Unfortunately, feeling occasional stress is just a part of life. Life can’t go smoothly all the time, and as such, experiencing stress every now and again is a natural part of being human.
However that doesn’t mean that the stress you feel can’t be managed. We’ve already looked at ways to relieve stress when you’re under pressure – as a part of our Mental Health Awareness Week series covering the 15 most Googled questions on mental health – but what about the ways you can cope when stress is unavoidable?
Try regular exercise
The mental health charity Mind and the NHS both agree that exercise is beneficial for your mental health. As the NHS puts it: ‘Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem.
‘Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it can improve social interaction.’
Take a 20 minute break outside
According to new research, just 20-30 minutes of daily walking outside in nature could have a beneficial effect on your mental health. This is because these nature walks have been shown to cut people’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol by around 10%. It should be noted that the more time you spend either walking or even just sitting outside, the better the study’s results suggests you’ll feel, but those first 20-30 minutes have the strongest effect.
Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, who led the study, said: ‘Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.’
Take some time for yourself
According to the NHS, one of their 10 stress busters is taking ‘me’ time. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, recommends setting a couple nights a week aside for time away from work, saying: ‘We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise.’
Accept the things you cannot change
Some stressful things in life are simply out of your hands, so you may well find that the energy spent stressing over some of these things is effectively wasted.
As Professor Cooper says: ‘If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.’