04 May 2018

April is Stress Awareness Month and a good time to open up and talk about the stresses in your life and get the help you need to reduce them.

We all need some pressure in our lives. It helps us to get out of bed in the morning and get things done, but stress is different. Whether it’s caused by work or by events in your personal life, if it goes on for too long it can affect our wider health, - raised blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and over-eating.

NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants us to spot to signs and take action to try and limit the amount of stress in our lives.

Research into stress suggests that there are five steps or ‘ways to wellbeing’ that everyone can take to develop their emotional strength, de-stress and improve mental wellbeing:

· Connect – invest time in developing your relationships with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours

· Be active – take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life

· Keep learning – developing new skills can give you a sense of achievement and build confidence. Why not sign up for a course or develop a new skill?

· Give to others – volunteering for a good cause or helping a neighbour can improve your mood, boost emotional wellbeing and help you build new social networks

· Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this ‘mindfulness’. It can change your feelings about life for the better and help you approach challenges positively.

Dr Laura Pogue, GP and Clinical Mental Health Lead for the CCGs, said: "We all have moments in our life that are stressful – however it's important you don't try and bury it away or try to tackle it all on your own”

"Have a look at the five ways to wellbeing. Remember to talk to friends, family or colleagues as this may help if you to cope with your worries and stress”.

There is more information about these five steps, as well as other useful information to help people combat stress, on the NHS Choices website