MyWellbeing CollegeWith shorter days, longer nights and winter fast approaching, as well as the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to impact us all, it’s important to recognise when you’re feeling stressed and take some steps to tackle it, says Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s MyWellbeing College.

Clinical manager Naomi Holdsworth from MyWellbeing College, a free NHS service to help people manage everyday problems, says: “Although stress is a normal part of life and absolutely everyone feels stressed at times, we want to use International Stress Awareness week (2-6 November 2020)  to make local people aware of how to recognise the signs of stress and share some advice on how to tackle it.”

A recent report from the Office for National Statistics*, states that the number of adults with some form of depression – experienced most commonly as stress or anxiety – doubled from around 1 in 10 before the pandemic to 1 in 5 during June 2020.

So, how do you recognise the tell-tale signs and triggers for stress? And what do you do if stress is affecting your life, work or relationships? Naomi says: “The most obvious and common signs of stress are feeling constantly worried, anxious or scared – and that can happen to anyone from children through to very elderly people.

“You may also find it difficult to concentrate, feel overwhelmed, or find that your thoughts are racing.  In some cases, stress can make you feel irritable or want avoid things or people you’re having problems with. You may lose confidence, have trouble sleeping, feel tired all the time, eat more or less than usual, or drink or smoke more than you usually do.

“Big or unexpected life changes – like losing a job, becoming unwell, moving house or starting to care for someone, as well as health, money or debt worries, can all trigger these feelings of stress, so it’s not surprising that more of us have felt stressed this year.”

The MyWellbeing College has a Knowledge Bank with a wealth of information, tips and wellbeing advice, but Naomi is quick to point out that there are some very simple things you can do to help alleviate stress.

“Sometimes just getting outside will do you the world of good. Having a cycle ride or taking a quick 10 to 15-minute walk in the park or countryside, enjoying the autumn colours and listening to the birds, can lift your mood. Or, if you can’t get out – why not listen to some relaxing music or better still, phone a friend or family member and share with them what’s causing you to feel stressed.”

If your stressful feelings persist, MyWellbeing College offers free, professional NHS support to help you understand what’s making you think the way you do and show you ways to feel better. These ‘coping strategies’ mean you can become your own therapist, so you can manage your mood and/or anxiety effectively now – and prevent any future setbacks.

Naomi explains: “Our team are here to help with self-help workbooks, online courses and talking therapies. As long as you’re over 16, registered with a GP in Bradford, Wharfedale, Airedale and Craven and you’re not currently undertaking other psychological therapies then we can support you to feel better – there’s no upper age limit.”

A GP or any health professional can refer you to MyWellbeing College, or you can register yourself online at their website, or call Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on 0300 555 5551. Naomi comments:

“We have a lot of web based help, but we know that digital solutions are not for everyone which is why we can work with you over the phone – and we always call you, so you won’t be running up your phone bill.”