Scottish Government
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Steps for Stress

Scots are being encouraged to take simple steps to tackle their everyday stress to help avoid developing more serious problems, as part of a Scottish Government campaign launched today.

Steps for Stress aims to help people recognise the signs of everyday stress, and offers advice and information on how to take action to help stop it in its tracks - such as being more active, talking to someone or helping other people.

Three quarters of people surveyed in government campaign research admit to experiencing stress, but only one in four feels happy to talk about it.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison launched Steps for Stress this morning by taking part in a meditation walk at the Cambuslang and Rutherglen Community Health Initiative (CHI).

Ms Robison said:

"Stress can affect everyone. We all have busy lives today, juggling work and family commitments, but by knowing how to spot the signs we can help ourselves feel better.

"If the causes and symptoms of stress are allowed to snowball, they can risk leading to other problems like unhealthy eating, drinking too much or heavy smoking.

"Steps for Stress shows us that even small steps like going for a walk - perhaps through an organisation like CHI - talking to a friend or doing something for someone else can make a big difference to how we feel."

One of the highlights of the campaign will be a six-part prime-time STV series, Make Me Happier, sponsored by the Scottish Government and presented by Lorraine Kelly and Angus Purden, presenter of the People's Postcode Lottery.

Ms Robison added:

"Using a TV series is an exciting new way to help spread the message, and together with the rest of the Steps for Stress campaign we hope it will make a real difference to people's wellbeing."

Fifty-four year old Christine Muirhead has benefited from the stress management techniques promoted at CHI. A stressful work life, unemployment and several family bereavements left the mum-of-two stressed, anxious and feeling like there was no point getting out of bed in the morning.

She said:

"My self esteem and confidence were really low and I basically lost interest in life. But I've learned that simple things like taking time to relax do make a difference. I also realised that I can't sort everything out at once and that setting myself small goals is better than rushing in.

"I now volunteer with a local fruit and veg barra, which offers local mums-to-be cheap fruit and veg so they can keep healthy during their pregnancy and after they've had their babies. I feel like I'm helping people and that makes me feel good about myself."

RCN Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said:

"Stress is a very relevant issue right now. The combination of economic recession, winter, and the upcoming Christmas season will place pressure on many individuals and families over the next few months.

"Nurses and other health professionals - particularly those working in community and primary care - have a crucial role to play in raising awareness of the effects of stress, and in supporting people to identify and respond to their own signs of stress before more serious health issues result."

Peter Rice from the Royal College of Psychiatrists said:

"The Royal College of Psychiatrists is delighted to support the Steps for Stress campaign. Everyone needs to think about how to achieve and keep good mental health. Taking time to understand the demands we face, identifying and coping with problems better, using support from those close to us and using outside help when we need it are important steps in maintaining our ability to live life to its fullest."

Dr Ken Lawton, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, said:

"Stress can affect all people, from all walks of life and it can have a very negative impact, affecting our physical and mental health.

"This can result in unhealthy behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, inactivity and poor diet. This new campaign will offer individuals an opportunity to feel better and more confident about tackling issues or problems they may have. It will also help them to develop new skills to prevent stress in the future."

Dr Sally Winning, Deputy Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said:

"Stress can open the door to a whole host of physical and mental problems that can affect individuals in the short and long term so it is important that people know how to recognise when they are stressed and to learn how to cope with stress in a healthy way.

"BMA Scotland therefore welcomes and supports the 'Steps for Stress' campaign which offers practical ideas that people can easily incorporate into their day to day lives."