In this society, it’s hard not to get stressed every once in a while. With work, family and personal troubles, it seems as though there are stressful triggers around every corner. Although it might not feel like it, stress is actually good for us – it keeps the brain and body alert and motivated should we need to avoid danger, a reaction stemming from our primal instincts. It can get too much, though, and chronic stress can make us seriously sick.
Over a third of British people feel stressed for at least one full day each week[i], but there are plenty of steps everyone can take to reduce stress before it gets to a dangerous level. Things like taking some time out for yourself and easy breathing exercises can instantly decrease stress levels and make you feel better, and we have everything you need to help you combat stress today. So whether you’re at home or get overwhelmed in the moment, we have the best advice on the symptoms you should watch out for and what to do to lessen them should they flare up.
Many lifestyle factors can contribute to high stress levels. Usually, there are triggers behind episodes of stress, and these triggers can be:
Stress can be the result of one big reason or be due to the build-up of several small burdens that overwhelm you over time. If it’s the latter, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is causing stress, which can worsen symptoms.
When you are stressed, your brain releases a mix of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is responsible for our natural ‘fight or flight’ response, causing the heart to race, the breath to quicken and the muscles to tense. This reaction is a protective instinct, preparing the body for a fast reaction or quick getaway, and is completely normal. When the stress hormone is released, the effects it can have on the body include:
Stress is a natural reaction to certain life experiences, and this natural hormonal reaction is optimised for helping you cope with potentially serious situations. However, if something is constantly triggering your stress response and the symptoms become chronic, this can have detrimental effects on your mental and physical health.
Learning to recognise mental and physical signs of stress on the spot so you know when to step back and take a break is vital for reducing tension and bettering mental health. Although it affects people differently, here are some of the most common indicators of stress that you should start to take notice of:
As you can see from the lengthy list of symptoms, constant stress is not healthy for the body, mentally or physically. Luckily, there are things you can do from the comfort of your own home to help reduce stress symptoms and get you feeling better in no time. Here are some of the best stress relief activities that you can do at home to instantly give yourself a boost and bust the symptoms when a stressful day knocks you askew:
Maintaining a healthy diet overall has been proven to help one think clearly, feel more alert and improve concentration[ii], so prepare a meal filled with essential vitamins and minerals to instantly boost your mood.
Exercise gives the body a serotonin boost and will lessen the emotional intensity of stress. Even a 10-minute walk can increase your mood, so a quick, simple workout or yoga session will help reduce stress symptoms.
Simply being outside with nature has been proven to relieve stress, reduce the risk of multiple diseases, improve mood, lower blood pressure, and improve focus[iii]. Try taking a quick walk around the block or brightening up your garden with one of our comfortable outdoor benches to help you relax when you feel overwhelmed.
Gardening is the perfect stress reliever and can help fight disease, improve memory, and boost one’s mood[iv]. Try growing fruit, veg or herbs for some tasty results, or choose your favourite flowers to liven your garden up with.
Prioritise yourself for a while and take some time to really relax and do something you enjoy. Taking regular breaks is important for mental health, so shut the stressful factors out as best as you can for a while and take some time for yourself.
Having trouble sleeping is a common symptom of stress, and being tired throughout the day can make other symptoms even worse. Of course, getting better sleep overall is best in the long run, but taking a short nap in the afternoon can reduce stress and help you function better.
Sometimes, we can get stuck inside our heads, and it’s extremely unhealthy for us. Turn to friends, family and colleagues for support, and set up a fun activity that everyone will enjoy to help you relax and boost your mood.
It can be tempting to turn to alcohol, smoking, caffeine or drugs to help you cope with your stress, but this will only make you feel worse in the long term. These substances are bad for your mental and physical well-being, so finding healthier outlets and avoiding bad habits is best for stress relief.
To help achieve a relaxed mind and recentre yourself, try some meditation techniques. Perfect for eliminating stress factors and untangling those jumbled thoughts, meditation can enhance mental and physical health.
When things just seem to be piling on top of you, it’s so easy to fall into a pit of self-despair. When you’re stressed or upset, it’s important to put things into perspective by remembering that everyone has bad days, and the experience is normal. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake or can’t seem to do anything right. Try to be kind and supportive to yourself as often as possible instead.
Knowing how to deal with stress at home when you have a bit of time and are in familiar surroundings is relatively easy, but sometimes, stress can overwhelm you all at once, no matter where you are. Although it might feel completely overpowering, there are things you can do in the moment to help relieve stress straight away so you can carry on with your day. When stress hits you out of nowhere, try:
Identifying that you are under stress and understanding the feeling will help you deal with it better each time you experience it.
Remove yourself from the stressful situation for a while. Try going for a walk, engaging in conversation, or doing something that brings you joy so you can tackle the issue again with a clearer mind.
Breathing exercises work wonders on sudden stress because they make your body feel relaxed. For example, try closing your eyes, inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds, then exhaling for eight seconds, and repeating this 5 or 6 times. Don’t you feel more relaxed already?
If you’re around people, try to act calm even if you are upset or irritated. Even if you aren’t truly feeling it, responding calmly will become less of an act after a while.
Try to have a positive mindset about each situation you find yourself in. Don’t focus on the stressful situation and its negative connotations – try and find the silver lining. If that gets too difficult in certain situations, think about things that make you happy, whether it’s a great memory, your favourite holiday, or something that will make you laugh.
Memorising a phrase that comforts you or makes you happy and reciting it in moments of stress can calm your mind. Your favourite poem, song verse, Bible quote, or proverb can all help to relax you because of our natural human connection to sound and emotions.
The main thing to remember in a stressful situation is that you will get through it. One way or another, you can always take actions that will help you tackle the situation head-on and leave it behind so you can move on to better things. If it gets to be too overwhelming, though, and you’re really struggling, seeking professional support may be best for you. So whether you choose cognitive behavioural therapy or find that regular exercise and a healthy diet boosts you up, you’ll thank yourself in the future when you’re living your stress-free life!
Do you have any great stress-busting tips? Let us know in the comments below.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.