We have spoken about the awful effects of anxiety in an earlier blog. Now we are going to talk about its less sinister, but at times equally distressing sibling: Stress. If you have ever felt seriously stressed out, you’re not alone. 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year, that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
What is stress?
Oxford dictionary defines stress as:‘A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’
How is it different from anxiety?
Put simply- Stress should be (if handled correctly) short-lived and should subside once the issue is solved or no longer exists.
Common causes are work deadlines, money problems, upcoming exams, or a fight with a loved one. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a serious sustained mental health disorder that is often triggered by stress.
When our body senses perceived stressors, it instantaneously produces a sequence of hormonal changes to help you to fight the threat off or flee to safety. This is driven by animal instinct. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to these stressors  One of these hormones is adrenaline, which is produced as a reaction to the stress and raises your blood pressure, heart and perspiration rate in preparation for an emergency response (that survival mode). These symptoms can manifest into overwhelmed feelings of fear and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, making decisions or sleeping due to racing thoughts.
If the stress is not dealt with, you may experience symptoms like:
· digestion issues
· loss of libido
· over or under eating/ drinking
· sadness, avoidance or anger.
· lowers immune system to fight off disease and sickness
Our tips for YOU to manage stress:
#1 Manage your diary correctly
When it comes to work, make sure you are prioritising and scheduling everything. Set daily goals to work on. This should make you feel more organised and able to tackle one task at a time; hopefully easing your stress.
When it comes to your personal life, make sure you are scheduling in a balance of socialising and family time but also time for self-care; to relax or do the things you enjoy.
#2 Find your relief
Be it playing a musical instrument, painting, a bath, a massage or a sauna session. Find your calm. Or perhaps you are someone who loves to get your heart rate up with a workout like a sweaty gym class, a hot yoga class or going for a walk with a podcast or audiobook.
Exercise is great for stress relief as it produces endorphins which alter your mood positively (making you feel happy!).
#3 Watch your stimulants/relaxants
With caffeine- have one caffeinated beverage a day and then switch it for a decaf or opt for a herbal tea. Remember that it is a stimulant and can increase agitation, jitters, and anxiousness. So, if you are already stressed- it really won’t help. Interestingly, sugar can have similar effects on your body- so watch how much of it is sneaking into your diet.
Lastly, limit alcohol. Eva Cyhlarova, of The Mental Health Foundation says:"Over time, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain that are needed for good mental health. So while alcohol may help deal with stress in the short term, in the long run it can contribute to feeling of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with”. 
We harp on about it, for good reason! There are many types of meditation, some including- silent, guided, repeating mantras and walking. Find the type that works for you! Meditation will teach you principles on being more mindful to apply to all areas of your life. This can help to bring awareness to your breath when you’re feeling stress creep in, pay more attention to why you’re feeling it, and then awareness to the fact that like everything, this feeling will pass. Recently there has also been a growth in practicing gratitude and journaling. This means on a regular basis you are jotting down simple reflections on your day/month/year and reminding yourself of the reasons you are grateful. It is quite therapeutic- give it a try!
#5 Listen to music
It is used as a form of therapy. It can be a great way to bring calmness into a specific moment. A study found that patients consistently report that they feel less stressed when music is present 
As well as this, there is nothing greater than turning the volume up for your favourite song to sing or dance along to at home, or at a night out/celebration with friends. This can be a great distraction from stress and hopefully help to remind you to not take everything so seriously.
Be sure to watch for the next 5 tips in Part 2 next week!
Mental Health Foundation. (2018).Stressed nation: 74% of UK 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the past year. [online] Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/stressed-nation-74-uk-overwhelmed-or-unable-cope-some-point-past-year [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
Harvard Health. (2018).Understanding the stress response [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
Wright, R., Cohen, R.T. & Cohen, S. (2005). The impact of stress on the development and expression of atopy. Clinical Immunology, 5, 23-29. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15643340. [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
Thoma, M. V., La Marca, R., Brönnimann, R., Finkel, L., Ehlert, U., & Nater, U. M. (2013). The effect of music on the human stress response. PloS one, 8(8), e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23940541 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
Shani Kaplan is a contributing writer for Truth Naturals. She combines her knowledge gained from working within the fitness/wellness industry in Sydney and London for the last seven years as a Personal Trainer, and class instructor, with her addiction to research due to her BA in Business Marketing. Shani loves martial arts, resistance training, dance and yoga, nutrition, travel, design, photography, and art.