Most of us know the feeling of being stressed. Low levels of stress can actually be helpful or motivational.1 However, too much stress takes a toll on how we feel physically, mentally and also how we behave.2 International Stress Awareness Week was founded to draw attention to this problem and promote mental wellbeing.
As we’re going into a second lockdown, making a conscious effort to look after our mental wellbeing might be a good idea. An important step in managing stress is to realise when it has become a problem and understand how its physical and emotional signs are linked to the pressures you’re faced with.3 But it is also important to remember that stress hormones aren’t your enemy per se, they are part of your brain’s natural chemistry and a warning system that serves for your protection.4
There are many services and tools designed to help you manage unhealthy stress levels. For those who feel comfortable being guided by an app, there are numerous apps on meditation, mindfulness and sleep management that can help with managing stress. The NHS also offers a list of ‘Top tips to deal with stress and burnout’ worth checking out (https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/stress/).1
You may also attempt to increase your D.O.S.E., the levels of ‘happy’ chemicals in your body: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin.5 Psychology Today have published an easy-to-read guide on how to increase the levels of these hormones within 45 days, through the creation of ‘happy habits’: https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/59029/happy-chemicals.pdf. Reading the guide, it doesn’t sound like an easy undertaking but worth trying!
1. NHS Every mind matters. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/stress/ (accessed November 2020).
2. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/ (accessed November 2020).
3. Mental Health Foundation, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress (accessed November 2020).
4. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/59029/happy-chemicals.pdf (accessed November 2020).
5. Khiron Clinics. https://khironclinics.com/blog/the-brains-happy-chemicals-explained/ (accessed November 2020).