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It is Mental Health Awareness Week - this year it is focused on stress.

What exactly is stress? The Mental Health Foundation says that ‘stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of your day to day life. Such as an increased workload, a transitional period, an argument you have with your family or new and existing financial worries.’

You can take this test to check your stress level and use our 4 tips to tackle it.

BREATHE

A deep breathing exercise can be incredibly beneficial to help calm us down. We recommend trying the ‘4-7-8’ method: inhale through your nose and count to 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat 4 times. Practise the exercise everyday, it really helps!

EXERCISE

It not a secret that a regular exercise is so important. It affects our mood, energy levels, reduces our risk of major illnesses and combats stress, anxiety and depression. Aim to move for at least 30 minutes everyday. It doesn’t have to be anything too extreme: brisk walking, cycling, dancing, yoga classes or swimming will be perfect.

SLEEP

Make sure you are getting enough sleep and keeping a regular bedtime routine. Try winding down before bed by taking a warm bath, reading a book or clearing your mind by journaling. A good night’s sleep enhances your health and wellbeing.

BE MINDFUL

Studies have shown mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Try paying more attention to the present moment: notice your feelings, thoughts, body sensations and the world around you. A perfect way to do it is by meditating everyday for at least 10 minutes. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend using apps like Headspace or Calm.

If you have tried self-help techniques and they aren't working, reach out to friends, family, your doctor or pick up the phone and call your local mental health line. Someone will help you. You are not alone!

Header image by Ryan McGinley

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