After living through a global pandemic and numerous lockdowns this past year, recognising the signs of stress and knowing how to deal with it have never been more important. This month is Stress Awareness Month, so I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the signs of stress, how you can manage it effectively and tips to reduce stress.
What are the signs of stress?
Everyone experiences stress differently in different situations. You may recognise straight away when you are feeling under stress, but other times the signs may go unrecognised. Stress can affect both your physical and mental health and impact your behaviour. For instance, you may feel anxious, irritated, uninterested in life, worried, lonely or depressed. This may result in you constantly worrying, avoiding situations, snapping at people or even biting your nails.
How can I help combat stress?
Looking at your work-life balance is a good starting point. Make sure you use time outside of work or studying to relax and engage in meaningful activities.
With everything - work, studying, entertainment or socialising, it’s really important to take a break. Relaxing and social breaks have been found to have great benefits on our physical and mental recovery and can also help to lower stress on your body and mind, as well as resetting your mood.
Talking to others about how you are feeling or your problems can also significantly reduce stress. By opening up to someone we trust, it can allow you to see the situation more clearly or in a different way, release built-up tension and find solutions to your problems. This also sets good practice for allowing others to open up to you and may make you realise that you are not alone and that others share your feelings.
Tips to reduce stress
Although you may not be able to control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them. There are many simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety, including:
Be active: Exercising is one of the most important things you can do to reduce stress. It has proven benefits not only on our physical health, but it can also help to lower your body’s stress hormones, improve your sleep quality and enhance your confidence. Try to find an exercise routine or activity that you enjoy, such as running, walking, dancing, physical sport or yoga.
Laughing and smiling: Laughing helps to reduce anxiety and stress by stimulating organs and decreasing stress response. Smiling also helps to lower your heart rate and calms you down.
Connect with others: Whether it’s with family, friends or even pets, a good support network can help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth. It also gives you an opportunity to share your positive experiences and allows you to support others.
Go outside: Being in nature increases energy levels, reduces depression and boosts mood. Especially given Covid-19 restrictions, there has really never been a bigger need or a better time to enjoy the benefits of nature.
Meditate: Meditation can reduce stress while improving sleep and cognitive function.
Stress management apps: There are a range of apps available to manage stress. One of the most popular mindfulness apps is Calm, which provides tips for sleeping, meditation, and relaxation. Headspace also provides guided meditations, animations, articles and videos to improve meditation techniques. Another great app is SAM, which is designed to help you understand and manage anxiety.
Students and staff at Selby College can visit the College’s Wellbeing classrooms for more information.
If you require further information or support please contact the College counselling and wellbeing service via GST or directly through the google classroom.