A Few Ways to Unwind during Stress Awareness Month

April paves the way for a joyful and spring-filled season; this month, we can welcome lighter and brighter evenings, alongside (hopefully) warmer weather and no longer needing to wear as many layers as possible when we leave the house.  

However, April also marks Stress Awareness Month; a time for us to reflect on what causes us the most anxiety and strain day to day. It’s important to talk about what causes us stress and help alleviate it where possible. Not all stresses and anxieties are easily rectified, but taking time to identify pain points and figure out ways we can navigate stressful times will benefit mental health greatly.  

Here at Storyy Group, we want to make sure all our young people feel safe and supported, especially when it comes to finding a route through stressful situations and navigating anxieties. In 2023, approximately 1 in 5 young people (aged 8 to 25 years old) had varying mental disorders caused by stresses, traumas and other varying factors. It was also stated that in adulthood, 1 in 3 mental health problems was directly linked to an adverse childhood experience (ACE). The work we do in our Alternative Provisions, Children’s Homes, and Supported Accommodation (16+) is tailored to lowering these stats, and instead, create a world where every young person has the best possible chance of excelling, despite the stresses around them.  

So, this Stress Awareness Month, we’ve pulled together a few ways that might help you to take time out from demanding situations and grant yourself a little reprieve. Life can become incredibly stressful at times, but you must be gentle with yourself. 

Reduce Your Screentime  

In this day and age, the majority of us rely on our phones. Whether that’s for scheduling work plans or scrolling social media during downtime, the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone every day!  

Reducing the amount of time we spend on our phones, laptops, and other screen exposure can greatly decrease stress and anxiety levels. As we become more connected with the physical world around us, we become less overloaded by social media and other online information. Setting time limits on social media apps can help lower the amount of time we spend on our smart devices, whilst also helping our minds to unwind.  

Instead of going to pick up your phone to doom scroll, why not find a book that you can become engrossed in, have a go at journaling, or another activity that will peacefully occupy your mind?  

 Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine  

An excellent way to take some time out, reduce stress, and get some feel-good endorphins in is by doing some exercise. No matter how light or strenuous, exercise is an incredible stress reliever and is something that can easily be added to your daily routine. 

Whether you have a spare 5 minutes in the morning or can factor in an hour after work, any amount of exercise can help distract you from daily worries and improve your mood overall.  

Simply going on a short walk, having a light jog, doing some wholesome yoga, or getting out on a bike during a spring evening are perfect ways of adding some exercise to your daily routine. Why not take a look at Yoga with Adriene; yoga helps promote relaxation and improve mental health through mindfulness. If one form of physical activity doesn’t work for you, don’t give up! There will be something out there that works for you and helps alleviate your stresses and anxieties.  

Practice some Breathing Exercises  

A very simple way of reducing stress and keeping anxiety at bay is by carrying out breathing exercises. Copying a relaxed breathing pattern helps to calm the nervous system by controlling the body’s involuntary functions. This, in turn, helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate, decreasing the amount of stress hormones that are traveling around our bodies in the blood.  

The average adult takes approximately 15 breaths per minute when calm and relaxed, but when stressed or anxious our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks on, speeding our breathing up in the process. Headspace has a great selection of breathing exercises for you to try, depending on the stresses and anxieties that you are experiencing. Pop the kettle on, take a few minutes out, and give some of them a go.  

On the note of making a cuppa, tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which helps promote relaxation. Studies have also suggested that tea drinkers also have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Why not grab a few of your favourite biscuits to dunk whilst you’re at it? 

Catch Up with Someone Close to You 

Being surrounded by good people and a supportive network can massively help to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Talking through your concerns and problems can aid in releasing pent-up feelings, reducing stress and providing relief in the process. Discussing issues with someone outside of the situation may also offer helpful insights into how to overcome what may be troubling you, but it’s important to choose the right people to speak to. 

Not all friends or family members can help release bottled-up feelings. However, speaking to the right people who offer emotional support and care for your well-being will help by offering encouragement and identifying the root cause of your distress.  

Organise a face-to-face catch-up, as opposed to one over the phone. Although a phone or video call will help, having in-person interaction will help elevate your stress tenfold. 

Take Some Time for Yourself  

We hope these stress-busting ideas will come in useful. Stress is never a nice emotion to experience, but make sure you take some time for yourself during stressful situations, remove yourself from the scenario as best you can and practice some self-care through one of the above activities.  

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