Stress is the reason for 40% of all work-related sickness in the UK. 37% of our MyHealth app users said it was the health issue most relevant to them.
Learning how to better manage stress can help with anxiety, low moods, depression, and even your physical health.
In the past, stress helped keep us alive. Feeling threatened triggers, the body to release extra hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. These increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and give you more energy to fight or run away from that sabre-toothed tiger.
However, many of the stresses of the 21st century world don’t require such an extreme physical response. And, if repeated over long periods, our body’s reactions can cause more harm than good.
Stress can feel like steam building up under a pan lid. It either needs to be released or managed to keep you from boiling over. Clues that you might be stressed include:
1. Improve your work-life balance
The pandemic has led to a rise in working from home. This may have reduced the stress of the daily commute, but not having a clear division between work and home has its mental health downsides too. Make sure to:
2. Talk it out
Often family and work colleagues don't know how stressed you feel. And if they don't know, they can't help.
When discussing how stress is affecting you, focus on how a situation makes you feel or react. For example, "A tight deadline makes me feel stressed". This reduces the chance of the other person becoming defensive.
3. Take up yoga
A trial conducted with a group of 90 people who identified as stressed showed that practising yoga for 4 months significantly reduced stress and other psychological health issues such as anxiety, depression and insomnia. Even after just 2 months, the beneficial results were apparent. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information).
If you can't find a yoga studio nearby, many have online classes. Check out The British Wheel of Yoga.
4. Try mindfulness or meditation
There’s a good reason that so many of us now practice mindfulness or mediation in our busy, everyday lives. Increased levels of cortisol can trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which contribute to fatigue, 'brain fog', depression, and anxiety.
One study showed that after just eight weeks of mindfulness training, participants had a lower inflammation response. (Source: ScienceDirect).
So why not follow in the footsteps of Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and Shawn Mendes? Google courses near you or online or try one of the many meditation or mindfulness apps out there.
We believe good mental health and good physical health go hand in hand. Our UK GPs are available 24/7. They can help put your mind at ease, make suggestions about managing stress and recommend treatments such as:
You’ll find more details in the Stress section of our hub.
Last reviewed October 2021.