Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. Despite this running for 28 years we have got a long way to go. According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Stress affects most people at varying times in their lives, but especially now amidst the current Coronavirus situation and having to adapt to changes or difficulties.
Stress affects people in varying ways but can put a huge strain on daily life, and can seriously affect your health if not dealt with. Stress affects everyone and is a normal human reaction, so if it is affecting you, you aren’t alone. It is, however, important to recognise symptoms of stress to know how you can deal with it.
The Stress Management Society, which founded Stress Awareness Month, has many resources and ideas to help you during times of stress, including how to understand stress itself and different coping mechanisms you can use.
Have a look at our tips below on how to destress or cope with stressful situations.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is a simple technique that, if practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve relaxation. Silencing the mind helps to give your mind a break from the stress and distract from things that might be worrying you. Check out the Head Space page for some great mindfulness exercises that help you to address thoughts by being more present through meditation.
A quick and easy way to alleviate stress is to take up exercise. Even going for a long walk or a short jog can help your brain release more endorphins and instantly relieve stress. Endorphins are chemicals released in your brain that instantly release a positive feeling, also known as the “feel-good chemicals”. Just going outdoors to get some fresh air can work wonders for relaxing you. Try taking a short walk on your lunch break, or spending time in the garden to feel the benefits.
Focussing on deep breathing when you feel stressed can help you feel instantly calmer and more relaxed. Find somewhere quiet, then focus on breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. A great technique is 7/11 breathing, deep breathing in for 7 seconds and out for 11 as it focusses your mind and lowers your heart rate.
Music feeds our mood and can affect our emotions, so listening to our favourite music can make us instantly feel much better. It is great for encouraging your body to move too, have a little dance as if no one is watching and you will instantly feel better.
Getting creative is a great way to express your feelings and get everything out. Its is also a great way to distract your mind and can even put you in a sort of ‘meditative state’ and helps you feel momentarily removed from a stressful situation. Try painting, drawing, sewing, reading, writing or even start a journal.
Have a technology detox
Checking social media often takes up part of people’s day and we are all guilty of going on our phones before bed. This can make us feel more stressed without realising and affects your sleep as your mind doesn’t have a chance to unwind properly. Take some time away from your phone and make sure the last hour before bed is technology-free to help improve your sleep.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is more important than you may realise – get the correct amount of sleep at night by not going to bed too late or sleeping in too long as this can also affect your body during the day. Making sure that you get enough sleep will set you up for the day and give you more energy to put into your studies; feeling energised will only make you feel happier and healthier.
Take a bath
Bathing is one of the most relaxing things you can do: chuck in a bath bomb, put on some music and let the hot water take away your stresses. You’ll feel 100 times better when you get out. Listening to music at the same time as having a bath releases endorphins in your body (hormones that make you happy), so what could be more de-stressing!
Staying hydrated is essential. If you haven’t been drinking enough, you’ll feel groggy and tired; leaving you unable to study when you need to. It’s recommended that you drink at least 8 glasses of liquid day. Water, tea, coffee and fruit juice all count towards your fluid intake.
Make a study schedule
If you can plan your time down on paper you’ll be able to see exactly when you do and don’t have time to study, and where you can get some extra revision in. Planning how much you have to do and knowing how long you have to do it will make you feel a lot better.