Everyone thinks I’m overly dramatic when I’m stressed. When an octopus is stressed, it eats itself. Now that’s overdramatic: International Stress Awareness Week.

So, the UK is a pretty stressed out load of people. I can’t be the only one that sometimes feel like, I wake up stressed, I get ready stressed, I go about my day stressed, I stress eat, I stress buy random things, I even stress clean, and my stress can stop me from sleeping. In January this year, the digital health company Forth, made a survey about stress from a diverse demographic of 2,000 people. The results are quite concerning: Check them out for yourself here: https://www.forthwithlife.co.uk/blog/great-britain-and-stress/

However, stress, what exactly is it? I wanted to begin the article with an insightful, all encompassing, sentence about it. However, when I looked online, even Mind isn’t 100% on its explanation – apparently there isn’t a medical definition. 

On their website, they summed it up as:

  • Situations or events that put pressure on us – for example, times where we have lots to do and think about, or don’t have much control over what happens.
  • Our reaction to being placed under pressure – the feelings we get when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.

Although we may not naturally consider stress that dangerous, I mean some stress can be good: it can motivate you to get your tasks done or push yourself our of your comfort zone. However, it can go too far. It can cause mental and physical health problems, emotional exhaustion, and can lead to strains in relationships, work, and everyday life. 

Hence, we’ve got an International Week (5th – 9th November) and National Day (7th November) dedicated to raising awareness, reducing stigma and focusing on the importance of wellbeing. It’s held by the aptly named, International Stress Management Association. This year’s theme is ‘Does Hi-Tech cause Hi-Stress’ and it is exactly what it says on the tin. The point of this year’s week is to discuss the positive and negative impacts that technology has brought our lifestyles and society. Don’t worry my article is not going to be about that, to be honest I’m way ahead of the game and wrote an piece all about it a year ago: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2017/07/advice-from-a-caterpillar-social-media-tweet-me/. 

This is not a new concern.

Yes, we get it, on the one hand technology provides us with masses of information, instant and global connectivity, anyone can have a voice, awareness and news stories can be seen and spread by millions – in some cases this can save lives, and it means we all leave behind a digital footprint. And yes, on the other hand, its kinda evil, we all constantly compare ourselves with other digital profiles, present and doctor our appearances and lives on our profiles because apparently that’s what gives us value now, there’s cyber bullying and hate crimes on the internet, and is rapidly making us all anti-social and lazy drones, and maybe one day robots will takeover the world and enslave humanity. However, like I ended up concluding on the above linked article, the whole pros and cons case is to be honest, quite a pointless one. As phrased by Alice, aka from Alice in Wonderland, “That’s just the trouble with me; I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

I’ll preach that it is affecting our ability to form physical relationships, that it emphasises our anxieties about our appearance and invades our privacy. Overall, I’ll seem to predict we are heading towards a future where we are infinitely scrolling, never looking up and that the corporations have our souls. And yet, every morning I’ll wake up, unlock my phone, check if I have any texts, and then proceed to look on my Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram (and indeed looking at the infamous Kardashians), Twitter, Sky News app and Hotmail email. This I will continue to do throughout my day. We are digital citizens now, that’s a fact, however, I do recommend taking ‘technology breaks’ – believe me, its quite refreshing, and I do end up less stressed – granted I then go into hamster in a microwave mode when I then notice I have five million emails.

Anyway, talking about technology is not the point of this article… Let’s get talking about some good old self-care and wellbeing!

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed right now (I know I am), here are just some little tips on tackling daily, and chronic, stress:

  • Take regular breaks – Yes, you have deadlines and work to get done, but you’ll just be writing old guff if you’re overworked.
  • And when you take a break don’t just binge watch Netflix – I know, we all enjoy doing this, but I honestly feel more alive and refreshed when I just go for a short walk – We have Mile End and Victoria park on our doorsteps – might as well use them.
  • Call a friend or your family – 9 times out of 10, after just having some general chit chat, or a natter as my nan says, you are able to put the worries away even if only for half an hour.
  • Try not to let the little things get you down – I am so guilty of doing this, but winding yourself up over the littlest of things will literally send you over the edge – it’s not worth it – nip those concerns in the bud right away!
  • Have a cuppa tea – Seems to be a fool proof solution.
  • Have a takeaway (or a nutritious and delicious meal) – Food always seems to make me feel good, sometimes I’ll make a cracking vegetarian burrito, other times, I’ll stuff my face with Chinese.
  • Avoid heavy drinking – Nothing wrong with a cheeky pint, but in reality, binge drinking is a no no when feeling like this.
  • Sleep + Hydrate – Lord I cannot stress these things enough, they are so obvious, but so effective, in keeping you feeling a bit more human.

If you are struggling to the point where your days and uni experience is getting quite unbearable there is support. From QM Advice & Counselling (https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/) and Nightline (http://nightline.org.uk/) to Tower Hamlets 24hr Mental Health Crisis Line (https://www.elft.nhs.uk/News/Launch-of-Tower-Hamlets-Mental-Health-Crisis-Line) and Positive East (https://www.positiveeast.org.uk/). 

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