April is Stress Awareness Month - a time to talk about the causes and cures of modern day stress. To help us explore the topic further we’re joined by Sarah, Events Executive and one of our Mental Health First Aiders, who tells us more about identifying and managing stress in both yourself and others…
Everyone presents different symptoms of stress
Stress can look and feel very different for different people. At times, we have all felt stressed, but getting to the bottom of what stress actually is can be difficult. It can hit us when we least expect it, making simple everyday tasks feel like a chore. Although it might be hard to pinpoint why we are feeling stressed, there are a few simple questions we can ask ourselves to help recognise when we are.
Symptoms can be physical or mental (or even both)
It is important to remember stress can physically impact us as well as mentally. You might be feeling snappy, constantly worrying, drinking and smoking more than usual or even finding it hard to make decisions. Physically you might struggle getting to sleep, suffer with headaches, shortness of breath and feeling tired all the time. These are all signs of stress.
When to take action
Although it’s easy to ignore the signs of stress and to just keep going trying to keep your head above water, it is important for us to recognise when we might need to make some small life changes to help manage our stress levels. I for one am guilty of carrying on when I need to slow down. Because I care a great deal and want to support people as much as possible, I often end up taking on the stress of others around me. Although I am able to recognise when I am stressed, it often falls to my friends to remind me to be kind to myself.
Tips to manage stress
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I take myself offline and outdoors. Being active and getting outside really helps to keep me grounded and appreciate what is important in my life. I have 5 small rules I try to follow that help me manage my mind, you could call them my ‘stressbusters’!
My top 5 tips are:
1. Get a good night's sleep - Try to switch off an hour before you plan to go to sleep, put your devices down and pick up a good book.
2. Eat a balanced diet - Because your mind is led by your gut, it is really important to have a good and nutritious diet. As they say... eat the colours of the rainbow!
3. Keep as active as possible - Aim to get outside for at least 30 minutes each day.
4. Do something that makes you happy - This is completely up to you, if it makes you smile then do it!
5. Talk to a friend - Talking things through with a friend can clear your mind and help you think more clearly.
Supporting those around you
If you think someone might be having a tough time, don’t be afraid to ask how they are and if they are feeling ok. Simply listening to how they are feeling and helping them understand what might be making them feel stressed can make the world of difference! It's important to remember you are not a professional and if you start to feel like it is too much for you to handle alone, there are lots of different charities you can signpost to or suggest that they seek help from their GP.
The support we offer at Camelot
At Camelot, we have a team of Mental Health First Aiders on hand to support our staff whenever they need it. We also provide an app called Lifeworks - an employee assistance programme which all of our people can access. The app offers a range of tools including a confidential telephone line, counselling, legal support and advice on topics including financial wellbeing, health and education.
Finally… remember if you can keep walking and talking - you are already taking a step in the right direction!