Gardening, reading and walking are among the most popular ways that people manage their personal stress levels.

Today (Wednesday 3 November) is National Stress Awareness Day and our infographic illustrates how people in the UK are kind to themselves.

Our member Kate Megase says hobbies and interests are vital in helping us to unwind and relax.

“When it comes to stress I use a car analogy,” says Kate, founder and CEO of the Personal Growth and Development Centre.

“Our bodies are a bit like a car in the sense that we have first, second, third, fourth and fifth gear.


“Generally we need positive stress, which it helps to be driven and motivated.

“But when we go above third gear we begin to produce negative stress hormones.

“If you’re continually producing these hormones it becomes the norm. It’s a default way of behaviour. So, even when we’re not stressed our brain is saying to create more stress.

“When we get to the fourth gear, we can begin to experience anxiety, where we feel on edge, have issues with insomnia, headaches, tight pains in the chest.

“And when a person heads into fifth gear, that’s when they can experience depression.

“Hobbies and interests help to minimise stress because they help us to unwind.

“If you’re driving too fast you slow down. Doing activities we like is the same, it helps us to slow down.

Improve our mental health

“They can help people avoid overthinking, wind down the body and minimise the negative stress hormones. They help us feel relaxed, improve our mental health, reduce stress levels, build our self-esteem, the list goes on.”

“If people are feeling stressed and they’re doing activities that make them feel good, then they’ll release endorphins, they’ll release more happy hormones.”

Our Public Perceptions Survey earlier this year found that 50% of people in the UK felt more stressed since the beginning of the pandemic. Only 9% of people felt less stressed.

Kate says that one of the reasons for the increase in stress was that the COVID-19 lockdowns restricted and, in many cases, took away people’s access to their hobbies and interests.

“We have around 6,200 thoughts per day,” she says. “If you didn't have things to distract you and you were in your house where you’re doing everything, you’re likely to overthink.

“The lockdowns triggered people to overthink and that, in some cases, caused stress and anxiety.”


Kate says that counselling can help people manage their personal stress levels.

“Counselling provides people with the tools to cope with stress,” she says. “It helps people understand their triggers.

“Sometimes simple things that people aren’t aware of can be triggers, so it helps them to understand the things, the people or the events that are triggers.

“Some people might eat, drink alcohol or in some cases take recreational drugs to push down their emotions. Counselling can provide healthier tools to manage stress.

“And it can help them to manage their emotions, as some people don’t cope well with stress.”

To find a counsellor or psychotherapist near you who can help you with stress, search our Therapist directory.

Kate's tips on coping with stress:

  • Listen to your body. A lot of the time we just keep going and don 't listen to what our body is telling us.
  • Exercise. Whether it's a walk, the gym, or playing with your children exercise can lift your mood. It helps to release endorphins. It helps you to feel good.
  • Good quality sleep. A regular sleep routine can calm the body, regulate mood and improve concentration and decision making.