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Stress Awareness Month – time to make a change!

According to the Mental Health Foundation, all sorts of situations can cause stress. The most common involve work, money matters, or relationships. Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to illness and physical and emotional exhaustion. Taken to extremes, stress can be a killer.

Each year around 12.5 million working days are lost due to stress, depression, or anxiety. April is Stress Awareness Month, so if you’re struggling with the pressures of everyday life there is no better time to learn about how to manage your stress levels and find the best ways to cope. 

Here’s 5 ways to keep your stress levels in check…

Recognise the symptoms
The average person spends a third of their lives at work, which is why it’s vital to recognise the signs of stress and find coping mechanisms to help you manage.

Make sure you listen to your body and identify any symptoms. Indicators include low energy levels, headaches, and an upset stomach. Physical problems related to chronic stress include lowering of the immune
system, hair loss, fatigue, and even excessive sweating.

Practice Mindfulness
Scientists have found that practicing mindfulness lowers stress levels and decreases inflammation in the body. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the
world around you. In a world of open-office workspaces, and busy social and family lives, many people don’t have much time alone, but it’s important to find this time for yourself. You need time to recuperate and recharge from the busy day to day routine.

Switch off your phone
Constant notifications propel our phones into motion and many of us struggle with information overload. The world’s first Professor of Networking Julia Hobsbawm highly recommends switching your phone off completely for at least one day per week. Despite living in a fully connected
era, some of us feel like we are close to drowning in data.

Julia’s advice?
“We can’t be always on all of the time. You will be overloaded and overwhelmed if you have a wealth of information flying at you all the time. Treat your diary, your calendar, how you spend your time, like you treat your body. Compare it to feeding yourself. Don’t give your time away easily.”

Learn to say no!
Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you. People often find it difficult to say no, and this can be a significant cause of stress. It is, however, possible to reduce stress and improve your self-esteem by being assertive. According to Paul Huljich from Psychology Today, one of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce stress is to learn to say no. By following your innermost feelings, you will experience a strong sense of contentment in your life and in the decisions you make.

Laugh!
According to No Panic, a charity that helps people with anxiety disorders, laughter is a strong medicine for mind and body, reducing stress and tension and releasing feel-good hormones. A good, hearty laugh relieves
physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

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