Next week is International Stress Awareness week (2nd-6th Nov). We all suffer and deal with stressful situations throughout our lives and it can be stimulated or triggered by any number of events. Stress and mental health problems are more important now than ever in the current Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has created many major concerns for organisations as well as individuals. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.
Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic. Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.
Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain. Office for National Statistics, June 2020
Pandemic aside, staff absence alone costs the NHS £2.4 billion per year – that’s £1 for every £40 of the total budget – not to mention the many other costs and risks associated with burnout and work stress.
What is stress?
Stress is our body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. Small amounts of stress can be helpful to motivate us and push us to complete tasks, but when the stress level is too high we become irritable and anxious. Our bodies react to stress the same way we act to a perceived threat. For example a large dog barking at you as you walk to work. The hypothalamus in your brain triggers the alarm system in your body prompting your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure to boost energy supplies. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. Cortisol increases sugars in the bloodstream, alters your immune system, suppresses the digestive system and growth and repair processes. The alarm system also communicates with your brain altering your mood, motivation and fears.
As these short term threats pass and you move away from the barking dog. Your hormones, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal and you carry on with the rest of your day. But long term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol can increase your risk of many other health problems.
Stress varies from person to person. Work, school, home life, personal life or big life events can all be triggers to make us feel stressed. For many people there is an ongoing stress relating to money, bills or debt.
- Fear about your own health or loved ones during the pandemic
- Fear about your financial situation as a business, individual and whether you can support your family
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increase in alcohol or cigarette consumption
Ways To Deal With Stress:
Mindfulness – Buddha – “What you think, you become”
Constant negativity towards yourself will lower your mood. Try meditating. Meditation improves your focus and concentration through breath work to improve your self-awareness, self-esteem and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Try a guided meditation on our FITFOR.tv platform HERE
Be more active
Our favourite cure! Nothing beats getting your heart rate pumping to fire the happy hormones around your body and mind. Exercise increases your serotonin levels, boosting and regulating your mood. Serotonin is known as the ‘happy chemical’ because of its contribution to your wellness and happiness.
Try a 20 minute HIIT class for a sure fire way to get that happy chemical pinging around your body. HIIT 20
HIIT not your style? Practicing yoga also stimulates your blood circulation, releases serotonin and helps clear your mind. Try Yoga Flow
Talk to someone
Get the kettle on, and get virtual. With lockdown restrictions you might not be able to see family or friends but they are only a phone call away. Set some time aside to connect with loved ones to talk through your stressors aloud, this will not only help you organise the thoughts you are having but you can also gain valuable insight into what is important.
Plan and Organise
Set your week out on a Sunday evening, categorise your tasks so they are in manageable sections each day. When overloaded with large tasks, break them down into step by step chunks. As you tick them off, credit yourself and acknowledge the sense of achievement. When planning your week, ensure to set aside time for mindfulness, exercise and eating well.