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How does stress affect your mind and body?

As we raise awareness of stress in the month of April, it is important to take a moment and check in with what is causing your stress and if you can identify ways that it is affecting your mind and body.

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As we raise awareness of stress in the month of April, it is important to take a moment and check in with what is causing your stress and if you can identify ways that it is affecting your mind and body.

Stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed or under pressure. A feeling like there are not enough hours in a day, or that others are making too many demands of you, whether that’s at home, work, in education or sports. It may be that feeling that life is a bit too overwhelming and it is making you a bit anxious and panicked.

This can happen from time to time but if it is occurring more often and you are struggling, it is time to seek help to make some changes.

How does stress affect the mind?

If you are regularly feeling irritable, anxious, and agitated, and feel like you are not able to concentrate, it could be linked to the stress that you are going through. You may feel like you have brain fog, for example.

How does stress affect your body?

If you are experiencing insomnia, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, aches and pains, hypertension, sudden weight loss or gain and even a skin reaction or rash then again, your body could be signalling higher than normal stress levels. You may not be directly able to pinpoint exactly what’s causing stress, but these physical symptoms can be a great indicator for you to slow down and check in.

The key factors influencing stress are often relationships, money concerns, major life changes, loneliness, change. It can also be your work, whether that’s in employment or in education; it could be exam stress.

This is where it is important to understand your circle of influence and circle of control. Thinking about what you can change and what you can’t. We may not be able to change what is happening, but we can think of ways to get support or to make things easier.

Here are a few examples of how to help you during stressful times

🛑 STEP away from your phone! Put your phone away so you do not keep scrolling through news headlines and making yourself add more stress in your life over situations you cannot control. We cannot do anything directly about the current world affairs! Instead, use the time to work out how you can support a good cause rather than read all the headlines and take on those stories in your mind.

😴 Get a good night’s sleep Create a space in your bedroom that you feel you can switch off. So, declutter, ensure your room is welcoming and warm. It should be cool and inviting – a place where you can escape to. Getting 7-8 hours of good sleep will help you during the stressful periods you have in a day.

😮‍💨 Breathe We cannot stop talking about how important it is to stop and breathe. Wanting to try a new technique? Wrap your left hand over your right index finger and then take equal lengths of breaths. Inhale for a count of 6 and exhale for a count of 6. This will help you have greater control over your lungs, and you will feel your heart rate also slow down.

🥺 Reach out and ask for help Taking the first step to asking for help is a courageous one and it is important to connect with those around you as there is always, always someone that will want to help. Don’t keep things bottled up. No one person is invincible and those in your life do care.

🙏 Gratitude practices For every single thing that goes wrong, there many more things that can go right. Take a moment to remind yourself to recognise your emotions and know that this will pass, but take the opportunity to remember all the good that also exists. A good cup of tea, the sunshine, a presentation that went well, the laughs you share with close family or friends. This practice distracts your mind and allows it to make room to allow for problem solving and improving your mood.

 🚶🏽‍♀️ Get moving if you are sat at your desk, try and move at least every hour. This should be easy if you’re in education or sports! Even better, schedule in at least one call a day that is a walk and talk either with a colleague, or friend. This will help refresh you but also serves as a reminder that leaving your desk and work or any other situation does not mean the world falls apart.

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