How to combat mental strain and stress

Stress is becoming a growing problem as a result of the busy, demanding world we now live in. While some stress is necessary and helps us to perform well, it can become an issue when it is constant, where you feel as though you are buckling under pressure.

Stress can impact us both physically and mentally, including how we think, feel and behave. Here are some top stress-busting tips from Priory that can help you deal with any strain that you may face on a day-to-day basis.

Notice the signs and don’t ignore them

Early signs of stress include poor sleep, tiredness and irritably. It can lead to headaches, high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Along with physical symptoms, you may also display mental health problems such as anxiety and depression if your stress is left unrecognised and untreated.

Rather than ignoring warning signs and trying to plough through, it is important to plan strategies to help you tackle the stress as well as any associated problems. By addressing the source of your stress, you can avoid the risk of reaching a stress-related burnout.

Check in with your body

The reactions from your body are typically the first warning signs that you are experiencing stress.

Check in with your body throughout the day. You may want to set reminders on your phone to make sure you do it. Are your shoulders hunched over? Has your leg been jiggling? Is your brow furrowed or your jaw clenched? When you notice your body getting stressed, take a break. If you can’t leave the situation, try tensing and un-tensing different parts of your body to see if it eases your tension.

Take a well-deserved break

Give yourself the chance to take a break, breathe and remove yourself from the stressful situation.

If you are at work, make a cup of tea or go for a walk on your lunch. If you don’t have time for a proper break, think about micro breaks. Take a minute to chat to someone at the next desk or even let the phone ring once or twice before you pick it up.

Trying to plan these regular breaks during your day can be better than waiting till you’re completely burnt out.

Once you get home, try your hand at some art-making. It can be a soothing activity, as it can give your brain a break from intrusive and destructive stressful thoughts. By reducing stress levels, you will be left feeling more mentally clear. Doing any activity where you are taking time for you can be calming and revitalising.

It’s good to talk

Don’t be afraid of opening up about how you are feeling. You might be pleasantly surprised by how supportive people can be.

Think about who you would feel comfortable talking to and the sort of support you are looking for. Do you want someone who you can vent to, who will lend a listening ear? Or do you want to speak to someone who has gone through similar stresses, so you don’t feel alone?

Don’t drink away your stresses

While a drink at the end of a hard day can sometimes make you feel relaxed in the short-term, regularly turning to alcohol to reduce your stress is not beneficial in the long run.

Drinking every day can lead to developing a dependency on alcohol, and can actually worsen symptoms of anxiety and stress. By attempting to forget your feelings by drinking, you won’t be processing them, which can lead to your problems being stored up.


Physical exercise can benefit the mind as well as the body. If you sit at a desk all day, a 20 minute walk can help to shift some of the intense stress you are feeling.

Also, find an exercise that you enjoy doing and that you can easily integrate into your day-to-day life so that this stress-relief becomes part of your routine.

Focus on yourself

It is great to help others as it can make you feel useful and part of a team. While you may feel good about not disappointing others, don’t take on too much as it can compromise your health. Instead, think ‘I deserve to be happy too’. While it might not solve all your problems, it may help you to push back on demands from time to time.

Learn your stress responses

Everyone’s stress triggers are different.  Whether it is your finances, work struggles or a relationship breakdown, these can all have an impact on how we feel.

By recognising what is making you stressed, you can learn how to reduce your exposure to these factors and recognise the strategies to put in place to help reduce your stress levels overtime.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Stress treatment and counselling, please call 0800 086 1718. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here.