We spoke with Yanisha this Stress Awareness Month about how she incorporates stress management activities in her day to day life in a way that feels fun.
Stress, unfortunately, comes with being human. However, whilst we often recognise stress when it is impacting us negatively, stress can serve a useful purpose. Many areas of our lives can cause us to feel stressed, whether that is with an upcoming deadline at work, or even the anxiety about meeting your friends on time! What we can do, however, is take action to prevent, or reduce the effect that stress has on our day to day lives.
This Stress Awareness Month, I encourage you to develop healthy habits that will improve your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. However, before you are discouraged: these new practices can be enjoyable! Put aside your preconceptions about ‘health goals’, and choose actions that you find fun and will actively look forward to.
First things first, to reduce your stress levels, you must create a solid foundation of support to build from. Seeking support from your friends, family, colleagues, or professionals starts with opening up. Having a conversation where you discuss the recent developments of your life can be a good way to open the floor to a discussion about your emotions and stress.
I have found that talking to my peers about my stress has allowed me to recognise that I am not alone, and that others around me are also experiencing, or have experienced similar emotions.
Ironically, having conversations about stress can sometimes be stressful in themselves. Letting your peers know that you are finding these conversations difficult encourages the creation of a space of honesty.
It is important to talk to people that you can trust, whether they are family, friends, colleagues, or our wellbeing advisors at KeepingWellNEL. Our wellbeing advisors are always here to listen and support you through any problems you are experiencing in a safe and confidential environment.
In my experience, I have found that individuals undermine their mental health struggles due to the belief that their problems are not serious enough. Whenever you feel like you need to talk to someone, even if your issue feels small, we are available to provide you with emotional support from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. If you need to speak to someone out of hours, you can contact Samaritans or Shout. If you feel like you might seriously harm yourself or attempt to end your own life, you need urgent medical help – call 999 now, or go to your closest Accident & Emergency unit.
Stress Awareness takes place over the month of April as it takes 30 days to turn actions into habits. However, I want to make it clear: moving towards a stress-free lifestyle does not have to be a chore! Make sure you are choosing actions that you think you will enjoy and keep up. Think creatively! I suggest starting with smaller changes, such as planning a relaxing evening in, or going on short daily walks
Tips to Reduce Stress
Factor in time to get your heart rate up! Exercise not only helps better your physical wellbeing, but also promotes the release of ‘feel-good chemicals’ called endorphins. You can go on a lunchtime walk with a colleague, or incorporate a virtual exercise class into you weekly routine: browse sessions with KeepingWellNEL here.
For me, meeting up with my friends is a huge stress reliever. Not only am I able to get my mind off my current stresses, but I am also able to spend time with my support network. While this could be done by having a chatty evening at home, you could also exercise together or participate in a fun activity!
Plan in time for rest
While we all schedule time in for work, it is important to factor in time in your week to relax. Whether that is sitting in front of the tv, listening to music, playing games, or even lying in bed, it is important to block time out for rest!
Mindfulness can be a very important tool in alleviating your stress. Following mindfulness tutorials on apps such as Headspace or in webinars can allow you to exist in the present instead of worrying about the future or past. Mindful practices do not have to be long sessions, five or ten minutes can make a difference! An easy way to begin practicing mindfulness in a moment of stress is to identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This action is called a grounding activity. Mindfulness can also be practiced during exercise, especially during yoga, or activities that require your full attention, such as climbing. Choose whatever you think you will enjoy!
Sign up to our free mindfulness sessions here.
This Stress Awareness Month, take the time to relax and be present. Start with creating a strong support system where you can talk about mental health and stress in a professional or personal environment. Talking about your stress will not only work to destigmatise mental health and stress, but will also pave the way for you to be supported in your journey towards a less stress-filled life. Choose stress-combating activities that best suit you. Talking to one of our advisors today, and share what works for you in the comment sections of our blog. Bettering your mental wellbeing can be fun!