National Stress Awareness Day- Wednesday 1st November
National Stress Awareness Day is Wednesday 1st November 2023
Most of us feel the impact of stress from time to time. This can arise from pressures at work, issues at home or simply feeling that there is too much to do in too short a space of time.
Stress can leave us feeling exhausted, unable to concentrate on tasks at work, at home, or even a familiar leisure activity such as following the plot of a television programme. It can prove to be preoccupying, dominating our thoughts and leaving us feeling anxious, or overwhelmed, even making us forgetful. Some people become irritable, and resort to drinking and smoking more than they used to. Stress can lead to problems with sleeping while some people seek comfort in eating too much, and others fail to eat enough. When experiencing stress we can suffer headaches, racing heartbeat, muscle aches, and stomach issues. In short, stress can affect our lives in thoroughly detrimental ways.
How to counter stress
The NHS advises a series of measures which can help to alleviate stress. Breathing exercises are calming and have the dual advantage that they take just a few minutes and can be performed almost anywhere. Keeping active is also a good way to offset stress. Exercise can offer some space and perspective. This doesn’t have to mean a gym busting session, a short ten-minute walk can help to clear the mind and can boost our mood.
Experts advise that stress commonly arises when we feel that we have lost control of a situation. Consequently, taking back ownership or control of an issue is an important idea to explore. Is there an alternative way to approach a colleague, or a challenge, or a personal matter? If we feel that we cannot do anything to improve things, then we are likely to experience increasing amounts of stress. Turning to others is an important coping mechanism, perhaps talking worries through with a trusted friend or colleague might help us to unburden and find ways to move forwards. We might come to see things in a different light.
Finding time for ourselves
Many of us lead hectic lifestyles at work and at home, and the priority of finding some time away from things to socialise, exercise, and relax can become lost among everything else. Perhaps we could earmark some time for ourselves a couple of times each week. This might involve returning to an old hobby, learning a new skill, or simply relaxing.
One of the hardest challenges at work is to come to terms with the sheer number of tasks to be tackled. It is important to be realistic about what can be achieved, both in terms of quality and quantity. Prioritising can help, although people do tend to put off the least appealing jobs. Some people speak of working smarter, not harder. That sounds like a positive mantra, but the harsh reality is that it is often not possible to prioritise while keeping everyone happy. In that case clear communication and consultation should prove helpful. The bottom line is that there are likely to be some things which we cannot change. Accepting that – and it is far from easy – may help us to better come to terms with things.
The Big Picture
We ought to try to step back from the sources of the stress which we feel and look at areas of our lives for which we are grateful. If we can keep those in mind and not allow them to be crowded out, we may be able to adopt a broader sense of perspective. Trying to feel positive is a good place to start, and a good goal to aim for as a general rule.
The NHS lists examples of ways to counter stress here. Mind provides several sources of support whether by phone or email and local Minds offer face-to-face services across England and Wales. These services include talking therapies, peer support and advocacy. Side by Side is a supportive online community for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Further advice and information is available here.
HFEH Mind’s blog offers advice on a variety of mental health issues. Sometimes just getting some extra information can prove to be a positive first step.
Our mental health services directory, Wellbeing West London, can help you find mental health services near you.
Our Safe Space service may also be able to help. We provide an alternative to A&E for people experiencing a mental health crisis, and can give advice, support, or just listen.
Posted on: 31st October 2023