As part of Stress Awareness Month we wanted to help you to understand how we manage stress.
We can view the way we manage stress like a tap and bucket, with the tap being the things that create stress and the bucket being our ability to carry and cope with stress.
Stress is a normal part of life and it’s not always bad, we need a certain level of stress to encourage us to take action and get things done.
However, if there are too many stressors in our life and we don’t have effective coping strategies in place, our stress levels can become harmful, making us feel overwhelmed and like we’re about to ‘burst’.
Take some time to think about the good and bad sources of stress in your life – doing this helps us to identify and prioritise the stressors we can control, to manage how much stress we’re placing on ourselves. You can also think about what coping strategies you might use, are these effective in helping to relieve stress, or might they actually be creating more stress?
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992, with the aim of increasing knowledge around both the causes of and cures for stress.
We’re all very different, but stress is something that affects all of us at various points in our lives. For example, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adults in the UK felt so stressed at some point in the last year, that they would describe it as feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
There are a lot of generic causes of stress: work, relationships, commitments and bills amongst many other things. However, we must also take time to understand what affects us as individuals so that we can take some small steps to reduce stress for ourselves and those around us. Things like setting clear and healthy boundaries, communicating assertively and remembering to save time and energy for yourself can be very helpful when working to limit your stress levels.
The theme for Stress Awareness Month 2021 is “Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control” – this was based on a study conducted over the last year which showed that roughly 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since COVID restrictions were introduced in early 2020. The 3 biggest areas of concern for people were: feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and a loss of control.
So, what can we do every day, to help lower the stress on ourselves and those around us?
- Talk about stress and its effects to reduce the stigma of having open conversations around wellbeing.
- Share your coping techniques – not every technique works for everyone, but it might benefit someone that you care about.
- Be gentle to those who are stressed or anxious – we all experience these feelings in our lifetime, so think about how you would want to be treated in that situation.
- Look after yourself – try and take time each day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Leave some energy for yourself. Exercise and eat good foods, even when it feels difficult.
For the month of April, the Stress Management Society are encouraging people to pick out an activity or action which could help you improve your wellbeing, and to carry it out every day if you can. It takes around 30 days to begin forming a habit, so this challenge aims to maximise your chances of forming a lasting change.
Throughout this month, each week we will be discussing different areas of stress and some practical tips to help you manage it.