For our latest #WellnessAtWork piece, we have focused on Stress – as this month was Stress Awareness Month!
Read on for more information on what stress is, the common symptoms it, and some useful stress management tips.
What is stress?
The Stress Management Society states that stress is:
“primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion.”
However, stress is not necessarily a bad thing, and without it humankind would not have survived; the “flight or fight” reaction from cavemen when faced with threats ensured their survival. In the modern world, the ‘fight or flight’ mode can still help us survive dangerous situations. However, stress becomes detrimental when our body goes into this state in inappropriate situations and for long periods of time. Brain function is reduced when blood flow is restricted to the muscles required to carry out the fight or flight response, which can affect our ability to “think straight” in our work and home life.
Symptoms of stress:
The NHS website states that stress can have physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms as follows:
- Physical symptoms: headaches or dizziness; muscle tension or pain; stomach problems; chest pain or a faster heartbeat
- Mental Symptoms: difficulty concentrating; struggling to make decisions; feeling overwhelmed; constantly worrying and being forgetful.
- Behavioural Symptoms: being irritable and snappy; sleeping too much or too little; eating too much or too little; avoiding certain places or people and taking up bad habits.
It is therefore important that we can identify symptoms of stress, and our triggers.
The Stress Management Society and Huawei AppGallery joined forces to gain a greater understanding of the true impact of COVID-19 on the British Public by surveying 2000 nationally representative British adults, carried out by OnePoll in January 2021. They reported that 65% felt more stressed than usual since the COVID 19 restrictions started in March 2020.
The Mental Health Foundation have compiled “7 Steps to help protect yourself from stress” – head to the download section in the side bar to read more.
During our research into stress awareness, we have found that keeping “Stress Diaries” can be a useful tool to help us manage stress. Stress diaries can help highlight the common sources of stress, help us analyse how we handle them and therein help us develop better self-awareness and coping mechanisms; but also help us highlight when we need help to manage the stress. If this sounds like something you would like to try, head to the sidebar to download our stress diary template.