In an ideal world, the only thing cocooning you as you sleep would be one of our cosy feather and down duvets. But here at Land of Beds, we understand that – all too often – it’s stress that can shroud you at night-time, preventing you from enjoying a much-needed restful sleep.
In honour of National Stress Awareness Day, 4 November, we’ve taken a look at five practical steps you can take to regain control if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressures, commitments and demands of modern life.
If you have any tips you’d like to share on how you manage your own stress levels, we’d love to read them in the comments section below.
STEP ONE: Recognise there’s a problem
Stress can manifest itself if many ways, but commons signs listed by NHS Choices include sleeping problems caused by racing thoughts (constantly going over things in your head) or feelings linked with low self-esteem and anxiety. Sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating are other symptoms, as is muscle tension, headaches and dizziness.
STEP TWO: Understanding your physical symptoms
Stress causes huge surges of hormones in your body, which are released to help you to deal with pressure. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, stress hormones will usually return to a normal level. However, if you’re caught in a stress trap, these hormones will stay heightened – leading to the unpleasant symptoms described above.
To read our blog on how sleep affects your mental health, click here.
STEP THREE: Recognise unhelpful coping tools
You may have started to drink alcohol or drink more than you used to, or to take non-prescribed medication. You may also be smoking more. These short-term ‘quick fixes’ may temporarily disguise the problem, but over time, your stress pattern will persist.
STEP FOUR: Focus on the areas where you need to improve your wellness
According to John W. Travis, who invented the ‘Wellness Inventory’, there are 12 dimensions of a healthy wellness lifestyle. These include self-responsibility and love, breathing, sensing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing and working, communication, intimacy and sex, finding meaning, and transcending. A good first step is to give yourself a mark out of 10 for your satisfaction level in each of these 12 areas. Those which score the lowest are the areas you need to focus on.
For more tips on how to manage your wellness and stress triggers, click here.
STEP FIVE: Ask for help if you need to
It’s always okay to ask for help and to talk about your mental health if you are struggling. Your GP can support you to manage stress outside of mental health services, and will signpost you for specialist help only when it is needed. In the workplace, talk to your supervisor about reasonable adjustments your employer can make to reduce your stress levels, or ask for a referral to occupational health.
For more advice, download the International Stress Management Association UK’s free National Stress Awareness Day advisory leaflet.