2 November is the start of International Stress Awareness Week. It also coincides with the start of Movember, a month focused on men’s mental health.
With 74% of people reporting that they cannot cope with the levels of stress in their lives, stress management is more important now than ever. The psychological effects of stress result in 61% of people feeling anxious, and 32% having suicidal thoughts.
What are the most common causes of stress?
Stress can enter our lives a number of different ways, and while experiencing pressure is a part of normal life, if these feelings become overwhelming it can start to have a negative impact on our physical and mental health, as well as our work and relationships.
Some of the most common causes of stress, according to research, include:
- Pressure to succeed – 60% of young adults
- Self-image – 49% of young adults
- Health – 36% of adults
- Body image – 36% of women and 23% of men
- Housing – 32% of young adults
- Work – 26% of adults
- Debt – 22% of adults.
Experiencing long-term stress can lead to many health issues including headaches, muscular tension, sleeplessness, irritability and chronic fatigue. It can also contribute to other, more serious health issues.
How to beat stress:
- Take time out: Try to put yourself first at least once a day, to give your brain the rest it needs to stay engaged and alert.
- Exercise: Everyone knows that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which give you a chemical boost. But getting active can also help lower your stress levels by boosting the chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
- Avoid caffeine: Many of us reach for a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up every day, but if you're already feeling stressed, too much caffeine doesn't help. It stimulates the nervous system, which can make you feel more anxious and panicky.
- Make connections: If you're getting stressed at work, taking a few minutes to chat to your peers can help. Occupational health expert Professor Cary Cooper says: "If you don't connect with people, you won't have support to turn to when you need help."
- Practise gratitude: Try and recognise your accomplishments, and think of something to be grateful for every night.
Need to talk to someone?
If you feel you need to talk to someone about the impact of stress on your health and wellbeing, you can contact: