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Stress Awareness Day 2023: How to Manage Stress

31 October 2023
Photo of Jane Chapman

by Jane Chapman, Payroll Team Leader

Photo of our staff member, Mental Health Advocate Jane Chapman

For National Stress Awareness Day (2 November), we have caught up with Jane Chapman to highlight the importance of stress management and to share tips and techniques. Jane is one of DTE’s Mental Health Advocates and is qualified in stress management, CBT, psychotherapy and counselling, amongst other life coaching and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) qualifications.

We’ll begin with the basics. First, we’ll explain what stress is, then we’ll move onto why stress management is important and highlight techniques you can try.

What is stress?

Young business person covering face with hands. Abstract background with scribble. Stress concept.

Stress is a fact of life that most people, if not all, are familiar with. Positive stress can be a motivator, however when faced with overwhelming demands and pressures, large or small, it’s easy to fall into the negative effects of stress and for your stress response to be triggered.

The importance of what you attach to stress, decides the impact it has on you. Therefore, when feeling incapable of coping, this results in negative stress, and prolonged exposure to these reactions can have an impact on your emotional and mental health.

Why is it important to manage stress?

The release of stress chemicals in the body, contributes to certain physiological effects, including rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. When left unmanaged over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of other serious problems.

Stress can also grow slowly, going unnoticed and being ignored for years. Lack of time, information and motivation can cause it to build up until something breaks under the pressure.

When feeling under stress, one of the most important skills you can ever learn is the correct way to manage your stress levels. Once those skills are in place, moods become more stable, thoughts become clearer, relationships can improve, and the risk of illness reduces.

It is a commitment to yourself to make the time and effort to learn new stress management skills. It is important to develop at least one coping strategy that you can turn to when you feel your stress levels starting to rise. With a little knowledge and understanding, relaxation and peace of mind can be part of our lives.

Stress & the immune system

It is important to note that during periods of stress, the production of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, increases. Cortisol is usually anti-inflammatory, however chronic stress will increase cortisol levels weakening the immune system. If levels stay high for too long, triggering responses including increased inflammation, making us more susceptible to illness.

Stress management techniques

Building stress-reducing activities into your life will help your body release that happy brain chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin). Here are some activities and techniques that you can try to help reduce your stress levels:

  • Eat well and ensure you have sufficient rest and sleep to prepare yourself for the inevitable stresses of life.
  • Manage your thoughts and avoid making self-critical comments.
  • Become aware of your own strengths, weaknesses and needs.
  • Make it a priority to get plenty of support rather than trying to cope alone.
  • Write down your thoughts so they begin to make sense. Decide on priorities and look for solutions.
  • Think resourcefully — what might another person do in your situation?
  • Delegate, share responsibility, and renegotiate deadlines. Often those around you won’t realise how you’re feeling.
  • Prepare for events as much as possible in advance, but don’t try to be perfect, or expect other people to be perfect.
  • Correct breathing (this is essential and simple to add to your daily life).
  • Healthy balanced diet (some foods and drinks can imitate the symptoms of stress).
  • Get out in the fresh air.
  • Exercise (Yoga, walking, Pilates etc).
  • A good sleep routine.
  • Practice of self-care.
  • Practice of mindfulness (be in the moment – we cannot change the past and don’t know what the future may hold, therefore living in the moment is a great way of coping with the effects of stress on the mind).

Jane’s personal experience with stress management

“Promoting stress management is important, as often people don’t get the help they need or have the tools to help them. I can say from personal experience that the techniques above, with regular practice, can help to change your life if you are living with constant stress and anxious thoughts.

I practice breathing each day as it helps me to feel peaceful, think more clearly and eliminate challenging thought processes. Which means dealing with day-to-day challenges in a healthier way. Correct breathing really helps to slow down your heart rate when feeling anxious. It also calms the mind, taking your nervous system out of the effects of flight or flight mode.

I try to eat as healthy as possible and I practice yoga and pilates 2 – 3 times a week, which is great for your body and mind, as it also incorporates correct breathing. For me, being out in the fresh air, in nature, helps me to be mindful and switch off those unwanted thoughts. Taking the time to practice mindfulness is key to helping to change our thought patterns. Plus, living in the moment is a great way of coping with the effects that stress has on the mind. All the above helps with sleep too.

It is key to recognise that the way we think about things has a huge effect on our physical and mental health. Therefore questioning why we feel the way we do, helps to rationalise our thought patterns.

Mind and body are interlinked, and it is vital to ensure that we take care of both.” Jane Chapman, DTE Mental Health Advocate & Stress Management Practitioner


Jane Chapman has provided some extremely helpful advice here. Jane’s expertise clarifies the importance of proactive stress management driving a holistic approach to wellbeing that links mindfulness, health practices, and intentional thinking.

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