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Stress Awareness Month: Seven tips for managing stress

Stress has become a part of modern life for many. And with all the uncertainty in the world right now, it’s natural to feel stressed and anxious at times.

So it’s important, especially at this time, that we take time to check in with ourselves and understand what triggers our stress and how to alleviate it.

Stress can play a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It's also linked to a range of physical conditions from heart disease and problems with our immune system to insomnia and digestive issues.

As April is Stress Awareness Month, we want to highlight some advice from experts on coping with stress. Stressful situations can’t always be avoided, but by identifying the cause of your stress, you can help to prevent it in the future, the NHS advises.

seven tips for coping with stress

So, we’ve put together some tips from experts, plus a few little amusing, badly-drawn doodles, on how to manage stress. For more advice on how to cope, visit the NHS website or the Stress Management Society.

And remember, if you feel like you're not coping, consider talking to a professional.

whether you're doing it at home or outside, exercise is a great stress buster. in fact, exercising actually causes chemical changes in your brain which can help boost your mood. while it  may not make your stress disappear completely, it can reduce the  emotional intensity, clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with problems more calmly.a good support network of friends, family or colleagues can ease troubles and help you see things in a different way. you don’t have to see them in person, slide into their DMs or suggest jumping on  a video call. the activities we do with mates help us relax. we often have  a good laugh with them, which is  an excellent stress reliever.make time to do the things you enjoy, whether that’s relaxing, playing games, spinning your legs on the bike for an hour or chatting to mates. remember you don’t always have to be productive. set aside a couple of hours a week for some self-care away from work or other distractions.setting yourself goals and challenges such as learning a new skill (track stand practice, anyone?) helps to build confidence. this in turn can help you deal with stress. "by continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person," says occupational health expert professor cary cooper.saying no to requests that are too much for you is important. when you're over-committed and under too much stress, you're more likely to feel run down. be honest about how you're feeling, say no respectfully and confidently. be clear why you're saying it, but don’t get involved in elaborate justifications.relying heavily on unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol or smoking to deal with stress may give temporary relief, but it won't make issues disappear. "in the long term, these crutches won't solve your problems. they'll just create new  ones," professor cooper  advises.changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. so focus on the things that you can control. for example, if your work was making redundancies, there's nothing you could do, says professor cooper. instead it would be better to focus on looking  for a new job.

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