Whether it is down to financial pressures, work worries or just day-to-day business, stress is a growing problem here in the UK. In fact, a major 2013 Government survey, involving tens of thousands of GPs' sick notes, revealed that one in three absences from work are down to anxiety and stress.
Though it may seem the norm to feel stressed out these days, anxiety can grow into a much bigger problem if you don't take the time to relax, so here are a few tips to help you keep calm.
The little things in life, both physical and mental, can quickly build up and begin to seem insurmountable. Decluttering everything from your home to your list of woes can really help you to see things more clearly, and thereby begin to ease the pressure that can cause you to feel anxious. Clear out the mess and clutter at home to give you a sense of space, try to make room in your diary so that you're not constantly on the go, and make a list of the things that are worrying you. Some of those issues will be things you can do something about - others will be out of your control. But once you've taken on the tasks that are manageable, you'll be much better able to stand back and accept that some will just have to take their natural course.
Make sure you take a little time out for yourself each day, even if it is just ten minutes on your own, away from work and family life. It could just be a soak in the bath, 30 minutes with a good book, or getting out for a walk with the dog. Of course, meditation is also a great way to relax and get calm, and you don't need to join a class to benefit. Just find a quiet place to sit and be quiet, acknowledge your surroundings but try to keep your mind from wandering onto all those little worries. You'll be amazed at the difference it can make to your stress levels.
As unlikely as it may seem, the 'runner's high' is a very real effect. The endorphins released during exercise are a great stress-reliever, and getting those feel-good hormones pumping will undoubtedly ease the anxiety, and improve your energy levels. And if hardcore cardio seems a bit too much, opt instead for the stretching and deep breathing of yoga, which is renowned for taking away some of the stress of the day. If nothing else, getting some good old-fashioned exercise could help you to sleep if your worries are keeping you awake, and that better quality shut-eye will help lift your mood.
Do something for others
When you're constantly worrying about your own problems, even little things can go from molehills to mountains, and that's when the anxiety really sets in. By doing something for someone else, you may find it puts some of your smaller woes into perspective. Volunteering at a local charity, or even just helping out a friend or neighbour, can make a big difference to your mental state - studies have shown that donating your own time improves both physical and mental health.
Talk it out
There is some truth in the saying that 'a problem shared is a problem halved'. Bottle things up and you may find yourself struggling to cope with the stresses and strains, so let it out, whether with your partner, parents or friends. If your anxiety levels are seriously rising, however, it might pay to consider a talking therapy. Cognitive behaviour therapy, for example, allows you to see the link between negative thoughts, and with the help of an expert, you can develop methods with which you can deal with problems more successfully.
Have you managed to get on top of your anxiety issues? What tips would you give others on how to keep calm? Leave your comments below...