Pathways for positivity: Stress Awareness Month

Stressed? You’re not alone. Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, and it can come from a variety of sources.

Whether it’s a looming deadline at work or school, a relationship issue, financial worries, or just the everyday hustle and bustle of life, stress can rear its ugly head and make you feel like you’re drowning in worry and overwhelm.

Stress is a small word, but it creates huge problems when not treated properly. Stress can manifest in many ways, such as a knot in your stomach, a pounding headache, aching shoulders, neck tension, or tightness in your chest. It can even cause digestive issues that have you running to the bathroom with no warning.

Stress can also trigger intense emotions, like anger or sadness, and leave you feeling like you can’t sleep or eat properly.
But why do we experience stress in the first place?

In ancient times, stress was necessary for survival because our ancestors had to face physical threats such as predators or a scarcity of food, and their bodies needed to respond quickly to ensure their survival. This fight or flight response, also known as the stress trigger, helped our ancestors stay alive in a dangerous environment.

In modern times, our environment has changed, but our bodies’ response to stress has not.

We still experience stress when we perceive a threat or challenge, but these threats are often psychological in nature rather than life threatening, such as job insecurity, financial worries, or social pressures. Moving house, getting married, having a baby, caring for a sick relative and studying for exams are all high on the stress Richter Scale.

When we experience stress for long periods without finding ways to manage it, it can be bad for our health. It can increase the risk of problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also make us more likely to get sick and affect our ability to think clearly.

Stress can also make us feel anxious or depressed. Therefore, it’s important to find healthy ways to deal with stress and get help if we need it to prevent these negative health effects.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate those tough times:

Ask for help. Whether it’s financial advice, legal guidance, or just a listening ear, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel when you share your burden with someone else.

Take a break. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is step away from the situation causing your stress. Take a walk, listen to music, or do something that brings you joy. When you come back to the problem, you’ll be refreshed and better able to handle it.

Exercise. Exercise is a great way to burn off excess energy and reduce stress. Even just a short walk around the block can make a big difference in your mood and energy levels.

Limit caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can both exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to limit your intake and see if it makes a difference in how you feel.

Stay positive. It’s easy to get bogged down in negative thoughts when you’re stressed, but try to focus on the positive instead. Ask yourself how you can overcome the obstacle in front of you, rather than dwelling on the problem itself.

Remember, stress is a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have to control you .By taking steps to manage your stress, you can improve your overall wellbeing and feel more in control.

April is National Stress Awareness Month in the UK.

Shannon Humphrey is a First Aid for Mental Health Instructor, helping schools and businesses create healthy conversations around wellbeing and mental health


Photo: Shutterstock


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