International Stress Awareness Week
It’s International Stress Awareness Week from the 2nd – 6th November, and this year’s focus is on managing stress and mental health in the age of COVID-19.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults were suffering from depression in June 2020 – that’s twice the amount than the previous year.
What is stress?
Stress is commonly referred to as a ‘fight or flight’ response and being in this state for longer periods of time can be overwhelming for the body and lead to ill health. There are several symptoms people experience when they’re stressed:
- Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or unfocused.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Mood swings.
- Weight loss/gain.
- Panic attacks and nausea.
- Frequent colds/infections.
How can I manage stress?
This has been a stressful year for many, so it’s important that we take a few moments each day to de-stress and look after our wellbeing. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Make a weekly planner and include time for yourself to relax. You can try reading a book, watching TV or a hobby that you enjoy.
- Keep active! Regular exercise is proven to help you relax and is great for your overall health.
- Limit your social media and news intake during the week if you find this overwhelming.
- Check in with friends and family to avoid feelings of isolation.
Due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, a lot of people are experiencing stress related to uncertainty and not being in control. Remember the anagram APPLE if you start to feel this kind of stress setting in:
A – Acknowledge the uncertain thought as it comes to mind.
P – Pause and breathe, don’t let yourself react negatively to information on the news/social media.
P – Pull back and tell yourself it’s just the worry talking and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
L – Let go of this thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them.
E – Explore the present moment where all is well. Notice your breathing and the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, hear, touch and smell. Then shift your focus to something else, what you need to do or what you were doing before you noticed the worry.
If you are concerned about stress and would like professional advice, get in touch with your local GP.
Sleep and Anxiety
Getting a good night’s sleep is very important, but for most people experiencing stress this can be very difficult. Here are some things you can do to help maintain a healthy sleep pattern:
- Take some time to wind down before you go to bed. Switch off your electronics and opt for some light reading or meditation whilst you continue with your night-time routine.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day so your body gets used to a pattern.
- Create a peaceful sleeping environment with the room at your preferred temperature, a comfortable bed and suitable noise level.
- Exercise regularly to relieve any stress built up throughout your day.
What’s happening during International Stress Awareness Week?
The International Stress Management Association (ISMA) is campaigning to make sure that stress receives the attention needed to help people lead healthier and happier lives. International Stress Awareness Week is a big annual event which focuses on stress management, including:
- Working with employers to help them respond to mental health issues within their workforce.
- Campaigning against the stigma around stress and mental health.
- Making sure that those suffering from stress know where to get help and advice.
This year they are hosting their first Online Global Stress and Wellbeing Summit, with specialist guest speakers to talk about all things related to stress, from mental health to stress in the workplace.
If you’d like to get involved with this campaign and attend the summit, click here to visit their website.
We have lots of resources on our website to help with stress and mental health, click here to find out more.
If you are experiencing long term stress speak with a health professional. Click here for the contact details of mental health charities who can offer further support.