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Stress less

A group of friends outside enjoying each other's company, smiling and laughing.This April, for Stress Awareness Month, we are excited to launch the first of our “Make Monday Matter” series.

This year’s theme is “little by little” where you can think about making a small change at the start of the week to help you stress less. Small changes that benefit your health and wellbeing can have a big impact on you over time.

Get involved

Get involved with our #MakeMondayMatter movement by following our socials and let us know how you are getting on to #StressLess. You’ll find us on Facebook, X and Instagram.


What is stress?

Stress is our body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. When we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called adrenaline, which usually gives us a boost or motivates us to act quickly.

A little stress can be a good thing, as it helps us to get things done or focus on something that needs our attention. But too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.

Experiencing long-term stress or severe stress can lead to feeling physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called “burnout”.

Signs and symptoms of stress

Stress can affect our emotions, our body and our behaviours.

The impact on your mind and body

There are some key things to look out for. You may:

  • be irritable, angry or tearful
  • feel worried, anxious, hopeless or scared
  • struggle to make decisions, have racing thoughts or feel overwhelmed
  • have stomach problems, stress headaches and other odd pains including muscle pain
  • have skin reactions, like stress rashes and hives
  • Feel dizzy, sick or faint

Stress can sometimes cause high blood pressure and chest pains – but these symptoms should stop when your stress goes away. If you have any symptoms you are worried about, or feel you have more severe stress, please contact your GP practice.

The impact on your behaviour

Stress can also make us behave differently. It may impact:

  • How much you eat or exercise
  • Your habits around drinking, smoking or taking other substances
  • How much you see people or do things you used to enjoy

If you recognise any of the symptoms above, think about the things you can do to stress less.

Self-help tips to stress less

There are some simple things you can try that will help you stress less. Ahead of a new week, think about how you could do one (or more) of these over the next week.

Tip 1

Plan ahead.

If you know you have a stressful or busy day coming up, make sure you plan ahead. Create a to-do list, plan your journey, make a list of things you need to take. Planning ahead of time can help to relive stress.

Tip 2

Be more active.

Being active regularly can help you to burn off nervous energy, so it could be a way for you to deal with stress. Exercise might also help you manage or reduce stress. This doesn’t mean you have to become a gym bunny; it’s about moving a little more and building this into your daily life.

Greater Manchester walking might be a great place to start for inspiration and support.

Tip 3

Split up big tasks.

You might feel less stressed if you can take practical steps, such as breaking a task down into easier, more manageable chunks. And give yourself credit when you finish a task.

Tip 4

Talk to someone.

Trusted friends, family, and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling. We’ve listed a number of support services below that enable you to reach out for help if you need to speak to someone.

Tip 5

Try positive thinking.

This is easier said than done, but positive thinking can help you to stress less. Take time to think about the good things in your life. Each day, list 3 things you’re thankful for, however small.

Tip 6

Try self-help techniques.

The NHS has a number of short videos and practical guides to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that can help you to stress less, but working through problems in a new way. The NHS has information to help you give CBT a go.

Get a personalised mind plan

A quick online tool that gives you a personalised plan with tips to help you stress less, deal with anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

Get your mind plan.

Services and support in Greater Manchester

SHOUT is a free text and online support service

With this 24/7 crisis text messaging service, you can send a text message any time of day or night wherever you are – every conversation is with a real person. Just text SHOUT to 85258. You don’t need an app or data and there is no registration process. It is silent and won’t appear on your phone bill.  It is confidential and anonymous.

This programme has resources to help you improve feelings, beat stress, sleep better, and to boost your ability to live well. It provides key information using everyday, non-complex language and is available on the go or at home 24/7. There is a dedicated module for people living with a long term conditions.

Visit Living Life to the Full.

Silvercloud is available for people aged 16+. These online programmes help ease your levels of stress, sleep better or build resilience. You can choose to use any of the programmes. They are self-help, confidential and secure.

Visit Silvercloud.

Kooth is a free text and online support resource for children and young people aged 11 to 18 years. Chat to their friendly counsellors, read articles written by young people, and get support from the Kooth community.

Visit Kooth.

Other services and support

You can contact your GP practice and let them know how you’re feeling. It may be tough to begin with, but your GP can refer you for counselling and other talking therapies that can really help.

The Greater Manchester Mental Health website has a full list of services and support available across each of our 10 localities in Greater Manchester. You are sure to find something to help you manage your mental health and stress less.

Find mental health support in your area.

If you need mental health advice and support urgently, there are freephone 24/7 crisis helplines for all areas of Greater Manchester.

Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford and Wigan: 0800 953 0285

Bury, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Tameside and Glossop: 0800 014 9995

If it’s an emergency and you’re worried you can’t keep yourself safe, go to your nearest A&E or call 999 if you can’t make it to a hospital.

Maternity and pregnancy

Your pregnancy and parenthood will be a journey, whether you’re looking forward to having your first baby or it’s something you’ve experienced before it can be a stressful time and it’s important to look after your mental health.

Mental health services are available to support you through your pregnancy and journey starting or expending your family.

Visit Tommy’s (charity) website to read their “5 ways to survive stress in pregnancy“.

Exam stress

The exam period can be a very stressful time for young people, and adult learners, and they may need extra support to manage.

Kooth has developed a Managing Exam Stress Guide which has some useful information and advice.

Visit the Greater Manchester Mental Health website for further information and advice.

Last Updated: 19 April 2024

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