Stress Awareness

Stress is our body’s response to pressures from challenging situations in life. It can be a feeling of being overwhelmed or under pressure. Millions of people in the UK are experiencing high levels of stress. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time.

A common risk of high blood pressure is stress. We all experience stress, so it’s important to keep track of it and make sure it’s not effecting our health.

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We all know what it's like to feel stressed, although we say things like “this is stressful” and “I’m stressed” it's not easy to pin down exactly what stress means. One way stress can be defined is the way you feel when you're under abnormal pressure. All sorts of situations can cause stress, the most common involve work, money matters and relationships with partners, children or other family members. Whilst being under pressure is a normal part of life, as it can help you take action, feel more energised and get results, if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you.

Stress causes physical changes in the body designed to help you take on threats or difficulties. You may notice that your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. This is sometimes known as the fight or flight response.  However it is not just physical changes that stress can cause.  You may feel emotionally “wound up” or anxious, fearful and lacking in self-esteem or you could find yourself constantly worried with racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.  Stress can have an impact on all aspects of your life even something as simple as sleeping and eating too much or too little. 

We're all different, so a situation that doesn't bother one person could be extremely stressful to someone else. For example, going on holiday is a happy occasion and some people don’t bat an eyelid at flying whereas for others even the thought of getting on a plane causes them stress and anxiety.

We’re partners with the British Heart Foundation championing heart health across the UK. Whilst it’s normal for your blood pressure to increase for a short time if you’re feeling stressed. Once stress has passed, your blood pressure should go back to normal.

Unhealthy habits link to stress, like eating unhealthily and drinking too much alcohol can cause long-term high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your heart, major organs and arteries over time. This damage can increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.

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We all experience stress, so it’s important to keep track of it and make sure it’s not effecting our health, the NHS recommend the following things you can do to manage stress better*;

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Be active

Exercise won't make your stress disappear, but it will help clear your thoughts and let you to deal with your problems more calmly.

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Take control

There's a solution to any problem. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution.

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Have some 'me time'

Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don't spend enough time doing things we really enjoy.

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Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, such as learning a new language, helps to build confidence. This will help you deal with stress.

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Help other people

Evidence shows that people who help others become more resilient. If you don't have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day.

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Try to be positive

Look for the positives in life and things for which you're grateful. Try writing down three things that went well/you're grateful at the end of each day.

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Avoid unhealthy habits

Don't rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. Over the long term, these crutches won't solve your problems.

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Accept the things you can't change

Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.

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