Occupational Health and Wellbeing is there to support staff if they feel that their life is being impacted adversely by stress caused by either work or personal factors.
What is stress?
Usually when people talk about stress, it refers to how they are experiencing their life when the demands made upon them are becoming overwhelming and there is a perception, or fear, that they are, or will become, unable to cope.
There are different levels of stress, some of which we would think of as ‘normal’ e.g. prior to an exam, or daily stressful situations which arise which we cope with and forget about.
However, where the signs of stress continue over a long period of time, they can have serious implications for our physical and mental health including; depression, stress/ anxiety, ulcers, high blood pressure, stroke, low resistance to infection etc.
Life events can be stressful - even the happy ones
Consider the following:
Bereavement Pregnancy Problems at work
Health problems Disagreements Redundancy
Family gathering e.g. Christmas
Divorce/ relationship breakdown etc ...
Getting married Birth of a child Promotions
Financial problems Minor legal problems Changes in the workplace
Stress can alter how people feel physically/ emotionally or change how they behave
Experience of some of these could indicate someone is suffering from a level of stress. In the short term this is often manageable, but, if not addressed, could contribute to more long term difficulties.
Headaches Feeling sick/ nauseous Feeling hot/ cold
Chest pains Pins & needles Muscle tension/ shaking
Bowel / bladder problems Nervous twitches/ cough
Feeling faint or dizzy Sweating Palpitations
Breathlessness High blood pressure Upset stomach
Indigestion/ heartburn Dry mouth
Low mood/ depressed Anxiety/ Fear of failure Irritable/ Angry
Lack of motivation Lack of pleasure No interest in life
Feeling neglected Outbursts of anger Avoiding situations
Changes in eating/ drinking habits
Hard to make decisions Become forgetful
Keeping busy, can’t relax Changes in sleeping pattern
Snappy with people Stay off work Stay in bed
Double checking Stop going out for fun Trouble concentrating
How to cope with stress
The best way to deal with stress is to do something about it as soon as possible. Recognise it, take control of the causes and the symptoms and get a plan of action in place. The following all help to reduce stress:
Focus on the present, don’t worry about the past or build up anxieties about the Future
Be realistic about what you can do in a day
Socialise regularly with friends
Say no: don’t feel guilty about saying no
Time management: take regular breaks, plan work, don’t over commit yourself at work or socially, prioritise
Work: identify what you need and
address it either alone or with a manager
Take time each day to unwind and relax
Get active: join a gym, walk, dance, etc
Eat a healthy diet, eat slowly
Holiday: try to plan regular breaks
ADMIT to yourself that you are feeling stressed and do something about it!
Learn to relax
Everyone can learn to relax but like many things in life e.g. learning to ride a bike, it can take practice, so if you don’t feel relaxed straight away, don’t give up. Practise daily:
- Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply
- As you breathe out imagine the tension being sent out of your body
- Plan a route around your body going from hands, to arms, neck, face, shoulders, chest, stomach, buttocks, legs
- Clench: (neck, roll from side to side and for the face, frown, raise eyebrows etc) each area of your face and body and as you breath out, feel the tension from that area release
- AND RELAX…. If you are starting to feel stressed during the day, you will be amazed at what 5-10 long, slow, deep breathes in and out as you roll your neck and shoulders can achieve!
Where to get further advice and support
In addition to your usual sources of support from home and work, counselling is available through your Trust / Employer - check the Intranet for more details