April is National Stress Awareness Month. I think we are all aware of stress. It seems that most of us have felt stressed at some point over the last 3 years. So let’s look at what is stress and how can we deal with it and how can we prevent or reduce it? 
Stress is a physical and psychological response to challenging situations, demands, or pressures. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as work, family, health, financial issues and much more. When we encounter a stressful situation, our body responds by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger the "fight or flight" response, preparing us to either confront the situation or run away from it. 
While some stress can be beneficial in small doses and help us to perform better, prolonged or chronic stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health, relationships and overall well-being. 
Stress can manifest in different ways, and the signs may vary from person to person. However, some common signs and symptoms that you can experience include: 
• Physical symptoms: Stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite. 
• Emotional symptoms: Stress can also affect your emotional state, causing symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, anger, mood swings and feeling overwhelmed. 
• Cognitive symptoms: Stress can impact your ability to think and focus, leading to forgetfulness, poor concentration and indecisiveness. 
• Behavioural symptoms: Stress may affect your behaviour, such as overeating or undereating, substance abuse, social withdrawal or procrastination. 
• Interpersonal symptoms: Stress can also impact your relationships, leading to conflicts with family, friends and colleagues. 
You may not notice the signs yourself at first, although those around you may do. Sometimes when deep in the middle of stressful times you can be so wrapped up in it that you can’t see it. It is important to take steps to manage your stress and seek help if necessary. 
Here are some helpful ways to deal with stress: 
• Identify the source of stress: The first step in dealing with stress is identifying its source. Once you know what's causing your stress, you can take steps to address the problem. 
• Practice relaxation techniques: Activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and muscle relaxation can help you manage stress by reducing muscle tension, slowing your heart rate and calming your mind. 
• Exercise regularly: Exercise can help you reduce stress by releasing endorphins, improving your mood and promoting better sleep. 
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol and drugs can help you manage stress and promote overall health and well-being. 
• Seek social support: Talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional can help you feel more supported and less alone in dealing with stress. 
• Take time for yourself: Always reacting to help others or deal with any issues as they arise may be all well and good but you need to include time for yourself. 
Being able to identify that you are suffering from symptoms caused by stress is great but avoiding it in the first place is even better! 
These are some methods I use to prevent stress: 
• Plan ahead: Avoid last-minute rushing around and plan your day or week in advance. I’ve found this to be the biggest help. 
• Set realistic goals: Set achievable goals and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. 
• Practice time management: Learn to prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively. Time management should include tasks that are non-negotiable and negotiable and don't feel guitly!!! 
• Take breaks: Taking breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and reduce stress. 
• Practice self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, such as hobbies or spending time with loved ones and again don't feel guity. 
I have a simple, visual and effective way of ensuring that my time is spent in a balanced way. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to find out more and I can send the info to you. 
Recently I enjoyed a very Floatation Therapy Treatment. This was a lovely stress reliever. You can read about my experience by clicking here.  
My 3 favourite ways to help reduce stress: 
Have a massage 
Have a facal 
Go for a walk. 
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