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’. 

1.

Stress is a normal part of life – we can view the way we manage stress like a tap and bucket, the tap being the things that create stress and the bucket being our ability to carry stress.

Some stress can be good and some can be bad, but both take up space in our Stress Bucket!

2.

There may be times when the amount of demands/stressors that we’re experiencing fills our bucket to a level that is harmful, and can eventually cause us to feel overwhelmed and like we’re about to ‘burst’.

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Coping abilities/strategies help us to let go of the unnecessary stressors that fill up our bucket.

It’s important to remember that we can’t flush everything out of our Stress Bucket – we need to be able to tolerate a certain level of stress.

4.

Some coping strategies are less effective at helping us to deal with stress, and although these strategies might provide some temporary relief (such as comfort eating), they aren’t healthy in the longer-term.

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Healthy coping strategies help us to keep our stress at a manageable level over the long-term – some healthy strategies are: rest and relaxation, talking to someone you trust, or doing something you enjoy (i.e. exercise or art).

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If you do find that your stress-levels reach a point where you feel overwhelmed and are struggling to cope on your own, this is when it’s important to communicate and seek support.

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?  

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.