consider reducing your time watching the news and browsing social media. Try to become aware of what triggers tend to cause stress and anxiety and think about reducing these stress triggers. Look at the ways that stress begins and then aim to resolve those with coping strategies.
Useful resources and links:
Breathing Space is a free, confidential, phone and webchat service for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16 experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety – visit breathingspace.scot
Public Health Scotland has downloadable leaflets for dealing with stress at www.healthscotland.com/documents/5828.aspx
NHS Inform Scotland has a range of stress information, tips, and a special Steps for Stress playlist at https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing/stress/struggling-with-stress