By -

Stress is a big part of life and can interfere with everyday activities. It can have a huge impact on your long term health, not to mention your relationships with friends, family and colleagues.

Stress can be triggered by many situations, such as a performance, examination, job interview or public speaking, or by other life events that the mind perceives as potentially threatening or difficult. As well as the emotional symptoms, physical symptoms can often include low energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches and pains, insomnia and frequent illness.

If this sounds familiar, there are a number of tips and strategies that may help to ease your symptoms.

Get active
Whether dancing, running, swimming, or simply going for a walk, getting active has been clinically proven to raise the body’s serotonin levels, making you more relaxed and not to mention more healthy! It can also distract from everyday stressors by giving you something else to focus on.

Avoid caffeine 
If you drink too much caffeine, it could actually leave you feeling more stressed than normal. Caffeine is known to disrupt sleep as well as speed up the heartbeat. Avoid energy drinks and opt for decaffeinated coffee and. By doing so, it may help to reduce your feelings of stress.

Break the situation down
Try not to feel overwhelmed by the size of the situation that is causing stress – break it down into smaller tasks or problems, then tackle them one by one.

Don’t forget to breathe
Sometimes, when experiencing a distressing situation, our breathing can change and speed up. Controlled breathing is a simple technique that encourages you to focus and slow down your breathing patterns, in order to help you manage your feelings more effectively and restore calm.

The most important thing is to notice when stress is kicking in, and find a way to take steps to control it. Talk to others, and ask your doctor about ways to get help that are best suited to you.

There are more resources on the NHS website, including further self help advice, a self-assessment quiz, and where to go to get further help, including details of digital apps and tools that you may find helpful:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/