Are you stressed? (Mental Health Awareness Week)
Yes, you are stressed. And it is natural. The real question is: Are you TOO stressed?
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. And this year’s topic is: stress! We are happy ‘stress’ is on the front line this year. Being stressed has indeed become the norm, and evolving in a stressful environment can have very negative consequences on our mental health. 50% of UK full-time workers have indeed experienced work-related stress, anxiety or burn-out in their job. (Virgin’s YouGov survey, How stressed are UK employees, 2015). How do we target this?
What is stress? Stress is a natural response to an external situation (or stimulus). The three standard reactions are fight, flight or freeze. We all have a natural tendency to use one of the three. In a stressful situation, what do you usually do? Do you speak out? Do you go away? Or do you stay but don’t do anything? There is not a good or a bad answer to this! Our instinctive reactions have evolved throughout the years via our environment, our upbringing, our experiences…
The physical symptoms of stress in our body are an increase in heart rate, quicker breathing, dry mouth, muscle tensions… It gets back to our physical reactions as cavemen when predators approached! It is actually healthy to experience stress: it means that your body functions well!
When is stress dangerous? It is important to make the difference between positive stress and negative stress. Positive stress is what enables us to get out of bed in the morning, to get the adrenaline push we need to go on stage and speak in front of an audience… It is naturally present in our body and we need it in order to keep moving forward. However, negative stress is when these physical symptoms become too strong, too frequent or expand: insomnia, endless thoughts, physical pain, panic attacks… This is when stress can have negative consequences on our body and mind: if stress takes over, we’re likely to feel isolated and depressed.
If you are feeling low, as an individual, the first thing we would recommend is to talk. Open up to a friend, to a colleague or to a professional whenever you feel the need. There is no shame in reaching out, you should do it as soon as you recognise frequent or strong symptoms of stress! Leeds Mind charity has very helpful resources to help people in any situation, check it out!
Find also resources to cope with stress on the Mental Health Foundation’s website. This year, one of the initiative we like the most is their Green Ribbon Pin Badges: you can order a green ribbon for you and your team to raise awareness and support a good mental health for all!
As an organisation, stress and mental health should be taken very seriously now: According to the World Health Organisation, mental health will be the biggest issue in the workplace by 2030. We have designed workshops around stress and mental health to support organisation and the health of teams. Here are a few we would suggest in order to raise awareness during Mental Health Awareness Week:
It is ok not to be ok, and we would love to help your organisation implement positive changes to target stress and mental health issues in the workplace! Get in touch now!
Credit: Ibrahim Rifath