As we near the end of Mental Health Week, we thought it would be helpful to provide some guidance on stress – the sources of it, self-care and a quick wellbeing check-up which is easy to adopt and encourages people to be mindful of their mental health
Stress is everywhere, and it is directly linked to our mental health. 1 in 6 adults will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress at any one time. The Mental Health Foundation, organiser of Mental Health Awareness Week, says:
“By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and, in some instances, self-harm and suicide. By looking at how we can tackle stress we can help improve our mental health.”
Understanding what causes us stress and taking action to manage our stress levels is a key part of looking after our wellbeing.
What are the sources?
Stress can arise from various sources and everyone reacts to them differently. Below is a list of common life circumstances which can cause stress.
- Leaving home, getting married or having children
- Health scare or physical illness
- Accidents or bereavement
- Peer pressure
- Conflicting cultural values and beliefs
- Coping with uncertainty
- Poor housing or accommodation problems
- Social isolation
- Adjusting to new environments
- Financial pressures
- Late nights/ lack of routine
- Poor diet
- Misuse of alcohol or drugs
Changes at work
- Starting a new job
- Coping with increased workload or promotion
- Poor relationship with colleagues / managers
- Redundancies or fear of it
Self-care for stress
Self -care for stress should be the same as any other aspect of looking after ourselves.
- To get moving – physical and mental health are connected so eat well and use your permitted four hours to release endorphins. Find a fun activity that suits you
- and your schedule.
- Setting time aside – to have fun as positive emotions can help build a buffer against stress.
- Learning a new skill – use any extra time you may have during lockdown to learn a new skill whether it is painting, playing an instrument or learning a language.
- Sharing how you are 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.
- Overdoing it – sugar, caffeine and alcohol – they’re a quick fix but they can lead to a reliance and 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 pressurised 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.
Weekly wellbeing check-up
To help with your stress levels and mental health in general begin getting into a habit of asking yourself the following questions:
- What’s my mental health today?
- How do I feel today? Mentally? Physically?
- Looking after my wellbeing
- Am I drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet?
- How did I sleep last night?
- Did I feel rested when I woke up?
- Is there anything which I can improve?
- How’s my thinking today?
- How are my thoughts making me feel?
- Am I having unhelpful thoughts?
For free resources and challenging unhelpful thoughts access the following: