Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about the causes and cures of our modern stress epidemic.
But what about if on top of a modern stress epidemic you have to deal with a global pandemic?
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought extra challenges and uncertainty into our lives. This has, of course, resulted in higher levels of stress levels.
New research from the Mental Health Foundation says that 74% of UK adults have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of stress in the past year.
So if you are feeling stressed, remember: you are not alone.
The theme for this year’s Stress Awareness Month is ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’.
It’s fair to say we can’t live without stress – as humans, we function well with a little bit of incentive. But high levels of stress combined with multiple stressors can result in lowered wellbeing which can lead to illness, poor mental health and burn out.
Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure. The response can produce a range of responses, both physical and emotional, caused by a multitude of different situations or events. It doesn’t even have to be something negative that can cause stress – plenty of positive changes can contribute to higher levels of stress.
Steps we can all take to reduce stress:
Talking to others – discussing our feelings with others can seem daunting, but opening up about our emotions can lead to healthier minds and could even open the door for others to get something off their mind!
Remember to breathe – breathing techniques can help you remain present when you are worrying about the future.
Be your own biggest supporter – supportive and caring relationships start with ourselves and radiates onto others! Approach your feelings and experiences in the same way you would treat someone else’s: with care and understanding.
Find what helps you and focus on it – it can be really helpful to find your own personal coping mechanisms. Some common coping mechanisms are relaxation, physical activities and talking to others.
Learning to say ‘no’ – you may find yourself a victim of being a ‘Yes-Man’ and it can be a tough habit to break, but learning to say ‘no’ sometimes might help you more than you realise. If you feel like you have taken on too much, speak to a colleague or manager about it and create a plan of action to tackle the load. Generally, people want to help and support you – they just need to know you’re struggling!
Take care of yourself – looking after yourself and paying attention to what you need is always important but it can be easily forgotten in times of stress. If you feel too busy to practise self-care, simple things like eating well and taking walks can be just as useful.