What is Stress?

November 27, 2023

Stress is the body’s natural response to the demands of life. But it can be both positive and negative. Positive stress, also known as eustress, provides us with the motivation and drive to accomplish daily tasks, while negative stress, or distress, can cause physical and emotional harm. Symptoms of stress include anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, and physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue. Managing stress is essential for maintaining overall well-being and preventing long-term health issues.

What Causes Stress?

Stress is a natural response to challenging situations: increased workloads, financial difficulties, relationship problems, the loss of a loved one, for example, are all triggers that can lead to stress. Which in turn have physical, emotional and behavioural effects such as headaches, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, irritability, and decreased productivity. 

Over time, this can have profound implications on your mental and physical health, leading to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

Self Care

In today’s fast-paced world, the demand for constant communication and heavy work schedules can make it easy to neglect your own well-being. However, failing to prioritise your own self-care can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. 

So how can you mitigate stress levels and take care of yourself at the same time? 

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can increase energy levels and boost productivity, while practices like meditation and journaling can improve emotional stability and decrease stress levels. It’s important to carve out some time for yourself - by investing in you, you will find yourself better equipped to better handle life's challenges and maintain healthy relationships.

Tips for Carving Out Me-Time

Before you can start to think about carving out ‘me-time’, it is essential to prioritise your own needs, establish boundaries, and set realistic goals. We’ve pulled together some quick tips that might help you to think about how you can reduce your stress levels:

Allocate some time each day (even if it’s just 20 minutes) to engage in activities that you enjoy, such as:

  • Reading
  • Going for a walk
  • Meditating
  • Practicing mindfulness

Schedule time for yourself on a regular basis. This could be:

  • A weekly exercise class 
  • Socialising with friends
  • A trip to a spa

To fully immerse yourself in your ‘me-time’, disconnect from technology and social media

And remember, making time for yourself is not selfish, but rather a necessary step towards a healthy and fulfilling life.


Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is a phenomenon that affects employees worldwide and refers to the physical and emotional strain that results from work-related activities or situations. Resulting from factors such as long working hours, heavy workload, high demands from supervisors or customers, conflicts with colleagues, and insufficient support from management, workplace stress can have dire consequences.

According to numerous studies, work-related stress affects the majority of the workforce, resulting in negative health consequences, decreased productivity, and poor job satisfaction. In fact, in the UK, stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 7.3 million days of days lost due to work-related ill health in 2022*.

Employers, therefore, have a responsibility to mitigate workplace stress where possible. Encouraging open communication, having clear expectations and providing training to ensure that employees are equipped with the skills and resources to succeed at work will all contribute to reducing workplace stress and improving the overall well-being of the workforce.


Tips for Managing Stress in the Workplace

Managing stress in the workplace is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Here are some helpful hints and tips for managing stress in the workplace:

  • Prioritise tasks and focus on the most important ones first
  • Take short breaks throughout the day to rejuvenate your mind and body
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation techniques to alleviate stress
  • Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life
  • Connect with colleagues and build a support system within the workplace
  • Keep a positive attitude and maintain a sense of humor to help you cope with stressful situations

When Self-Care Isn't Enough

There can be times when self-care just isn’t enough. Mental health has long been a taboo topic that people shy away from discussing openly, and, unfortunately, this stigma has prevented many people from seeking the support they need to recover and lead a healthy and fulfilling life. However, the lid on this stigma is slowly being lifted and mental health is being viewed as just as important as physical health.

It’s crucial that we all play a part in normalising conversations around mental health and encouraging people to seek support when they need it. Whether it’s through education, sharing personal experiences, or supporting mental health initiatives, every little bit helps. By overcoming the stigma of mental health, we can pave the way for a healthier and more inclusive society.

Remember, it’s important to recognise when stress is becoming overwhelming and to seek help from your doctor, a therapist or counsellor  when it does.

*hse.gov.uk/statistics/dayslost

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