Our already sky-high stress levels are on the rise again.
Although individual experiences of intense stress can be varied, there are common symptoms that you've probably experienced.
A fast beating heart, headaches, tense muscles, stomach pains, sweaty palms, an ever-decreasing tolerance for nonsense? We’ve all been there!
From covid to the kids, additional work pressures and financial worries, it's understandable if you're stressed - but don't let it take control. We've found some simple tips and strategies to help relieve some tension.
Burnout is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can creep up on you. The signs and symptoms are subtle at first but become worse as time goes on. Think of the early symptoms as red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed.
You might be feeling tired and drained most of the time or noticing changes in your appetite and sleep. You could be experiencing loss of motivation and a decreased sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Don't ignore the warning signs.
Let it out
Sometimes you just need to let it out - a scream of frustration or tears you've fought back for weeks.
Let yourself have time to experience and release emotions. It doesn't make you weak or a burden. You can't wear a brave face all of the time and the more you try to hide your emotions, the more overwhelming they will start to feel.
It's all well and good doing this alone, but it is also important you let those closest to you know how you're really feeling deep down. Once you've become skilled at hiding or playing down how you're feeling, it can be difficult for those close to you to know when you might need extra support.
Sometimes our cravings can be harder to control when under excessive pressure. From comfort shopping to over-indulging in treats, alcohol and tobacco - it is easy to turn to unhealthy habits when we're stressed and lose control of our cravings.
We might get short-term pleasure and relief from these habits but they will only make your stress harder to handle in the long-term.
It's important to prioritise and manage your own (and others') expectations. When you agree to too much, you're going to end up letting someone down eventually.
By managing expectations, setting realistic and achievable targets, you'll feel an increased sense of accomplishment more often.
It's not just about expectations. In times of intense pressure, you need to take a step back and reflect on what's most important. You might realise that looking after your own wellbeing is what you need to focus on right now and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Work off the tension
When you're at boiling point, try exercising.
No irritatingly happy person shouting "you got this, feel the burn" necessary - by simply changing your scenery and going for a brisk walk or run you can help clear your head of the day's worries and relieve built-up tension.
From art appreciation to a bit of feel-good gardening, we need to practise more mindfulness during times of increased stress and pressure.
Mindfulness isn't just about meditation and comes in all shapes and forms, so explore it and find what works best for you.
At times of high stress we tend to avoid the cause and dismiss how it makes us feel. This happens automatically and sometimes it’s fine, but prolonged avoidance of stress (and other difficult emotions that come with it) just exacerbates the situation.
Acknowledge how you are feeling.
If you are struggling to cope, are worried about someone you know or need to speak to someone urgently, there is a range of help available.
- The COVID-19 mental health support service offers support to anyone who has been affected by the pandemic in any way. It's free and available 24 hours a day. Just call (01472) 256256 and select option 3.
- If you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help, call the Single Point of Access on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Safespace provides instant support if you’re vulnerable and need assistance with your mental health out-of-hours. You can speak to the team using Zoom or by calling in via telephone, between 5.30pm and 11pm, Monday to Friday.
- Open Minds offers a range of talking therapies aimed at helping you to deal with the effects of stress, anxiety and depression. You can self-refer to Open Minds online.