Mental Health Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, is running from the 14th to the 20th of May and this year the focus is on stress and how we all cope with it.
The Mental Health Foundation, who host Mental Health Awareness Week, say that two thirds of us will experience mental health problems over our lifetime with stress being a key contributing factor while a YouGov study in Scotland found that 74 percent of people felt unable to cope because of stress.
Finances, work, health; the reasons for feeling stress are wide ranging and complex but how can we all learn to manage our stress levels? Discover our top simple tips for reducing stress and feeling more in control:
1. Restful Sleep
The Mental Health Foundation cites a good night’s rest as a crucial factor in managing stress levels. In order to make your sleep as restful as possible, they suggest getting rid of tech from the bedroom to ensure that it is a calm and relaxing space, free of distractions. If you struggle to switch off, a bedtime routine can also help ease you into a restful sleep. Consider a warm bath, using a relaxing pillow spray and an eye mask to help your body unwind and allow yourself plenty of time so that you can get your required seven or eight hours.
2. Take Time For You
This may be easier said than done, but it is important to make sure you are looking after yourself properly, especially when you are feeling under pressure. From taking time to enjoy a book or a long walk to practices such as yoga or meditation, ensuring that you are allowing time for self care can help you gain perspective on your situation.
Mental Health Charity, Mind, suggests that ecotherapy can have a positive impact on stress levels. Ecotherapy involves spending time in nature and experts believe that this has restorative benefits and can help to improve mood, self esteem and anxiety levels. Spending time in nature could involve walking the dog, doing outdoor exercise or working on a garden or allotment – it’s time to get outside!
4. Get Active
Regular exercise has a huge number of health benefits and it can also be a great way to help you clear your head and reduce stress levels. If intense fitness classes are not for you, try to incorporate a few walks, a relaxing swim or a yoga class into your weekly routine to help increase your physical activity .
5. Eat Well
What we put into our bodies can have a significant impact on our moods and how we feel and there are a number of diet tips for reducing stress. For example, complex carbohydrates promote the production of serotonin, known as the happy chemical, so including wholegrain breads, pastas and cereals in your diet will help to keep both your serotonin and blood sugar levels steady. Foods that are high in vitamin C, such as oranges, peppers, leafy greens and strawberries, are also thought to reduce stress hormones as well as reduce blood pressure.