This week is International Stress Awareness Week organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) and includes National Stress Awareness Day on Wednesday. The week is about raising the profile of stress awareness, heighten the publicity towards stress and stress prevention, and promoting the importance of wellbeing for individuals and organisations. This year in particular it is about providing a platform for stress and mental health problems to be highlighted, especially important with the uncertain times we are experiencing and changing levels of lockdown. Not surprisingly, recent research has shown an increase in mental health problems such as depression with estimates of one in five adults likely to experience some form of it (it was one in ten before the pandemic) – with feeling stressed and anxious the most common ways linked to this.
What is stress and why is raising awareness so important?
What is stress and why is it important? Stress is a response to demands on the body and life, a response to crisis and fears. If stress gets overwhelming it can cause other mental health problems, emotional exhaustion and physical illness and can impact on work, relationships, families, and every aspect of life. When someone is suffering from negative or overwhelming stress, they may not act or react normally in some situations, for example driving or in an argument, with disastrous consequences.
For some people stress can be motivating, ie it can inspire them and at the right level they can get more things done. The same level of stress can have a negative impact on another person affecting their wellbeing. On top of this, during the current situation we are experiencing a whole different way of living which can bring about new stresses that we are having to navigate.
Top tips for dealing with stress:
Here are my top suggestions on how you can help yourself during stressful times.
- Know yourself – understanding your own situation is so important. What does stress mean to you, what causes you to feel stressed, what are the triggers and how do you react to it? Getting this insight and then considering how differently you can react in these situations can help you manage them better when they arise.
- Make small changes – often stress can feel overwhelming and therefore dealing with the situation may feel too much as well. Consider what you want to change and break it down into smaller more manageable steps to take to reach that end goal so that dealing with the situation doesn’t add to the overwhelm as well.
- Notice patterns – Do you notice a pattern of what makes you stressed? Is it the same situation, person, etc? What can you do differently? How can you change how you react, what you say, how you act? Making a change somewhere will help to change the pattern and help you reduce the stress.
- How do you talk to yourself when you are stressed? – How do you talk to yourself when you are stressed? If you find a lots of your words are negative, how can you turn them around to be positive to support yourself? What would you be saying to a friend in the same situation to help them?
- If it is affecting your health where can you get support? – If stress is affecting your health where can you get help? Your doctor, your company – do they provide you with access to occupational health, employee assistance programme, alternative therapies – I have found reflexology, meditation and Reiki so helpful, especially when I have been experiencing a lot of stress.
Once we have some of some of these solutions in our toolbox we can then ensure that we keep them on-going as a source of maintenance so that we are better equipped to deal with future times of stress.
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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Claire Bolsover disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.