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Stress Awareness Month – look after your human needs

by Simon Briffa | 1 April 2020

Over the next few weeks it is likely people will experience higher levels of stress due to the pressure of working from home, worries about cashflow or simply the current situation. Our Internal Talent & Wellbeing Manager Simon Briffa looks at what you can do to help manage stress and remain healthy and motivated throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Everyone experiences some form of stress in their lives. Be that stress at home or work, we all struggle from time-to-time. But stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, stress can be a benefit just as much as it can be a hinder – if you know how to manage it and use it to your advantage.

When thinking about the benefits of stress it is important to view it as anything that alters our homeostasis (the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems). Good stress therefore is vital for a healthy life, but bad stress can have a hugely detrimental impact on our wellbeing and ability to remain motivated and productive. In order to counteract the negative consequences of stress we need to be able to recognise it, manage it and change our surroundings to help deal with it.

To mark Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to draw upon author Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs and offer some tips on what you can do to help your own wellbeing.

Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs

Steven Covey states that we need four things to “maintain and improve the implement that is you”, and in turn stay motivated and productive. He breaks these down into four dimensions: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional. Although not directly related to stress management, I do believe that we can greatly reduce stress in our day-to-day lives by working on these four dimensions.

At Sellick Partnership, we truly believe this and will be focusing on one of these areas each Wednesday in our new ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ initiative. Here are some of the things we will be doing to help our staff manage their own stress, and raise awareness of keeping healthy physically and mentally at work and at home.

Physical/Body – keeping fit, eat well avoid bad things

This one is simple. If we look after our physical selves, our mental health will be in much better shape. It is therefore important to keep active and eat healthily. This is especially important now, as more of us are working from home and self-isolating. Even getting out for a small walk or getting some fresh air will greatly help reduce stress.

That is why we are actively encouraging all our employees to take their full lunch each day. We are also giving everyone one extended lunch per week and are holding regular incentives designed around getting people out and about. Getting away from the desk and switching off for a period of time each day is hugely important and will help keep your mind fresh and ensure you stay motivated at home.

Mind – nourish your brain

Engaging your mind and doing something that helps you use all parts of your brain is hugely important in reducing stress. If you are constantly working, remain on the go and only using your brain for work then you will burn out very quickly. Using your mind for other activities will help you relax and destress. Taking yourself away and doing something you enjoy is important here. You might want to read a good book, listen to your favourite podcast or music or simply catch up on your favourite TV show. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you.

Heart/Social/emotional – surround yourself by good people, take good advice, be kind listen to others

This may be the hardest task while many of us are self-isolating at home. Human contact and interaction is one of the best ways for us to de-stress. I am sure a lot of you will use socialising with friends at the weekend as a way to relax after a hectic week. This has recently become more difficult, but not impossible! If you usually go out on a Friday night, why not set up a video conference instead. Apps like House Party and Zoom make socialising virtually easier than ever.

We see the benefit of this and are ensuring our teams are in regular contact throughout the day. We have set up a companywide WhatsApp Group, have given everyone access to video conferencing software and are holding regular companywide incentives to keep morale yup. We are also hosting a number of virtual social events so people can ‘get together’. This is hugely important for us. We are one big family at Sellick Partnership, and not staying in touch would greatly impact our culture. Staying in touch helps us ensure our staff’s mental and physical wellbeing are catered for, and in turn reduces stress, and increases morale and productivity across the business.

Giving back is also a great way of reducing stress. Getting involved with volunteering, supporting charities and general CSR initiatives are proven to lift moods, so get involved and help others where possible.

Spiritual – who you are, your values and behaviours

Looking after your mental wellbeing, and reducing stress relies on you being happy with who you are, and in these unprecedented times, happy in your own company. Not everyone relates to spirituality, but everyone can take a few minutes just to be with themselves and relax, and that is what this is all about. To reduce stress in your day-to-day it is important to get in touch with your personal values and your mission which will be unique to you – so do this in whatever way feels most comfortable to you.

Meditation, yoga and prayer are all great ways of doing this. There are lots of companies hosting free virtual sessions that you can get involved in. You might also feel like taking yourself into a room and read a book or listen to music. Do whatever helps you to relax and get in touch with yourself, and spend some time de-stressing away from what is going on in the world currently.

This is even more important now that many of us are working and living at home. Doing something you enjoy away from your home workspace will help you de-stress and will be beneficial to your wellbeing overall. You might also want to read motivational books or listen to podcasts that will help you stay motivated. That is what we have done. We asked our Board of Directors to give us one thing they have read or listened to that has helped them recently and we have given our staff access to these materials. Some of these things can even be done while working. Having something inspirational playing in the background during the day helps so many people deal with stress.

Those are just four areas we think are imperative to dealing with stress both at work and at home. There will be loads of other tips, so if these do not work for you then don’t worry. Visit the Stress Management website for lots of additional tools to help you deal with stress your way.