Stress can affect us in different ways, both mentally and physically. The way our bodies react with the “fight or flight” instinct will depend on our levels of emotional resilience to the things that bother us (known as stressors).
Stress is one of the most common issues our clients require our support for. And the problem is vast – 74% of us have felt an overwhelming level of stress according to research from the Mental Health Foundation.
If you’re experiencing stress, you may feel irritable or aggressive, leading you to snap at people and avoid social situations. You may have a constant sense of dread and feel unable to enjoy yourself, miserable. And you may also have racing, uncontrollable thoughts, leading you to take solace in overeating, smoking or drinking.
All of which make it very difficult to enjoy a normal life.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, follow our 5 tips below to feel more like yourself.
Focus on the things you can control
There are many things in the world to worry about, and it can be hard to accept that a lot of them are simply out of your control.
You may spend hours trawling the internet for affirmation of your worries, and this adds fuel to the fire of the feeling of stress, especially when it results in finding more things to concern you.
Ultimately, you can only control what belongs to you. Your thoughts, attitude, your behaviour and what you say to others are the things you can control, and that will help you regain a steady mind and emotions.
If you find yourself spiralling out of control worrying over things that are out of your control, stop what you’re doing and give yourself a moment to consider what you’re able to do that could change that situation. Focus on these areas, which will push away thoughts of those you can’t control.
Adopt a positive mindset
When you’re feeling stressed, it can be easy to see everything in a negative light.
But by actively moving to a positive mindset, you can bring back a general sense of happiness throughout your day.
To do this, Success.com recommends considering things that haven’t gone to plan as a learning experience in order to do it more successfully next time, instead of considering it as a failure.
They also advise being mindful of your inside chatter – each time your internal monologue becomes negative, actively switch it to a more positive point of view. If your internal monologue is a bit stubborn, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (which is something we can guide you with) can help you with this change.
You may also want to consider keeping a gratitude journal. By noting the positive things that have happened in your day, however big or small, you are reminding yourself that all isn’t bad as you may feel it is.
Make use of your social support
Being alone with your stress may leave you feeling isolated, and not having the opportunity to socialise and talk regularly to others can impact upon your mental wellbeing. That is why talking is such a valuable tool in tackling mental health problems.
Your friends, family and colleagues are likely to have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to emotional support. One may be a good listener, and another may get things done.
By strategically reaching out to a person who can help you with what you need in your moment of stress, you are more likely to succeed in calming down. Remember to return the favour should they need support at some point too.
If you feel unable to speak to someone you know, working through your concerns with a counsellor can help. You may feel more comfortable sharing your feelings with a stranger, and they are experienced in a wide range of therapies to help you through it.
Incorporate self-care into your day
We define self-care as all of the daily activities, big or small, that contribute to your positive mental wellbeing. This could include friendships, exercise, what you eat (more on that below) and doing whatever things you enjoy doing, be it reading, watching movies or gardening.
By incorporating a mix of these things into your day, you can help prevent some stressors from developing, or from getting worse.
These activities don’t necessarily have to cost anything and will vary from person to person. They include simply spending time to be kind to yourself, improving your day-to-day routine, or going for a walk.
Add the things you’ve enjoyed into your gratitude journal to further enforce the positivity.
Try to eat the good stuff
There are studies which show a link between healthy eating and positive mental health, like this one from the Mental Health Organisation.
While we’re not suggesting going on a fad-diet, there are foods that can contribute to our feelings of stress by not providing our bodies with essential nutrients, as well as increasing inflammation and the production of stress hormones, according to this article by EatingWell.com.
Those foods include sugar, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine (among others), which should be minimised or avoided altogether while on your recovery from stress. Instead, introduce more fresh fruit, nuts or decaf drinks for a healthier treat.
By following these tips, you should see a reduction in your stress levels. Should you need further support in understanding and combating your stress, we have experienced counsellors ready to help you. Visit our contact us page to book your initial consultation. We are now able to offer appointments to individuals throughout the UK via telephone or video call.