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Feeling stressed? Be kind to yourself...

Posted by
05 Nov 2014

We hear all the time that these are stressful times? Busytrains, long working hours, increased workloads, balancing work and family, itis understandable that people from time to time can feel burned out. On National Stress Awareness Day I'm taking a look at why we feel like this, and give an overview of expert ways to manage it. 

Stress is a daily part of life, and an important internalsafety mechanism. Human beings have a natural instinct to recognise danger, thebody then releases adrenaline to increase blood flow so we can 'fight orflight'. Obviously when we were cavemen this was a crucial survival instinct,but in the modern world a small amount of stress can be a helpful, criticaleven to manage difficult situations or achieve daily tasks, it's when stressbecomes unmanageable that issues arise.

High levels of stress can lead to mental health problemslike anxiety and depression, or in some cases more significant disorders. Withone in four people being affected by a mental health issue at one time in theirlife, it is important to recognise overwhelming stress, recognise the signs ofthis reaching an unmanageable level and understanding the techniques to cope.

In October 2013 LV= undertook the first National SicknessReport to examine the health and wellbeing of the UK workforce. Their studyfound that each year 131 million days were taken as sick leave, with 13 milliondays being attributed to stress and depression. This research also found thatstress and depression were among the most common long-term conditions affectingBritish workers, with sufferers taking an average of 81 days off to recover,compared to 57 days for employees with a bad back.

Anxiety UK offers a self-diagnosis test for stress and the mental health charity Mind has great online resourcesfor all mental health issues, and there are many expert resources available online to understand stress and learn techniquesfor how to manage it.

Some of this advice includes:

  1. Planning your days - understanding what tasks you have to achieve, what can wait a day or two and also allocating time to yourself. Taking a lunch break and scheduling time to relax is equally important
  2. Acting positively - reflecting on what you have achieved each day, planning holidays or days away and making time for friends
  3. Scheduling time to relax - whether it's watching TV, going for a walk or even meditation, make sure you have some time, every day where you can forget your worries
  4. Exercise - frequently cited as the best way to lift your mood, from running to yoga there is an exercise for you…
  5. Talk to someone - whether it's a friendly colleague, your partner or perhaps your boss, don't suffer in silence. They might be able to help you manage your stress or your workload and if not, they'll definitely remind you that you aren't alone!
  6. Be kind to yourself - if you're feeling overwhelmed, you don't need to add to your worries, so try to stop beating yourself up and comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself of your past achievements and think about times when you've coped with stress in the past.

Often people in high pressured jobs feel that there isn'ttime or there is resentment if they take breaks, whether that's a lunch breakor booking a holiday. But all the evidence shows that taking time out makes fora better, more productive workforce - are you looking after you and your teamin times of stress? Why not start today, by all taking a lunch break and see ifyour day becomes a little easier…

For those suffering from stress or keen to find out morevisit www.mind.org.uk for expert adviceand information. If you have any advice for managing stress, join the discussion below.

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