April is Stress Awareness Month! Ironically stress and anxiety are at an all time high for some people at the moment and it’s easy to feel stressed with the current situation, but did you know that stress has a big impact on the whole body, not just your mental health?
Our body’s response to stress include increased blood pressure and heart rate, inhibition of growth and reproduction, suppression of the immune system and inhibition of digestion which affects how your body absorbs nutrients as well as affecting bowel movements.
What is stress?
Stress is defined as a response of the body to any demand whether that be physical or emotional and it is the person’s reaction to the stressor which makes it so personal - what one person thinks is stressful might not bother someone else so its important not to judge or trivialise someone else's stress.
The stress response however is very important and can save your life with the fight or flight response but it is the continuous chronic stress that we experience every day which causes problems in the body and this can also be real or imaginary.
So how can you reduce your stress?
Let’s face it, our lives are never going to be completely stress free but we can improve our resilliance and have a little tool kit to hand to deal with those stressful times.
Here are 5 of my top tips in dealing with stress…
Turn off the news and limit social media. The media is full of doom and gloom at the moment which can add to feelings of stress and anxiety. Limit watching the news to once a day if you can and try to avoid scrolling through negative news feeds.
Exercise - Getting out for your daily walk can have great benefits to your stress levels and increase endorphins - the “feel good” chemicals in our brain.
Meditate - There are lots of apps that you can use to have a guided meditation if you’ve never tried it before and now can be a perfect time to start. Studies show meditation can help to lower feelings of stress and anxiety in people.
Phone a friend/loved one - Even better, video chat if you can. Feeling connected is important for mental wellbeing especially if you live on your own. There are also many social groups on Facebook to support people through isolation which hold virtual meetups.
Get a good night’s sleep - I know this is easier said than done sometimes, especially if you are finding it hard to get to sleep. Having a relaxing bath before bed, reading, or keeping a journal to write in before bed can help you get a good nights sleep.