Stress and mental health

You may be wondering: is stress a mental health issue? The short answer is – not always. The body evolved to use stress for the good – by ensuring we were fast enough and strong enough to either stand and fight or run away when occasion warranted it. A certain amount of stress still improves our performance in many ways. Stress can help us perform well under pressure – for example when we have to give a presentation at work, or we’re in an exam, or we can use stress for good in a sporting situation.

Unfortunately, whenever the brain perceives of a threat or a danger, it floods the body with a stress hormone, and – these days - if we have nowhere to go and no one to fight, we end up feeling tense, anxious and even depressed. This is why stress and mental health can be linked. Too much stress is generally bad for us, particularly if we have no outlets for it.

Mental and emotional stress

Mental and emotional stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways. You may suffer with one or a number of the following:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Lack of interest in life
  • Irritability or bad temper
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, aches and pains
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Inability to focus or concentrate

Ways to improve your stress and mental health

There are any number of things you can do to impact on your stress and mental health in a positive way. Consider for example:

Journaling – keep a record of when you feel the most stressed and look at where you were, who you were with and what you were doing. Record what you did that made you feel better. After you have a number of entries in your journal, see if you can identify any patterns of things you can work on to ease stressful situations

Mindfulness – there are many resources online that can help you focus on the here and now, and stop you worrying about the past or future unnecessarily

Deep breathing techniques – deep breathing can help keep you calm when you meet a stressful situation. Again, you’ll find resources online that can give you the basics of breathing exercises for improved mental health

Sleep hygiene – make sure you’re exercising enough so that you feel tired in the evening, then remove electronic devices for your bedroom. Keep your bedroom clean and cool, and add layers to your bed. Your bedding should be comfortable, and you need to keep regular hours for sleep.

Reduce stimulants – if you smoke or drink a lot of coffee, try and cut down on these and other stimulants as they can increase anxiety and exacerbate stress and mental health problems.

Stay calm – use soothing music and aromatherapy candles to create a calm and relaxing environment

Bach flowers for stress and mental health

Bach flowers are a natural way to relieve your emotions when you are suffering with stress. For more information about which Bach flowers to use, have a chat with Tom, our Bach flowers specialist and certified psychologist. He can also advise about our Bach flowers mixes, or create a person Bach flower mix specific to your particular circumstances. For an informal chat, with no-obligation, contact Tom today.

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