How to relieve stress: Tips on how to manage when you're under pressure
From questions like, ‘what’s the name of that guy from that film?’ to much more serious queries about our mental health, we have developed a habit of turning to the internet for answers.
That’s why, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve put together a series of articles covering the 15 most Googled questions on mental health.
With that in mind, here are five tips on how you can relieve stress, which can have a significant impact on our mental health:
Take a break and go outside
New research has shown that just 20-30 minutes of walking in nature per day could have a really beneficial effect on your mind by cutting your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by roughly 10%.
The more time you spend walking or indeed sitting outside the better, but those first 20 minutes have been shown to be the most effective.
The study leader Dr. Mary Carol Hunter said: ‘Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.’
Make sure you’re sleeping enough
Dr Dimitrios Paschos, a consultant psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health, told us in the past on the subject of stress: ‘Sleeping properly, getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things, together with some form of exercise.’
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep we need will range depending on our age, with 18 to 64-year-olds needing between seven to nine hours sleep a night.
Further to the previous point, Dr. Paschos added: ‘There are many things to improve your resilience against depression, people do mindfulness, yoga, sports, generally a balance between work commitments and some form of movement and enjoyment.’
And the NHS agrees, with their website saying: ‘Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem.
‘Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it can improve social interaction.’
Watch your blood sugar
Leading nutritionist and author Dr Marilyn Glenville explained to us that: ‘Balancing blood sugar is essential in lowering stress because the crashes in sugar levels which happen due to go long periods without food or not eating the right foods, stimulates the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol to be released.
‘This is because these stress hormone can also mobilise your glucose back into the blood stream. This is why you can feel more jittery, irritable etc when blood sugar plummets.’
To keep your blood sugar levels steady, stick to fiber-rich foods like beans, whole grains, and leafy greens where you can, and steer clear of processed and sugary foods as much as possible.
See your GP
Dr Obuaya, Consultant Psychiatrist at Nightingale Hospital told Metro: ‘For some people, their level of stress is so high that they need to see their GP for consideration of a referral for talking therapy and, in some cases, medication that relieves severe anxiety.’
So if you find that your stress levels are so high as to be unmanageable, then you shouldn’t hesitate to see your doctor for advice.
Mental Health questions answered
Google’s most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:
According to Google, the most frequently asked ‘how to’ questions relating to mental health this year so far are:
1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD
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