photo BC.jpgStress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.

Dr Brenda Connolly, Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Staff Health and Wellbeing at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, highlights that: “Experiencing stress is normal part of being human. Everyone feels stressed at certain times, particularly if you are feeling under pressure.

“A healthy amount of stress can help you feel motivated, energised and get things done. However, too much stress, particularly chronic stress can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and become problematic.”

Although stress is not a mental health problem in itself, it is closely linked to mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress (identifying your triggers) and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

The theme for Stress Awareness Month 2021 is ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’.

A recent study on stress with Huawei, gathering data from 2,000 British adults, found that 65 per cent of people in the UK have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. The three key causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control.

The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself. Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you.

How can you combat stress?

  • Talk about stress with friends, family and colleagues. 
  • Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts – the way we think about a situation affects the way we feel
  • Split large tasks up into smaller more achievable chunks
  • Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it. It might benefit someone you care about and in the meantime it might help you take your focus off your own challenges.
  • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all undoubtedly going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime so treat others going through with compassion and empathy.
  • Look after yourself – we all need to think more about self-care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed.