According to leading mental health charity Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in England experience issues with their mental health. While many factors can contribute to conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, high levels of stress play a key role.
If you want to look after your mental health, managing your stress levels needs to be a priority. In light of Stress Awareness Month, here we look at how stress impacts your mental health, and what you can do about it.
How does stress impact mental health?
Stress is something we all experience from time to time. However, chronic, or long-term stress, can have a detrimental impact on both our mental and physical health.
When the body is placed under pressure, it releases stress hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones trigger an increase in your heart rate, causing you to breathe faster in a bid to deliver more oxygen to the muscles. This is commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
In cases of long-term stress, the fight or flight response is constantly triggered. This can prove overwhelming, making it difficult to cope with any challenges you face. Research has shown that chronic stress increases the risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It can also be a trigger for some conditions such as PTSD.
It is worth noting that everybody experiences stress differently. Some people are much more likely to develop adverse effects from stress than others. Researchers are hoping to determine why this is through future studies.
What are the best ways to reduce stress?
If you want to look after your mental health, reducing the amount of stress you experience is crucial. There are lots of ways you can manage and reduce stress in your life, including:
- Taking a break from technology
- Avoiding bad habits
- Practising mindfulness
- Regular exercise
- Getting a good night’s sleep
Constant use of technology has been linked to several mental health issues including an increased risk of anxiety and depression, alongside low emotional stability. Reducing how much time you spend watching TV or scrolling through social media, will greatly improve your sense of wellbeing.
Practising mindfulness and avoiding bad habits such as comfort eating and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, will all help to reduce stress and boost your mental health. Similarly, making sure you get plenty of regular exercise is one of the best stress management tips you can utilise.
If you focus on bringing down those stress levels, you will see a vast improvement in your health.
The lifestyle medicine approach
One way to look after yourself is to follow a lifestyle medicine approach. Renowned for its profound and positive benefits, lifestyle medicine promotes lifetime, rather than short-term health. Instead of treating illnesses once they occur, it focuses on preventing them with good health.
At The Mayfair GP, we specialise in providing a lifestyle medicine approach to suit each individual patient. If you want to reduce stress and improve your mental health, book a consultation with the Mayfair GP today.