Every year since 1992, National Stress Awareness Month has highlighted the issue of stress, the impact it can have on people’s lives, and how it can be dealt with and managed.
The last two years have been particularly challenging. Repeated lockdowns and restrictions on our day-to-day living have taken its toll on the mental health of many people – especially those living alone or single parents struggling to look after children.
Research published by HR software provider, CIPHR, reveals that, on average, people in the UK feel stressed eight days in every month.
In this article you can read about some of the common reasons for stress and its signs, before finding out seven ways to best combat it.
Some common reasons for stress
The CIPHR research found there are many reasons for people to feel their anxiety levels rising and start to suffer the debilitating impact of stress on their life.
As you’d expect, financial anxiety and a lack of sleep were the most common causes.
Other things like health, work in general, and your family can also have an effect on your mental wellbeing.
Recognising the signs of stress is important for managing the effect it has. Some of the most common signs are:
- Overreacting to problems or issues that you would normally have dealt with quickly and easily.
- Constant tiredness, as stress interrupts your natural sleep patterns causing you to wake up repeatedly or lie awake thinking about problems – all of which seem more daunting at 3 am in the morning than at any other time.
- Serious and long-lasting headaches that can bring on a tense neck and shoulders.
- A lack of motivation, which causes you to put off doing straightforward and routine tasks.
- Unhealthy eating, which can be prompted by your lack of motivation, meaning you can’t face cooking, so subsist on takeaways and junk food.
What can make the problem of stress worse is that many of these symptoms can feed off each other and create a vicious circle that you need to break before being able to start to manage and combat your stress.
7 ways you can combat stress
If you’ve been feeling stressed, it can seem like there’s little you can do. But some relatively small steps can have a real impact on your wellbeing and help reduce the levels of stress you’re experiencing.
- Set achievable goals
Setting out a plan as to how you’re going to deal with your stress can help focus your mind and give you goals to work towards.
One practical tip is just to start with one or two of these rather than jump straight in with all seven. By ticking a couple off, you’ll immediately improve your mood and some of the others could fall into place quite easily.
- Improve the quality of your sleep
Because how well you sleep can affect so many other facets of your day-to-day living, this should be a top priority.
Create a clear demarcation between being awake and going to bed. Don’t watch television in bed. Instead read a book or listen to an audiobook or the radio.
Keep your bedroom cool. According to the Sleep Foundation, the optimum temperature for sleeping is 18.3 degrees.
You should try and stay well-hydrated, so if you do wake up during the night, drink some water. If you feel restless, go for a quick walk around the house.
Keep a notebook beside your bed, so if you do wake up juggling thoughts in your head, you can “download” them onto paper.
- Interact with other people
One of the main reasons for the increase in the number of people with stress during the pandemic was the lack of interaction with others, especially during lockdown.
By making a conscious effort to socialise with others – even if it’s just for short periods initially – you can start to break the cycle of stress and isolation feeding off each other.
- Get some exercise
Stress can mean you feel lethargic but pushing yourself to exercise can release feel-good hormones that can boost your mood.
It doesn’t have to be too strenuous. Just going for a walk for an hour regularly can start to lift your mood.
- Get outdoors
Leading on from the previous point, by getting regular exercise outdoors as much as possible you can benefit from a change of scenery, fresh air, and the general uplift you can get by being close to nature.
As you can see, by doing something as seemingly mundane as going for a regular walk with a companion can easily tick off three of the seven boxes listed here.
- Don’t be afraid to spoil yourself
Think about what you enjoy doing and schedule some time to focus on this.
It could be reading a book, going for a walk, or something entirely different, but don’t feel bad about spending time on the things that are important to you.
- Seek help
Don’t be afraid to seek help or talk about what is causing you stress. It can help you see things from another perspective and create a plan to reduce stress.
In some cases, chatting with loved ones can help. In others, working with a professional to talk through your worries can be beneficial.
Get in touch
If you’re worried about your financial position and want to talk things through, please get it touch. You can contact us by email or, if you prefer to speak to us, you can reach us in the UK on +44 (0) 208 0044900 or in Hong Kong on +852 39039004.