It’s National Stress Awareness Day.
We’ve turned to our official health and wellbeing partner, Paycare, for insight on what stress is, how you can identify when stress becomes too much, and what to do if it’s playing a bigger role in life than it should.
Kevin Rogers, CEO of Paycare, explains.
Stress is essentially our body’s response to pressures from a certain situation or life event and is needed to trigger the flight or fight response.
Many of us experience completely healthy levels of stress everyday. For example, quickly moving out of the way from a ball heading towards your face at full speed is down to the stress hormones kicking in and protecting us from harm.
But experiencing too much stress can lead to people feeling overwhelmed, which in turn can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems even worse. Unlike physical injuries or illnesses, stress is faceless, and can impact everyday life and how we act, from confidence and self-esteem, to concentration and motivation.
Prolonged periods of stress can have its mark on us physically too, causing or worsening cardiovascular disease including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, as well as increasing our risk of diseases such as cancer and weakening our immune systems. Too much is not good.
Despite the wide-ranging health risks, it’s still a huge problem nationally, with 74% of Scottish adults having felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope.
National Stress Awareness Day continues to raise awareness of the impact of stress on our minds and bodies, and break down barriers so that people experiencing pressure can talk openly and without stigma.
As the health and wellbeing partner of the fantastic Steelmen, we’re passionate about ensuring fans take care of their health and wellbeing, and in terms of stress, providing resources to help you deal and manage it effectively.
The Signs of Stress
You may notice physical, emotional, and mental signs that you’re experiencing high levels of stress — understanding your own response will help you to recognise it and put measures in place to manage it. These signs might include fast heartbeats, trouble sleeping, eating too much or too little, finding decisions difficult, being irritable, having headaches, and sweating.
Luckily, we breathe on autopilot, but when we’re stressed we can forget to breathe meaningfully and deeply, which can actually lower our heart rate and help us to feel calmer.
One tactic that we learned from our lifestyle intervention consultant, Laura Butler, was to breathe in for seven seconds, hold for five seconds, and breathe out for seven seconds. It’s simple, but hugely effective.
Studies have found that mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your mood, so it’s worth giving this a try if you’ve never done it before. There are loads of free meditation apps to choose from out there.
Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list and taking on more than you can handle can cause you to feel stressed. Take some time to prioritise your workload or schedule, and split out your time to work through things one by one. Try to keep distractions to a minimum too. Remember, if you can’t do it all, you can always ask for help.
Some stress can be attributed to our diets, so it’s important to review what we’re consuming and make sure that we’re getting all the basics we need, including plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fruit and veg.
Talk About It
Talking to others about how you’re feeling can also be useful and help to ease the weight on your shoulders. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, there are many organisations that can help.
If you’re a Paycare Policyholder, please remember that our confidential counselling service is designed specifically to provide support.
It can be used for a wide range of things —whether it be financial worry, physical pain or discomfort, or grief, depression and anxiety — just visit your Paycare log in area to find out more.
For more help and advice
Mental Health Foundation
Improving the lives of those with mental health problems or learning difficulties.
020 7803 1101
Works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including one-to-one therapy.
08444 775 774
Supports people through mental health services.
020 7780 7300
The Centre for Mental Health
Working to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems.
020 7827 8300
PANDAS Foundation vision is to support every individual with pre (antenatal), postnatal depression or postnatal psychosis in England, Wales and Scotland. They campaign to raise awareness and remove the stigma. We provide our PANDAS Help Line, Support Groups offer online advice to all and much more.
0843 28 98 401 (every day from 9am-8pm)
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