Stress Awareness Month – November 2020
We are living through times of uncertainty at the moment, and feelings of uncertainty are unpleasant and worrying for anyone experiencing it. When you are worried about the future, you are likely to be stressed, which can affect your home life, relationships, work life and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Being stressed over long periods of time can lower your immune system and cause health problems. But there are plenty of ways to reduce your stress levels and to spot the warning signs before things become worse.
Recognise the warning signs
Keep an eye out for the warning signs of stress. These can include:
- Feeling irritable or impatient
- Feeling distracted, forgetful or losing attention to detail
- Mood swings
- Not being able to ‘switch off’
- Becoming withdrawn
- Under or over-eating
- Increased consumption of nicotine, alcohol or drugs
- Tense muscles
- Susceptibility to minor illnesses
Identify the cause
Try to work out what’s making you feel stressed. If you’re not sure, try writing down what you’re doing each time you feel stressed. You may notice a pattern. Is there anything you can do now to take control of the situation? Sometimes making a to-do list and prioritising your tasks can help. Do the most urgent ones first and break big tasks into smaller chunks so that you can see yourself making progress. Don’t get too disheartened if you can’t complete them all at once.
Avoid more stress
Avoid taking on more tasks and don’t be afraid to say “no”. Taking on too much won’t help the person you’re doing the work for and it will only make you feel more stressed.
Try to avoid people who stress you out or, if this is unavoidable, try to sit down and have a calm chat with them about how they are making you feel. Be willing to compromise and accept some criticism yourself.
It’s not easy but try not to worry about the things you can’t change or control. Instead look at how to solve the problems that are within your control.
Doing exercise releases endorphins, which improve your mood, as well as distracting you from any stress you’re experiencing. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and try to fit it into your routine. Even a half-hour walk around the block can help to relieve tension.
Get enough sleep
Almost 25% of people in Britain have problems with sleep on a regular basis, according to The Sleep Council*. Getting enough good quality sleep is a crucial part of our overall wellbeing and can actually help reduce stress and anxiety.
For adults, it’s recommended you get between 7-9 hours sleep per night – any less than that on an ongoing basis can have a negative effect on your wellbeing.
Reduce alcohol consumption
It isn’t healthy to use alcohol as a way of de-stressing or coping with issues either. Over time, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain that are needed for good mental health. While alcohol may help deal with stress in the short term, in the long run it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with.
Time to relax
Be kind to yourself and schedule in some ‘me’ time each week. Do something that makes you happy and relaxes you, such as reading a book, having a bath or listening to music.
Clearing your mind can also help to reduce feelings of worry and stress. You don’t have to consider yourself spiritual to benefit from meditation.
We’re here for you
If your employer offers Vivup’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) it is available 24/7, 365 days a year. The 24-hour telephone helpline is responsive, confidential, and totally independent, acting as an invaluable support for employees in crisis who need advice and short-term low intensity support. The counsellors assigned to your organisation can also facilitate structured telephone counselling, should you or a colleague prefer this method of support. For access to your EAP visit vivup.co.uk.