Earlier in November, the UK observed a National Stress Awareness Day, which got us thinking about the ways in which stress can affect our mental health and ability to cope with feelings of pressure. Some of us even experience physical symptoms before we’re even aware that we are feeling stressed, or what the causes might be, such as headaches or stomach aches. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you cope with periods of stress and recognise the symptoms.
Get a restful night’s sleep
When we are stressed, it often affects our sleep which can trap us in a cycle as fatigue often fuels stress even further. If you find that your sleep is interrupted from stress, anxiety and overthinking, try to introduce an evening routine to help you wind down and relax. Skills You Need recommends ceasing any mentally demanding activities at least a couple of hours before going to sleep, which means that phone or laptop use should be wound down gradually.
Stay hydrated to maintain your focus
As with sleep, not drinking enough water can be detrimental to your stress levels and cause physical symptoms such as headaches or drowsiness, but also affect your concentration levels and make it even harder to organise your time.
Try investing in a water bottle and keeping it on your workspace or in your bag at all times to encourage you to drink more and see the difference in your energy levels! If you struggle keeping up with your water intake, don’t forget that there is water in the food we eat – which is another reason why fruit and vegetables such as celery, cucumber and melon make such good study snacks.
Practice calming breathing techniques
As we touched on in our blog about managing anxiety, focusing on deep breathing can help to bring calm during times of stress or anxiety. Try this simple relaxation technique from Mind, which helps you to focus on your body and breathing and come away feeling relaxed.
Ask for help
Sometimes when we feel stressed, it can be difficult to make sense of our thoughts and easy to feel overwhelmed. It can be a relief to share your thoughts or concerns with a friend, as they may be able to help you realise that things aren’t as bad as they seem or even rationalise some of your thoughts to make them clearer. At the very least, talking to a friend or asking for help means that you’re not bottling up your thoughts or feelings and will provide some instant relief.
Avoid taking too much on
Just like the golden rule – you can say no. At work, college or university, it can be all too easy to accept additional responsibility because you either feel that you have to or because you want to help out a friend or colleague. However, it’s important to remember that you can (and sometimes should) say no when you need to work through your own workload or problems.
There are plenty of resources available to guide and support you if you are struggling with stress. Check out Mind’s advice for dealing with pressure or have a look at some of the Stress Management Society’s resources.