Stress Awareness

We all feel stressed from time to time, it is a normal human response but too much stress can cause negative effects.  Long term, this can affect our emotional, physical and mental health and impact on our wellbeing, personal and professional life.

Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.  When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action and causing a number of reactions.  It is important to remember, that a certain amount of stress can be healthy and not always a bad thing.  Stress keeps us out of danger and is good at motivating us but stress becomes an issue when we feel overwhelmed for a long period of time and it impacts on our health.

What causes stress?

Everyone has different stress triggers and we all react differently.  Something which is stressful to one person may not be for another.  Usually stress is triggered because of what is happening in our life, this can be:

  • Major life changes
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Parenting
  • Work
  • Times of uncertainty
  • Responsibilities which are overwhelming
  • Worry
  • Feeling under pressure
  • Financial difficulties

There is no denying that since the pandemic began our stress levels have increased due to how it has impacted our lives.  The pandemic has caused many of us to face difficult challenges whether this being in our personal or work life due to the threat of the virus and being faced with uncertainty.  According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.  The three key causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control.

Some signs of stressPhysical, Emotional and Behavioural

  • Low energy
  • Muscle tension/palpitations
  • Headaches/stomach problems
  • Irritability/anger/mood swings
  • Sadness or Depression
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Problems with concentration or memory
  • Trouble sleeping/sleeping to much
  • Overeating/undereating
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Increased use of substances

10 Short Term Ways to Relieve Stress

  1. Meditation is a short term stress relief which affects the body in the opposite way stress does by triggering the body to relax and restore the body to a calm state.
  2. Walking boosts stress boosting endorphins and the opportunity to change your scenery by spending some time in nature.
  3. Taking a break to listen to some relaxing music can have a positive effect on the brain and body by quieting your mind and relaxing your muscles.
  4. Focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax.
  5. Light exercise is a great way to improve your mood, it can relieve mental stress.
  6. Yoga promotes relaxation by using exercise to learn to control the breath, clear the mind and relax the body.
  7. Having some “me time.” Take time out to relax and do something you love.
  8. Getting back in touch with your creative side helps engage and focus the mind on what you are doing and distracts us from the stress we may feel.
  9. Acknowledge the stress. This can help to take the weight off your shoulders by looking at another way to respond to it.
  10. Connect with people. The right social support of someone who will listen to you is a natural way to calm and relieve stress.

I hope some of these practical short term stress relief practices you find useful.  If you are finding your stress levels are impacting on your personal or work life, please get in contact.  Counselling can help to explore and understand what is causing the stress, how you currently manage your stress levels and by working together we can find strategies that can help when feeling stressed.

Please contact me if you would like to book a free 20-minute introduction phone call to support you at this time at emma@counsellingwithem.com, 07743 755787 or via my website at www.counsellingwithem.com

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Looking after your mental health in a pandemic

We are living in extraordinary times due to the impact COVID-19 has had on all of us.  It has never been as important for us all to look after our mental health as we move through these challenges which have been thrusted upon us.  On Monday 4th January 2021 at 8pm we were told once again the country would be setting foot into another lockdown.  Hearing the news may have brought up feelings of more uncertainty, being powerless, confusion, panic, isolation, overwhelmed, anger and stress to name a few.  Here are some suggestions to support your mental and emotional wellbeing during these hard times.

  • Continue your usual mental health routine, you may just need to be more creative.
  • Appreciate the outside world by going for a run, walk or bike ride.  I know it’s not quite the gym or a workout class you are used to but releasing those endorphins will give your outlook on the day ahead a boost.  Try and exercise regularly in the fresh air and take in the beautiful surroundings and sounds around you.
  • Beauty salons are shut but how about giving yourself a hand or foot massage using your favourite creams.  Give some relaxing music a try and smell the aroma from your favourite candle to relax the body and mind.
  • Run that tranquil bubble bath and surround yourself with dim lighting or lose yourself in a book.
  • Listen to your favourite Podcast whether this is a motivating, intellectual or a funny one.  Podcasts can work tremendously well by encouraging the listener to use their imagination and build up pictures in their mind.
  • Take care of your body.  Make sure you are hydrated and are eating well-balanced meals.  Try doing some stretches, yoga, pilates or meditation by creating calmness and increasing body awareness.  Get enough good quality sleep to support your physical and mental health.
  • Take breaks from listening or watching the news or even social media.  Filling up our minds with what is happening can alter our mood and over a period of time could deteriorate it.
  • Connect with others.  We are social creatures.   Use phones or computers to stay in touch. Hearing a friendly, familiar voice, or reading a message from people we care about, helps us to feel more connected and supports us mentally.  Join an online community which appeals to you and connect with others.
  • Give something back to the community or start a new project.  Having a sense of purpose creates motivation and new opportunities by supporting our wellbeing.
  • Reach out to someone who you trust and who will listen to you and let it all out.  Holding things in can have an adverse effect on your mind and body.

I hope some of these suggestions you find useful during these difficult times and remember to breath, do what you can, go at your own pace and take small steps. 

We are not all in the same boat but we are all in the same storm.

If you feel you would benefit from counselling to explore this challenging time, please get in contact with me.