April is the national month of Stress Awareness. It is known that stress is a physical response to a situation in which our bodies switch to a ‘fight or flight’ mode, which in turn releases hormones and chemicals to prepare the body for physical action. advo hr looks at physical impacts on the body and how getting involved in stress awareness week can have a real positive impact on your employees’ mental wellbeing.
This may have been helpful in order to survive many years ago, but modern situations do not often require a ‘fight or flight’ mode. This can be especially troublesome as our bodies prioritise engaging organs to flee or flight and as a result, brain function is minimised. Such a physical reaction in what would be an inappropriate situation such as having too high a work load may lead to difficultly thinking logically which will negatively impact both personal and professional lives and our health. Not only is stress a significant factor in mental health problems, it is linked to physical health problems too. It is therefore vital that everyone understands their causes of stress and works towards reducing this.
The Stress Management Society (https://www.stress.org.uk/stressawarenessmonth/) have recently undertaken a study on stress where they gathered data from 2000 British adults. From this research, 65% of those who took part stated they have felt more stressed since the Coronavirus restrictions began in March 2020. The Stress Management Society concluded the ‘three key causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control’. These are now the key factors for this year’s Stress Awareness Month.
‘The 30 Day Challenge’ as outlined by The Stress Management Society encourages everyone to pick one action each for your Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing to carry out every day.
Why 30 days?
It takes 30 days to turn actions into habits which should maximise the possibility of turning these actions into permanent and positive behavioural changes. The website has many interactive and downloadable functions, one being the 30 Day Challenge Calendar which can be found here.
Employers also have to play a part in taking any complaints regarding stress, workloads, burn out etc. seriously to minimise the impact on the employee both personally and professionally. With the three key causes for concern being disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control, as an employer you need to take steps to ensure employees are connecting with one another, offering extra reassurances to employees and turning conversations around to help employees to see what they can control.
If you already have Employee Benefits in place, your providers may offer an online wellbeing support tools or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service. Services such as this offer counselling and support on a variety of issues which may help employees to reduce and/or learn to manage their stress in a different way.
If you do not have an EAP or wish to review or maximise your current employee benefits offering and would like to know more, please get in touch. In the first instance you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.