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Managing your Stress During Stress Awareness Month

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April marks stress awareness month: a country-wide campaign aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness of the causes, consequences, and solutions for stress.

Stress is considered a major issue in the UK, with stress and stress-related conditions being the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adults in the UK have felt so stressed in the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress is a significant factor in mental health issues, and if left unchecked, can have a significant detrimental effect on our mood, lifestyle choices, and even physical health.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal reaction often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected, or that threatens our sense of self or control over a situation. Many experiences can lead to stress, and although stress is most commonly considered to be a bad thing, it can be triggered by both positive and negative events. Stress may sometimes be considered beneficial, as it can provide a burst of energy that heightens awareness, locks in memories, and motivates efficient behaviours. Negative and long-lasting stress can become unmanageable, leading to decreased performance and a consequent impact on thoughts, behaviour, and emotions.

Acute or chronic stress?

Acute stress: happens within a few minutes to a few hours before or after a stressful event. This type of stress lasts for a short period of time, usually less than a few weeks, and can be very intense. Acute stress is most likely to happen after a sudden upsetting or unexpected event.

Chronic stress: lasts for a longer period of time or keeps coming back. You’re most likely to experience this if you are under significant pressure, and can also be triggered if you encounter regular challenges in your day-to-day life.

Stress is a useful biological signal to the brain and body that can help to identify physical and psychological issues or events that need to be tackled. Chronic stress, however, can become a catalyst for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.

Symptoms of Stress

During a stressful event, the body’s autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes, and muscle responses. Long-term activation of the stress response system (chronic stress) and overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body's processes, with negative consequences for both physical and mental health.

Connecting the physical and emotional signs you’re experiencing with the stressors you’re faced with can help you to recognise when stress is becoming a problem. Don’t ignore the warning signs.

Cognitive: Poor judgement, inability to concentrate, brain fog, indecision and self-doubt.

Emotional: Depression, irritability, panic, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Physical: Tense muscles, headaches, migraines, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, aches and pains, frequent colds, skin issues, indigestion and high blood pressure.

Behavioural: Increase use of alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine to relax, isolating yourself from others, sleeping too much, demotivated and loss of sense of humour. 

6 Ways to make stress more manageable

Stress may not always be avoidable, but it is manageable. The key to minimising risk is to identify stress-related problems as early as possible so that you can take action before your stress becomes unmanageable or chronic.

Taking steps to reduce and cope with stress is crucial. The most significant thing you can do whilst stressed and anxious is to make sure you look after yourself and your wellbeing. Stress awareness month is the perfect time to implement some small changes to make your stress more manageable.

  1. Make a plan: Think about where you can make changes, set yourself realistic expectations and prioritise essential commitments. Consider what’s triggering your stress and sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time, and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.

  2. Build supportive relationships: Talking about stress can be really helpful, so reach out to those you trust or seek professional help where necessary. This is a great time to encourage others to talk about their feelings too, and always try to be there for others who may appear to be overwhelmed. Everyone copes with stress differently, so sharing personal experiences might help someone else.

  3. Get some exercise: One of the best ways to minimise the impact of stress on the mind and body is through regular exercise. Sweat that stress away. Regular exercise helps to improve sleep, balance hormones, increase endorphins, and foster relaxation following a workout.

  4. Support your health: Keeping your body healthy can help to support your overall resistance to stress. Eating a balanced and healthy diet is key to helping your body manage the physical symptoms and replenish them following a stressful event.

  5. Be mindful: Try to find time to relax; allowing yourself to have a small break can help with how you feel. Mindfulness meditation can be practised anytime, anywhere, and research has suggested that it can be helpful for managing and reducing the effects of stress and anxiety.

  6. Identify your triggers: Identifying what triggers your stress can help you prepare for it. Even if you can’t avoid these situations, being prepared can help to cushion their impact and effectively managing your wellbeing can help you to recover after a stressful event.

Try Feel Moodtropics to Support your Stress

Feel Moodtropics is designed to support your mental health and alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Our powerful blend of botanicals, including Bacopa monnieri and Gotu kola, are combined to support healthy brain function and improve your body’s resistance to stress.

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WeAreFeel Nutrition Team - All content provided on our blog is created exclusively for our readers by our research and nutrition team. We try to provide as much scientific backing as possible with references to support any claims made.
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