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Stress Awareness Month – April 2022

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Published 20/04/2022

Much as we love our work, stress in life is inevitable. We can protect and prepare ourselves with a few helpful behaviours.

Our Wellbeing guides at Cloudfm – Carly Hall Health & Safety Manager and Vickie Shaw HR Advisor, recently shared a list of behaviours to practice to help manage stress wherever in your life it occurs and to support you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can read the 10 tips below.

Carly Hall “I like to listen to music to unwind, or to release tension after a busy day with work and family.”
Vickie Shaw: “I choose exercise as my stress reliever, I hit the gym, walk or go for a run.”

Stress is our body’s response to the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Everyone deals with stress differently and what one person may be able to cope with, another cannot. This depends on a number of things such as early life events, personality and social and economic circumstances.

Learning to deal with pressures that arise in day to day life is key to managing stress, we’ve put together some useful tips that can help manage feelings of stress in the short and long term:

1.Take a breath – Focussing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress level. There are a number of mindful breathing techniques that can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes. Here a couple for you to try:

Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly fill with air. Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to three again
Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you’re inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you’re breathing out stress and tension.

2. Walk it off – Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scenery, and walking in nature can really boost your mood. If you just need to take a stroll around the office to get a break from a frustrating task or you decide to go for a walk in the park, walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body.

3.Hug it out – Getting a hug from a loved one produces the feel-good chemical oxytocin and reduces stress hormones. This helps to produce a sense of relaxation and is a super simple stress reliever!

4. Art attack – Mindful colouring is a great way to relieve stress and there are a huge range of colouring books to choose from. If you want to get even more creative you could try drawing or painting from scratch and seeing what work of art you can produce.

5. Learn to say no – If you’re trying to cram lots of things in it can result in stress whether its social engagements or taking on extra work. Be selective with what you are doing to ensure that it’s quality over quantity and hand over work where possible if it’s getting too much. Do you really need to be at that meeting or attend that birthday party? Look at your diary for the next month and look at where you have space. Is it enough? Do you need to block out the time so that you can have some down time or time to focus on work that’s building up?

6. Get some rest – If you’re having difficulty sleeping, you can try to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume and avoid too much screen time before bed. Write down a to do list for the next day to help you prioritise, but make sure you put it aside before bed.

7. Eat well Eating poorly can lead to greater risk of emotional eating and whilst reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief it also adds to your long-term stress. Where possible avoid foods with refined carbs, like biscuits and chocolate, that can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Foods like eggs, avocado, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance.

8. Reduce your alcohol and nicotine intake – Whilst smoking and drinking can feel like they help to relieve stress, in the long run they can contribute to it by increasing anxiety. Try to cut down or cut out smoking and drinking if you can.

9. Make time for non-negotiables – Think about what you do to unwind and make sure to plan the activity into your schedule as a non-negotiable. This can be anything from getting a massage, playing a sport or reading a book. By making it a non-negotiable and knowing that you have something to look forward to, you may find that the stressful times are easier to manage when you know you’ll get to enjoy yourself soon.

10. Switch your thinking – By changing the way we approach busyness or stressful situations we can reduce the building of anxiety and stress. Instead of saying “I don’t have time for this” or “I can’t manage”, break it down in to more manageable chunks and tackle a bit at a time. Being able to cross off the bit you have done will give you a greater sense of satisfaction than not completing the whole thing.

I use an app called ‘Insight Timer’. It’s a free guided meditation app. I don’t sleep very well if I feel stressed and anxious and there is a whole section dedicated to sleep. I’ve listened to a lot of rain sounds so far! It really does help.
Vickie Shaw, HR Advisor

Content from Carly Hall and Vickie Shaw
More sources of useful content on Stress Management can be found at:
https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/tips-to-reduce-stress/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce-stress

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/what-is-stress/

https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195

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