How do you deal with stress?
When I say stress, what comes to mind? Is it that unforgiving boss demanding that overdue report? Or maybe that outstanding rent payment, that’s about to hit your bank account like a high-speed freight train? We all have our own stresses and strains, but perhaps the one we will all have in common will be health.
The pandemic has penetrated every aspect of our lives, turning a routine supermarket trip into a harrowing, blood pressure raising experience! According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of us Brits admitted to feeling overwhelmed or unable to copy. And, wait for it, a survey by The Office Group found that Health and Social Care was the most stressful industry to work in. Well, there’s a surprise – NOT!
We all know what stress feels like, but what is really going on in our bodies? According to the NHS, stress is the bodies’ reaction towards feeling threatened or under pressure. When your body feels under attack, your brain kicks into ‘fight-or-flight mode’, causing the adrenal glands to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause increased heart rate and blood pressure; they are, simply put, preparing your body to fight or run away from the threat.
In small doses, stress can help us meet the demands of our busy lives, however, too much can lead to poor mental health and affect our body and relationships. For those of us caring for vulnerable loved ones, or for our support worker colleagues, tirelessly working on the front line, the pandemic has turned an already high-pressured job into something else entirely! To celebrate stress awareness month, we wanted to share with you some stress busting techniques that can help you regulate stress.
Although exercise won’t get rid of stress completely, it will help relieve the effects. A boost of physical activity will help promote those happy hormones (known as endorphins), inside your body. We’re not saying you need to be Usain Bolt – just a walk around the block will do the job!
By taking deep breaths you are encouraging your nervous system to calm down. It takes practice, but according to the American Institute of Stress, just 20-30 deep breaths daily will make a difference. Head over to the NHS website for some top breathing tips.
We are what we eat! At the moment I resemble a chocolate bar – the less said about that the better! Our bodies adrenal glands produce hormones that help us to regulate stress; they are massively influenced by our blood sugar levels, so a diet that helps stabilise our blood sugar makes sense! Stick to natural, whole foods and try to get a minimum of 5 fruit and veg a day. If the contents of your plate resemble an edible veg rainbow, you’re on the right track! Checkout some healthy recipes at BBC Good Food.
The more stressed we become the less able we are to sleep. However, a good nights sleep improves our ability to handle stressful situation. Find ways to wind down after the day, have a bath, read a book – oh, and put your phones away! For helpful information on sleep hygiene head to the Sleepstation.