If you have been looking at my Facebook page you will have seen that last week was Mental Health Awareness week. They chose to focus on Stress. So I thought I’d talk about that. For more details they have published a leaflet that you can download for free.

What are the key signs of Stress?

Stress is when we react physically and mentally to excess pressure in our lives – from our families, work, home, health, hobbies, friends, finance etc

We may notice that we are more short tempered; worried, anxious or depressed; overwhelmed by things that we’d usually ignore; unable to relax or concentrate; experiencing mood swings; altered sleep patterns or habits; altered eating; physical changes eg feeling sick, stomach ache, aches and pains, increased minor illness like colds or flu.

These are just a few signs that may indicate stress (but they may indicate other things too). Please do go and get checked out by your GP if you are experiencing any of them.

How could we deal with Stress in our own lives?

The first step and often the hardest is to recognise you are stressed. Sometimes we are central in our lives and can’t see the overall picture, we can get so busy and stressed we can’t recognise that we are.

Once you realised you are stressed the next thing is to see if you know what is causing the extra pressure or stress? Here you may find a really simple solution, but often it isn’t that easy. Can you find a practical solution (no time to food shop – buy online)? Is it just a time scale issue (eg moving house – it will be over by a certain date). Or is the answer outside your control (work, illness, worry about someone else)?

Once you know you are stressed and what is stressing you you may be able to put a practical solution into place. However, sometimes more is needed. Solutions aren’t always simple – stress at work doesn’t mean you can just find a new job, relationship stress often isn’t solved by breaking up, thereĀ  often isn’t a simple solution to illness. If you find that the answer requires more help then your GP or a counsellor may be able to offer you support. Maybe find yourself a Mindfulness class.

There are things you can start with on your own while you seek help
-Ensure a balanced and healthy diet and that you eat regularly (if smaller portions) even if you aren’t hungry.
-Try to build some time into each day to relax, even if its just half an hour doing something you like (reading, walking, facial, bath, painting, computer games, sport, friends)
-Get some exercise. Even just 20 to 30 minutes walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, football will start to have a positive impact on you.

Please if you are feeling affected by Stress and you are near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-on-Trent or in Staffordshire give me a call and see if I can offer counselling support.