Mental Health

5 ways to immediately improve your stress levels on National Stress Awareness Day

Life’s a rollercoaster, right? Whether it’s hustling at work or trying to keep afloat while juggling relationships and childcare, there are a million things that amp up our stress levels, leading to mental health hiccups. But fear not! There are choices you can make right now to immediately improve your stress levels and make sure you feel like the absolute best version of you.

1) Measuring your alcohol intake

Alcohol is often used as an immediate stress reliever, but as a chemical depressant, it’s a real mood-dampener. It messes with our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and thus having a negative impact on our mental health. Knowing how alcohol pals around with our mental state helps us keep an eye on how it affects us. Start counting the units of alcohol you consume per week, and look into ways you can gradually reduce that number. Find an alternative non-alcoholic beverage you like, pick up a new hobby, or simply take some time to breathe and be mindful of your mood before you reach for a bottle.

2) Take your breaks

Ever thought your lunch breaks could be your secret weapon for sanity? Working through break periods is tempting when you’re in the zone and want to reach your targets, but it very quickly leads to burnout. Even if you have just half an hour for lunch, that works out as over 5 days worth of free time per year for the average full time worker. Breaks are important to combat fatigue, improve energy levels, and increase job satisfaction. Be sure to step away from your desk and take the breaks you are entitled to.

3) Incorporating exercise

Exercise is a game-changer for mental health. It will not automatically cure you of stress, but it can absolutely combat the physical symptoms that stress causes. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good circulation and energy levels, which are crucial for a happy, functioning brain. The more you commit to consistent exercise, the better your stress levels will be to manage. If you struggle to find the time, try and fit exercise into your working day. Go on a walk during your lunch break, or take regular breaks from the desk to move and stretch the body.

4) Practise good sleep hygiene

Are you part of the 79% of the UK struggling to doze off or the 60% tossing and turning all night with work woes? Yeah, we feel you. Bad sleep leads to a zombie-like you the next day, and on a more serious note, can cause long-term health issues beyond stress. Create a bedtime ritual that assists with falling sleep, such as limiting blue light at least half an hour before bed or taking a bath just before. Trying to stick to a regular sleeping pattern at the same time each night can also help improve sleep hygiene.

5) Talk it out.

If a colleague sneezes, we ask them if they’re feeling okay. If a colleague hobbles into work on crutches, we ask them what happened. If a colleague seems stressed, it’s just as important to check in. Talking about mental health can make us feel like we’re tiptoeing on eggshells, but the old adage that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ remains true. Don’t be afraid to speak up about any stresses you have and be the friendly face others can turn to for their own stress woes.

Stress is the bogeyman of the UK. It’s got 74% of us feeling like we’re drowning in an ocean of overwhelm. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you feel like you’re running on fumes, burnout might be the villain, and you should take your stress levels seriously. Being in the zone of physical and emotional wiped out after long-term stress or super draining jobs can lead to long-term issues with anxiety, depression, and more mental health woes. Speak to your GP if you feel as though stress is holding you back from a healthy life and try the 5 tips above to see if you can improve those stress symptoms straightaway.


Molly Forsyth

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