Home Health & Wellness 7 Simple Stress Reduction Tips, According to a Mental Health Expert

7 Simple Stress Reduction Tips, According to a Mental Health Expert

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No one can escape stress; it’s a natural part of life and we all go through periods of dealing with it. 

However, The Burnout Report 2024 by Mental Health UK has warned that the UK is on the verge of becoming a “burnt-out nation”, as nine in 10 adults said they experienced high or extreme levels of pressure and stress at some point in the past year.

Every year, Stress Awareness Month takes place in April to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern-day stress epidemic. This year, the Stress Management Society wants to emphasise how even the smallest steps towards self-care and stress reduction can yield significant improvements in mental health over time.

Philip Adkins, director of clinical services at Vita Health Group, has shared a quick guide to stress, which outlines how exactly stress impacts the body, and provides seven small steps towards better management of stress in everyday life.

What impact does stress have on the body? 

Adkins said: “The body’s response to stress is a natural defence mechanism, otherwise known as the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response. Despite this, many people feel a lot of guilt and shame around stress, particularly when it comes to mental health.”

The physical impact of stress

  • Cardiovascular system. Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, increased heart rate and a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Musculoskeletal system. Stress can cause muscle tension, and even contribute to conditions like tension headaches and migraines.
  • Immune system. Prolonged stress may weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  • Digestive system. Stress may lead to digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion or exacerbate existing conditions.

The mental impact of stress

  • Emotional well-being. Stress can contribute to mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
  • Sleep disturbance. Stress can interfere with the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to sleep disorders.
  • Cognitive function. Chronic stress may impair memory, concentration, and decision-making abilities.

7 Ways to better manage stress

Adkins has shared seven ways to better manage stress

  1. Exercise. Regular exercise is known to reduce stress hormones and trigger the release of endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters.
  2. Relaxation techniques. Practices such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
  3. Healthy lifestyle choices. Proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol, can contribute to overall well-being and resilience to stress.
  4. Social support. Maintaining strong social connections and seeking support from friends, family or a therapist can help manage stress.
  5. Time management. Efficiently managing time and setting realistic goals can prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.
  6. Mindfulness and mind-body techniques. Practices like mindfulness  and progressive muscle relaxation can promote a sense of calm and reduce stress.
  7. Seek professional help. If stress becomes overwhelming or persists, seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional is advisable. Book an appointment with your GP or refer yourself to an NHS talking therapies service. Know that you are not alone and there are qualified professionals who can help you.

Adkins said: “Stress can affect our mind and body in many ways. Too much stress can affect our mood, our mental health and our relationships. Stress can make us feel anxious, on edge and irritable and we may find ourselves starting to withdraw from the people around us.

“Often in this situation, the things that we find ‘pleasurable’ end up going to the bottom of the pile. It’s important to remember that the more pleasurable activities in life allow us the breathing space we need to switch off from stressors and ultimately recharge our batteries.”

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