'I'm a counsellor and here are my top five tips for relieving stress - and they do not cost a single penny'

Lynn Crilly

Lynn Crilly provides her top tips for relieving stress

Lynn Crilly
Adam Chapman

By Adam Chapman

Published: 10/04/2024

- 16:46

To mark Stress Awareness Month, counsellor Lynn Crilly provides her top tips for alleviating a mental health problem that affects one in five Britons

April marks Stress Awareness Month - and I am not surprised an entire month has been set aside to magnify the issue.

‘I am so stressed’ or ‘My stress levels are high today’ are comments I hear on a daily basis both through my work and in everyday life.

Something has shifted.

I sense people's stress levels and worries have escalated since the pandemic and lockdown.

This was reflected in a recent poll I conducted on my Instagram page, which saw 76 percent of people saying they regularly felt stressed.

First, the good news. Stress is a normal and common response to new and challenging environments and situations. It has both physical and mental characteristics. When a person is feeling stressed, their body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline. The body experiences physical changes which allow the person to respond to the stressful situation.

Plus, remember, everyone will feel stressed at different points in their lives. Being aware of the triggers, and how to insulate yourself from stressful situations will help the person manage them more effectively.

But stress can and does become a potential issue when it lasts for a long period of time and causes the person to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with their situation.

Over the last few days I’ve been looking into the issues which are causing the most stress to people I help support, to the people I know and to the people I regularly come into contact with. To broaden things out I also posed a question on social media to ask what sparks the most stress.

I found the things causing people seem to be experiencing the most stress right now are linked to:

1. Pressures of school, college, university and exams

2. A change in a relationship.

3. Buying or selling a house.

4. Financial challenges

5. The death of a family member or friend

6. Having a child or trying for a baby

7. Reading or watching the news.

8. Working long hours or being made redundant.

When dealing with stressful situations some experts would have you believe you might need to spend huge amounts of remedies. But in my experience there are five things, which don’t cost a penny, can work just as effectively as any fancy paid-for app or expensive wellness-retreat.

They are:

1. Being side by side with nature, whether it is for a walk, sitting in a park, by the river or by the sea, listening to the birds singing and taking in fresh air can all help to clear the mind. Meditation, breathing exercises, and spending time alone just ‘in the moment’ are good ways to reset the brain.

2. Writing your thoughts, worries and to do lists down and working through them when you can, will help to stop filling up the head and not leaving room to think properly.

3. Reading a book can take you into another world, so maybe join the local library or find a book swap group nearby

4. Talking to trusted friends and family can help to offload some of the stress, or as the adage goes: ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’.

5. But the best one of all is a hug or cuddle. Whether it be a loved one, friend, work colleague or even an animal or pet, a cuddle never fails to make things feel better as you do not feel alone anymore. It’s something we lost during lockdown - and maybe that’s why stress levels have been soaring ever since?

Lynn Crilly is an author, counsellor and expert on mental health

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