Stress is a totally normal response when things get a bit overwhelming.
Sometimes though, the way we react to stress can start to get in the way of daily life.
Normally, stress is triggered by things happening in your life. It might be that you are living through a period of uncertainty, that you are under a lot of pressure or you’re particularly worried about something.
Stress can show itself physically: some people experience the following physical symptoms…
- shortness of breath
- skin complaints
- shoulder pain
- tension in the chest
- stomach pains
Other people may find it manifests emotionally: feeling more irritable, nervous or unable to switch off. You may experience one or more of these signs.
Sometimes you might find that you have changes in your behaviour:
- eating too much or too little
- sleeping a lot more or a lot less
- biting your nails
- starting to drink or smoke more
It’s also really common to notice changes in your thinking when under stress. You may notice your memory is worse too or that you are more forgetful.
When you experience stress for long periods of time or when it’s very intense it can lead to other things like anxiety or depression.
You may also find stress a bit more difficult to manage if you’re already experiencing mental health challenges.
If you’re finding it difficult to cope, the InsideOut app has breathing exercises, tips and meditations that may help you make a start with finding support for challenges you’re facing.
So … how can you manage stress?
The first step is to identify what’s causing your stress. It could be a one off event or something that is ongoing.
Common triggers can include:
- work pressure
- moving house
- the arrival of a new baby
Next, pinpoint times in the day when you notice you feel more calm or alert. Try to schedule doing the things that take the most energy and concentration at those times – when you are at your best.
Writing a list can help you prioritise. Breaking down your ‘to do’s’ into manageable chunks and taking regular breaks can really start to take the pressure off.
Sometimes, it can make sense to reach out to family and friends for some support too … It may feel strange to do this at first, but even finding little things that someone else can give you a hand with, or talking about how you are feeling can make a real difference.
Finding ways to bring focus to your physical and mental health are also great ways to start making small changes.
The InsideOut App has meditations, affirmations, tips and tricks to help you sleep better, boost your physical activity levels, feel less worried about your finances and fuel your body with the right nutrition to get you started.
Most importantly (and what can sometimes feel most difficult), if something doesn’t go to plan – or you don’t finish your ‘to do’ list, then try to treat yourself with some kindness and compassion.
You might want to try gently reminding yourself that nobody is perfect, and that you’re doing the best you can right now.
Try to congratulate yourself for what you did manage to achieve, and have a go at setting yourself more realistic or manageable goals for next time.
Author: Amy Edwards, Mental Wellbeing Expert at InsideOut