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stress vector

How to manage stress and feelings of overwhelm

“Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure”. (mentalhealth.org.uk, 2021)

Many situations in our lives can lead us to feeling stressed and overwhelmed and there are many ways in which we respond to stress. Every person has a difference stress response which can affect your mind and physical body in many ways. It is important to be aware of your own individual stressors and how you can effectively manage them for yourself. There isn’t a one fix for all rather a combination of different approaches that you can try to suit your lifestyle.

Now more than ever, we are feeling overwhelmed living in todays society. The current pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated and alone. We have been cut off from supports that would normally help us to manage these feelings and help alleviate the stresses in our lives. Many people have taken on numerous roles which they are trying to juggle all at once e.g. working from home with children around, caring for vulnerable or elderly parents.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and stressed at times but if these feelings are becoming increasingly present in your life and are hard to disengage from there are supports and resources you can put in place to help.

Stress Survival guide

Lets start with the basics of looking after ourselves. Often these are the first things we forget about when we are going through a stressful period. We forget that making some time to enjoy nutritious food, move our bodies and rest can go a long way in helping us to feel less stress and more able to take on the challenges of our day. It doesn’t need to be complicated, keep it simple by focusing on three main areas mind, body and spirit.

Mind

  • Talk to someone you trust about what is happening for you. Sharing your thoughts can help them to become less powerful and can help make tasks seem more manageable.
  • Keep a journal. This helps to empty our minds and look at our thoughts objectively and often they don’t seem so overwhelming anymore.
  • Prioritise your time. Make lists of what needs to be done and when.
  • Break big tasks down into smaller more achievable ones.
  • Ask for help. Everybody needs help from time to time. Draw on your supports and people in your life whether it’s to help with a school run or make a dinner. If it will make your day more manageable and less overwhelming it’s worth asking.

Body

  • Aim for between seven and nine hours a night. Keeping your room at a temperature of 16-18 degrees, using black out blinds or an eye mask and white noise can all help achieve a restful sleep.
  • Any form of movement will help so partake in some form of movement that you enjoy, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, dance. This will release endorphins, boost serotonin and dopamine which are our feel-good hormones.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Including a variety of nutrients in your diet will help you to feel more energised and motivated. Think about swapping out sugary snacks for a healthier option.
  • Spend time in nature. Spending time outdoors has proven benefits for our mental and physical health, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
  • Incorporate deep breathing into your day to help allow our muscles to relax. Maybe setting reminders on your phone to check in with your body, drop your shoulders, relax your jaw and unclench.

Spirit

  • Accepting stress is part of our lives. Welcome it rather than fight it. Once we embrace it, it dissipates. We strip the feelings of stress of the power it holds in our minds.
  • Engage in positive self-talk. Place positive affirmations around your space to remind you that you are a strong and capable individual.
  • Practice saying “no” more. If you are already feeling overwhelmed by the number of things happening in your life, it’s okay to say no to taking on any more responsibilities.
  • Take a break from social media. Often when we feel overwhelmed looking at other people’s lives can have a negative affect on us and lead us to believe we are the only ones struggling. Remember that social media is only a snapshot of someone’s life.

By adding one or two elements of each of these we can greatly improve our resilience and coping and feel better able to manage any stresses that come into our lives before they reach the point of overwhelm. Any changes you wish to make I encourage you to start small and build on them until they become a part of your routine.

If you are finding it difficult to know where to start or feel these changes are not enough on their own talking to a counsellor or psychologist can help. You can book an appointment with us by calling 01 6111719 or by emailing [email protected]

 

References

2021, Stress, Mentalheath.org.uk, accessed on 03rd May 2021, Stress | Mental Health Foundation.

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