April is National Stress Awareness Month and here we explore more about this common challenge to our health & wellbeing and offer tips on how to deal with stress effectively

Feeling some tension and stress, especially at work is normal, particularly when you have a looming deadline, tricky project or are juggling many priorities. But it is important to understand when stress becomes burnout and damaging to both your physical and emotional well-being.

Stress is a natural reaction; it helps alert us to what matters us to most and can prompt us to take action before we begin to feel overwhelmed. Being mindful of stress can have positive impacts on both our personal and work life. Whether running a busy household or in a demanding job, either part-time or full-time, anyone can experience stress. That’s why we have put together these simple steps to help you begin to take control of your stress and develop your resilience:

1. Take time to recharge

It is important to take time away from work or your routine and really use your free time for yourself. Do things that give you joy or a sense of achievement, or develop your mindfulness taking time out to simply enjoy the moment there and then.

It’s also important to take breaks from thinking about your job by not checking work-related emails whilst you’re off. You can also choose to disconnect from your phone in the evenings to help you really switch off and relax.

Man hiking

2. Nurture your body

You can really help your stress levels by looking after your physical needs too, which will help build your resilience to stress. Eat well, get a good nights sleep and exercise regularly.

Exercise has many benefits that will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling which will help you to manage your problems more calmly, including:

  • better sleep – exercise uses energy so by the end of the day you feel more tired and ready for a good night’s sleep
  • happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
  • managing stress, anxiety, and racing thoughts – doing something physical releases cortisol which is your body’s main stress hormone. This is a positive coping strategy as it gives your brain something else to focus on which overall helps manage stress. Cortisol plays an important role in a number of things in your body, one of which is the ability to boost your energy to help you handle stress before regulating and restoring balance afterwards.

3. Consider how you are using your time

If you feel particularly overwhelmed and stressed, it is important to ensure you remain organised and manage your time well to help reduce stress:

  • Set realistic goals. Talk with family or colleagues and leaders to set expectations you can meet.
  • Make a priority list. Prepare a list of tasks and rank them in order of priority.
  • Protect your time. For a particularly important or difficult project, make sure to block out time to work on it without interruption. That said, it is also important to break large projects into smaller steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Stress is a natural reaction within our bodies and there is plenty we can do to deal with stress and develop our resilience. Taking time to recharge, looking after our body and thinking more about how we use our time can all help give us the tools to deal with stress positively.