Stress is something we all experience from time to time and in varying degrees

We might feel stressed if we are late for an appointment or if we are worried about how we are going to pay our bills, especially at the moment with the rising cost of living and the uncertainty this brings.We often view stress as something we need to eliminate from our lives but stress is there to protect us.  It fires us up, gets us going and forces us to make decisions.  So accept that feeling stress is a normal part of who we are.

That said, too much stress can have a negative impact on our health and when this happens it’s time to put plans in place to reduce our stress level back to a place where our mind and body can cope again.

The best way to do this is to go back to basics and check that you are doing everything you can to help yourself.  Ask yourself the following questions.How is my diet at the moment?We all have times when we over eat or under eat or just simply eat/drink the wrong things.  Often we will use food as a comfort but the effect is short term and usually makes us feel worse in the long term.  So check your diet and fuel your body correctly.Am I getting enough sleep?The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person but most of us need between 6 to 8 hours.  Sleep deprivation affects our ability to think clearly and prevents us from making our best decisions as well as impacting our physical health.Creating a good bedtime routine approximately 1 hour before sleeping can help us relax.  This may be taking a bath or reading a book, anything that is relaxing but doesn’t involve blue light from TV’s, phones and tablets.  If you find that you are unable to sleep or wake during the night, try not to worry about this.  We all have times when this happens.  Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired.  If you can find time for a power nap in the day, then why not!Smoking and alcohol, has this increased?We all know by now that too much is bad for our health so it’s worth checking if your consumption has increased recently and maybe cut down or stop altogether. Walsall Quit Smoking ServiceAm I getting enough exercise?There is a lot of evidence to suggest that physical activity doesn’t just help our bodies but can help our mental wellbeing as well.  It’s lovely to see you all working out in our gym here at Heart Care but it is also good to get outside in the open and walk amongst nature.  Take a walk sometimes through your local park and take a moment to look around you and listen.  A lot of our forests like Cannock Chase are promoting forest walks on their website as a way to relax and de-stress.  So wrap up warm and enjoy the scenery.Do I make enough time for me?This is a really important question to ask.  When we feel relaxed we feel better equipped to help others so take time out for yourself whether that be a hobby, exercise, reading, listening to music or meditating.  Do whatever makes you feel good.Do I spend too much time on my own?It is nice sometimes to be by yourself and we should all feel comfortable with that. However if that time is spent worrying about things, it’s not so good.  Make time to have social interaction with family and friends and if there is someone you trust, sharing a problem can help.Am I doing too much?Often when we have a lot to do, we can feel overwhelmed.  We all take on more than we need to at times.  When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask for help and recognise when you need to say NO.I hope these tips are useful but if you find yourself struggling please seek professional help either from your GP or you can access my Counselling Services here at Heart Care.

Carole Holder

Heart Care Healthy Living Counsellor