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April marks the return of Stress Awareness Month - the wellbeing campaign aimed at raising awareness of stress and promoting stress free living.
Stress is our body’s response to a harmful life event or threatening situation, regardless if the threat is genuine or not.
Stress can affect people in a variety of different ways and severities. What may be perceived as a stressful situation by one person, may be of little concern to another, and some individuals are better able to handle stress than others.
Not all stress is bad. In some cases, small amounts of stress can help you accomplish tasks. For example, feeling “butterflies” in your stomach before a job interview or an important presentation. These types of positive stressors are short-lived, and your body’s way of helping you get through what could be a tough situation.
Our bodies are able to handle small amounts of stress. But, we are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.
Some of the common symptoms of stress to watch out for can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them, such as:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody.
- Experiencing chest pain and a rapid heartbeat.
- Being in a constant state of worry.
- An increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine or drug use.
Be organised: Planning ahead to stay organised can greatly decrease stress at work. This can result in less time spent rushing in the morning to avoid being late and being more efficient with your work.
Walking lunches: One way you can help combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and de-stress is by taking a walk during your lunch break. This can help clear your mind, lift your mood and improve your fitness.
Eat well: Long working hours and heavy workloads can often create a vicious circle of not eating properly and skipping meals, resulting in you feeling sluggish and low. Eating well balanced meals will help you to keep healthy and maintain your energy for busy days at work.
Talk: Take time out to talk to someone with an empathetic ear and get their perspective on things. It could be a friend, a family member or a colleague. If you can talk to your manager about how you feel, they may be able to support you.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, as well as improving your sleep and self-esteem in the process.
Reduce your caffeine intake: High quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety. However, people's sensitivity to caffeine can vary greatly. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.
To help raise awareness of Stress Awareness Month, you can spread the word on social media by using the hashtag #StressAwarenessMonth.
Another way to help promote the event is by simply being more open with your friends and colleagues regarding stress. Share your coping mechanisms and try to act more considerately around people who appear to be stressed.
If you want to test your stress levels, click here to access the Stress Management Society’s online stress guide.
If you feel as though you have issues with your stress levels, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our helpline on:
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