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How to Build Resilience through Mindful Stress Management

Understanding stress and developing stress management strategies is essential for our wellbeing.

Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Mindfulness, Wellbeing Workshops, Wellbeing Webinars, Wellbeing Consultancy, Wellbeing at Work, Leeds, Yorkshire, England
It's important to take a moment for yourself, everyday

In the frantic rhythm of modern life, stress has become an ever-present companion, as familiar as our shadows. It’s no wonder too - from fast-paced work deadlines to social media doom-scrolling, it seems as though we're constantly teetering on the brink of overwhelm. 

We all know that feeling of stress creeping up on us. It's like having a million things on our plate, and it can make us feel overwhelmed and exhausted. But importantly: stress doesn't have to take over our lives. We can learn how to manage it and even bounce back stronger. 

Feeling up against it? That’s okay - we’re only human. This Stress Awareness Month 2024, we'll delve deeper into understanding stress and give you practical techniques for building resilience and managing stress effectively.

Understanding 'Stress'

When you think about it, what is stress, anyway? Other than a word we all say a lot that comes charged with feelings of overwhelm, doom, and panic. 

How to define stress? Stress is an intrinsic part of the human experience, serving as a natural response to perceived threats or challenges. 

When faced with a stressor, whether it's a looming deadline, a difficult conversation, or a sudden change in circumstances, our bodies undergo a series of physiological and psychological changes in preparation for action. This ‘fight-or-flight’ response, mediated by the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, primes us to respond swiftly and decisively to potential dangers. The main struggle with stress stems from when our fight-or-flight is activated long-term, to the point where we may struggle to turn it off. 

While a little bit of acute stress can be beneficial in mobilising our resources and enhancing performance, chronic or prolonged stress can take a significant toll on our physical and mental health. Chronic stress, stemming from ongoing challenges such as workload, financial strain, or personal pressures, can lead to a variety of health problems, including hypertension, weakened immune function, and mood imbalances.

Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Mindfulness, Wellbeing Workshops, Wellbeing Webinars, Wellbeing Consultancy, Wellbeing at Work, Leeds, Yorkshire, England
A strong strategy is key for stress management success

The Impact of Stress on Our Health and Lives

The effects of stress extend far beyond temporary feelings of tension or unease. Prolonged high levels of stress can disrupt our body's delicate balance, contributing to a wide range of health issues.

According to the NHS website, stress can manifest itself through various physical and mental symptoms, such as… 

  • Headaches or dizziness

  • Muscle tension or pain

  • Stomach problems

  • Difficulty sleeping  

  • Chest pain or a faster heartbeat

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Struggling to make decisions

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Constantly worrying

  • Being forgetful

How does this impact our health and our lives - both day-to-day and in the workplace? 

Physical symptoms of stress impact our bodies in ways that extend beyond mere discomfort. From tension headaches and muscle stiffness to digestive problems and chronic fatigue, the physical toll of stress can be significant. 

These symptoms not only affect our overall wellbeing, but can also interfere with our ability to perform effectively in our professional lives. For example, experiencing chronic fatigue or sleep disturbances can make it challenging to stay focused and alert during important meetings or while working on crucial projects.

The mental symptoms of stress can be equally debilitating, affecting our cognitive function, mood, and overall mental health. Combined and compounded with the physical symptoms of stress gives rise to related issues - anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and changes in appetite are common manifestations of stress-induced mental distress. 

These symptoms can impair our ability to think clearly, make decisions, and interact effectively with others, both at home and at work. Heightened anxiety or irritability, for instance, may lead to interpersonal conflicts or strained relationships with people we live and/or work closely with, while difficulty concentrating may hinder our ability to meet deadlines or complete tasks efficiently.

Through the acknowledgement of these factors of stress, we can identify causes and recognise stress’ impact on our daily lives, as well as begin to work out ways to tackle these symptoms and build resilience to them… 

…So, how do we develop strong, sustainable, and mindful stress management strategies?  

Stress Management Strategies & Techniques

It is tempting to cling on to one or two quick tips and tricks and think to ourselves, ‘this is it - this is the new thing I’m going to keep doing forever that will fix all my worries and stresses’. However, without laying the groundwork for long-term stress management solutions, this is a recipe for burnout

The key to this is mindfulness - doing relaxation and self care techniques carefully, slowly, and with intention, carefully carved out in to our everyday that support and uplift our holistic wellbeing, well-being, and wellness (what’s the difference between all 3?). 

So here’s 5 strong, sustainable, mindful techniques to implement when forming your stress management strategy. 

1.Practice Mindfulness

Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine to cultivate present-moment awareness and encourage a calm mindset. Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing or desk exercises, getting creative, and mindful movement practices can help you stay grounded, centred, and bring some always-appreciated joy amidst the chaos of daily life.

2. Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits 

Develop healthy lifestyle habits that nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Focus on getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and managing your time effectively to reduce stress and enhance overall wellbeing. 

3. Master Time Management 

Feeling like you’re constantly out of time? Improve your time management skills to reduce stress and increase productivity. From the Pomodoro Method to time blocking - prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and establish boundaries to avoid feeling overwhelmed by competing demands.

4. Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms 

Develop healthy coping mechanisms is a great way to manage stress and regulate your emotions. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as pursuing creative hobbies, joining a club, reading challenges, and breathing exercises.

5. Cultivate a strong Social Support Network 

Cultivate a strong support network strong support network of friends, family members, and colleagues who can provide emotional validation, practical support, and a listening ear during times of stress. Don't hesitate to reach out for help when needed.

Resilience, Support, Wellbeing

Every day brings a choice: to practise stress, or to practise peace.” Joan Z. Borysenko

Recognising the impact of both physical and mental symptoms of stress is essential for building resilience and implementing effective stress management strategies in life and the workplace. 

By addressing the underlying causes of stress and providing support for ourselves, our friends & family, and our coworkers to manage our stress effectively, we create a healthier and more productive environment for us all. 

From promoting work-life balance to discovering resources for stress management and mental health support, prioritising wellbeing through mindful stress strategies can lead to increased engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

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