In an ever more demanding world it’s no wonder many of us feel stressed. We will have experienced that overwhelming sense of panic brought on by the pressures of modern life – such as financial and job insecurity.
And while stress in small doses can be healthy, too much may cause anxiety, depression and mental illness. In Britain mental illness is spiralling out of control.
The charity Mental Health Foundation found that last year two thirds of us had experienced mental health issues. Research by the UK Council for Psychotherapy shows rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression has soared by 30.5 per cent since 2013.
Headtorch aims to demystify mental health and founder Amy McDonald said: “It is just like physical health and it fluctuates. There are five elements to maintaining well-being – connect, be active, keep learning, take notice and give.”
Here are Amy’s ten top stress-busting tips:
1. Crunch – a creative lunch Whether you’re at work or home having a change of scene is as important as eating your sarnie. Be creative and you will be far more effective in the afternoon. Meeting friends, colleagues, exercising, going to see an exhibition are great ways to regain energy, focus and effectiveness.
2. Keep Talking
Chat to someone you trust if you’re feeling anxious or low. Know you are not alone and people want to support you. Mental health, like your physical health, varies and sometimes you’re not going to feel great – that is normal. It’s also important to remember this is temporary.
3. Avoid or reduce coffee, booze and fags
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will increase, rather than cut, your level of stress. Alcohol is a depressant in large quantities and a stimulant in smaller amounts. So start reaching for the water and herbal teas.
4. Change your daily routine Take a new route and how you reach your destination. Try walking, cycling and jogging and notice the people, sights and sounds of people around you.
5. Random act of kindness
Bring a smile to someone else’s face. You’ll be amazed how good giving makes you feel.
6. Learn something new
This can be anything from playing a new board game, changing a bicycle tyre to a new language. Your sense of accomplishment will be an instant pick-me-up.
7. Laugh and share funny tales Enjoy yourself. We all feel better after a good chuckle.
8. List key points
This will help for work meetings or in your personal life. They will help you stay focused.
9. Sing or shout loudly
Expressing yourself or even having your own kitchen disco will help lift you.
10. Be active
Even if you don’t feel like it, go for a walk, swim, do yoga – whatever is right for you. Don’t stay stationary as you’ll feel the walls closing in.
TAKE A BREAK
NHS Choices chartered occupational psychologist Emma Donaldson-Feilder, says: “Taking at least 30 minutes away from your desk will help you be more effective in the afternoon.
"Go for a walk outdoors, do some exercise. You’ll come back to your desk re-energised.”