Category: Blogger's Corner, Mental Health, awareness, company, information, supportive
I can’t remember a time in my life before stress.
Some people talk about their childhoods with giddy nostalgia, as if youth is some mystical world without worries and cares.
But, for me, it starred stomach pains every Sunday night – not just because it was the night before school but because it was the night before the dreaded PE, in which my Trunchbull-esque teacher would inflict all manner of torture on my pudgy physique.
I took solace in books and TV, hiding away in my mind.
As I grew the main ways I tackled stress – eating, reading, TV – paid off in some ways (swotty grades and Mensa), and backfired in others (I remained a chubby child until, miraculously, my puppy fat disappeared during a growth spurt when I was 12).
Today is National Stress Awareness Day – as the name implies it’s a day to think about stress and how it affects your life and those of others.
Mind is asking people to ‘do something different’ around mental health where they work or volunteer.
This can be something big or small, from trying something new that might reduce your stress to asking HR to put supportive information on your company intranet.
As adults it’s easy to dismiss stress as just one of those things we all have to deal with, like rail replacement services and power cuts.
But, as somone who has bipolar, I could write you a novel on how catastrophic stress can be.
The manic interludes I’ve suffered throughout my life were triggered by stress of some kind – work pressures and personal.
I don’t want to bring that into it too much though, because stress really isn’t something only people with a history of mental illness should think about.
It’s something we should all be aware of, because managing it is key to our health.
I don’t know about you, but some of the ways I’ve learned to cope with stress may not be such great ideas after all (the aforementioned TV and food).
Maybe I could try yoga instead of a brownie. Changes like that – trying physical excercise to combat stress – have proven results.
The NHS also has a simple breathing exercises you can try right now, at your desk, if you’re experiencing stress.
Meditating or doing breathing exercises instead of taking a cigarette break may make you feel like a raging hippy but it’s probably more healthy than lighting up.
A lot of the time cutting stress feels easier said than done – that work HAS to be done, you HAVE to do x,y or z, and going to the gym with load of vain posers is the last thing on your To Do list.
But, if I’ve realised anything when it comes to stress, it’s that I’m usually my worst enemy.
I set a bar too high. I expect myself to meet standards that nobody else does – whether that’s being the perfect friend, the perfect daughter or the perfect employee.
But the best advice my mum’s ever given me was to try to forget that and put my health before everything else.
When it comes to stress it means reminding yourself that the world won’t end if you finish on time for once, or for asking for help with a project when you’re snowed under, or that it’s fine to never check work emails outside of work.
It means giving yourself permission to stop, and relax.
Today I’m trying to learn to stop thinking about work 24/7.
I’m trying those hippy breathing exercises.
I may even join a gym that does yoga too, but don’t hold your breath. Do you know how much they cost in London?
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.
We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.