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How to effectively manage stress: little changes that make a big difference

| Heidi Thompson | 25 April 2024

Almost three-quarters (74%) of Brits are now so stressed that they feel overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to figures from the Mental Health Foundation and YouGov.

It can be easy to dismiss high stress levels as an inherent part of life but 180,000 people every year die from stress-related illnesses in the UK.

While we’re all likely to experience short-term bouts of stress as we balance deadlines, workloads, childcare and financial concerns, stress has powerful, palpable effects that we simply can’t afford to ignore.

Soothing stress minimises potential health problems

The truth is that stress is incredibly damaging; it has lasting psychological, physical, and emotional effects that can endanger your health, well-being, and relationships if not managed effectively.

Psychologically, people suffering from intense or prolonged stress are more prone to being irritable or aggressive, as well as experiencing fatigue, anxiety, depression, and even lapses in concentration and memory.

Stress can often harm relationships as well as physical health; it has been shown to put sufferers at a statistically greater risk for insomnia, chronic exhaustion, dizziness, headaches, and high blood pressure - which can lead to further problems if left unchecked.

Clearly, the effects of stress are as wide-ranging as they are damaging - so how do we manage stress effectively to minimise these potential problems?

Small, consistent changes can help to overcome stress

Ideally, the most instinctive way to reduce stress is to remove yourself from the situation that’s causing it - but logically, that won’t always be possible. When this is the case, the best approach is to implement small but consistent changes to manage stress in a measurable way.

The ultimate goal is to improve your mental and physical health to negate the damaging effects of stress. April is Stress Awareness Month, which makes it the ideal time to take stock of your personal circumstances and take affirmative action to improve your mood, your health and, of course, your life.

The theme for this year’s UK-wide campaign from the Stress Management Society is #LittleByLittle. It emphasises how small, incremental improvements to your routine and habits can radically improve your mental and physical health by reducing your feelings of stress.

Small changes make a big difference

Whether it’s setting aside more time for a restful sleep to recharge, exercising in a way you find enjoyable or connecting with a friend in a meaningful way, every small step you take can yield a wealth of benefits.

From reducing feelings of loneliness, combatting fatigue and getting your blood flowing, you can radically reduce your chances of suffering from the ill effects of stress by taking charge of your time and your autonomy. Duncan & Toplis actively assists its team members to manage stress and practice mindfulness with an Employee Assistance Programme from Care First; this is a comprehensive set of services designed to help employers provide a balanced and healthy working environment. In addition to this, we also have mental health first aiders and offer online fitness options - with the aim to keep our team physically stable and mentally sound.

The key to overcoming stress is to not see it as an all-encompassing obelisk that must be climbed but instead as a series of small, simple tasks that you simply need to prioritise. Whether you choose to take a stroll in the park, a run by the river or even something as simple as stepping away from your desk and eating your lunch outside, connecting with nature is an especially impactful way of helping to reduce stress.

Similarly, breathing deeply and practising mindfulness can also offset the negative effects of stress by helping to regulate your emotions. Even just five minutes of quiet reflection could make a massive difference to your emotional wellbeing.

Remember, almost three-quarters of us suffer from the damaging impacts of stress so think about the small changes you can make to help you manage stress today. For more information about the ways you can help to reduce your stress levels little by little, visit stress.org.uk.


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