April is Stress Awareness Month, and after the last two years so many of us have suffered with stress throughout the pandemic. We all have different things in life that cause us to feel stress, from work and finances, family life, deadlines and a never-ending to-do list.
While stress doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, it can wreak havoc on our emotional and physical health if we are not careful. From making us feel anxious and depressed, to rising blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, we can see and feel the effects of stress.
It's important if you are feeling stressed that you take steps to find healthy ways to cope. The keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook.
Here are six things you can put in place to help you manage your stress levels
Identify and take control
It can be tempting to put your head in the sand and feel helpless. But taking the time to identify what is causing you stress and taking control of the situation is empowering. Knowing you are in control can help you feel less stressed.
Having a good support network - such as family, friends and colleagues, ensures you have someone to turn to when things are difficult. Talking your worries over helps reduce them, getting others’ ideas and suggestions can help you see things in a new light, and having people who you can relax and laugh with can help you de-stress.
Physical exercise is a wonderful stress reducer. It lowers stress hormones and increases feel good endorphins. Getting the blood pumping in your body can make you feel more confident and improve your sleep.
Take some time out to pamper yourself. Switch off and relax - run yourself a hot aromatherapy bath, book in for a massage, paint your toenails. Using essential oils in your bath, in a lit candle or a massage oil can have a big impact on your mental wellbeing - see our five favourite essential oils for stress.
Slow down and reconnect with yourself. Take some time to journal your worries, fears and feelings. Write a gratitude list to remind yourself of the positives in your life. Practice yoga or meditation to focus your mind, connect with your breath and lower your stress levels.
Our lives are often lived a super-fast speed, always connected, always on the go, constantly trying to do something. Taking some time to step away from the demands of life can help us to feel less pressured. Take a social media break, put away the to-do lists, switch off your phone - whether it's for an hour, a day or a whole weekend, unplugging can help you be more present.