Posted on Thursday, 1st April 2021
This month is National Stress Awareness Month 2021. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to poor mental health for people in the UK, and this issue has only become more prevalent during the coronavirus crisis. Today’s blog examines what stress is, what causes it, and looks at some of the steps you can take to de-stress and improve your mental wellbeing.
Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It’s a normal emotion which everyone will experience at some point in their lives. It can even be a positive emotion for some who use it as motivation to push themselves to achieve their goals. However, too much stress can have serious negative effects on people’s health.
Stress can make people suffer from sustained periods of bad mental health, becoming irritable, anxious, or angry. This can affect their relationships at work and at home, which in turn can make the situation worse and increase stress levels. Long periods of stress can cause significant problems for a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.
There is not one single cause for stress. What makes an individual experience stress will depend on their personality, personal experience, and the situation they find themselves in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of stress:
Perhaps the most obvious place to experience stress is at work. Every job presents a unique set of challenges which have the potential to cause significant personal stress if allowed to get out of hand. This might involve having to work to tight deadlines or strict targets, work with challenging individuals, or having low job security. You don’t have to be at the top to be impacted by work stress. Every worker, no matter how senior they are, can experience it.
Relationships with friends and family have a significant effect on people’s mental wellbeing. Having difficult relationships with those you live with can be incredibly stressful, especially if you have responsibilities as a carer or parent. Experiencing parental break-up as a parent or a child can also be extremely testing, as it presents many huge changes to home lives.
Money is a major cause of stress as it can impact almost every aspect of your life. Struggling to pay bills or put food on the table can put you in an incredibly stressful mindset. Being out of employment, whether that is through recent or long-term unemployment, can put you in a constant state of worry about your finances.
Serious injury or illness can contribute towards stress as they significantly effect the way you can live your life. Depending on the nature of the illness, it may cause you to worry about your long-term health, returning to work, and your own mortality. Pregnancy or becoming a parent can also cause stress, for health or financial reasons.
There are many different signs that you struggling to cope with stress. Some of these signs include:
Everybody reacts to stress in a different way. You need to be on the lookout for any persistent feelings which are not normal for you and impact your day-to-day happiness. It is really important that if these feelings persist, you contact your GP. Not treating these issues and hoping they will go away on their own will only make things worse.
The effects of stress on the body are just as problematic as the mental toll it takes on people. There are a range of stress symptoms that people may feel if they have become overburdened with stress:
Similar to the effects on mental health, people will have different physical reactions to stress. It’s important to take notice of any health problems that are unusual for you and try to trace back what could possibly be causing them. If these issues are uncommon for you, or are affecting your quality of life, you should always make an appointment with your GP.
Just as there are many different stress symptoms and causes, there are many different methods of stress management. The NHS has set out their top 10 stress busters to help you find a way to reduce your stress levels.
You can find many more useful tips to help you deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems by reading our blog ‘Tips and Tools to Help You Manage Your Mental Health’.
National Stress Awareness month is an annual event that takes place every April. This campaign aims to increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of stress, and start a wider conversation in society about how it can impact people's lives.
Combating stress has never been more important. Since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions in March 2020, 65% of people in Britain say they have experienced increased stress levels. The pandemic and the disruption it’s caused has led to more people feeling disconnected and worried about the future.
You can find out more about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected people’s mental health in our blog ‘Mental Health During the Coronavirus Crisis’.
If you are experiencing stress at work, it’s always best to try and speak to your manager, a member of HR, or a union representative. Having an honest and open dialog about your workload and the stress you are experiencing can help you come up with practical solutions for addressing work-related stress. This is a win-win for you and your employer; if you address the problems before they become too severe, it reduces the likelihood of you having to take time off, and can improve the quality of your work.
If you do not feel this is practical, or you are continuing to experience stress which is affecting your quality of life, speak to your GP. Your GP can provide support, guidance and resources to help you manage your stress. Taking a break from work is sometimes necessary for people to de-stress and look after their mental health. GPs will be able to provide you with a sickness note if they believe time away from work is necessary to protect your mental wellbeing.
At ESS, we provide multiple different training options to help you and your co-workers manage your stress.
We also provide our Stress Management e-learning course. This training, delivered entirely online through our dedicated e-learning platform, goes into more depth about the causes and symptoms of stress. This course will also introduce more ways to help reduce the risk of you or those around you suffering from stress.
In addition, we also provide a number of courses which relate to the management of mental health in the workplace. These include:
Find out more about how mental health first aid can help support your workers and colleagues by reading our blog Time to Talk: Why Mental Health First Aid is Vital in Any Workplace.