What a time for it to be International Stress Awareness Week!
Created by the International Stress Management Association in 2018, to raise awareness, it provides a platform for stress and mental health problems to be highlighted.
2020 has proven to be the year to test us all, and just when we allowed ourselves to start looking forward to Christmas, the onset of Lockdown 2.0 has called a dramatic halt to those preparations.
In a report from the Office for National Statistics, almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression in June 2020. This figure had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
This demonstrates the huge impact the ongoing rollercoaster of the pandemic is having on our mental health.
It is important to identify what stress is, it is the body’s way of responding to excessive pressures, and when they become overwhelming, the fight or flight hormonal response kicks in.
There are many symptoms which can present themselves and help us recognise when we are suffering from stress, such as undue worrying, being tearful, and perhaps neglecting yourself and withdrawing from friends and family. It can even manifest itself in a physical way in the form
Many of us live in a prolonged state of stress, as the body inevitably chooses ‘Flight’ but we try to distract ourselves from stressful situations, rather than dealing with them.
This is where Dr Emily & Dr Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle’, argue that we never complete the ‘Stress cycle’, which can be detrimental to our physical and emotional health.
The importance of de-stressing and completing this cycle can therefore not be underestimated.
We share some top tips to help reduce stress, and hopefully help to get through the next lockdown period unscathed!
- Start each day with a few minutes to yourself, perhaps enjoying a quiet cup of tea or coffee, before the day begins
- Take 3 deep, slow breaths when you start to feel anxious
- Talk & laugh with friends and family – think about fun memories you have shared. Laughing is proven to reduce tension and regulate emotions
- Stretch to relieve tightness or tension, especially at the end of a long day sitting at a desk, or behind a wheel driving.
- Cry – crying relieves the weight of the pressure you are under. It may not change it, but it will help you complete the cycle and remove the stress you are feeling.
- Reflect on what went well throughout the day. Sometimes our days just do not go to plan, and it can be all to easy to focus on the bad. Remind yourself of something you have achieved, big or small, and give yourself a pat on the back.