Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992. Millions around the UK experience stress and it can be damaging to our health and wellbeing. For example, at some point in the last year, it has been reported that 74% of us have felt so stressed that we have felt unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation). The last two years of dealing with the pandemic have been particularly challenging and many people have felt overwhelmed and in need of support.
What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Stress is your body’s reaction to help you deal with pressure or threats. This is sometimes called a "fight or flight" response. Your stress hormone levels usually return to normal once the pressure or threat has passed.
Is stress bad for you
A small amount of stress can be useful. It can motivate you to act and get tasks completed. It can also make you feel alive and excited. But too much stress can cause negative effects such as a change in your mood, your body and relationship issues.
These can include feelings of constant worry, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, irritability, depression, change in eating habits, muscle tension, diarrhoea and constipation and feelings of nausea or dizziness.
How to manage your stress
If you’re stressed due to work, your environment, an issue in your personal life or something else, the first step you need to take is to identify the cause of your stress. If you understand what is causing your stress, making a small change may be quick and easy to do.
But, for most of us, it can take time to reduce stress and anxiety - especially if you need to make key changes to your life.
We can all take small steps to reduce our stress and anxiety:
- Spend time with family and friends
- Create boundaries and learn how to say no
- Get more physical activity in such as walking, running, or just getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and nature around you
- Follow a healthy diet
- Reduce phone use and screen time
- Reduce your caffeine intake
How Benenden Hospital supports employees' wellbeing
Our hospital has its own wellbeing committee, ‘BeWell’ with representatives from across all areas of the business to help drive a holistic and inclusive health and wellbeing strategy. We have a programme of initiatives designed to help their people to identify and support handling stress, such as mindfulness sessions, emotional resilience workshops and awareness sessions.
We offer an employee assistance programme, which their staff can access 24/7 and gain free counselling and techniques to support them with stress. Staff are also able to access a 24/7 portal online with a wealth of knowledge on such topics provided our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
We also support our managers to identify signs of stress through their ‘coaching conversations’ which are held regularly with employees and ensures that their wellbeing is at the forefront of conversations.
If you’re finding things hard right now it is ok to ask for help. Seeking help for a mental health problem for guidance or talking to your doctor about options for support and treatment is a positive step towards feeling better. Remember It’s ok not to be ok sometimes.
Published on 05 April 2022