Hands up if you’re stressed? Feeling a bit spread thin? Overwhelmed? End of your tether?

I think we’re all a bit “stressed” in today’s world. Whether it’s just feeling a bit wound up when things get on top of us, or full on chronic stress that’s plagued us for years.

Either way - stress is stress, and it’s no good for your health or happiness.

Well, April is Stress Awareness Month and there’s a lot in the news about what stress is, why it can be so bad for us, and - importantly - how to get rid of it!

Here are the latest “stress management” ideas from the experts who know about these things.

#1 Recognise your reactions to stress

Stress is bad for us in a number of ways, but one of the most obvious is how we react to it. If you respond to stress by making poor food choices, by skipping a workout, by staying up too late, or by drinking more than you should… it’s not difficult to make the link. So have a think - how do YOU respond to stress? And how can you change or replace those reactions with something more healthy and helpful? 

#2 Laugh more

I know the last thing you want to do when you’re stressed is laugh. But try it. It really does help - on an emotional and a physical level. Laughter is pretty magical actually! Maybe you could watch an episode of your favourite sit com, or some stand up. Or laugh at your pet being silly. Or call a friend who always makes you giggle. Laughter is amazing “medicine”!

#3 Chill out

I’m not going to tell you all to meditate as such (although if you do - then keep it up!) But adopt some of the principles of meditation when you feel stressed, and get your emotions under control. Stop, pause, be still, and focus on your breath in and out. Let thoughts pass by in your mind like clouds - don’t try to stop them, but don’t dwell on them either. Even 2 minutes of this will help you get rid of stress.

#4 Exercise! 

My favourite tip. You already know how any kind of exercise can make you feel better (have you ever finished a workout feeling worse than you started?) But there are scientific reasons for it. Outdoor exercise changes your perspective, helps lower blood pressure, and gives you sunshine and fresh air. Indoor workouts can boost happy hormones like endorphins and give your brain something else to focus on. Whatever workout you choose - do it!

#5 Unplug

Social media, smart phones, emails, texts… they all add to the stress. All those dings and pings, plus the underlying pressure to “check in” all the time. It’s not good for us. Can you have 1 hour every day where you switch off your phone and put it away? Even better would be 1 day a week without your smartphone! Try to unplug for a short time every day to escape the pressures of modern life.