Are you coping with stress?

Each year the Mental Health Foundation holds Mental Health Awareness Week during May, with this year’s event running from May 14 - 20. And the theme in 2018 is Stress: are we coping?

According to the charity, research suggests two third of people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and that stress is a key contributing factor.

But what is stress exactly? The Mental Health Foundation describes it as a feeling of being under abnormal pressure at home or at work, or perhaps both. If such situations make you feel upset or threatened, your body may react and you may experience more intense emotions.

Here are some of the signs to look out for that suggest stress may be becoming a problem for you:

  • You’re constantly worried or anxious
  • You feel overwhelmed
  • You find it difficult to concentrate
  • Your mood changes frequently
  • You’re irritable or short tempered
  • You feel depressed
  • Your self-esteem is low
  • Your appetite has changed and you may be eating more or less than usual
  • You have muscular aches and pains
  • You feel nauseated or dizzy
  • Your digestive system is affected, causing diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • Your sleep is affected too – you may sleep more than usual or find it more difficult to get the sleep you need
  • You lose interest in sex

If any of these symptoms are affecting your everyday life or are making you feel unwell, speak to your GP. There is help available if stress is affecting your physical and/or emotional health, so ask about the support services and treatments you could get.

Meanwhile, here are a few things suggested by the Mental Health Foundation that may help protect you from getting too stressed in the first place:

Eat healthily A healthy balanced diet may help improve your mood and give your brain the nutrients it needs to promote feelings of wellbeing.

Avoid smoking and drinking If you can’t stop smoking and drinking alcohol, try to cut down. Even though they may make you feel better in the short term, they can often make problems worse.

Stay active Exercise can be an effective form of stress relief, so try to find time for it every day, even if it’s just going out for a walk or walking to the shops.

Get the sleep you need Sleep can be difficult when you’re stressed. Read the Mental Health Foundation’s 10 top tips for good sleep and our article The A – Z of a good night’s sleep to find out what you could do to sleep better.

Keep some perspective If you’re having a bad day, remind yourself that it’s something everyone experiences from time to time. Try to keep things in perspective – ask yourself what would your best friend say if they were giving you advice.

Your local Careway pharmacist also has plenty of advice to offer if you need help to cope better with stress. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.