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Don’t suffer stress in silence – why April is the perfect month to take back control

April is Stress Awareness Month so now is a good time to find out why stress is called the ‘silent killer’. Health bosses in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire are urging anyone who thinks they might be suffering from it to speak up and get some help.

We all need some pressure in our lives. It helps us to get out of bed in the morning and get things done, but stress is different. Whether it’s caused by work or by events in your personal life, if it goes on for too long it can contribute to raised blood pressure, heart disease and stroke and encourage you into unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and over-eating.

Dr Rakesh Sharma, clinical lead at East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group says that Stress Awareness Month offers us all a welcome opportunity to think about our own mental wellbeing: “We call stress the ‘silent killer’ because it can develop gradually over time without you noticing many obvious ill effects. I recommend everyone to take stock and think about whether you need to take some action to relieve the pressure you’re under. If you feel you might need help and support, speak to your friends, family or colleagues – or make an appointment with your GP.”

Research into stress suggests that there are five steps that everyone can take to develop their emotional strength, de-stress and improve mental wellbeing. These are:

  • Connect – invest time in developing your relationships with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours
  • Be active – take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life
  • Keep learning – developing new skills can give you a sense of achievement and build confidence. Sign up for a course or develop a new skill
  • Give to others – volunteering for a good cause or helping a neighbour can improve your mood, boost emotional wellbeing and help you build new social networks
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this ‘mindfulness’. It can change your feelings about life for the better and help you approach challenges positively.

There is more information about these five steps, as well as other useful information to help people combat stress, on the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression

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