GP focus with Dr Sarah ArunDate posted: 1st April 2022
Our GPs are an important part of Bay Health Care Partners and here our GPs and primary care colleagues have the opportunity to talk about issues and specialties that they are working on or interested in.
This month, Dr Sarah Arun, Clinical Director of Barrow and Millom Primary Care Network, shares advice and support on stress in advance of Stress Awareness month (April 2022).
Recent research has identified that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began in March 2020. Causes for concern have included feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control.
Symptoms of stress
Dr Arun said: "When we feel stressed it can cause many symptoms including affecting how you feel physically, mentally and how you behave. It is not always easy to recognise when stress is the reason you’re feeling or acting differently.
Physical symptoms of stress:
- headaches or dizziness
- muscle tension or pain
- stomach problems
- chest pain or a faster heartbeat
- sexual problems.
Mental symptoms of stress:
- difficulty concentrating
- struggling to make decisions
- feeling overwhelmed
- constantly worrying
- being forgetful.
Changes in behaviour:
- being irritable and snappy
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- avoiding certain places or people
- drinking or smoking more."
Things you can do to help with stress
Dr Arun said:"
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member or health professional. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to
- find out more about 10 stress busters – including getting started with exercise and setting aside time for yourself
- use easy time-management techniques to help you take control
- use calming breathing exercises
- plan ahead for stressful days or events – planning long journeys or making a list of things to remember can really help
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides."
Things you should avoid
Dr Arun said: "
- do not try to do everything at once – set small targets you can easily achieve
- do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
- try not to tell yourself that you're alone – most people feel stressed at some point in their life and support is available
- try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve stress – these can all contribute to poor mental health."
Further information and support
Dr Arun said: "The mental health charity Mind offers more information on:
- dealing with pressure developing emotional resilience to help you adapt and bounce back during difficult times.
"Your Mind Plan on the Every Mind Matters website sends personalised tips and advice to your email inbox."
Where to get NHS help for stress
Dr Arun said:"
Referring yourself for therapy
If you need more support, you can free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.
You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without referral from a GP. You can find an NHS IAPT here.
See a GP if:
- you're struggling to cope with stress
- things you're trying yourself are not helping
- you would prefer to get a referral from a GP.
Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if:
- you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency
111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to 111.nhs.uk or call: 111.
Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you or someone you know needs immediate help
- you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency. Find your nearest A&E."