April is stress awareness month and after a year in a global pandemic, awareness of mental health has spiked. Whether you are going into work, working from home or a bit of both, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed the way you work.
Whilst some of us will be returning to a ‘new normal’ and the adjustment to changing work circumstances, others may be dealing with more of a direct felt aftermath of the pandemic and it’s more important than ever to understand the ins and outs of what stress is and how awareness can prompt the right action.
Fear and anxiety about the change in how you work and the virus itself can be overwhelming. How you cope with these feelings can affect how you maintain a healthy body and mind. During this uncertain time, it is so important that you recognise what being stressed looks and feels like, so you are able to control it.
Like us, you have been working from home, still on furlough, flexible furlough or have found your work circumstances changing completely, along with balancing the easing of restrictions or facing an increased work load, all of these can contribute towards stress. Below are some thoughts on how we have dealt with these uncertain times!
“The challenges of the last year have shown us more than ever, that we are all unique in our own ways.
How we face adversity, challenge and stress is as personal as what makes us love, laugh and smile. Being such a personal matter, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what might cause someone to face anxiety or stress – but you can put measures in place to offer reassurance, piece of mind and comfort.
We work hard to operate a safe environment for our colleagues, where we share the responsibility of looking out for each other. We don’t always get it right, but we try to. So as we come out of a difficult period in for a lot of people, I hope as a society we are collectively more understanding of stress and anxiety and work together to help those in need.”Richard Flaherty, Managing Director
Our thoughts on how we can all manage stress a little better…
- Connect with supportive people – A face to face conversation with someone can really help. It releases hormones that reduce stress. Leaning on someone you’re close to or a helpline can give you support.
- Practise meditation/ yoga – This relaxation technique brings mental clarity and increases body awareness, making you aware of the here and now reducing anxiety.
- Sleep – Getting a good nights sleep prepares the brain to cope with stress better.
- Re-balance your day – Dedicate some time to yourself so you can do something that you enjoy doing, for example exercise or cooking.
- Eat well and reduce alcohol consumption – Well nourished bodies cope better with stress. Alcohol is a depressant so can amplify any issues/worries.
- Speak to a councillor – There are many free online helplines that you can reach out to.
Symptoms of stress to look out for:
- Increase heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension/pain
- Increased appetite/loss of appetite
Some people are more affected by stress than others. This is influenced by factors such as upbringing, genetics, work and home life. However, this has been amplified with the current climate and it is not unusual to feel an increase in these emotions with the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, on a positive note, stress isn’t all bad…
Small amounts of stress can be helpful. It can motivate you to take action and complete tasks. For example, the stress you may feel having to meet a deadline, nerves before an interview or the adrenaline before a race.
So, speak up, manage your stress and take each day as it comes! We got this!
Below are online helplines that you can give additional support if you need it…
- Samaritans – 116 123
- SOS – 03001020505
- Saneline – 0300 304 7000
- CALM – 0800 58 58 58
- Switchboard– if you identify as LGBT 0300 330 0630
- Nightline website – Specifically for students.
From Banana Kick
Written by Jody Edwards