Quality | Clinically focused | Flexible | Innovative
t: +44 (0) 800 072 1227
Thursday 4th April
51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious. Work-related stress is defined as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. By its very nature, stress is difficult to measure. In 2019/20 there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. Hence, managing your own stress, or the stress of employees is critical.
There are various steps you can take to cope with being under pressure. Firstly, try to understand the things that effect your stress tolerance levels, for example:
A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you know you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it is easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life — that you are at the mercy of your environment and circumstances, for example, with limited ability to make changes — stress is more likely to paralyse you and knock you off course.
The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If you are generally hopeful and optimistic, you will be less vulnerable. Stress-resilient people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humour, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
If you do not know how to calm and soothe yourself when you are feeling sad, angry, or afraid, you are highly likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
The more you know about a stressful situation — including how long it will last and what to expect — the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Once you have understood your stress tolerance factors, you can try one, or a combination of the steps below to further manage stress.
Upping your activity level is something you can do right now to help yourself start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).
The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you are feeling uncomfortable, unsure, or unsafe. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who make you feel good and do not let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you do not have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centred? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
You cannot eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight or mobilisation stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.
Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. At the same time, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep. Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep, so you feel less stressed and more productive and emotionally balanced.
Follow IPRS Health on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for more mental health advice and information throughout Stress Awareness Month.« Back to News & Blog