Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 and now more than ever during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic it is important to understand how we experience stress and how to manage it. Feeling under pressure at times is part of all our lives and at low levels stress can help us, by motivating us to get things done. We are all now adapting to major changes to our routines and a new way of life which can lead to added stress. We are spending more time alone or with our household at home, finding ourselves at a social distance as we take our exercise once a day or go out to get essentials and medicine. This is unsettling time for us all and additional stress can come from inside us, as well as these outside sources. Our perceptions, attitudes and the flexibility of our mindsets will affect how this current event will impact on our general health and wellbeing. The fear and uncertainty that make us feel out of control during this UK lockdown can cause stress with added pressure from vivid news coverage.

When we feel threatened and overwhelmed, we worry that we do not have the resources to manage the challenges ahead and our body launches a physical response. Stress levels vary based on our personalities and can depend on our genetics, upbringing and experiences. When we are stressed our nervous system launches a fight, flight or freeze response where we breathe faster, our heartbeat speeds up, we tense our muscles and begin to sweat. This is typical and usually returns to normal, but when the stress is long term it can have a damaging effect on our health making us prone to illnesses. Therefore, if we can have just one day where we remove all the stress from our life it can make all the difference.

Here are some ways we can overcome stress:

  • Create a to do list, write down what you want to do and when
  • Break down your tasks into bite sized pieces
  • Listen to your self-talk and challenge the thoughts that are unhelpful
  • Remember to talk to family and friends about how you feel
  • Take exercise to burn off nervous energy and reduce the effects of stress.

It is important to us at New Directions to help the people who we support and our staff to manage feelings of stress. The current Coronavirus pandemic can be a trigger to feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed, so we continue to provide an open door policy for everyone at New Directions, signpost people to appropriate health and wellbeing services and offer additional information and links to fellow organisations where people can find additional support.