What is stress and how does it affect you?
Some stress is normal, such as before an exam or important meeting. It’s how your body responds to pressure. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones (chemicals), such as adrenalin. These hormones help you cope in the moment – for example, by increasing your heart rate.
But, too much stress, over a long period of time, can affect both your physical and mental health. For example, you might get headaches, muscle aches and pains. Or you may feel tired and have trouble sleeping and concentrating. So, it’s important to reduce stress where you can.
Ten ways to deal with stress
Watch the video above for these 10 effective ways to manage and reduce the symptoms of stress.
1. Get active
Regular exercise releases feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in your brain. Go for a short walk, take up a sport, or get active in other ways by starting a new hobby, such as dancing or roller-skating.
2. Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to manage the symptoms of stress. Try controlled breathing exercises and notice how you feel. Or spend time in nature and enjoy its beauty.
3. Do things you enjoy
Find time to do things that relax you. Try tapping into your creative side by doing something crafty. You could try a new hobby, or simply relax with a book.
4. Eat well
A healthy balanced diet can help to boost your mood. Include plenty of fruit and vegetables. Drink enough water too.
5. Prioritise sleep
Good quality rest can have an ‘anti-stress’ effect. Think about the small changes can you make to sleep better. For example, you may need to cut down on caffeine, or reduce your screen time.
6. Take a break
A short break from work or a busy routine can help us to recharge and gain perspective. You might find it helpful to visit a new place or make time to relax with friends.
7. Try some yoga
Yoga can promote relaxation and help relieve stress. Give it a go and see if it helps you relax and feel calm.
8. Be aware of alcohol and smoking
Drinking alcohol and smoking may seem to relax you. But they can actually make problems worse. Cut out, or cut down on smoking and drinking, if you can.
9. Be kind to yourself
Having self-compassion can do wonders for your mental health. Be kind to yourself, set realistic goals and do things that make you feel better.
10. Get support
If you’re worried about the effects of stress don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak to someone you trust. Or make an appointment with a GP.
Click to open a PDF version of 10 tips for managing stress infographic (0.2MB).