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NHS Tayside

Taking steps to help reduce feelings of stress

To mark Stress Awareness Month, NHS Tayside is encouraging people to acknowledge their mental health and take steps to help reduce feelings of stress.

Stress Awareness Month is held annually by the Stress Management Society to increase public awareness about the causes and treatment for people feeling stress.

Imran Arain, NHS Tayside Senior Health Promotion Officer said, “As COVID-19 restrictions ease further and we are all faced with finding our new normal, it is completely natural to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

“At a time when so much focus has been given to protecting our physical health, the emotional impact has taken its toll. On top of handling the inevitable ebbs and flows of life, we have all had to work through emotions linked to loneliness, isolation, constantly changing plans and worrying every time we have a runny nose!

“More changes to our routines at home as we return to workplaces and regain greater opportunities to socialise and relax with friends and family have left many people feeling anxious about what is safe for them. Recognising your own boundaries and triggers and communicating them with others can be an important step to take to reduce stress.”

Stress can be a significant factor in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and is also linked to some physical health problems, such as heart diseases and insomnia. Some examples of things that may cause stress include work issues, family relationships, financial problems or health issues.

Stress can cause many different symptoms and it might affect how you feel physically, mentally and also how you behave. If you are stressed, you may experience physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, indigestion, shallow breathing, sweating, heart palpitations and aches and pains.

There are some simple steps that can help reduce feelings of stress, including evidence-based approaches such as the Five Ways to Wellbeing:

Connect with people: It is clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing. Meeting with others or a simple phone conversation instead of sending an email can help to boost mood.

  • Get Active: Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise! A simple walk outdoors or some stretches can make a huge difference.
  • Take notice: Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your wellbeing and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you.
  • Learn more: Some evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift people out of depression. Why not learn something new?
  • Give: Evidence suggests people who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, please contact your GP to discuss how you are feeling and get advice on possible treatment options.

People can also visit NHS Tayside’s online self help mental health directory, which includes a list of mental health support and advice organisations and resources both in Tayside and nationally. The directory is also available to view on NHS Tayside’s Living Life Well.