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Stress Awareness Month

After what we’ve been through it’s OK to feel differently, and it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. This week, HR expert Linda Wheeler talks about stress and how to recognise and manage it.

This month is Stress Awareness Month which has been held every April since 1992, but this year more of us are likely to feel the effects of excess stress due to the pandemic and the challenges it has brought.

The impact of Covid-19 has left many people with feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and a loss of control as we are potentially struggling to work remotely, juggle caring responsibilities and cope with financial worries – even in those who may previously have felt able to cope with most of life’s challenges.

Stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and navigating life through a global pandemic is certainly an abnormal situation.

Feelings of stress can be exacerbated when combined with a sense of isolation, again another consequence of the ongoing pandemic. Without our normal day-to-day interactions, we can dwell on problems more, so when we have the opportunity talk about what’s bothering you.

The signs of stress are sometimes very subtle, but we should be checking in with ourselves, and others around us to look for signs – Mind.org.uk lists the symptoms (along with some great resources) as;

  • being irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
  • feeling over-burdened – with work or home life
  • being anxious, nervous or afraid
  • feeling like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
  • feeling like you’re unable to enjoy yourself, even doing things you used to love
  • feeling depressed or uninterested in life
  • like you've lost your sense of humour
  • having a sense of dread
  • being worried about your health
  • feeling neglected or lonely

There are things that we can do for ourselves, and for others, to help reduce these feelings of stress – including mindfulness or focussing exercise, talking and listening, physical exercise and more.

The Stress Management Society are inviting everyone to take part in the 30 Day Challenge when you can choose a different activity each day to look after your physical, mental or emotional wellbeing. Why not download the calendar and see how may you can achieve by the end of the month?

Employers can put in place actions to help staff who may be experiencing stress by training managers to recognise early signs of stress, carrying out stress audits, offering coaching and additional training.

The Isle of Man Government is recognising Stress Management Month by scheduling a range of events throughout April and would encourage all employers to think about how they help staff manage stress – including classes such as Yoga, Mindfulness, building mental resilience, diet and burnout awareness.

Information and resources which can help are available from Stress Management Society https://www.stress.org.uk/ where you can also take an individual stress test. A stress risk assessment is also available HSE.

For more tools and resources on mental wellbeing visit: areyouok.gov.im or if you would like to speak to someone call the Community Support and Information Line team on +44 1624 686262.