Five tips to help you manage stress


April is Stress Awareness Month. Stress is something everyone feels at times – a 2018 study commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and undertaken by YouGov found that 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.

A small amount of stress can be helpful, but it can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with change or life challenges such as money worries, relationship issues, or problems at work.

Everyone deals with stress in different ways, and what works for some may not work for you. We have compiled some suggestions that may help you manage stress, as well as a list of services and support available in Portsmouth.

1. Make plans and break bigger tasks down

If you are finding a certain task stressful, it can be helpful to make detailed, step-by-step plans of what you need to do, which you can then ‘tick off’ when you have completed certain steps.

This may be especially useful if you are planning a large event, or if you are travelling, where creating to-do lists and packing lists can help you gather your thoughts and relieve stress.

Breaking down larger jobs into smaller, more manageable ‘chunks’ can also help you to see tasks in a form that is easier to tackle. More practically, this can help you to achieve smaller tasks while working towards the overall goal in a way that is less overwhelming.

2. Talk to those around you

If you are feeling busy or stressed and it’s affecting you, it’s important to talk to those around you – whether that’s friends, family, or colleagues.

Talking about the reasons why you are stressed can help you to work through any problems or issues that may be causing you stress. The people you talk to might even have solutions you hadn’t thought of – think ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Spending time with others can also help you to take your mind off the cause of the stress and focus on other things, which can improve your mood.

3. Look after yourself

Stress can take a huge toll on your mind and body. Exercising can be effective in helping to relieve stress, so taking time to get active regularly is important – this could be cycling, a run, or a walk, or going to the gym. Going out and getting fresh air, even for a short time, can really help our mental wellbeing.

Taking time to relax and recharge is also important. Even if you feel you are really busy, we all need to take breaks and allow ourselves to rest.

4. Realise when it is causing a problem

When stress is affecting your mental and physical health, it’s important to know to try and reduce it as soon as possible. There are some common signs and symptoms that might indicate that stress is negatively impacting your mental health:

  • Feeling constantly worried or anxious
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in sleeping habits

According to the NHS, the physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Stomach problems, stress headaches and other odd pains including muscle pain
  • Skin reactions, like stress rashes and hives
  • Feeling dizzy, sick or faint

5. Know where to access help

If you have any symptoms that you are worried about, or feel you have more severe stress, see your GP.

Positive Minds Portsmouth offer a unique service for adults feeling low, worried, or hopeless. The team of peer practitioners offer both 1:1 support, wellbeing groups, and have their own experiences with mental health. The team can help with a variety of issues that could be contributing to feelings of worry or hopelessness. These include:

  • Housing
  • Money
  • Relationships
  • Work
  • Bereavement
  • Leaving the armed forces
  • Living away from home

Advice Portsmouth provides free, independent, impartial and confidence advice to people living in Portsmouth. A team of qualified professionals, staff and volunteers can advise on social welfare, debt, benefits, employment, housing, family and consumer law.

Citizens Advice Portsmouth provides free, independent and confidential advice in a number of areas.

Anyone aged 11-25 years old in Portsmouth who may be worried about the upcoming exam season can access Kooth – a free, online mental health and wellbeing support service for young people to find support and counselling in a way that suits them.

It’s important that parents know where to get support when they are struggling to cope. Families in Mind has a team of Specialist Health Visitors, Community and Mental Health Nurses to support families working through difficult times. Anyone can self-refer at: www.portsmouthfamilyhubs.co.uk/familiesinmind 

If you’re not sure where to get support for your mental health, you can call the Portsmouth Mental Health Hub phoneline on 0300 123 6621 or visit www.mentalhealthinportsmouth.co.uk to learn more about services in Portsmouth.

The Mental Health Foundation has lots of tips on how to manage and reduce stress.

The NHS Every Mind Matters website also has lots of information about common symptoms of stress and possible causes, as well as stress relief and a personalised plan of self-care tips.