Ironically, the latest COVID-19 lockdown in England has been announced, a couple of days before National Stress Awareness Day on the 2nd November, and International Stress Awareness Week from the 2nd through to the 8th.
When surveyed, almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020.
This had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.
Stress Awareness Day was established to help provide information on stress, and strategies on how to address it for both companies and individuals.
Stress and anxiety management can be thought of as a ‘leaky bucket’. If we keep adding stressors to the bucket (even tiny ones like the school run or commuting to work), over time it fills up until one day it overflows.
This can be a good way of looking at anxiety as it explains why sometimes it can seem to come “out of the blue” with no significant trigger.
However, just a small stressor might tip us over the edge and allowed our bucket to overflow.
What we need is a “leaky bucket” with lots of holes in to reduce our overall stress levels.
Each one of these holes would be something that you do to manage your anxiety, such as yoga, exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.
Stress Awareness Day is your opportunity to start looking after yourself and your life, and break down the individual stressors in your life.
Failure to deal with stress in your life effectively can lead to serious health problems, including increased blood pressure, susceptibility to heart disease, and a decline in your immune system.
Once you start experiencing these symptoms they can landslide into each other, resulting in growing sickness, and by extension, more stress. It’s truly a self-feeding problem and a cycle that is necessary to control to enjoy our lives.
The Stress Management Society (www.stress.org.uk) suggest some things you can do to help you to cope with stress:
Talk about Stress and its effects – reduce the stigma that is associated with stress by talking about the topic openly and freely with friends, family and colleagues.
Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it. It might benefit someone you care about and in the meantime it might help you take your focus off your own challenges.
Be kind to those who are stressed and anxious – we will all undoubtedly experience stress and anxiety at some point in our lives, so treat others going through wit with compassion and empathy.
Look after yourself – we don’t think enough about self –care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy.
Exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed - healthy lifestyle choices reduce stress and minimise the impacts
The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself.
Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you.
The ISMA (International Stress management Association) is running an online Summit from the 2nd November through to the 6th November. (click here to visit the programme of events).
This summit is a place where you can discover strategies and resources to help understand and manage your stress.
If you are struggling to cope with stress, go to www.isma.org.uk to find out how to get help and support.