Stress Awareness Week: Looking After Your Mental Health

Monday 2 November was the start of International Stress Awareness Week. It also coincides with the start of Movember, a month focused on men’s mental health.

It goes without saying that during this period of extreme workload and uncertainty that you and your colleagues may feel stressed at times. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak.

Looking after your mental health is key to ensuring that you can carry on doing what you would do day to day, even in these bleak times whether that be carrying out your job, looking after your family or maintaining your own health. Stress can enter our lives in various ways and pressures can often feel overwhelming, having a negative impact on our relationships.

Common causes of stress can include pressure to succeed; self image; body image; housing; work; debt.

If you are feeling any of the above factors then now is the time to take back control. You can do this by following the tips below;

  1. Take time out: Try to put yourself first at least once a day, to give your brain the rest it needs to stay engaged and alert.
  2. Exercise: Everyone knows that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which give you a chemical boost. But getting active can also help lower your stress levels by boosting the chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
  3. Avoid caffeine: Many of us reach for a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up every day, but if you’re already feeling stressed, too much caffeine doesn’t help. It stimulates the nervous system, which can make you feel more anxious and panicky
  4. Make connections: If you’re getting stressed at work, taking a few minutes to chat to your peers can help. Occupational health expert Professor Cary Cooper says: “If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help.”
  5. Practise gratitude: Try and recognise your accomplishments, and think of something to be grateful for every night.

Need to talk to someone?

If you are having difficulty please do not suffer alone, there are various organisations here to help you such as:

By Sonia Gale – Health, Wellbeing and Diversity Coordinator DHU Health Care