April is Stress Awareness month
I’m sure more than ever, the majority of the population can relate to this.
It’s important to point out that stress is not always a ‘bad’ thing. Without this brilliant ability to feel stress, humankind wouldn’t have survived past the caveman era… The term ‘fight-or-flight’ represents the choices that our ancient ancestors made, probably when faced with a saber-toothed tiger.
The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a reaction that occurs in the presence of something terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.
Stress can also motivate people to prepare or perform in many situations, in both business and in certain circumstances, lifesaving situations. However, unfortunately sometimes stress can lead the mind not to think straight, and this is when it can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing, especially workplace wellbeing (see our earlier blog; How to maintain workplace wellbeing).
According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
So, what can we do?
Firstly, a good night’s sleep can be your key to a clearer mind, I know it seems simple but there’s nothing better than waking up after a good night’s sleep feeling recharged.
Secondly, adopt a positive mindset, being in control of your thoughts increases your ability to find solutions to challenging situations and to deal more effectively with stress. Almost invariably, you’re going to encounter obstacles throughout the day—there’s no such thing as a perfect day! When you encounter such a challenge, focus on the positives no matter how small – I am currently working from home, but I am sitting writing this in the garden listening to the birds sing and my children laughing… There’s always a positive! We do not have the ability to feel two emotions at once such as feeling happy & sad. If we are feeling sad then think about something that makes us happy which can help to change our mindset for the rest of the day.
Thirdly, find a hobby that occupies the mind, there are a number of hobbies that have been scientifically proven to help reduce stress. Picking up on these hobbies, even if it’s just here and there, can help us relax and feel less bothered by external life factors we can’t control. Yoga, dancing, reading, gardening, painting are all great ways to relax. My current release is baking… I’d actually forgotten just how much I enjoy it, although my waistline is fast remembering!
Lastly, remember there are always people that can help, try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member or health professional.
Take care and stay safe.