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Stress Awareness Month – How to recognise and manage stress

Posted: 30/04/20

Stress Awareness Month happens every April to raise awareness of what has been called our modern stress epidemic. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point that they have felt unable to cope.

This year, stress has perhaps become more common for a larger number of people because of coronavirus. The world is going through a difficult and uncertain time, which can be stressful. It’s important to know that everyone reacts to these situations differently and these feelings can pass.

Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. The signs of stress can vary from person to person but common physical feelings can include headaches, sweating, a racing heart and feeling sick, dizzy or faint. Emotionally, you can be anxious, irritable, overwhelmed or upset.

Stress can cause some long-term health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. Whether it’s because of a build-up of life events, a big change, or a combination of both, understanding more about stress and how it affects us will help us learn to cope.

If you are feeling stressed, there are a number of resources out there that can help. We at CNTW have a number of self-help guides, including one on stress which has some handy tips on how to recognise stress and how to cope with it. You can find our self-help guides here.

The self-help guide includes ways to beat stress:
• Be organised. Try not to cram too much into one day and only take on what you know you can realistically deal with.
• Focus on the here and now. Try not to dwell on the future.
• Eat a balanced diet and try to reduce your alcohol intake.
• Exercise.
• Talk. If you’re feeling stressed, talk things through with a friend, family member or professional.

Every Mind Matters also has some tips on coping with stress and signposting to support for those who may be struggling. It also has specific tips and advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing if you’re feeling stressed or anxious about coronavirus.

Being a carer can be stressful, particularly in times like these. It can be easy to forget to look after yourself when you’re looking after others. Rethink Mental Illness has advice for carers of those with severe mental illness.