Tips to Help Cope with Stress and Anxiety
Published: 15 May 2018 Tags: Mental Health Week, Stress, Tips By John Walding
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) James Harris provides some practical tips on how to cope with stress and anxiety.
Whatever our sexual orientation or gender identity, we all experience stress from time to time. For some us it can be the usual – crowded commutes, irritating colleagues, or looming deadlines – but as many of us are all too aware the LGBT community is also vulnerable to stress in other, particular ways. Commonly known as “minority stress” this can be triggered by a variety of factors from outright verbal/physical abuse or discrimination to the internalised feeling of not belonging or being accepted.
This additional stress goes a long way to explaining why members of our communities are statistically more likely to self-harm, and suffer from or end their own lives due to mental illness and that for many it’s something we need to be aware of and take steps to address.
So what can we do to help cope with stress?
That’s the million dollar question and what works for some might not work for you. What’s important is to find something that helps you when you’re feeling stress. Below are some practical ways that you can try to beat those stress demons:
Joining a local group to take a break from suffocating home environments and distract yourself with the company of others. LGBT Foundation plays host to several social groups and events. Not only do you get the chance to meet new people but also talk to people and share relatable concerns or experiences and this can go a long way to focus thoughts clouded and distorted by stress.
Let off some steam
Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is proven to relieve built-up stress and encourage a calm mind, often leading to improved sleep. And it doesn’t need to be a half marathon (but if you are thinking that why not contact our fundraising team and make it a double booster by helping other community members!) Even a leisurely stroll is beneficial; the straightforward meditative rhythm created by repeatedly placing one foot in front of the other helps plant the mind in the moment. Remember as well that there are plenty of local sports/outdoor activity groups which are a great way of combining both socialising and exercise.
Get out in nature
Studies show that those who live in or near green spaces have greater overall wellbeing and higher levels of happiness. The Peak District National Park is easily accessible from the Manchester area; there’s a direct 45 minute train to Edale from Piccadilly station. Alternatively, muddle about in the garden if you have one. Or adopt a houseplant!
A good book can act as an anchor for our scattered thoughts, and reading aloud creates rhythm that helps regulate breathing.
When engaged in productive activity, anything from flower arranging to cooking, our minds enter a state of meditative calm without us even trying.
OK so maybe not Grand Theft Auto but believe it or not some games promote relaxation - Flower, Abzu, Journey, etc.
Listen to calming music
Enya Forever or whatever is your go to tune.
Visit your local Buddhist centre, participate in local meditation/mindfulness classes, or watch free tutorials online. LGBT Foundation will be hosts events and workshops looking at meditation and mindfulness techniques so be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming sessions on our events listings. Meditation is proven to have a measurable positive impact on the brain, especially when practiced regularly.
What you put in your body affects your brain/mind avoiding certain foods and drinks (yes too many strong espressos) will certainly help.
Make life more simple
Spring clean you schedule. Clear out unnecessary responsibilities and stressful encounters. Skip the cleaning for one week and take a nap. Spend less time with superficial friends or engaged in meaningless activities. Remember you can’t do everything, and you need time to relax.
Face your demons
Most of the above suggestions deal only with managing the symptoms of stress, but sometimes the root causes need confronting. Psychological therapy can be sought in such cases; the LGBT foundation offers a range of relevant free services.
For more information click HERE. https://lgbt.foundation/talkingtherapies
If you’re feeling inspired here’s some useful links to get you started
LGBT Foundation Services and support
Helpline and Advice https://lgbt.foundation/helpline
Pop-In Service https://lgbt.foundation/popin
Social and Sports Groups
LGBT Foundation Groups https://lgbt.foundation/groups
Local Trans Groups in the Greater Manchester Area https://lgbt.foundation/who-we-help/trans-people/local-groups
Local LBT Women’s Support Groups in the Greater Manchester Area https://lgbt.foundation/who-we-help/women/social-and-support-groups-and-links
Biphoria – a social & support group for bisexual people in and around Manchester https://www.biphoria.org.uk/
Icebreakers – local support group for gay and bisexual men in Greater Manchester https://icebreakersmanchester.org.uk/
Manchester Village Spartans http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/manchestervillagespartansrufc
Manchester Frontrunners https://manchesterfrontrunners.org.uk/
Manchester Village Football Club http://www.vmfc.co.uk/
Northern Wave Swimming Club https://northernwave.org/