The irony that we are in lockdown during April is not lost on me. April is Stress Awareness Month The Mental Health Foundation discovered that in 2019, 74% of adults felt so stressed that they were overwhelmed and unable to cope (and that was before the current challenges that we’re facing!) April is always a busy month for me, delivering stress awareness workshops and sessions to organisations who want to support their employees and give them coping strategies for the year ahead. In today’s episode I’m talking about how we manage stress during this strange lockdown period, how we can recognise stress, what we can do about it and tips for the adjustment period too. I don’t deliberately mean to stress you even more, however – I want to share some facts, and my thoughts on this because sometimes getting information and changing the way we think about things is a key part to coping with stressful situations. The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — apart from gawd knows – is going to be the same answer I used to give adoptive parents when they were dealing with traumatised children….. erm, it might be never be over completely. Sorry to burst your bubble The other question … when can we get back to normal. What does normal usually look like. What will it look like in the future. It won’t be the same. This is going to bring about change. There’s going to be change in how we work – maybe more companies, having been forced to accept working from home, will see that it’s possible and people / staff / workforce DO still get stuff done. There’s going to be a bigger need for looking after mental health.There’s going to be changes in how we connect / keep in touchThere’s going to be changes in all sorts of things that we haven’t even thought of yet – NHS, health, shopping, schooling – surely? we can’t possible go back to ‘how it was’ – people have died, people have lost jobs, people have changed and adapted. This is how it is. We change and adapt, but rarely go back.
What do common stress responses look like?
- A tight feeling in your chest
- Poor memory or struggling to remember everyday things
- Difficulty sleeping or waking up through the night or early mornings
- Aches and pains for seemingly no particular reason – tight shoulders, clenched jaw, stiff back
or perhaps you’re eating chocolate, crisps, carbs and rubbish .. oh and alcohol too! The survival aspect creates the stress response, so our bodies release cortisol (the stress chemical) that makes us crave CRAP (Carbs, Refined food, Additives and Processed food). It’s supposed to keep us going whilst we run from the tiger (so to speak) – the only thing is, in modern day, we’re sat at our desk, on our sofas, in our cars etc, so we don’t burn it off!!! So, we need to calm the internal system. To do this, we need some deep breathing. I talk about it all in more detail on my Managing Stress trainings and webinars … (there’s one happening on 14th April if you want to join or know more) but I also provide a guided relaxation on these because they’ve been so helpful for people in the recent weeks.
What Do We Need to Do with the Stress?
Whilst this totally normal it’s also very hard. This will be happening because of the build up of pressure / change / emotions. It’s really important -where you can – to be able to own and admit the difficulties. Remember it’s ok not to be ok. Just as long as you don’t stay in that place for long. Allowing time for a good moan / offload / cry is helpful then it creates space to smile, laugh and do the the positive uplifting things. Know that you are not failing. Let go of all of the ideas you have about what you should be doing right now. Instead, focus on your physical and psychological feelings and what you can do about them. Some people are outwardly active and like to keep busy when they’re stressed and anxious. Others stop, freeze, struggle to do anything. It’s all normal I’m definitely a hide under the duvet and read a book person. Any response is fine – just know what yours is and don’t try to keep up with others who have a different response!
The Adjustment Period
No-one really feels good during a stressful situation and that’s OK. Find ways to stay connected.Pick up the phone – don’t just text or email or messageUse video calling because eye contact is incredibly connecting, more than we realise. When you’ve calmed your internal system, with deep breathing, rest, or working off the stress chemical, then you look at your adjustment better. In time your brain can re-set – it will begin to look for opportunities / things to do / different ways to respond. Switch off the ‘keep smiling’ and ‘power through’ stuff on social media.Ignore the neighbour who has re-decorated his whole house already!! Your mental shift and adjustment will happen when it’s right for you – the more pressure you put on yourself, the more stressed you’ll make yourself and then you’ll need to go back to point 1 of this podcast! There WILL be a range of emotions that you go through. I spent a day crying last week. No particular reason, just the whole sadness of how it’s changing people, places, how we life, my business and personal stuff too. But it’s OK to cry, get upset, be pissed off. Allow the emotions to be there, it’s part of the process – the adjustment, healing, acceptance. We might be on week 3 of lockdown, but this is just the beginning. As The Queen said, we’ll meet again. And we will. Give it time. We must give ourselves time to accept, react and adjust. Then we create a new normal, for a while and hopefully not too long! Before you leave, don’t forget to go over a leave a review.Share this with people who will find it helpful. Check out the Managing Stress training session HERE Email me or book a call using this link if you want to talk about working with me on 1:1 basis or getting me to help your workforce.