If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not the only one!
About half of the population feel stressed every day. 59% of British adults say life is more stressful than it was five years ago. Money (26%) and work-related issues (28%) were given as the main cause of stress. Source
Anxiety is also a common condition affecting around 1 in every 25 people in the UK. Slightly more women than men are affected and the condition is most common in people aged between 25 and 55. Source
The stress response is essential for our well-being. It’s our body’s way of preparing to fight or flee danger. If our distant ancestors were suddenly chased by a woolly mammoth, adrenalin would be released to give us that extra ‘oomph’, our limbs would be primed to run, our breathing would speed up and our rational thinking and short term memory would be suppressed, so we could react quickly.
The problem is we still respond in exactly the same way now, even though the ‘threat’ is now something like a deadline at work or being late for an important appointment. Stress is a physical and emotional reaction to feeling unable to cope with those problems. Everyone is different, so situations that feel stressful for some might be exciting or a fun challenge to others.
Everyone reacts to stress in a different way. You may have become so accustomed to feeling a certain way that you didn’t even realise it was linked to being too stressed.
Do any of these symptoms apply to you?
Anxiety is caused by events and situations in life that make us feel worried or uncomfortable such as a job interview or hospital appointment.
It is normal to feel anxious and usually - once the situation has passed, those feelings will stop. For some however, these feelings last for a longer period of time which can feel overwhelming.
Money is an issue that can keep many of us awake at night. When bills keep coming through our letterbox a common reaction is to hide our heads in the sand. Don't! Once they are opened you can find out exactly what the situation is and plan to manage it.
Plot out your income and outgoings, that way you can clearly see what your actual, rather than perceived, situation is. Then you can make a realistic budget, if needs be.
Prioritising your bills will make you feel more in control. The important thing is to keep communicating. If you're having problems paying bills, call the companies that you owe money to. They need to know what the situation is, as they can often give you extra time and almost always have ways of helping you deal with the problem.
Don't forget to keep talking with your partner, or your friends, as it will remind you that you're not alone.
A common cause of stress in working life can be the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day. You can learn to better utilise your time by improving your time management skills. Make the most of the time that you have by writing every task alongside their due date. Next, write the deadlines into your diary so you have a clear list of what needs doing by when.
Keep your desk clear and manageable. Try four different folders marked 'urgent', 'pending', 'reading' and 'filing'. That way you can manage the sea of paperwork and know exactly where you are.
Your family can be a source of strength, support and love. They can also be an enormous source of stress; whether it's demanding children or demanding parents. Perhaps the biggest driver of stress in these situations is guilt – you feel guilty that you're not a better partner, parent, son or daughter. You always feel that you should be doing more.
Get rid of the guilt! Make a mental note of all the things you actually do, and take pride in them. Recognise that your parents/partner/the children will always want more of your time and learn to say no. By saying no you are not rejecting them, you are making sure that the quality of time you do give is not ruined by feelings of stress and resentment.
Think about a time when you were completely relaxed and happy. Visualise and revisit it at stressful times.
Often, stress makes us react without fully exploring all the possibilities of a situation. If you're busy at work, you could delegate this extra task to someone else? Whether you're at home or at work, ten minutes of fresh air is long enough to get things into perspective.
If you're cooking roast, do you really need to prepare eight different types of vegetable? Keep it simple.
You need to be your own best friend and reward yourself for working so hard. A massage is great, but a tasty cake and cup of tea in a nice cafe can be just as soothing.
If events occur that are out of your control, don't panic. It's surprising how often good things come out of unexpected situations. Keep a stress diary, this will help you identify events that cause you the most stress and enable you to recognise them and plan ahead to manage these situations for the future.
If being late stresses you out, always set off 20 minutes early.
It's better to say no to someone than to promise something that you can't deliver or resent doing. Nobody likes a martyr.
Your diet can have a huge effect on the way you feel. Making sure you get the right vitamins and minerals from your food is really important. Eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and foods like pasta or bread which contain complex carbohydrates can help with how you feel and how you deal with stress.
Happy people generate happy feelings - and vice versa. If you've been a shoulder to cry on, counteract the negative feeling by ringing a fun friend and lighten the load; you don't have to be miserable, even when you're stressed.
There's nothing like a good workout to make you feel better. Exercising for just one minute can give you the same benefits as between 90 and 120 minutes of relaxation, thanks to the 'feel good' endorphins that are released.
Kalms is a traditional herbal remedy to help relieve stress and anxietyView the range