Every April, National Stress Awareness month helps to shed light on the problem of stress and how it can contribute to a number of wider health issues.
From headaches to high blood pressure, depression to heart problems, and even physical ailments, stress can have a wide-ranging effect, but there are ways to help add calmness to your life both at home and in the office.
These ten tips from Good Housekeeping can help you to reduce stress levels and focus on the things in life that are worth your attention.
Have a time slot to yourself
At least once a day, allocate a set amount of time - even just 15 minutes in a morning - to allow yourself to think about what is bothering you. If the anxiety persists, then put it to one side and distract yourself, and only allow yourself to get worked up about it at the specific time you’ve allotted.
Writing things down can give you an opportunity to lay out your issues in black and white and put everything into perspective. You will find that negative language can actually make things worse, so aim to use positive words as much as possible.
Tackle any physical problems
If you find that you have a rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing or tensions in your muscles, then the stress has been allowed to affect you physically. Take five minutes to focus and calm down, before getting on with the task at hand.
A little help from my friends
There is a reason that you have friends in your life; not only do they make us smile, but they are a good sounding board. Allow your friends to support you by venting any frustrations to them – you may find that simply getting everything off your chest is a stress release in itself.
Keep your hands busy
Whether you are knitting, sewing, polishing or even making pottery, keeping the hands busy can act as a natural stress release, as the repetitive and rhythmic movements can help to create an almost meditative state that promotes general wellbeing.
Laughter is the best medicine
There really is nothing better than having a good laugh and – even if you do not feel like it – there are plenty of ways to put a smile on your face. Watching a comedy DVD, meeting up with a funny friend or reading a humorous book can help you to have a good chuckle and melt away your stress.
Get 40 winks
Sleep is a hugely important part of life – it not only allows the brain to rest and the muscles to repair themselves, but it is also integral to emotional wellbeing, as rapid eye movement (REM) regulates the body’s stress chemicals.
It sounds simple, but telling yourself that everything is going to be OK can actually do the trick. Optimism is contagious, even inside your own mind; finding a positive in any situation and drawing on past experiences of triumph in the face of adversity can give you the impetus to get through what you’re experiencing.
The great outdoors
The benefits of a bit of fresh air cannot be understated and - when combined with the joys of nature - you have a recipe for success. If you are a keen gardener, then tending to the lawn or plants can be a major de-stress technique. And if you aren’t particularly green-fingered, then now may be a good time to start.
For those who regularly experience bouts of stress that can be overwhelming, adopting some of the techniques used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be effective. MBCT combines meditation that involves being fully aware of what is happening in the present moment without judging it, and cognitive therapy, which helps you change the way you see your life, for a multi-targeted approach.
Good Housekeeping regularly offers tips to manage a number of health and wellbeing problems on its advice page: http://www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk/health/health-advice/. For more information on Stress Awareness Month, visit http://stressawarenessmonth.com/.