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What is Stress

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain which we experience as a response to pressure. In limited amounts, it can be manageable, with occasional periods of stress a normal part of life. Stress can even be useful as it releases survival hormones such as adrenaline, which boosts our energy and motivates us. However, stress becomes a problem when it frequently feels like more than we can handle.

Nobody should feel so overwhelmed and drained by stress that it impacts their quality of life. We have put together some of our self-help tips so that you can start managing your stress levels in a healthy way:

1. Don’t ignore your stress

If you’re stressed, you may believe that carrying on and ignoring it will make it go away. However, this isn’t the case. Acknowledge that your stress has become a problem so that you can start to take steps towards your recovery.

Reach out to someone close to you if you can, so that you can talk through what you’re going through and get their support. By taking action now, you can prevent your stress from becoming progressively worse and leading to stress-related burnout.

2. ‘Check in’ with your body

Your body acts as your first warning that you may be experiencing stress.

Challenge yourself to ‘check in’, noticing how you are physically feeling and acting at particular times of the day. You may find that you have been sitting with hunched shoulders; that you have been incessantly tapping your foot; or that you have developed a headache.

If you notice that your body has become stressed, try going outside and getting some fresh air. If you are unable to do so, it may be helpful to try tensing and relaxing different parts of your body to see if this eases the stress symptoms.

3. Take a break

‘The time to relax is when you don't have time for it’ – this Sydney J. Harris quote reflects our tendency to ignore the simplest coping solutions for stress.

Easy ways to relax include taking breaks throughout your day, going for a walk, making a cup of tea or having a warm bath. Never underestimate the effectiveness of suggestions you may have already heard – taking any form of break will help to alleviate stress.

At work, where it may be harder to take a break, try having ‘micro-breaks’. If the phone is ringing, don’t jump on it straight away; let it ring once or twice, take a breath and then pick up. When making a cup of tea, enjoy the process of making it and then when you drink the tea, really savour it. Small steps like this can make you feel as though you’ve had some temporary ‘time out’ and will contribute to improving your overall wellbeing.

4. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

Talking to someone about your stress can help you to cope more easily, whereas keeping your feelings to yourself can make your stress even worse.

Think about who you could talk to and what sort of support you would like:

  • Do you just want to ‘vent’ to someone to get your worries off your chest?
  • Do you want to know if they’ve felt the same, so that you don’t feel as though you’re struggling on your own?
  • Do you need help coming up with a way to handle a situation?

Whatever it may be, try to ask for it. You might be pleasantly surprised at how supportive and understanding people can be.

5. Stop focusing all of your energy on other people

It’s great to help others. It makes us feel useful and part of the communities that we work and live in, but it’s important to understand that everyone has limits. Taking on more and more responsibilities may be compromising for your health.

Try using a daily mantra such as ‘I deserve to be happy too’, or ‘I deserve to be important too’. This is a useful exercise for self-assurance and improving your self-worth. It may help you to push back on internal and external demands that could be exacerbating your stress levels.

There is a relevant ancient Chinese proverb here: ‘Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.’ Although life can be unavoidably stressful at times, reconnecting with yourself and making time to relax, when possible, will help you to cope during times of stress.

6. Take steps to achieve a work-life balance

Achieving a work-life balance is incredibly important. If your job has started to infringe on other areas of your life, resulting in stress, try to negotiate with your employer in terms of what is realistically doable in your job. Reassess and discuss the volume of your workload, the time that you have to complete it in, and what is expected of you overall.

7. Seeking professional support for stress

If you think you could benefit from professional support, we can help you to take steps to overcome the impact that stress is having on your life.

Once you get in touch, our highly-qualified team will carry out an assessment to better understand your current situation, in order to recommend the best type of stress treatment for your needs.

We offer stress treatment programmes in various different formats. Outpatient therapy involves weekly appointments, usually an hour long, which you can fit around your other commitments. These can take place either at one of our hospitals or wellbeing centres, or from the comfort of your home through our online therapy service.

If you require more intensive treatment, our residential programmes allow you to benefit from 24-hour support in one of our hospitals. We also offer day care programmes, which provides you with a structured therapy programme that you attend during a series of days, with the ability to go back to your own home in the evenings.

Get in Touch Today

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding eating disorder treatment, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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