By Lindsey Appleby-Flynn, mental health expert for EDN’s educational partner, Connect2Care.
Stress is something we’re all familiar with. Whether that’s in the form of short-term stress, like moving house, or more long-term stress, like feeling the pressures of tough work deadlines.
April marks Stress Awareness Month in the UK: a month-long campaign from the Stress Management Society raising awareness of the impact stress can have on the mind and body. The month aims to increase the public’s understanding of the causes and cures for the modern stress epidemic and this year their efforts seem to be more prudent than ever.
You may have heard people say from time to time that they ‘like a bit of stress’ – but I would challenge this. What they are likely referring to is finding a certain level of pressure to be useful as this can push you to achieving your goals and targets. Stress, however, is the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressures or demands that are placed upon them and the effects can have a serious impact on a person.
In March last year, life as we knew it was turned upside down as we entered the first national lockdown due to the impact of Coronavirus. And it’s safe to say, our industry has done nothing but work harder throughout each lockdown our country has faced – bringing a lot of stress with it.
Since that first lockdown, people have been forced to adapt and change the way in which they go about their day-to-day lives. One year on and we’re still feeling the effects. This has brought with it pressures that no one could have foreseen, leading to an increase in the stress levels of millions of people around the globe.
Research by the Stress Management Society found that 65% of Brits have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. It also identified that the three key caused for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and worrying about a loss of control.
Experiencing a high level of stress over an extended period of time can lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout. It can lead to or heighten the side effects of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and skin and hair problems. Stress can also be a catalyst for more severe mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and personality disorders.
With the world placing us in a continual state of the unknown, it’s never been more important to show our resilience and rally around our colleagues who need it most. Everyone copes and manages stress differently but having a positive outlook is key to managing your stress levels.
Top tips for managing stress
Our industry is renowned for creating high stress levels. Here are my tips to keep your cool if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your stress levels:
- Take control! Do something about what is leading you to feel stressed, don’t ignore it. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, square breathing and sensory grounding could make a significant impact. Stress is there because you are worried and that’s OK.
- Find the positive in your day. When you’re feeling extremely stressed, it can be hard to see the wood from the trees. Take a moment each day to note down the things that you’re grateful for, or that went well in your day to give yourself a bit of perspective.
- Take a break. Allow yourself mental breaks and work breaks where possible. This could be a short walk to get some fresh air, or even taking that much needed coffee break to clear your mind.
- Talk to someone. Talking is one of the best ways to relieve your stress and anxiety. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Speaking to someone you trust about the situation, such as a colleague or friend, may help you to come up with some practical solutions.
- Avoid unhealthy habits. Try not to self-medicate – whether that’s through alcohol or poor food choices. Instead, focus on eating and drinking a well-balanced diet – eating well can have a huge positive impact on your mental state.
Free First Aid for Mental Health training
Our education partner, Connect2Care, are passionate about promoting good mental health for all. That’s why they’re offering their Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health training course completely free of charge to support employers who want to be more mental health inclusive, but don’t have the funds to do so.
Two staff members from any business in the UK are eligible for the online tutor-led learning. This initiative has been launched in response to growing concerns around mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
To apply for your free place, please email: [email protected]