“There’s a long list of things that can cause stress such as money worries, unemployment, problems at work, family and relationship difficulties, childcare issues, physical health problems, the pressure of being a carer, bad experiences in the past, or being bullied, harassed or discriminated against.”
“Dealing with stress takes conscious effort, but research shows that small steps can make a big difference as they take the ‘edge’ off the worst effects of stress.
“Focus on the small steps that are most useful to you.”
The first thing to do is to be aware of how you are feeling –be mindful of it. Simply being aware of it, recognising it, is a key first step.
Top tips to deal with stress include:
• Look for and attend a mindfulness class. Mindfulness and meditation can teach you simple techniques that you can apply in your everyday life. It doesn’t mean going away to a retreat – three simple breaths is often all it takes to help you cope in a difficult situation at work or home;
• Make time for family and friends;
• Don’t be afraid to give and accept support – being available for others if they need support should encourage them to be there for you too;
• Know who you are, think about and try to do what makes you really happy, and learn to balance what you can and cannot change about yourself;
• Think positively;
• Work on your problems, talk about them and try to plan ahead;
• Eat well, be active and try to relax and have fun;
• If you choose to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits and avoiding excessive or binge drinking is important.
The PHA has produced a booklet – ‘Steps to deal with stress’ – which provides more tips and practical advice on coping with stress in your life and covers recognising stress, getting ready to start dealing with stress, coping better, learning from bad experiences and taking action now.
The booklet is available at www.bit.ly/stressbooklet
Madeline Heaney concluded: “More information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info
“You can also visit your GP for advice.
“If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info”