April is Stress Awareness Month across the UK, so it’s got the One Stop Social team thinking about how stress can affect our lives. Whether it stems from a work-related problem or a personal situation, it’s widely known that stress impacts your health, but that doesn’t mean we fully understand the implications or do something about it.
People of all ages and circumstances are affected by stress, and it’s important that we teach children early how to deal with stressful situations, as otherwise they grow with bad habits and find it harder to adapt to healthier practices. Students are recognised as an incredibly stressed group of society, with exams, deadlines, societal pressures and more causing feelings of anxiety and contributing to the worrying statistic that 1 in 4 students have mental health issues. Young people face many moments of stress (moving out, choosing a degree path, starting a job, studying for exams), and these are so widely recognised as difficult instances that children are getting more and more stressed due to the pressure their future will bring.
Sometimes, stress can be a positive motivator in a particular situation, whether it’s a child in their first play or a top social worker managing a large case load; which is known as ‘acute stress’. It’s the kind that keeps us going and incentivises us to succeed. However, stress relating to negative situations usually lasts longer and therefore has more of an impact, evolving into what’s termed ‘chronic stress’.
Stress can manifest itself physically with a whole range of symptoms from headaches to insomnia, hair loss to chest pain – none of which are desirable. It is also the culprit of 12.5 million working days lost in 2016-17, showing that excessive stress has an economic impact as well as a medical one! Dr Kubenz, a German doctor with offices in Harley Street, specialises in preventative medicine and identifies stress as a key component in the risk of certain serious illnesses. Apparently, chronic stress produces inflammation which affects our genetic codes and make us more prone to conditions like heart disease.
Admittedly, nowadays it can feel like stress is unavoidable, especially in the workplace – which our team know to be true as we plan our new convention “Work and Care Together”! – but it must be in moderation. Excessive stress will only damage your health, personal life and employment; making it all the more important to have a stress management method that works for you.
Maybe now is the time to look into mindfulness? We’ve seen how it can help care workers in their professional lives, which means mindful meditation could only help with stress management across your whole life. Tulane University recently ran a study looking into the benefits of mindfulness and yoga for young children and saw impressive results, so perhaps schools need to integrate more stress-relief programmes?
Marking Stress Awareness Month will not give us a miraculous cure to feeling anxious and under pressure; however a bit of extra awareness about how stress can put us at risk could be the way to build better support systems in workplaces for professional-driven stress. It could also help people learn to recognise the causes of stress in their personal lives and identify the right way to resolve conflicts or work through tense situations. As we are all different, we all have our own issues and stress points in our lives; but the risks are there for everyone, so it’s time to talk about stress more and help each other find personalised solutions that encourage happiness.