Improving the mental health, taking care of your mind as well as your body is more important than ever before.
One of the main enemies of our health is stress. Stress is the body’s response when it senses danger. We all experience stress and need it to function. But when stress interferes with our lives, it becomes a problem. Too much stress, for too long, can make us ill. If unaddressed, stress can cause physical and mental health issues like depression or anxiety and harm our physical health.
Some common sources of stress include:
• Leaving home, getting married or having children
• Divorce or relationship breakdown
• Health scares or physical illness
• Accidents or bereavement
• Legal issues, arrest or imprisonment
• Peer pressure
• Conflicting cultural values and beliefs
• Coping with uncertainty
• Late nights or lack of routine
• Poor diet
• Misuse of alcohol or drugs
• Poor housing or accommodation problems
• Social isolation
• Adjusting to new environments such as moving house or travel
• Financial pressures
Changes at work
• Starting a new job
• Coping with an increased workload or a promotion
• Poor relationships with colleagues or managers
• Redundancy or the fear of it
There are simple steps you can take to address your stress:
• Get moving! Physical and mental health are connected — so eat well and exercise to release endorphins. Find a fun activity that suits you and your schedule.
• Setting aside time to have fun or indulge yourself – positive emotions can help build a buffer against stress.
• Learning a new skill – whether painting, playing guitar or a new language.
• Sharing how you’re feeling – it’s OK to ask for help and support.
• Switching off from distractions – make time for yourself as a regular part of your routine. Schedule a reminder if you need to.
• Overdoing it on sugar, caffeine or alcohol – they’re a quick fix which can increase stress in the long term.
• Overworking and checking your emails out of hours – we all need time to unwind.
• Spending too much of your free time in front of a screen — phone included.
• Don’t feel pressured to always be ‘doing’ something.
• Chasing perfection – it can create unrealistic expectations. Accept that mistakes will happen.
• Bottling up your feelings and assuming they will go away — this can make things worse in the long run.