Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Stress

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 14th to 20th May and it is focusing on stress.

Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lives and stress is a key factor.Another poll found that 82 per cent of us feel stressed at least some time during a typical week, and sadly, 8 per cent feel stressed all the time.2

Stress can be caused by the demands of daily life, as well as from experiencing trauma, big life changes or illness. A degree of pressure can be helpful to motivate us to succeed and perform tasks more efficiently. At this point adrenaline is working for you- giving more energy and focus. However when this starts to feel overwhelming, or we feel unable to cope with changes or control events in our lives, this can be problematic and becomes ‘stress’. At this point adrenaline  is working against you. For example feeling physically unwell and difficulty with thinking clearly.

The symptoms of stress are varied. As individuals, we all experience stress differently in different situations. It can affect how we feel emotionally, mentally and physically and also how we behave. Stress can reduce our ability to enjoy life and can even make us sick.

Here are our top stress busting tips:

  • Get active and exercise
  • Mindfulness and relaxation
  • Calming breathing exercises
  • Healthy eating
  • Share you problems with friends or family
  • Make time for hobbies, friends and interests
  • Set yourself goals and challenges
  • Volunteer
  • Use time management techniques
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep

Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. Whilst you may not be able to change the situation, taking control of elements that you can change (for instance, your reaction) can really help you to feel better.

Although stress is not a mental health problem, experiencing chronic stress can impact on both our physical and mental health. Stress can increase our risk of developing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. It can also increase the risk of physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, muscle pain, insomnia, fertility problems, urinary problems, headaches, viral infections and damage to our immune systems. According to a recent Mental Health Foundation report, half of us (51 per cent) who felt stressed reported feeling depressed and 61 per cent reported feeling anxious.1

In England more than 4 million people with a long-term physical health condition also have mental health problems and many will experience significantly poorer health outcomes and lower quality of life as a result. Those of us with a long-term health condition – or close family and friends – may find the physical, emotional and social effects of the disease stressful.

Learning techniques to manage, reduce and prevent stress are important skills for mental and physical health and well being. Support from talking therapies can help us learn to cope with the stresses and challenges of living with a long-term health condition. This not only helps to lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety but can also reduce the symptoms related to the disease and treatment.

Talking Therapies (IAPT) is a free and confidential NHS service that offer a range of psychological therapies to adults 18 years and over.

When life gets tough, we can help you through.

Patients registered with a Surrey GP can self-refer to DHC Talking Therapies  or talk to us on 01483 906392.

References:

1 Mental Health Foundation Research Report, Stress: Are we coping? 2018

2AXA Stress Index 2017. A survey conducted by One Poll on 4000 UK adults between 28 Jul-8 Aug 2017

3www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet

4Naylor et al. The Long Term Conditions and Mental Health: The Cost of Co-Morbidities, The King’s Fund 2012

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