How to take control of your mental health in times of stress
Anyone can be impacted by stress and lots of people are. It can arise from any number of things and can really derail our lives but it isn’t something that has to have an impact on your life. There are things you can do to lessen the effect of stress, read on to discover what these are. Not sure whether you are stressed, go over the symptoms on the NHS website. Remember, if you are concerned about your own or someone else’s headspace then reach out:
-Mind: 0300 123 3393
-Samaritans: 116 123
-Beat: 0808 801 0677
-Youngminds: 0808 802 5544
-Calm: 0800 58 58 58
1. To get rid of weeds, you need to start with the roots.
Before you can go about dealing with your mental health and decreasing the amount of stress in your life you need to first identify what is causing you to feel this way! You can’t deal with the problem if you don’t know what is causing the problem in the first place. One way of doing this is writing down all the things that you believe are causing some unpleasant feelings in your life and slowly going through them and figuring out why they are doing this. For instance, you could have work on your list. Your job might be causing you unnecessary amounts of stress because you are taking too much on. You might be overly tired due to a lack of sleep and this could be causing a negative impact on your mental health. Once you have a list of potential causes, you can then start to identify what is having the worst impact on your life and set about trying to deal with them.
2. Fuel your positive mind with good food.
It’s common knowledge that eating healthy can have a positive impact, not just on you physically, but on you mentally. Good food has been associated with improving your mental health. Studies have shown that adopting a more ‘traditional diet’ like the Mediterranean diet or Japanese diet can decrease the likelihood of depression by 25-35%.
In addition, an improved diet has also been shown to improve your mood, give you more energy and help you think more clearly. These means that by watching what you eat you are putting your body in a better position to deal with issues that could arise from stress. While changing your diet can’t solve all your stress-related issues, it can put you in a better position to overcome them.
3. Exercise – Pushing your body strengthens your mind.
Another tool you can use to combat negative thoughts, stress and poor mental health is exercise. Doing frequent exercise has been shown to have many profound impacts on your mental wellbeing. Research has found that even a small ten-minute walk can improve your mental alertness, your energy levels and put you in a positive mood. Another study found that by running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. The mental health charity Mind say that frequent exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, which is needed to restore your mind after a long day at work, put you in a happier mood and decreases your levels of stress and anxiety by causing your body to release cortisol, which is a chemical released by your adrenal glands that can regulate your blood pressure, control your sleep schedule and boost energy levels.
So again, although exercise can’t solve all your stress-related issues alone, with other things it can severely improve your situation. Good sports to take up that are great for decreasing stress and anxiety include swimming and climbing.
Swimming can decrease stress levels as studies have shown that being surrounded by water has a calming effect on our mind. Yes! Being surrounded by the colour blue has been shown to have a positive effect on your mind. Climbing has also been shown to be positive for our mental health as it decreases the likelihood of depression, anxiety levels and can improve our confidence, self-esteem and problem solving skills.
4. Take a break, you deserve it.
While the previous tips can all help you to deal with stress from work-related issues and more, one of the best solutions is to just have a break. Simple. Moving yourself away from what is causing you the issues in the first place can give you the much needed rest and relaxation you need to clear your head and get you back on track. They are also paramount in avoiding burnout. Breaks can be any length from taking a short walk to clear your head to taking a few days off to think about your priorities. It’s been shown that taking a relaxing break can help to put your mental and psychical systems back to their baseline. A study in 2017 found that taking mini work breaks throughout the day can help to support your mental wellbeing and have been shown to increase your productivity.
5. Sleep, give yourself a chance even in dreamland.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of our life and one of the key factors in ensuring your mind set stays positive. It gives our bodies and minds the time they need to consolidate the days memories and to process new information. Sleep has also been shown to increase energy and concentration levels during the day. To make sure you that you make the most out of your sleep, try and get at least 6-8 hours a night and try and avoid using electronic devices in the hour before you fall asleep as the ‘blue light’ emitted from phones cause hormones to be released in your brain that make you more alert and awake.
6. Routine – sometimes is better than never.
One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t let work-related things get on top of you is to get into a routine. Having a daily routine can help us to cope with change in our lives, can lead us to create healthy habits, improve interpersonal relationships and reduce our level of stress. Starting a daily routine is as simple as creating a daily to-do list and working through it. It ensures that you always know what to do and makes you more likely to get important tasks done.
7. Most importantly, open up – problem shared is a problem halved.
All of the above tips are useful in dealing with stress and other mental health issues but the most important and most helpful tip for dealing with these problems is just by opening up. Opening up is your secret weapon in the fight against poor headspace. It’s cheesy but true; ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’! There are many places for you open up. These range from your closest friends and family to people at work who might understand or if you feel you need a more professional opinion, there are lots of numbers you can call which will have someone on the other side trained to deal with grievances.
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