April is stress awareness month!


Author: Kathryn Cousins, wellbeing programme manager, The Stress Management Society

Mental health impacts our mind and body. It affects how we think, feel, and behave in every aspect of life, both personal and in the workplace. It can feel challenging to break free from  the cyclical nature of poor mental health, as feeling stressed may result in being  unproductive, leading to a higher workload, resulting in overwhelm and ultimately more  pressure.

Many of us have heard the advice regarding exercise, getting over 8 hours of sleep, preparing fresh meals, staying hydrated, and meditating, but most of us simply don’t have  time or energy for self-care. However, it is easy to underestimate how impactful small steps  can be. Allocating 5 minutes for your wellbeing can make a significant difference. It’s a gentle but powerful way to start taking action to build your resilience and pave the way for  your wellbeing to flourish. 

My mental health is often impacted by negative thoughts about the past, overthinking things I’ve said or done, and wondering if I did the right thing. If it’s not dwelling on the past, it’s getting anxious about the future, overanalysing possible scenarios. In reality, it very rarely plays out as badly as I imagined. I recently came to the realisation that my negative thoughts and anxieties all stemmed from a sense of lack of control over my experience and the potential outcomes. The importance of being present cannot be overstated. When we focus our attention on the present moment, we are allowing ourselves to experience life as it unfolds. When I become present and mindful of the things around me, I feel a sense of freedom and clarity. A simple technique I use to feel mindful (which simply means ‘to be present in the moment with no judgement’) is to tune in to the present moment as I observe it with my five senses. Taking a walk, noticing how the sun feels on my skin, hearing the wind, and seeing nature around me. It’s a simple and free way to feel present in the moment. Like anything, the more you practice something, the better you get. So, by practicing mindfulness, you may notice that you find it easier to let your thoughts go and become grounded in what’s right in your present moment. Incorporating small practices into our daily routine can, over time, amount to significant changes to our wellbeing. 

Some small suggestions that can make a big difference include: 

  • Spending at least 10 minutes a day in nature.
  • Get your body moving through walking, dancing to your favourite track, or a quick jog. 
  • Write out your to-do list the night before to clear up any racing thoughts.
  • Scribble down all the things that are worrying you, be honest about how you’re feeling, and feel that sense of relief.
  • Embrace positivity, write down three things you’re grateful for, and shift your focus to positive things in life. 

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so enjoy the journey of discovering what suits you and helps you thrive. The aim is to find short activities that inspire you, bring you joy and relaxation, and are achievable each day. It’s natural, of course, to reflect on the past and plan for the future; however, know that you can reclaim the power of your thoughts and cultivate your awareness of the present. The present is called ‘present’ for a reason. It is a gift to every one of us, so I invite you to use your present well today and every day. 

This year, at The Stress Management Society, the theme for stress awareness month is “little by little, a little becomes a lot." This encompasses the transformative effects that small actions each day can have on your well-being. Have a look at our stress awareness month page where you can find more ways to incorporate small wins into your daily routine, as well as free resources. Get in touch with us by emailing  or calling 0203 142 8650 to discuss how we can help drive your organisation’s wellbeing. 

The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.

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