New research from the Mental Health Foundation and collaborating universities has revealed that more than eight in ten adults have experienced stress because of the pandemic.
Celebrated in the first week of November, International Stress Awareness Week is an awareness event that aims to shine a light on stress and mental health problems, as well as raise awareness and promote support services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty and challenges into our lives that we have never faced before. As a result, many of us will have experienced heightened levels of stress, which given the circumstances, is completely natural.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure. This response can produce physical and emotional responses and can be caused by a host of different situations or life events. Even positive life changes such as a promotion, purchasing a new house, or the birth of a child can produce stress.
Symptoms of stress
Some of the most common symptoms of stress can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. Symptoms of stress will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them, such as:
- Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking and caffeine
- Drug use
- Aggressive outbursts
- Dizziness or palpitations
- Panic attacks
Reducing stress in COVID
At the time of writing, the physical and mental health impact of the coronavirus outbreak is still very much present in our daily lives. Here, we have listed a few suggestions on how to reduce any unwanted stress during these challenging times...
- Get moving: Physical exercise can help relieve tension and relax your mind. Engaging in physical activity every day—whether it’s a socially distanced walk or an online fitness class at home—will benefit your mind as well as your body.
- Stay connected: We all enjoy the feeling of being connected with our loved ones. If possible, catching up with a friend or family member at a safe distance and discussing your feelings can ease your mind. Make sure that you keep up to date with the latest government guidelines in your area. If meeting in person is not possible, you can stay in touch by phone, video calls or social media.
- Be kind to others: Supporting and helping others allows us to take a break from our hectic schedules. This can help us gain some perspective and better equip us to handle stressful situations. Also, carrying out acts of kindness will boost endorphins, resulting in you receiving a ‘helpers high’ - the uplifting feeling you feel after helping someone.
- Self-care: When we feel stressed, the things that bring us happiness often get side-lined. Make sure that you schedule some time for you to relax and partake in your favourite hobbies, for instance, reading a good book, a countryside walk or an online pub quiz with your friends. As a result, if you feel stressed or overwhelmed, you have something to look forward to and help you shift to a more positive mindset.
- Relax your mind: Mindfulness practises and breathing techniques can help you stop worrying about the future and allow you to focus on the present. There are a variety of wellbeing apps, online videos and tutorials that can help you deal with difficult emotions and relax your mind.
This International Stress Awareness Week, think about the role that stress plays in your life. If you feel that you experience stress regularly, spend some time researching ways that can help reduce your stress, such as the tips suggested in this guidance.
If you need to access our services to discuss any wellbeing concerns you may have, our confidential helpline is available 24/7, 365.
Alternatively, if you have access to the My Healthy Advantage app (iOS & Android), you can view a variety of wellbeing resources including articles, videos, mini health checks and 4-week programmes, all aimed at improving your physical and mental wellbeing.