We have a lot of set days in our calendars now. World black cat day, world goth day, world cheese day, and we now even have a Stranger Things day (which I'm happy about). However, there are days which pop up which will stay important and should continue to be recognised, today being one of them.
The week of November 5th to November 9th is International Stress Awareness Week, and today is National Stress Awareness Day. You might think, "so what?", but then you might not realise how serious stress is, and can be. You might think that it's something which doesn't affect you but in reality it affects all of us in one way or another.
We live in a world that is incredibly fast-paced and ever changing, sometimes to a point where it's hard to keep up. There is information thrown at us through a variety of channels and we're finding it harder and harder to switch off and slow down.
Stress levels continuously rise and affect us more than we know, and many don't realise just how damaging it can be.
Ignoring the signs of stress can result in other significant health problems, so when you feel like life might be becoming a bit too overwhelming it's important to take a step back and look at your stress levels.
Here are my top 5 tips to help keep yourself stress free:
1. BE PRESENT: Take the time to slow down and be aware of your surroundings.
Notice your breathing, the sounds around you, how you feel, and try and remove the negative thoughts from your mind which aren't important in the present.
2. TUNE IN: Notice how your body feels, whether there is any unwanted sensations or feelings and try to relax. Let go of any unwanted weight.
3. BREATHE DEEPLY: Close your eyes, sit comfortably and take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
4. LAUGH & GET MOVING (SHAKE IT OFF): Keep your mind and body active and laugh as much as you can. Let's those endorphins fight away the nasty stress levels that might be creeping in.
5. REACH OUT: There is no shame in talking! Sharing your problems might actually help you more than you think and someone might just have the advice and support you've been looking for..More tips will be up on my blog a little later, but remember you can find many resources online.
These are just a few simplistic tips, which might seem pointless, but you'd be surprised how much they can help. Try to use techniques before your stress builds up too much to prevent it from becoming overwhelming.
Remember you can try other things such as meditation, yoga, taking walks, running, swimming, having a hot bath or any other activity which helps you to unwind and relax.
Being able to plan and have some control over the things which cause you stress is also important. I find money is on the top of my stress list, but I have slowly taught myself to find ways of budgeting and making sure that I am secure financially instead of wasting it all away and causing myself problems.
Stress isn't always negative, in fact in some situations it can help us. When you sense danger your defence system kicks in, an automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the "stress response." The stress response is the body's way of protecting you, but it is important to recognise when the stress is negative and having an impact on your life and causing further damage to your health.
It's also good to remember that certain lifestyle choices can also affect our stress levels, such as lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol or caffeine in take.
There are many services and tonnes of advice available to you should you feel you need some support or information about stress. Below are some links which you may find helpful.
Remember, you never need to suffer in silence, no matter what it is. Talking and supporting are vital needs for everyone and there are many people out there willing to help and listen.
ADVICE, INFORMATION, SUPPORT:
How To Deal With Stress - NHS
Stress - Mental Health Foundation
How To Manage Stress - Mind
MOODJUICE - Stress Self-Help Guide